Sensational Baby Boomers

Friday, 24 February 2017

DESIGNER Vs.SUPERMARKET

Anne C here.  I have previously told you that I am a complete impulse buyer. I can go into a supermarket for a loaf of bread and a pint of milk and come out with a jacket and two pairs of shoes!

We all have a certain style of clothing which we gravitate to – and I often find that I either buy the same garment in different colours or I buy virtually the same item over and over again with only minor differences.

So looking through my wardrobe recently, it struck me how many pink sweaters I own (and I've just bought this one from Monsoon too).  In fact I have two pink jumpers which are very very similar – except that one is a beautifully soft merino wool sweater from DKNY and a silky pink version from H&M.  They certainly look very similar, but the DKNY version cost a staggering ten times the H&M version – and looking at how they have worn, I am not convinced that the designer version was the better buy - particularly since looking at the label I discovered it was made in China.

                                                                                                                        THE DKNY SWEATER

I have worn the H&M silky sweater several times and it has washed and worn very well – I have even worn it on the blog, and it looks as good now as it did when I first bought it a couple of years ago.  The DKNY version however has only been worn a couple of times and it is badly pilled on the hips and sleeves where the two have rubbed together - and if I am being really honest, the shape doesn't really do me any favours!

To note that I also have the same scarf in orange, emerald and a deeper pink!




      THE H&M VERSION 
Which brings me to another couple of items I bought which are identical in style, though different colours, but which cost vastly differing amounts!

The pink silk top was bought from TK Maxx at a cost of around £16.99 and the bright blue silk version, which is slightly longer and has a chiffon hem, but cost £75 from Phase Eight.  I wear both equally and have no complaints about the quality of either items – both have been washed and look as good as new, but I rather think it validates my claim that you don’t have to spend a fortune to look good.

For the record, my necklace is from Simply Devine Hats, I have had the pink earrings for about 20 years, and the watch is Emporio Armani, which I have also had for a while, but a similar one is available here.


                         BLUE SILK FROM PHASE EIGHT 

The above photo was taken in Santorini last year, and I have teamed the top with black cigarette pants and accessorised with a fabulous necklace I bought in Thira, blue sparkly earrings from Yuza, and bracelets from a wedding fayre!  The sandals are my holiday staples from Marks and Spencer, which were bought in the sales a couple of years ago and which I also have in taupe.

I own indigo jeggings from Marks & Spencer and similar ones from Florence & Fred at Tesco – and I can’t even tell the difference between them until I look at the labels. I also have T shirts from George at Asda which have washed and worn well, while I look at the tee I am currently wearing from M&S and have spotted seven of those pesky teeny little holes down the front that looks as if I have moths (I don’t think I do!)

A word of warning though - the fit is not always true to size.

I was lucky enough to be a guest at a wedding last year and saw a dress I really liked in Coast, but it went out of stock before I could buy it – and I had already decided which hat I would wear with it!  I spotted a pretty dress in an identical colour, although the style was quite different, but still as nice, so I bought it – cost £40 from Wallis.  Then the original dress came back in stock, so I bought that too – at a cost of £149. (It is now available again this year in beautiful shades of mint, navy and silver grey). The Wallis dress is accessorised with rose quartz earrings bought in Vietnam and watch as before, while the Coast dress is accessorised with hat and earrings from Simply Devine (as before) and bag from Dewsbury Market!

                                                                                                                            THE WALLIS DRESS



COAST DRESS 

Don’t get me wrong – if I see an item which I love and I can afford it, then I will buy it
So now I have both dresses, and I wore the more expensive one to the wedding but was it worth an extra £110? Probably not (although I do prefer it).

I also have a couple of lovely black coats which I wear equally.  My latest purchase was an unlined Joseph Ribkoff ¾ black jacket with a stylish cowl neckline which cost around £300, and another is a fully-lined satin-look black evening coat with a wider cowl collar, bought a few years ago in M&S for around £100.  Although not quite identical, both are more of a style suitable for evening wear, at vastly different prices. But perhaps my favourite piece is a beautiful black Max Mara (similar style to this one) wool coat – bought at my local charity shop for £16.95!

Anyone need a wedding guest with a pink dress??????
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Friday, 17 February 2017

SARAH LEWIS WINTER COATS

It is always fantastic to find a new range or brand of clothing which we love and which works for both of us, since we have very different body shapes, and also different tastes in clothes.

Anne C here, and it was my very great pleasure to be introduced to a new Yorkshire designer, Sarah Lewis, who recently quit her job to do something which she loves - to design clothes.  While not quite a baby boomer herself, she has a wealth of experience behind her in the design trade - from running a market stall in Cape Town, South Africa to designing period costumes for the theatre.

