Back to Basics


Hi!  How is everyone feeling about the start of a new month?  I’m feeling quite uplifted.  January was long and tortuous and March is on the horizon, so although it is still raining while I type this, I have hope.  I have just done a 5k run and the smell of bacon cooking is wafting up the stairs.  Things can only get better.


Clothes-wise, I’m finding myself looking at all the new styles coming through for spring, but still reaching for old favourites in the wardrobe.  Who wants to buy stuff that’s still going to sit in the wardrobe for another 6-7 weeks.  Flying by the seat of my pants or holding on to my hard-earned money, you decide!


So, what can we do for the next few weeks, while the last of the dreary days go by?  Well, I’ve been trying to plan what I’m wearing a bit more and making sure the wardrobe is fully in use and not just mine, SP’s wardrobe too.


Last weekend I borrowed Steve’s pea coat (admittedly slightly on the large side) to finish a black and white outfit.


Prompted by a desire to wear my white boots and a skirt (found at the back of the wardrobe) I didn’t have a coat that would complete the look and let’s face it, there’s a permanent downpour waiting to happen at the moment, so I grabbed SP’s coat.



Also on repeat is this striped jumper from French Connection (apologies for the wind swept mop).  Yonks old, I’m on the look out for a replacement at the moment and I think long sleeve T.shirt options are the ones to go for rather than wool, as they offer a lighter layer for wearing under blazers in the spring and solo with shorts come summer.  I’ve put a few options in the reel below if you’re interested.



Finishing off the look I teamed thick opaque tights with an A-line pleather skirt that again is years old from Zara, but it was quite nice to wear something above-the-knee for a change and the opaques cover up and keep us warm.


If you like the look I’ve popped similar pieces in the reel below.

Have a great weekend.
Gail xx
What are you wearing in this transitional period?  Are you waiting for the weather to change before making spring purchases?  Let me know in the comments below…

On Occasion, I’d Like A Sleeve, Please

How hard is it to find dresses with sleeves, lately?  If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I’ve been searching for an outfit to wear to my husband’s younger sister’s wedding for a few months now.


It has taken a lot of research, to be honest.  And one of the main reasons I’ve found it hard is that I really want to have sleeves on my dress.  It sounds silly doesn’t it, that with all the brands around us, I found it hard.


It’s a country wedding, so I wanted a floaty dress with romantic ruffles.  It’s not just at a wedding, I’m on a date with my husband!  Doesn’t everyone get a bit soppy at weddings?  I’m hoping he will.  Months ago by and you realise you haven’t said much more than what’s for dinner.  So I’m really looking forward to my seeing the beautiful bride, and I’m looking forward to a bit of fun with him indoors, outdoors.


Back to dresses and I thought I would look for a light-weight maxi dress and spotted this fabulous dress in Miss Selfridge.  I absolutely love it, but wasn’t sure, so shared on IG for feedback.  As one clever friend suggested, it’s wearing you, rather than you wearing it.  Beautifully embellished, it was quite heavy. Reluctantly, it went back.

Miss Selfridge, £120


Back to the drawing board and I was helped by two very lovely assistants at the Bath store of French Connection, who picked out this number for me.  It is fab, don’t you think?  I was going to keep it, in fact, I had made up my mind it was THE dress, because it fitted well and I felt nice.  Until, I spotted a top and skirt in Zara.

French Connection £85.00


This is what I am wearing to the wedding.  Not a dress, but it fits the brief perfectly, don’t you think?  The skirt is high-waisted, maxi and full of frills.  The top is cropped, but because of the skirt’s high waist, I can get away with it. Sleeves, light as a feather and almost down to my elbows.  No wings from me.  Bingo.

Zara, Top 29.99, Skirt £59.99

I’m going to get a bright orange bag to go with it, have booked up for acrylics and a blow dry on the morning of the wedding and, hopefully, I’ll be presentable.


Of course, now a few stores are starting to bring out more dresses with sleeves!! If you’re in need, here’s a selection to help you through the minefield. I really wanted a long length, but I’ve included shorter options if you prefer.

Are you going to a wedding this summer? What are you wearing?

Gail xx



The Modern Shopper

The young shopper buys from her or his mobile phone.  I know that I will sound like I’m stuck in the dark ages, but when I read this (source. Elle) I was partly awestruck by how things have moved on, and partly sad, because it seemed like such a joyless act.  Of course, we live in busy times and I’m open to change – I like “being down with the kids” as SP says.  So, I decided to get with it and try out online shopping.


I still remember my first shopping experience, without Mum.  I was with Kim, in Chelsea Girl, with a pocketful of birthday money.  Kim was my best friend.  We were in the same school year and she was 10 months older than me, which meant that my mum thought I was with someone sensible.  I was, but boy did Kim like her fashion.  I came home with a dirndl skirt, check shirt and knitted waistcoat – in a green matching ensemble.  I can’t remember the rationale behind these choices, but I would put good money on it being Kim’s influence, she had bought exactly the same in burgundy. What?  We were best friends!


