Francesca Cairns is an Image Consultant and Stylist based in Maidenhead and she recently posted on Facebook this fantastic, and very simple, guide about how to dress when you are struggling with hot flushes and menopause symptoms. I asked her if I could share it on my blog as I loved her common sense approach.
Sometimes it feels as if women are being advised to disappear at menopause.
I am totally fed up with articles claiming that women who reach forty suffer from Fashion Disorder Syndrome!
Think getting older means following strict rules such as covering your arms and avoiding black? I DISAGREE!
Style is an individual thing. You just have to figure out what works for you. Our body shape can change around the menopause so you may need to adapt a bit but there’s no one-size-fits-all just because you’re older.
If you’ve got a bit of middle-aged spread you might find that looser shapes look better. A slightly loose cotton shirt is fantastic in the summer and I think most women can wear that.
You want to feel comfortable and relaxed so fit is really important!
Master the art of layering
Anything you can waft – or remove – is good for a hot flush!
A scarf in the winter can be pulled off fast or wearing a skirt in the summer can help you feel cool and not so hot!
Fabric is also important – go for natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, silk and cashmere, as they absorb moisture from the skin and help air to circulate around the body better. They’ll help you keep your cool during a flush and tend to hold their shape better,
Put your best foot forward! I don’t think anyone looks glamorous when their feet hurt. Nearly every designer brand now has a range of trainers. Not only are they comfortable but buying a new pair of fashionable trainers is another good way to look current. I also really like sliders, loafers and flats, which are great if you need to look a bit smarter.”
ADD FINAL TOUCHES
Don’t forget to accessorise to complete your outfit, but I wouldn’t necessarily wear a big statement necklace if you’re experiencing hot flushes.
You want to feel free and uncluttered and a heavy necklace can make you feel clammy and sweaty. Go for a pair of statement earrings instead.
Don’t stop at jewellery – why not wear a belt to add colour to your look and pull in looser tops. They are also easy to remove so if you do start to feel uncomfortable you can just whip it off!
Ultimately, wear what makes you look and feel good through the menopause (and cope with the hot flushes it brings).
The thing to remember is that you’re not dressing for your age, you’re dressing for your body shape!
If you’re not sure what suits you anymore and need a little help, you can always visit me for a Colour and Style Consultation and I will help you feel magical again!
Style doesn’t rely on age and the menopause is a great time to experiment and get creative to figure out what works best for you.
Book an appointment today-
Francesca is currently offering her style and colour consultation at the reduced price of £70 (usually £180).
Simple yes but not always obvious. I embrace most of these ideas now. I want something simple and comfortable. I don't want to faff about with items that are too complicated or restricting. And I certainly don't want to wear heels and then find I can't walk and my feet are killing me. Thank goodness for being able to wear trainers with anything now!
Outfit details - my red dress (top) is from & Other Stories, the middle picture is all previous season items, the cardigan is from Pure Collection and then in the bottom photo, my outfit is from Hush and the skirt is now in the sale, although very limited sizes left. My round bag is just £19.99 from Pull & Bear.
Other posts about menopause you might be interested in:
Menopause and hot flushes (including a discount on wool duvets)
Menopause and alcohol tolerance
Wellness in Menopause Workshop and Tips
Disclaimer: Some of my links are affiliate links which means that the brand knows you have come to their website from here and I may get a small commission if you buy something and keep it. This small income goes towards the running costs of my blog so I am very thankful for every click.
Every year before our holiday I ask myself if I should still wear a bikini, and every year I come to the same conclusion, yes why the hell not? But why do I doubt myself in the first place?
Okay so I am petite, small, slim, I am not skinny, I am gently curvy and only 5 ft 2 inches tall.
Here's my worry though - I don't have a flat tummy any more, but I have had two fantastic amazing children and I am quite happy to have compromised a little to have these two in my life.
To be fair I have never really had those elusive abs - maybe as a teenager but that was just my natural figure, certainly in my twenties I was always a little bit curvy around the middle..
