The away weekend

I was recently going away for a long weekend to stay with friends in the UK and travelling by train. This was late April. The last thing I wanted was a cumbersome suitcase which I would only trip over or bash into a fellow travellers legs. I wanted to arrive refreshed and unencumbered with luggage.

So – what to take; bearing in mind my small ‘cabin size’ suitcase and the unpredictability of our British weather? I set myself the challenge of creating a suitable range of outfits from six core pieces. Not including my underwear as this takes up little space (I’m not yet at the stage where my underwear is about the same size as my outerwear!)

White jeans (packed)

I tend not to travel in white as I seem to be an absolute magnet for dirt, coffee stains …… you get the idea. For comfort I travel in posh leggings, in either black or brown, of which I have several pairs. Making sure at all times my bottom is covered. I’m blessed with a small backside but if it isn’t covered I feel I look as if I have forgotten my skirt.

Flat ankle boots (to travel in)

I really can’t travel in heels so I always wear flats. There is nothing worse than arriving at your destination in pain!

Tunic top (to travel in)

This is a key piece for me as it goes with virtually all leggings and pants/jeans. It also has the advantage of keeping me warm. I usually wear a vest or camisole underneath. Unless the item is going to be on show (perhaps some lace or trimming) I buy cheap. Asda and Tesco do very cheap ‘basics’ as do H&M. For packing purposes I class vests and camisoles as underwear.

Plain vest (Asda) and Lacy trimmed camisole (H&M)

I really don’t ‘do’ cold so, apart from mid-summer, I travel with a fairly large scarf to keep my neck and shoulders warm. This also has the advantage of adding some colour to my travelling outfit.

Rarely without a scarf

Sleeveless coat by Mango (to travel in)

Some time ago I discovered the advantage of a sleeveless coat – particularly for travel. You don’t feel so encumbered and they can look stylish.

Blue skinny jeans & long white shirt (packed)

The blue jeans work with the white shirt, tunic, sweater and the coat. Plus they look good with the ankle boots and sneakers.

Sneakers (packed)

I learned how to pack from my Mother who in her youth had a job which involved a fair amount of travelling. She always used to roll up knickers and socks and put them inside shoes. She also said you should never wear the same footwear two days in a row. The reason? To allow the footwear to dry out! Our feet do to some extent sweat.

Light sweater & bold tunic top (packed)

So, there you have it; 6 key pieces and still space for toiletries and cosmetics. The key is to lay out your six pieces to be packed on one side of the bed and on the other side the items you will be wearing when you are travelling. They should all form a small capsule wardrobe.


Casual chic anyone?

The simplicity of black & white

There is no doubt that dress codes are far more relaxed these days. On a personal note I rather regret this as I love dressing up and do not at all like the sloppy unkempt way many people present themselves. Sorry to sound like a Victorian school teacher.

Far better, especially for older women, to adopt a chic yet relaxed way of dressing. The French do this perfectly. Yet they do take the time and effort to look good and well groomed. They may ‘look’ as if they haven’t tried but believe me they have. So what is French casual chic? In my view it is the ability to look well put together but retain some individuality.

Silk scarf & pearls

The above image shows a contemporary approach to two old classics – and note the cuff. Worn with jeans or casual pants the scarf and pearls don’t fall into the trap of looking too traditional.

French ‘yummy-mummy’

The trench coat

To me the trench coat is as french as champagne. It can be worn as above with pants and needs little embellishment. There are plenty of low cost trenches around and one of the best I have seen is my sister’s and she bought hers in Zara.

The scarf

To add instant chic you can’t beat a scarf. It is a low cost way of improving most outfits. Casual chic is not too difficult to achieve and certainly doesn’t involve you spending lots of money.

The rise of the poncho

Who would have thought that the poncho (remember those spaghetti westerns anyone?) would now be regarded as a key addition to your wardrobe. It is a great transitional piece when the weather isn’t warm enough to bare your arms but you don’t want to wear a heavy coat. If you are anything like me by April I am just a little sick of my coats.

With buttons

Without buttons

Ponchos provide warm and increasingly some style to your overall outfit. They are best worn with jeans or leggings on the lower half of your body to keep the proportions in balance.

Neutral colours are versatile

Summer poncho

More designers are coming up with lighter materials which are ideal for the summer. The above poncho would work well as an extra layer on your flight to sunnier climes and be ideal if the evenings needed another layer. They are many variations on the basic themes. The one above is by Captain Tortue (as my regulars will know I’m now working with the company who specialise is chic casual collections) and is in a light patterned yarn.

So forget any qualms about ponchos you may have had!

Living in loafers

If like me you find that you can no longer walk about in heels but find ballerina flats make your feet ache (apparently it’s because I have a high instep) then loafers may be just the thing. As they are often lined in leather you have the added advantage of wearing them with bare feet. I know you can get those strange socks which are not meant to show under your shoes but the thing is – they usually do.

I’ve been looking at some various styles.

Classic beige loafers

The classic loafer, and there are many about, everything from mid-price at Dune to top end from Tod’s, was made for jeans.

