I remember many many years ago when money was quite tight visiting the Boden shop at Park Royal, London with a good friend. I fell in love with one of their patterned cardigans, it was a Spring/Summer style and had multi-colours on it. I decided to buy it and as I was paying I was worrying about the cost (I think it was about £50). I wore and wore and wore that cardigan, it came out early summer every year for many many years. I got so many compliments.
A quick search online and I found one for sale on a selling site. Not the best photo but it gives you an idea - it went with everything, looked great with jeans and a simple t-shirt under it and had 3/4 length sleeves.
Anyway, my point is Cost per Wear! Spend vs Save. If I choose well and get it right then I find it is so worthwhile spending. Of course I can't always guarantee I will get it right. There have been items in my wardrobe that I have invested in only to find that they quality is not great after all or I simply don't feel good in them.
I find it impossible to embrace Primark or TKMaxx. I'm not even that keen on Next. I need a clean and tidy shop, I prefer to browse simple, minimalism and hate being overwhelmed by too much choice. I like to see outfits displayed together. Suggestions of what works well together. Think Jigsaw or Hobbs on the High Street. I like a bit of personal service. I don't want to be crowded but if I need help, or suggestions, then I like to know there is a helpful assistant available. I think Next is good for basics (and if you purchase online) but I hate that I see their items everywhere - I was out on Friday night and saw someone in a jumper that I have, I had been unsure about it anyway but seeing it on someone else confirmed it. Onto eBay it went! But I do love their Coated Jeggings however!
Two recent shopping experiences stand out.
Karen Millen at Westfield Shepherds Bush were so helpful when I was choosing my dress for my 50th birthday party. And in fact I went back in January and purchased a few more items in the sale and a full price jumper using the discount card I had been given before Christmas (Karen Millen Geo Print Jumper). I have one Karen Millen dress that I paid £150 for probably at least 8 years ago, again it was one of those purchases that I was a bit worried about the cost but it is a classic that I keep coming back to time and time again.
And last week I went over to Wendover to visit my good friend, she works at a high end boutique called Brookes. The shop was fairly quiet and I had an opportunity to try some lovely clothes on and get one to one help from my friend. Fortunately there was still lots of choice in the sale section and I purchased two blouses at a great price. I also purchased a full price jumper. I am deliberating over a pair of grey Citizens of Humanity jeans and a belt! I may go back! These items are classic wardrobe staples that I hope will serve me well on the long term.
I do however have some 'disposable' items in my wardrobe. Things that are purchased for one season and then I replace the following year but they tend to be basics, t-shirts from Gap maybe or higher fashion 'trends' like the 'statement sleeve' jumpers I have recently purchased from Marks & Spencer.
But for me it is 'spend; rather than 'save'. Not that I am averse to a good discount. If I can spend in the sale or with a promotional discount then even better. I have long since accepted that Primark and TKMaxx are not for me.
What do you think?
Personally I think it is a bit early to be thinking about spring but the shops are finishing their sales, the spring catalogues are dropping through the door, bloggers are talking about the coming season and I do think it is nice to have a few lighter weight outfits, new and hanging in your wardrobe for when the moment arrives and the weather gets a bit milder.
So I've been taking a look at some of the new trends appearing.
A quick search online told me that brights, florals and statement stripes are going to be big. And of course the 'statement sleeve' which has been loitering for a while. Being 50 I don't feel the need to buy into the trends directly any more but a little nod in their general direction doesn't do any harm, nicely mixed in with some classic wardrobe staples.
Spring Jackets and Blazers
I mentioned in my post about Coats and Jackets that I had ordered a blazer in the Boden clearance (it was such a fab price) but sadly it was too heavy on me, the double breasted style just didn't work so that will be going back. But instead I did find some 'knitted blazers' that I think will be superb for spring:
I love this outfit. Simple, classic, comfortable and wearable. The little jacket is now in limited sizes but I have already received the navy and loved it so I ordered the camel to try as well.
Merino Knitted Blazer from Boden.
I spotted this jumper on the Hobbs website and I think this could work very well as the sleeves are 3/4 length so less likely to get in the way!
Ingrid Sweater from Hobbs.
eBut I am still raving about this Marks and Spencer jumper that I spoke about a few weeks ago. It is reasonably priced, the sleeves aren't too big and they fold back nicely. The colour works really well with my grey jeans from Mint Velvet.
Peplum Hem Fluted Sleeve Jumper from M&S
Seattle Graphite Skinny Jeans from Mint Velvet
Well I'm not sure about 'statement stripes' but you can't beat a long sleeve breton style top when spring arrives, worn under a blazer or jacket. I bought two in the sale at House of Fraser recently. They are from Halhuber and I am so impressed with them, they have a lovely stretch (much better than the Boden ones).
Stripe Top with 3/4 Sleeves from Halhuber
Emilia Ponte Blazer from Boden
And I shall still be wearing my denim jeans! I am loving my new 7 for all Mankind (b)air denim - they are so comfortable! I will have to get another pair when I can afford it, they are not cheap.
I'm not particularly into big patterns so I will be looking for something simple if I am going to buy into the floral trend.
Olive Blouse from Boden
Today I was invited over to the boutique where my friend works. Brookes in Wendover, Buckinghamshire, is a beautiful high end ladies shop which offers a superb range of designer separates and denim. I spent a lovely hour trying on jeans and a few tops from their sale. I will share my little haul with you properly on Instagram over the coming days.
I'm off to see LION at the cinema tonight, better remember my tissues, it's a weepie.