And even though I lost a bit of weight two years ago and got back to a more comfortable size for me the abs still didn't appear. I am just not prepared to put the extra work in to get them. I am happy to exercise two or three times a week. I am happy to eat a sensible, balanced diet, most of the time. But I refuse to go to the extremes needed to get a lower body fat percentage that would be needed for me to get a flatter tummy.
And so I choose my clothes to flatter my figure. I like a top that 'skim's, I love a peplum style jacket, I wear a higher waisted jean, I choose dresses that are loser and not too tight - I favour defining my waist rather than the tighter shift dress.
But when I choose a bikini over a swimsuit I am leaving myself a bit exposed.
So why don't I choose a swimsuit instead? - because I'd be too hot, because I like to get a tanned tummy (which looks so much better than a white one), because I hate pulling a wet swimsuit down to go to the toilet. I like to sunbathe and I want to do that in a bikini, I do have swimsuits that I use for swimming and hot tubs in the UK though - the one above is a favourite from Swimwear365.
And when we arrive poolside everyone else is wearing a bikini - whatever shape or size, and mostly we are more worried about ourselves than thinking about what anyone else looks like. In the hot Mediterranean countries, the women wholeheartedly embrace the bikini - young or old, big or small. They ooze confidence!
And there lies the answer - it is confidence that is sexy and appealing. Not what shape or size you are. Just have confidence! Ok I know it's not as simple as that but you get my point!?
But how can I make peace with my body and embrace confidence?
In the most recent issue of the Boots Magazine (free to advantage card holders in-store) Health & Beauty, there is an article all about this (Page 71) and it is all finding a happier middle ground. According to a new body movement called 'body neutrality' instead of forcing ourselves to love something, we need to accept what we have and stop obsessing, So for me, make peace with my tummy and appreciate instead, what it has done/does do for me - and that's it - in short, the middle ground between body bashing and body positivity. Read the whole article if you get a chance, it's good - I tried to find it online, I found the magazine online, but not the article!
So a bikini it is then!
I always treat myself to a new bikini (or two) before my holiday now. For years we holidayed in the UK or with family in France and as the children were younger I didn't get much opportunity to sunbathe. But now they are older we enjoy a lazy two weeks in the sun and that includes lots of sunbathing.
For my peitite shape, the style that works is a tie side bikini bottom and a triangle halter neck. I'm only a 34B so I don't need the support and I find a halter neck flatters my toned shoulders. I used to choose something more padded - so I looked bigger but these days I don;t bother, I am me and I am small!
I asked a few friends for some feedback on bikini wearing and what they think ...
"I'm never really comfortable in a bikini, I feel a bit exposed" but she did go on to say "in reality most people are totally absorbed by themselves (it's true when did you last look at a group photo and notice anyone else but you?) so worrying about what other people, usually strangers who will never meet you again, think is a complete waste of energy" - sound advice!
"I always wear one, who cares" - absolutely brilliant attitude!
"I spend the winter in the sun and every year I think it is time to change to a one piece and every year I give it 'just one more year'" - long may that continue.
"Bizarrely I have become more confident to wear a bikini the older I get ..." - I love this, that is because as we get older we care less what others think and find a new confidence.
I have tried the higher waist bottoms but being so petite I actually feel they drown me and make me look bigger. So that style is not for me. I do struggle to find a big choice of tie-sides but I think that bikini bottoms without the tie are less forgiving and if they are even slightly too tight then they dig in and emphasise any fat that might be lurking. With a tie-side I can tie them a bit loser and they are more flattering, but if you think that style is too skimpy then make sure you size-up in any swimwear! Really don't worry about what the label says - I always buy a 12 in a swimsuit and a 10 in a bikini.
I prefer to order bikini's online and then try them on at home (with a self-tan) and where the lighting is more forgiving than the scary changing rooms.
I have been going back and forth for a few weeks to choose a couple of new ones this year but I think I have finally settled and made a decision.
Next week I will share my bikini finds with you as well as some fabulous holiday accessories and a few suggestions of the best places to buy swimwear all year round.
But first, note to self: be confident / be body neutral!!!
I'd love to know what you think, comment below.
