I was chatting with a friend recently about swimwear. Just about this time of year – when you’re still debating whether to bare your lily white pins in a pair of shorts in case you dazzle a passing driver and cause some sort of accident – is, weirdly, the best time to buy your new swimwear. The shops are still full of all the lovely bits. But, woe betide that you leave it until a couple of weeks before your summer holiday – it will all be sold out and you’ll be left with the choice of a teeny tiny string bikini or a boring black sporty swimsuit left in your size. Happily, I’m here to help and yesterday I took a little sortie to Milton Keynes to check out the swim and beachwear from M&S. There aren’t many places better to buy swimwear – their fit is always good, the prices are reasonable, the fabrics wash well and don’t fade in the sun, and they always have nice matchy matchy bits too. Read on, then, for my best buys:
Ahhh bank holidays. Three days of absolutely nothing to do and hopefully a bit of sunshine too. I was just reading an Instagram post from a fellow introvert who said, ‘three whole days of nothingness to look forward to’ and that’s absolutely what I’m looking forward to as well: a potter about with my plants, cooking some delicious food, maybe a wander into the village to bimble about the flower festival at the local church with my Mum… perfection. I know some people love a full calendar of exciting events, but I’m happiest at home, with my favourite people and a large glass of rosé. Of course I’m absolutely not ruling out a bit of internet shopping and the long weekend brings with it some rather lovely bank holiday bargains. I’ve brought you a few of the best ones that have dropped into my inbox – along with hundreds of GDPR emails, MAKE THEM STOP! – over the last week or so.
What on earth is up with this weather? Last week, we were convinced that spring had sprung and I was walking the dog in shorts and a t-shirt, and now I’m looking out the window and it’s that proper April rain shower/sunny spell combo weather again. It’s a lot chillier too. This is brilliant for all of us who love nothing more than chatting about the weather (yes, I’m talking about you, Mr E), but not so good if you’re trying to plan your outfit for a day in town or an evening out. At home I’m not bothered because I live in my standard uniform of jeans and trainers (wellies and parkas for walkies), but I’ve got a couple of things in the pipeline that are going to need me to look smart and then what do I do? For this weekend’s wishlist, I’ve been doing a bit of research at one of my favourite retailers and I’ve come up with some ideas for spring dressing with M&S, who are knocking it out of the park at the moment, fashion-wise.
Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to Skye Gyngell’s gorgeous (and aptly named) Spring restaurant at Somerset House in London for the prettiest of breakfasts to celebrate the launch of the new hush spring 2018 collection. With fresh petal colours, delicate prints and new twists on some of my favourite pieces, I could very easily have packed the whole lot up and taken it home with me. Read on for a look at that beautiful breakfast and a peek at some of the pieces that caught my eye.
If ever there’s a time to invest in gorgeously soft, luxurious cashmere (or give it as a gift), it’s surely Christmas? This season, cashmere has really come into its own: soft, slouchy sweaters paired with metallic pleats, cosy cardigans worn with leather trousers and a crisp shirt… and of course everyone needs a baby soft cashmere scarf when the weather is crisp and cold. John Lewis have a beautiful range of cashmere from lots of different designers, so I thought I’d bring you my top Christmas cashmere picks, whether you’re choosing for a loved one, or hoping for a squishy parcel under the tree!
I would probably be what you would call a ‘conservative dresser’. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I favour classic wardrobe staples: simple shift dresses, dark denim, a crisp white shirt and black knitwear. But it’s Christmas! This season, even if you’re not a party animal, everyone needs a little laid back luxe in their life, and I’m loving the stylish winter florals at John Lewis. There’s a touch of the Bohemian about it: rich, jewel tones, soft velvet, a little sparkle, a hint of embroidery, dark toned florals… all things that tempt me to step out of my comfort zone. Here are my top picks:
Have you worked out your personal style? It’s a tough one. I think by now, in my mid-forties, I’ve kind of sorted out roughly what suits me and what doesn’t: I like a mostly minimalist style in a palette of grey, black and white, and I tend to stick to classic styles, with the odd bit of leopard thrown in for good measure. What if, though, you could have access to your own personal stylist? Would you be interested in maybe shaking up your look? I’d love to be braver, especially at Christmas! I was intrigued and delighted to be invited to try Tuesday from M&S, a new, free, personal styling service that aims to provide style inspiration (with no obligation to buy).