On trend

At the weekend I had a pre-holiday shopping trip. Which means I had not intention of buying but wanted to know what was on the shelves. There were many flat styles with bows and elaborated cloth trims. Think twice before wearing them with the cut-off wide trousers that are popular at the moment or you may make yourself look too short.

Russell & Bromley

No one would suggest that Russell and Bromley are cheap. They are however one of the best brands around. They also do half sizes (on some styles) which is great if, like me, you take a 5 and a half.

Smart enough for work

If you work in an environment which expects you to look smart the style above is ideal as is the colour. Loafers are now worn with skirts and dresses and you have the added benefit of not having to totter about on heels. So, start loafing about (sorry couldn’t resist!).

I don’t usually recommend buying on line when it comes to footwear but I make the exception with regard to The an incredible company and website aimed solely at older women. Here are 2 styles worth investigating.

Comfort and style

If you thought loafers were just a tad old-fashioned then think again.

It’s shopping but not as we know it

Welcome to your very own French chic casual wardrobe!

One of the questions I’m frequently asked is, “How can I look casual but still look smart?” Many women have a work wardrobe and a ‘going out’ wardrobe and yet there are many more occasions when we want to look good but not over or under dressed. Please feel free to shoot me down, but I don’t think it is a good idea for older women to dress too casually. Why? Because there is a danger of looking unkempt and frumpy.

Casual yet chic

The French are good at those little details that make a difference. A pleat here, a row of stitching there. E voila! French women never look as if they have tried too hard and yet there has been a lot of thought put into what they wear.

SS17 True Blue

I’m excited to introduce the new French brand I’m working with, Captain Tortue. Not the most stylish brand name I admit, however the clothes are wearable and designed to create the ultimate casual capsule wardrobe. You won’t see them on the High Street or on-line. I will bring them to you in the comfort of your own home or workplace. So, no hectic shopping or cramped changing rooms. You and some friends can try on different combinations in a relaxed and informal environment. As each season’s collections come out I’ll keep you informed so you can be ahead of the game.

SS17 The colour of summer

The collections start at size 6 and go up to 22. Here’s where I surprise you. The current SS17 collections range in price from £35 to £99.

3 Versatile Pieces

If you feel as though your casual wardrobe is just a tad too casual then the Captain Tortue collections are made for you. Contact me to find out more. My new motto – Have collections will travel!

6 items you can’t do without

If you travel around quite a bit and/or haven’t much storage space for clothes, then learn how to par down your wardrobe. Getting the right essential items will save you time (and money) and you’ll know you look good.

Item 1 – Classic White Shirt

As plain as possible so you can add an over-the-top necklace or a colourful scarf, as above. If you have small boobs then you can have frills and pleats to add some bulk. If you are of a more generous build keep the cut plain and ensure there are no gaps at the front.

Item 2 – Black Jeans or Pants

If you prefer skirts then go for an investment piece. Cheap skirts tend to ‘seat’ and look shabby far quicker than trousers. If you have the figure (neat bottom) choose a pencil skirt as they are timeless and they go with virtually every kind of footwear.

Item 3 – Short Sleeve ‘Dressy’ Top

Make sure this complements your pants or skirt. A statement bracelet or cuff will look good with a short sleeved top. If you are unhappy to show your forearms then make sure the cuff can be seen below your jacket sleeve.

Item 4  – Classic Sweater

If you live in the UK and travel around you need to be warm. Make sure your sweater can be worn over your white shirt. A statement necklace prevents the sweater from being too classic. This is important for older women as classic items need to be ‘energised’ to prevent them looking frumpy.

Item 5 – Black or Dark Coloured Jacket

A dark jacket is a wardrobe staple. Depending on your budget of course, buy quality as it will last. Ensure the jacket fits your body shape. Try to prevent the jacket finishing at the widest part of your hips. Wearing different tops, scarves and jewellery will make it look different each time.

Item 6 – T-Shirt

Go for a classic shade for longevity. If you want to introduce some colour bear in mind that a more classic colour can be worn under the white shirt with a few buttons open. Restraint is the key here!

So, there you have it. White shirt or blouse, black pants or skirt, short sleeved posh top, a classic sweater (in case you are cold), dark jacket and simple T-shirt. They should all mix and match and depending on how you accessorise them you will get several ‘looks’ from these 6 items. They are also a good base to add to. For example, a striped shirt – very ‘on trend’ at the moment – colourful top or summer trench coat.

I hate shopping!

Created without going anywhere near the shops!

When I first launched my style business I was genuinely surprised (and even a little shocked) the hear clients say they hated, and in one case detested, shopping. I have one client who tells me what she needs and then asks me to source it. This does not work for me as all brands have a slightly different cut and this results in massive differences in sizes, meaning outfits need to be returned, as they invariably never fit or don’t suit her body shape, and refunds made. Time consuming, and for both me and the client very frustrating. So, what to do?

As this particular client likes smart casual clothes I have eventually found the perfect solution. Phew! The solution? Taking the clothes to her. No, I don’t mean a couple of outfits, as I’ve already said, I’ve done this before with little success.