She began sewing at 16 without any formal training, but initially did not have the confidence to pursue tailoring as a career option. Inspired by the bright and beautiful African fabrics, she studied at Glasgow School of Art and completed a degree in textile design.


She didn't immediately take up a career in fashion but eventually - eager to learn garment construction and more advanced skills - she trained for a further year with teachers and professional tailors – including with our friend Gill at the Yorkshire School of Sewing, who has previously featured on our blog and Instagram – and at the Northern College of Costume in York.

“I have been really lucky to have Les the tailor who has a lifetime of experience and is the main person the theatres outsource to nationally, and Clyde who teaches tailoring at Huddersfield University as my mentors. Because of Clyde there is now a community of young people working to preserve the knowledge of tailoring which sadly, is a dying art.”

Sarah decided to follow her heart, and inspired by her time in the theatre, has a particular passion for those eras where womens' clothes were beautifully tailored, and fabric was traditionally natural - so has opted for luxurious cashmere, super-soft alpaca, and lovely Scottish tweeds. 


She is pictured above with her lovely Mum, Mary (who claims to be 70 but we don't believe her!) who made us very welcome with lashings of tea and biscuits when we visited Sarah's workshop near York.

Sarah's first collection is winter coats, but she is planning to move into tailored garments, with a mix and match range of jackets, skirts and pants suits, aimed at a more discerning customer.  Her coats are all beautifully lined with satin, and carefully finished with specially chosen buttons, sourced from a traditional Yorkshire company which made its name during the local textile boom before the second world war.


We thought it would be fun to spend a day modelling and trying on coats – and give us something fabulous to aspire to!

Sarah is wearing “Christine” a light brown double breasted Scottish Highland wool tweed mix coat with a drop waist. This oversized-style coat has fitted sleeves and side pockets with a nod to Sarah’s 1920s “flapper” inspiration. It has gold lining in 100% satin acetate. Mary is showcasing a beautifully soft 100% felted wool coat appropriately named after her - in cinnamon, with a dropped sleeve, patch pockets and wonderfully large collar which can be left open or fastened up snuggly on cooler days. 


Then it was our turn to get our hands on these beautiful coats and try out the best ones for our own style.

All the coats are named after Sarah's family members, and Anne H is wearing Louise, a lovely Italian cashmere swing coat in a deep berry shade, with a large collar, loose sleeve and welt pockets.  The length is perfect for Anne's height, and is a lovely contrast to her hair. Notice the beautiful lilac/pink satin lining when she twirls!





Anne C is wearing Ella, a lovely mauve swing coat with dropped sleeves, welt pockets and large collar which can be left open or fastened up for cooler days. The 100% wool angora mix has a super soft feel and a raspberry iridescent lining in 100% shot satin acetate.










Anne H (above and below) is wearing Maya, another swing coat with loose fitted sleeves, welt pockets and large collar in stone-coloured wool herringbone mix tweed, with gold lining in satin acetate.






Anne C is wearing Michelle, which is a shorter coat – so better for Anne’s height - with a shawl collar and pockets in the side seam.  The herringbone tweed mix is grey with a satin lining in air force blue.






Finally, Anne H is wearing her personal favourite - a simple ginger “Thea” oversized, double breasted coat with deep collar and optional tie belt. Slightly tulip-shaped with dropped sleeves and welt pockets, it is 100% pure cashmere with a beautiful sheen. The gold lining is 100% satin acetate.




We will be showcasing more of Sarah’s beautiful designs in the coming weeks with a range of transitional coats and occasion jackets, when we hope the weather will be a little warmer!
Sarah's website is http://www.sarah-lewis.com/ (Current collection is mostly in sizes12/14 but some are generously proportioned.  Sarah can adjust length of hemlines and sleeves for a more bespoke order).
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Friday, 10 February 2017

M&S SALE HAUL


Anne C here.  I'll be honest, I haven't been to Marks's for a while because I didn't like what I was seeing.  I used to love Per Una, but it's now frumpy and hasn't moved on since it was first launched by George Davies back in 2001 - and where is seems to have stuck.

So when my daughter bought me some M&S vouchers for Christmas,  I ventured back into store, I was surprised to find some fabulous bargains and some great clothes. Unfortunately though, there are still some frumpy clothes lurking in corners, though to be fair to everyone, I don't really like winter clothes - such depressing colours!

I get it that the classic collection was the staple for women of a certain age who want comfortable hard-wearing clothes, but since I am now approaching my mid-60s (yikes!) I don't consider myself in that market - for me it signifies easy clothing which care homes can throw into the washing machine without any effort.  I am sorry if that seems really unfair, but having seen my late mum-in-law in a care home, I can honestly say that the hard-working staff have more to do than lovingly wash, iron and carefully hang clothes back into the wardrobe.