Above I am wearing a navy polka dot swimsuit from Lascana at Swimwear365 with a pom pom scarf as a sarong from Sweet-Bea and flip flops from Vionic.
Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post, I am linking to the products because I love them, my sarong was gifted to me from Sweet-Bea but I was under no obligation to include it in this post. May contain affiliate links.
I've tended to avoid posting about anything too personal but as a 40+ blogger this subject does come up and I feel that I would be wrong to avoid it completely and not share what I have found out about menopause symptoms and what has worked to help me.
I spoke about menopause and alcohol tolerance back in April and it was a very popular post that so many of you really related to. And many of your comments helped me with finding a way to manage how much wine I was drinking! Still a work in progress by the way!
Before that I did a post about insomnia which as we all know is part of the whole menopause thing too. I was particularly focusing on the blue light that is emitted from our phones and devices and controlling my usage in the evening has definitely helped.
My blog posts about menopause and the symptoms are personal, what I am experiencing and ways that I am dealing with it. Obviously I am not an expert and I am not a doctor. But just like sitting around over a cup of tea with friends, I am chatting to you as friends and saying this is what I have found out.
What I would say is don't suffer alone - do the research, go and chat to your GP, find out if you have a GP at your surgery who specialises in menopause, make an appointment. Someone also told me about 'Menopause Barbie' as she is affectionately known, her website is Menopause Taylor and she offers some very sound advice and a whole series of YouTube Videos which I have not had a chance to really watch yet but I am told it is good stuff.
Also remember that peri-menopause symptoms can start around 45 ish sometimes earlier so don't dismiss strange symptoms, keep an open mind. I am pretty sure I was having symptoms a lot earlier than I actually realised.
But the purpose of this post is to talk about the pesky night sweats, hot sweats, hot flushes - they affect every woman slightly differently. For me it has been overwhelming heat especially at night, an increase in temperature that I just couldn't control. My poor husband was getting quite used to being frozen in the middle of winter as I had to have the window open.
First of all we changed our mattress. The previous memory foam style, whilst extremely comfortable, made the night sweats worse. We went for a Simba mattress, still memory foam but with a cool comfort layer to stop the problem with overheating. They are not ridiculously expensive and you can try and buy at John Lewis, they also offer a 100 night money back guarantee - so if you don't like it then it can be returned. Things improved but I still wasn't quite there so I researched duvets.
I had tried two different duvet's including silk and then feather and down, and summer and winter tog/all seasons. We purchased the rather wonderful Dyson fan for the bedroom and I did find it helpful when I got really hot especially in the warmer weather but it still wasn't controlling my thermostat completely.
Then I heard about wool duvets. But having already tried two types of duvet I didn't really think it was worth trying something else. Then we visited Thame Show - well my husband was there first and called me from the show and said I've been chatting to someone who is selling wool duvets and I think we should get one, I'm sure it will help your night sweats. Well him and I hadn't discussed wool duvets, I hadn't dared say I want to try something else. I arrived at the show a bit later and we bought a wool duvet and mattress topper and so did my sister-in-law - in fact she bought the pillows too.
The company was Baavet. We got them home and as we had been warned there was a slight sheep smell so we left them out to air for a few days before using them. My sister-in-law was less worried and put hers on the bed the next day. Then we started texting and the long and short of it is - OMG we both love them and have both found that any night sweats have gone and are totally under control now.
I am sure there are lots of sciency bits I could tell you about why wool is best and why it works, But I will keep it simple. Wool doesn't have the usual tog rating that we associate with duvets. It is a natural fibre that evolved to keep sheep cool when hot and warm when cold. So wool fibres naturally adapt to keep you at a steady temperature. Perfect for sleeping under. Feather and down and synthetic fibres trap the heat and moisture thus making you hotter and hotter - wool works differently hence it's ability to regulate to what your body needs, just like sheep!
Baavet say 'Wool is the finest fibre on the planet to sleep under. Wool is also excellent for asthma, eczema sufferers and for anyone with overheating problems in bed.