Classic yet relaxed

Casual chic at it’s best

I’ve discovered a French company, who use a direct selling model, and specialise in chic (they are French after all) casual clothes for women. I take the season’s collection with me to her. Result! I’m also planning to have open days and invite contacts to come to me. They can try on the clothes, mix and match and make style choices in a stress free environment. I can now offer affordable French styling with pieces that build into an everyday casual capsule collection in the comfort of your own or a friends home.

Relaxed shopping

The company were first launched in the UK in 2004 and business is certainly booming. Choosing your capsule casual wardrobe just got easy. I’m officially launching on 27 February and I’ll keep you posted. Very excited to be adding another brand to my portfolio.

But it was in the sale!

sales window

Time was when there were sales in January and June with the odd mid-season sale at some department stores. Not surprisingly women could go a little bit mad queuing up and rushing to get that bargain, only to find when they got it home that it really wasn’t all that great. Those days have long gone. Hopefully.

flower shirt

You don’t ‘do’ florals and this is too big for you

motif sweater

But it’s casual and would go with my jeans (No!)

Like most people I love a bargain. There are about 3 independent fashion retailers I shop in and always pop in when their sales are on. The reductions are genuine and do represent good value for money. In 2015 I bought a lovely black cotton coat (Spanish label) reduced by 50% – cost £100 and you can take the collar off or (and this is the bit I love) you can attach a pearl necklace which works as a collar. Later that year I bought a pair of dark navy jeans (German label) reduced by 70% – cost £30. Last year I bought a pair of ankle boots in a closing down sale for £49.95 – reduced from £195.00!! And so it goes on.

How do you prevent sales panic? I have frequently commented on the advantage of knowing what is in your wardrobe (so you can mix and match) and having a list of items you actually NEED. These two points will help to ensure that you really do get a bargain.

but it's designer

But it’s designer and such a bargain. Don’t go there!

Shop in the sales as you would at any other time. With a plan, a budget and a list. This will make sure you really do get a bargain which means you will wear your purchase with pride. Good shopping.

On the flat

Woe is me! My high heel wearing days appear to be over. My feet protest too much! I can still wear wedges so all is not lost. Many of my contemporaries are in the same situation. I love heels and I like the extra height you can gain. Oh well – onwards and upwards. Time to check out some stylish flats.

cognac riding

The riding boot

The riding boot is possibly the most versatile piece of footwear you will ever possess. Most people, even women with fairly chunky calves, can wear them easily. Great over leggings, skirts and dresses. Oh – and jodphurs too. Now is the time to buy a pair as the sales are on and there are some great bargains, with many shops and stores giving a 50% discount.

fitflp riding

Riding boot by FitFlops

If you have challenging feet why not  try FitFlops? I bought a pair of their sandals in the sale last year and they were ideal. Comfortable yet stylish.


Stylish – good with pants or dress

I really can’t remember the last time there were so many flat shoes available. You are quite literally spoiled for choice.

drk green studded loafers

Smart and business like 

Dark green is still around and looks really good with dark denim jeans or wool tights. Even in the workplace they would not look out of place. If you want something more colourful the Jeffrey Campbell (not cheap I know) ankle boots below are fabulous.


What about a dinner date or night out with the girls? You can’t face heels but the embellished shoes below look elegant and would work well with pants or a posh dress.


I don’t think it’s a coincidence that flat shoes and boots are all around us. I believe it is because older women are more interested than ever in looking stylish but years of wearing ‘stylish’ heels may have taken their toll.

Are your clothes past their sell by date?

sequin joggers

Time to go! What were you thinking about?

As we all step boldly (or cautiously) into 2017 there will be some areas of our life we want to change, embrace or lose. As this site is all about rejuvenation lets start with your wardrobe or closet. If I asked you what is the oldest item of clothing you possess would you know? Mine is a Max Mara black pleated skirt bought in 1987 for the staggeringly high price of £110.00. It’s timeless, versatile and as I look after my clothes (I know I’m such a goody two shoes!) it’s still in excellent condition. So, is this item past it’s sell by date? No. Because I love it and get pleasure from wearing and looking at it. I know – I’m clothes obsessed. Why do you think I write this blog.

4 slvless coats

Do you really need 4 sleeveless coats?

I’m not saying that all old clothes should be thrown out. Perhaps you have kept the dress you first met that special person in. Often clothes have emotional meaning for us and provided that emotion is positive why not keep the garment. A note about keeping something because it reminds you of when you were two stone lighter. This will not make you feel good. Only keep clothes if they make you feel good and, if you still wear them (my skirt has an elasticated waist as all good pleated skirts should), they still fit you.

massimo dutti cardi

That favourite cardigan – so versatile


Keep the classics

If you have started the year being less than enchanted with the contents of your wardrobe time for some ruthless shredding (not literally I hope). If you can’t face a complete overhaul – I’ve written about this in previous posts – select at least two items every week until your wardrobe is only full of items you will actually wear. De-cluttering is really cleansing and also makes you feel virtuous. Make 2017 the year when you look in your wardrobe and like what you see. If you don’t then your clothes are past they sell by date. I will be posting about key steps in creating a capsule wardrobe on a budget later this month.