On Sunday I was invited by Claire Thomas of Imagine Your Style to attend a colour consultation with her,
Claire is really lovely, she has a beautiful studio in her garden at home near Maidenhead and it definitely represents her sense of style. It is calm, welcoming and comfortable. It is decorated in beautiful neutral colours and has plenty of natural light, perfect for analysing your colours!
We started by having a general chat about my existing style, colour choices and my lifestyle and weekly routine. I am a stay at home mum / and blogger of course so a lot of my wardrobe needs to be casual and comfortable but I still like to look smart and I like to dress up when I can.
Claire then asked me to sit in a comfortable chair in front of her free-standing mirror and she first of all put a white cape around my shoulders to cover up the colour I was wearing that day so she could start with a blank canvas. She asked me if I had any idea what my colour palette might be? Now I had a very brief colour consultation many years ago and I have since had style and wardrobe consultations with my friend and stylist Katherine B so I had a good idea - I feel that I am 'Autumn'. Claire explained though that as well as the four seasons there are many other variations and overlaps which we would explore further during the consultation.
Claire has an extensive collection of fabric samples and she drapes each one in turn over your shoulders to assess how the colour reflects on your face and features. She has a good eye for colour and could clearly pick out colours that suited me and 'lifted' my natural complexion and eye colour. With her encouragement I could see what she meant!
Each colour that suited me she put to one side to form a collection of colours for us to look closer at later on.
I think I had a pretty good feel for what suited me but I was surprised to see the softer more muted shades of Autumn coming through. I was also encouraged that I did have many of the colours already in my wardrobe. I asked about how to adapt the colour palette for summer as many of the colours were naturally more suited to the cooler months.
Claire was also able to advise me on wearing black! We all love black, it is classic, smart and reassuringly slimming. I have had this conversation in the past with Katherine B as well and Claire was also able to reassured me. I can wear black but I should add in an accent colour from my own pallet to take away the harshness on my face.
What I found interesting was that the colour ideas didn't just help me with clothes, Claire explained that I would find the ideas useful for choosing make-up too and made a few suggestions for lipstick and blushers. I also tried on some jewellery and it was interesting to see the difference between gold and silver on my complexion.
At the end of our consultation I came away with a 'wallet' containing small swatches of my colour pallet and Claire followed up the next day with a full report and suggestions that I can incorporate into my wardrobe.
I had a very enjoyable morning with Claire. I have already taken a quick look in my wardrobe to see how close I am to her suggestions. And I'm not far off but then I wasn't starting with a blank canvas completely, I already had a good idea of what I should wear but it did highlight a few things for me:
I am looking forward to using this new knowledge to continue to pare my wardrobe down, to make less mistakes when buying new clothes and to build my capsule wardrobe. It is money well spent and you will save yourself money in the long run as you will not be making the same errors (how much have I wasted in the past on white shirts for example)?
If you would like to have a consultation with Claire then do take a look at her website:
And follow her on Facebook - Imagine Your Style. Claire also runs a separate Facebook group which is a closed group for ladies only, What's my Style? Details can be found by going to her main Facebook page.
Investment Purchases #2 - Coats and Jackets
I love coats and I especially love a tailored jacket. I have too many although not as many as other bloggers I see. I don't have enough space to store them unfortunately but what I do have I like to work hard for me and I think that a good quality coat is worth investing money in. Now I am not talking huge money, as much as I would love a cashmere coat from Jaegar, I can't afford it and it wouldn't get worn enough to justify it. But I do think it is worth shopping around in the high end High Street shops and especially at sale time.
First up is my blue wool coat from Boden. I'd had my eye on a statement colour for a while but at £200 plus from Boden I just couldn't justify it. So two years ago I watched the winter sale. Eventually the final few days arrived and the discount was 'an extra 20% of all clearance' and they still had the coat I wanted in my size. Done deal. Similar here.
I've just done the same with the Boden navy ponte blazer - it is on it's way to me and I paid £31.84, I hope it fits and I like it.
In December the early sales started and I wanted a classic black coat, I'd not had one for a while and as I had some lovely outings planned for my 50th birthday I needed something that went over my dresses (I had a lot of red and burgundy this year). I picked up a lovely wool coat from Fenn Wright and Manson at John Lewis with a fantastic discount. It is still on the website down from £229 to £114 here. Also in blue.
Now for casual - I purchased a North Face long 'duvet' a few years ago, again in the sale, I remember trying it on, it was March and already we'd had some very mild, sunny days and I was so hot but it was so heavily reduced I had to have it! If the weather is really cold as it has been recently I wear it layered over my Uniqlo light weight down jacket, perfect for dog walks. Apparently this is what the stylish Parisian ladies do! They buy a 'vest' from Uniqlo and wear it hidden under their coats and jackets to stay warm. Take a look at the North Face website there are some good discounts now, this is similar to mine.
Below are two examples of the Uniqlo Light Weight Down - jacket or vest - take a look here. Very reasonable prices too and often discounted instore.
Finally I treated myself to a Barbour International Jacket this year. Again it is light weight and waterproof and warm. It is also stylish and excellent quality. It is my go to coat that I can throw on over my day to day casual outfits and still feel smart. It is no longer on their website unfortunately but lots of others here.
I have a few other jackets but these are my capsule go to ones that I feel work the best for my day to day winter wardrobe. Now spring are summer are different so they can be the subject of another post!
By the way I did a quick tour of the Karen Millen sale pages last week and came across a bargain summer dress reduced from £120 to £50, I had to get it posted to me from a store but it arrived today and it fitted! It is always worth checking out the sale pages now, I tend to get my better bargains later on rather than during the first few days.
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