Baavet offer three weights of wool duvet - light, medium and winter depending on what you are like as a sleeper. We chose the medium and it adapts perfectly for both myself and my husband. He's not been cold and I've not had one night sweat since putting the baavet duvet on my bed
So the combination of the right mattress, a wool mattress topper and a wool duvet have made all the difference to my sleep and hot sweats caused by my fluctuating hormones.
You can find out more about Baavet and how they started making their duvets on their website here, you can order online and I am delighted to share a discount with you. At checkout please use the code FF50 and this will entitle you to 20% off your full order.
Do let me know how you cope with overheating at night!
Read more here - Wellness in Menopause Workshop and my top tips for managing menopause naturally.
Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post, I contacted Baavet to ask for the discount code and offered to include them in my post about menopause and hot sweats. My post may contain affiliate links, if you click on a link and subsequently buy something then I may receive a small commission to help with the running costs of my blog.
I was originally going to run this interview series monthly but there are so many inspirational women doing amazing things that I decided twice monthly would be much better. I love meeting these women and am constantly amazed by 'how on earth they do it' - this week I am interviewing my sister Heidi. I am the oldest of three sisters and Heidi is the middle sister. We are lucky to live quite close to each other and between us we have eight children and all run a small business so life does get pretty full on.
I have written about Heidi on my blog before - I love going on one of her Oxford tours, she really is a fantastic tour guide, she loves history and presents it so well. We have been with our children when they were younger teens and they agreed it really wasn't boring at all! Now there is an accolade, Heidi makes children and teens very welcome so don't be put off - a visit to Oxford and a walking tour of the city would make an excellent summer holiday activity.
I have secured a special offer for my readers and full details can be found at the end of this post.
Here Heidi tells us more about her life and her business and how she manages to do it all!
Hi Heidi, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
This August I will be 48 and heading ever closer to the big 50! It is hard to contemplate as I always considered that to be very old but times have changed and 50 is not so bad (at least that is what I am telling myself!).
I grew up in Kent with my parents and two sisters – one older and one younger. At 12 we moved to Buckinghamshire and I found that tough at that age but am now so grateful for the move as it got me to where I am today.
I have been married to my husband and best friend for 19 years and we have three wonderful children… and a dog! I now live in Oxfordshire in a small village on The Ridgeway.
And tell us a little bit about your business venture and what inspired you?
At 18 I travelled alone to Vermont in the USA and spent a year as an Au Pair. It was a big step but I had always had 'wunderlust'. It was here that I met one of my closest friends who was also an Au Pair but from Germany. At the end of our year, Stephanie and I travelled coast to coast on Amtrak trains.
This was just the beginning and on returning to the UK, I worked for a travel company based in the UK but that took me to work in The Netherlands where I was a tour guide.
My next adventure was as a holiday representative in Turkey where I completed three summer seasons and met more lifelong friends.
As the years passed, I decided it was time to return to the UK and worked for a travel company who offered bespoke tours to Australia, America and Canada and I would often travel with my job.
After I met my husband Jonathan, and I became pregnant with our first child I returned part-time to the travel company but by my third child, I knew it was time to consider my options. I think it is important for mum’s to be at home as much as possible during the early years of childhood but I needed to work so I looked at what I was good at, what I enjoyed and what was around me and decided I'd love to become a Tour Guide in Oxford.
I wrote to the Tourist Information Centre but was disappointed to learn that they had just run a course and did not have any plans for another one for another 3-4 years. My heart sank when I received that letter ‘we will keep your details on file’ but they did! After those 4 years passed, I received a letter asking me to attend an interview. I had to prepare a 5-minute talk on a subject and present it at The Oxford Town Hall to a group of professional Guides. Although I was used to public speaking and presenting, I had not done it for some time (motherhood can strip away your self-confidence!).
But I was delighted when I received the call to let me know I had been selected for a 9-month training course to become a fully qualified Green Badge Guide. It was a tough and challenging 9-months and on more than one occasion I wondered what I had taken on. At the end, you sit three written exams and two oral. Luckily I passed and started working for the city of Oxford. I then took the leap to start my own business – Walking Tours of Oxford.
What does an average day look like for you?