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and just to make it extra special, this year is the 25th anniversary of the pink ribbon. Breast cancer will affect one in eight women in their lifetimes, and at the moment, one person is being diagnosed every 10 minutes, so it’s really important that we all come together and raise as much money as we can. Loads of brilliant brands have teamed up with breast cancer charities to provide opportunities for you to donate while you shop, and with Christmas coming up (67 days, folks!), it’s a really good time to get a start on your Christmas shopping, and do something brilliant for a great cause. Here’s my Breast Cancer Awareness Month roundup. Read more
This week saw the announcement of the new hush autumn 17 collection and it really is a gorgeous one. I’ve seen them go from quite a niche online company to wandering the racks of their clothes in John Lewis like a proud mama, and I continue to love everything about their relaxed, grown up style. I absolutely love it when a new season collection lands and it’s no secret that autumn’s my favourite: all those snuggly jumpers, muted colours and soft fabrics make me so happy. Let’s face it, our summer’s been pretty nonexistent, hasn’t it? During our dog walks recently (yup, in wellies and rainwear), we’ve picked handfuls of blackberries for crumble, and the crabapples and sloes are dotting the hedgerows already… It’s like mother nature wants us all to forget it ever happened and move straight on to autumn. And honestly? At this stage, I’m pretty happy with that.
Fashion seasons are so fickle aren’t they? I always think it’s weird how in the middle of August, when we should all be enjoying the sun (okay, I appreciate this really hasn’t happened), all everyone is talking about is school uniform, and things that are ‘new in for Autumn’, ‘new season’, etc. Still, I get it. If you’ve got kids going back to school (I haven’t – for the first time ever – sniff), you need to get uniforms and school kit organised, and if not, if you’re anything like me, those little glimpses of deliciously soft knitwear, leather boots and coats still make my heart do a little skip – autumn is by far my favourite season! Recently I’ve been considering investment handbags. I tend to buy a handbag – generally leather but not hugely expensive – and use it until I get sick of it, or ruin it. I’ve currently got a cavernous, ‘chuck it all in’ soft leather bag that I bought in John Lewis. But September, with all its back to school newness, does seem the season to maybe invest in something new and beautiful – a kind of new school bag for grown ups, if you will.
Now you all know I’m a huge Boden fan, and it’s that time of year again when they’re releasing gorgeous pictures of all their beautiful beach and holiday ranges. I love Boden for great quality, bold patterns, awesome design and just a little hint of British quirkiness. As an added bonus, from now until tomorrow, Sunday 11th June, there’s 30% off dresses, (including playsets and rompers), accessories (non-footwear), boys’ trousers and menswear with code: 6T2C. Here’s my pick of Boden’s holiday heroes – get those credit cards at the ready!
Did you know that over the past few years, sales of swimwear have soared? I think it’s gone from one of those pieces that we might have one or two of, to a wardrobe staple that we might own in several different styles and colours. We’re also spending more money on beachwear than ever before, so this sector of the fashion market is booming. Interestingly, the strongest growth in sales has come from women buying bikinis, with sales of two pieces representing 68% of all sales for the swimwear sector! But what about if, like me, you’ve got hips and a bum, and maybe a bit of a tummy too – is a bikini for you? If you’re planning to hit the beach this summer, here are my tips on buying a bikini if you’re curvy. Read more
Now I know I said recently that my obsession with all things cute and floral was fleeting, but there’s so much lovely stuff in the shops at the moment, I fear my monochrome madness might have to be put on hold for a while longer. Everywhere I look there’s embroidery and splashes of colour, and as the sun has come out at least twice, and a lot of us are planning our summer getaways, it just somehow seems right. Here’s my weekend wishlist of flirty florals:
I’m such a monochrome shopper it’s not even right. Absolutely everything I purchase (apart from denim) is black, white, or grey, so my current obsession with everything nude and blush has kind of caught me by surprise. Although, I guess nude is a neutral, so by rights my wardrobe should all still fit together, no?
I spend so much money on products that aren’t right for me. My worst one was getting my foundation done at the Chanel counter at Gatwick, then purchasing the product and not realising until I went to the loo on the plane and looked in the mirror that my face was literally orange (top tip, try to approach someone on a make-up counter whose own make-up style you really like). I have to say, though, that when I took it back to the Chanel counter at John Lewis, they changed it for me. I also find I make a lot of mistakes buying online, with products not being the right colour or texture for me. Happily, though, I occasionally have some amazingly good accidental discoveries, and I’m on a roll recently, so I thought I’d share them with you.
I’ve never really been a chunky jewellery person, bar the odd feathery bit of boho jewellery on the beach. I love sweet, delicate pieces: a sliver of gold around the neck that catches the light, or a flash of glitter in the ear caught just as you push your hair back. This weekend’s wishlist features the absolutely stunning range from Rachel Jackson London available at John Lewis.
- Come shopping with me: swim and beachwear from M&S June 16, 2018
- Coconut chilli prawn noodles June 14, 2018
- Marvel Summer of Super Heroes at Disneyland Paris June 12, 2018
- Haddock and cheddar tart: pescatarian perfection June 9, 2018
- Balayage at The Hair Secret, Berkhamsted and new Oway organic hair products June 7, 2018