I think the problem for M&S is that it has tried to be all things to all women.  It tried to attract a younger buyer, but their clothes are slightly more expensive and many young women want high-fashion inexpensive clothing which they can dispose of in a couple of seasons.

My daughter (she's 26) is trying to carve out a career in the corporate world and has just discovered M&S, having refused to even enter the store in her teens - but she can only afford a few key pieces. For me it stands to reason that their ranges have to be aimed at the over 30s, who can afford to spend a little more, but who nonetheless, want to appear "classic fashionable" is there is such a term - well there is now because I just coined it.

I have a Sparks card and receive their regular emails, but apparently when they do their research, they don't want me - having been turned down a couple of times because I don't fit the criteria - which is a damned shame because I have been brought up on M&S, always loved the brand, but feel I have been dumped in their eagerness to attract a different audience.

Anyway, on a positive note, I thought I would share my sale bargains with you - and incidentally I managed to spend three times more than my voucher as I paid for a couple of outfits for said daughter. Unfortunately the sales are now over, so unless your local shop still has any of these left, you might have to look in the outlet stores.

First up with my bargains is this lookey-likey Chanel-style jacket in the Autograph range, reduced from £129.99 to £52.99.  I absolutely love this but will be taking off the press studs which I think cheapen it, and just having it as an edge-to-edge style.  I have teamed it with a plain black tee and black trousers - also from M&S some years ago.

I have accessorised with silver earrings from Silpada and black suede boots with a sparkly heel from Asos (similar ones here).  To give the outfit a Jackie O feel, I have added some Chanel sunglasses from a few seasons ago.


I love this creamy-beige double chiffon top with jewelled neckline and back fastening. So many blouses with dipped hemlines are flimsy, but this covers everything up, as well as hiding a multitude of sins underneath. It was reduced from £49.50 to £17.99.

I am wearing it with the same black trousers as before, but this time have accessorised with a sparkly Swarovski watch, gold-tone earrings from Pierre Lang - which unfortunately no longer operates in the UK, although some pieces are still available on the internet.  The black suede peep-toe heels are Miss KG - again sadly no longer available.








My next purchase was a colourful long-line sweater in black with pink flowers with a short zip front reduced from £39.50 to £18.99. Since this is for everyday wear, I have teamed with M&S denim jeggings.





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Friday, 3 February 2017

BEST FOOT FORWARD

How often do you find that you are rooting around in your wardrobe and come across some items that you have not worn for ages, but are still rather taken with?  Well, that happened to me today and I thought it was opportune to share my finds with you.  They were in the shape of knee length boots, which are definitely not something I wear that often, so felt a style challenge coming on.

First up is this pair of suede boots from a company called Duo - which has since re-branded and is now called Ted and Muffy but still offer a fabulous array of boots at different heights and most importantly calf widths.  I have very slim legs and so most knee high boots are just too big and look like wellies, but these are a fabulous fit and I thoroughly recommend them.   


They feature this rather snazzy button detailing and are a really good height on the leg.  Not only does Ted & Muffy offer different calf widths (21 in total!) but has different ankle cuts, different boot heights and four different toe cuts, so you can really customise your boot - not just for fit but for the style too.... a really good service and one that opens up boot wearing to all shapes and sizes.  Just go to this link to see how versatile this makes things, not just for knee highs, but for ankle boots too.  Clever. 


I was very glad to see that Daphne was prepared to join the photographic experience as well... she definitely adds a certain something to the pictures.   I have styled these boots with my trusty skinny leg Acne jeans and fitted coat from COS, hoping that this is not making me look as if I am about to go hunting.  





Next up are some really ancient pull on boots from M&S.   Also knee high, although you can't see that here, these are a style of boots that they do year in and year out and are really comfortable and easy to wear.  They have a slightly elasticated top so stay up and are made in  a synthetic material which is very hard wearing.  I don't have shapely ankles so I like to wear a boot under cropped trousers or a longer length skirt as they add shape. As these are not leather, the fact that they have some calf shaping still works for me as they are not standing off from my leg at the top.  I have had them for so long I can't even remember when I bought them, but they genuinely still do get worn every winter.  

I have combined them here with some cropped black wool trousers from H & M which were sent to me for a post that I did in conjunction with my daughter (as seen here)  They are not something I would wear with shoes but I think they look rather smart with these boots and they are very comfortable as they have a drawstring waist.  


Of course, COS features again,with this open fronted cardigan that I purchased at the end of last year.  It is really cosy and I love the length which I think is very flattering with trousers. Although they don't have this exact one they are now doing a lovely pale pink version for the spring, which I will definitely be looking at.  The polo neck is from M & Co and I think is now ready for the bin as the neck is getting wider and wider.  But it has served me well so I am not complaining.  



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