There is nothing average about my job or my day – each one is unique but the kids help me to form a routine. I'm up by 7 am and then it is the chaos that any mum will know only too well – trying to get them all out the door.
My eldest is now away at University so just the two left but when they were all younger and with three of them, I felt I had done a whole day’s work before 9 am!
I do confess to breathing a sigh of relief when they are all out the door and peace descends... I then have a quiet breakfast, check my emails and reply before taking our dog, Ozzie on a walk along The Ridgeway. That is a great time to think and contemplate the day ahead!
I usually then head into Oxford for one or two tours (I have done four tours in a day and am exhausted by the end!). My clients are from all over the world and the tours I offer are vast and varied – from standard university tours, to Harry Potter, Gargoyles and Grotesques, Morse / Lewis and Endeavour ….
Once my last tour finishes, I will either have to rush towards home and collect the children from various locations or if I am lucky, I might be able to steal an hour at the gym – I love to go swimming!
What has been your biggest challenge?
As far as the business is concerned – SEO and social media! Also trying to not let things get to me too much but that is par for the course with your own business!
What advice would you pass on to someone wishing to change career in midlife?
Make sure it is right for you. Running a business is challenging and stressful and not for everyone. You need a good support network. If you have those in place, then I say go for it. Love what you do and it will shine through!
Do you have a signature style, an everyday look that you love?
When I am out on my tours – and that can be in all weathers, my main objective is comfort all the way! During the winter months it is smart jeans with waterproof boots, waterproof coat and a colourful scarf. I love a smart tailored blazer if the weather permits! – Summer brings much more scope and when the sun shines brightly, you can’t beat a cool summer dress.
How do you balance your business with family life?
Luckily my children are older now and with that comes a little bit of space. My eldest is studying at Oxford University so he is away during term time. The past 6-weeks has been very challenging with my middle child taking GCSE’s and on ‘study leave’ which means that my schedule has been completely thrown into chaos as I have had to take and collect at very erratic times. I just manage it all somehow, because you have to!
What is your biggest achievement to date?
I know it is a cliché, but unquestionably my children. They have all turned out to be well balanced and caring individuals who strive to reach their full potential at school and university. That aside, then it is my business which has not been without it’s up and downs!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
With the children ‘grown up’ I hope that I will have some more ‘us’ time for my husband and myself. We met, had our first child and married within an 18-month time frame so we never really had time to ourselves so that will be special. I want to do more travelling as I love to explore whenever I can. I have done most of the States, Canada, Europe, South East Asia and Australia but India and Africa are definitely on the agenda. I would also love to live overseas again. More than that, I would just like my children to be happy.
How can we get in touch with you and find out more about you or your tours?
Walking Tours of Oxford is Number 1 for tours in Oxford on TripAdvisor – so you can find our listing there. Check out my website – walkingtoursofoxford.com and of course social media – Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Thank you so much Heidi, I don't know how you do it but I am glad you do because I love your tours!
You can read a bit more about my visits to Oxford and tours with Heidi on my previous blog posts - a private tour of Oxford here and my more recent visit - a day out in Oxford here.
And below are the details of the special offers Heidi has set up for readers of Fifty & Fab:
Firstly she is offering her Morse, Lewis and Endeavour Tours on a Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 2.00 pm throughout the coming season - this offer is available until 31st October 2018. All you have to do is follow this link and make your booking with Eventbrite at the special rate of £14 per person (plus booking fee). You will need to enter the passcode: johnthaw to access this special rate.
She is also offering her Simply Oxford University Tour - one remaining date - Friday 22nd June 11.30 am at the reduced rate of £13 per person (plus booking fee). To book this please follow this link and make your booking with Eventbrite - you will need to enter the passcode: oxon1167 to access this special rate.
Alternatively if you would like to find out more about her other tours and availability for a private tour then do email Heidi at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post and does not contain affiliate links.
Hi, I’m Michelle and my blog Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my fifties. I share style tips, health and fitness inspiration, I talk about my holidays and days out and I tell you about my beauty regime and my lifestyle. I hope you might pick up a tip or two and get some inspiration!
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