I felt pretty “fly” walking in to the youth club, Friday night, and the thrill of choosing my own clothes has never waned.  I still love walking around the shops, eyes like saucers, palms open and touching everything in sight.  Back then, my excitement quickly dissipated when I took in the vast open plan changing room.  With no cubicles, you needed to learn the rather tricky art of undressing, without undressing.   It’s as hard as it sounds and the teenage years are angst enough without getting naked in front of (grown up) women.  Thankfully, stores don’t have these any more, but back then it was torture and I guess we all like to check ourselves out before we reveal all to a friend or partner patiently waiting outside the changing room. Oh, how the worm has turned, nowadays I willingly take photos in changing rooms and share what I’m wearing on social media!


I still enjoy “going into town”, as you know.  I rarely buy online, unless I have to, e.g., if something is only available via a website.  I don’t like the idea of having to organise returns.  I know only too well that clothes sizes go up and down, as does my weight, so I’m roughly an 8-10 on the bottom and 10-12 on the top, but that just gives me an outline of where to start.  On speaking to other online shoppers (I’ve asked a couple of mates), the way to get around this is to find a store, suss out its sizes, and stick with it.  That’s a minus on the score sheet for me.


I chose Next (really having a good season), Zara and H&M.  I had good reason for Next, I was handed a £10 off voucher in store, to use online and wanted a trench coat (see recent post).  I went with H&M, as they have a duvet set I’d like to check out and the nearest Home store is Cardiff and then lastly I went with Zara, as they had lots of new clothes in and a bag I couldn’t find in store.


First off, I ordered from Next on a Sunday afternoon, my parcels arrived by Monday lunchtime.  I ordered the trench (see here) and a blazer (see here) and these three items:


Red top from Next, cropped jeans (also Next, but purchased in store) and silver pumps from Marks & Spencer (£19.99 bargain).  I chose this top because there is a very similar blue one that is really popular, but I suit red more and thought I would give it a go.  I ordered medium and it was way too big for me.  It’s tucked in and pulled back for the pic, otherwise I would look like an elephant.


Pink short worn here with my trusty old daisy dukes.  I loved the fabric and the colour.  I can’t wear light pink, but this, more developed shade, would, I think, be okay.  However, I don’t like the cap sleeves on me, because they make my already wider upper half, appear more wide.

Blue shirt, worn with jeggings and snake skin-like heels.  I kept this shirt.  I really like the fabric and feel of it and I will take it on holiday with me as a beach cover up.  It’s a lovely rich blue that will go well with a tan and you can’t see, but the bottom has a slightly frayed edge.


So, I kept two items and then had to work out how to take the rest of it back. I didn’t want to wait in for a courier and opted for returning to store.  As it would happen I needed to visit another retailer, for work, and could pop in to Next with my returns.  Returning was super easy, I handed over the garments and the girl smiled back after a minute or two with “it’s all back on your card”.  Done.


Next up, Zara.  Delivered  in a box with tissue paper, it felt like a present.  I couldn’t wait to try everything on (the bag I wanted wasn’t available).  So here goes:

Yellow poplin shirt with bell sleeves.  I fell in love with this as soon as I put it on.  It was a last minute choice, based on looking in my wardrobe and seeing the ‘black sea’.  I put it on Instagram and lots of people loved it.  I kept this one.

I ordered a medium and it was too big, but this top was super pretty and will be popular.  However, it was too big and had to go back.

I also sent this dress back.  I really liked it, but I didn’t know where I would wear such a bold design.  However, I’m going out for afternoon tea today and wish I had it.

When ordering online goes wrong.  I ordered a small and it was.  But that still doesn’t help with getting the order right first time as I obviously need a medium, but the yellow top was a medium and fitted and the lace was a medium and was too big.  So I will have to keep an eye on the cut and fit before ordering.

This dress was a hit and miss for me.  I loved the sky blue colour, but in one view I felt a bit SJP and in another, Enid Sharples.  Enough said, it went back.  Again available in small, medium, etc., I ordered medium, but it was a little too loose.


Returning items couldn’t be easier too. You receive an email with your receipt and again I opted for returning in store, which I did and since returning on Wednesday have received another email to say the money is heading back to the bank.  Coolio.


Okay, so I didn’t use my mobile to buy clothes.  That’s a step too far for me.  I don’t trust the privacy of my phone with so many downloaded apps on it.  I probably should, but I don’t.  I guess I’m not ready for that change just yet.  However, I wouldn’t hesitate to order from my laptop again.


The pros for me were:


a) easy to order

b) liked trying new items on with my own clothes, so I could get an honest picture of the final look

c) I could try on at my leisure, so didn’t have to make a super quick, my husband’s waiting impatiently outside for me, decision

d) returning and refunding went smoothly


The cons are:

a) would I trust online ordering for an emergency garment.  No

b) sizing is an issue

c) yes, you will buy more, because once you like it and it’s close to your wardrobe, a magnet pulls it in


Overall, I really enjoyed it.  I now have three new items in my wardrobe to choose from, what’s not to love.  Of course it’s not all plain sailing.  You might be wondering what happened to the H&M order?  Well, it never came.  I forgot my password and have clicked on the link for them to send me a new one about half a dozen times and I’ve not had a response.  Lucky I wasn’t disparate for that duvet cover eh!


What is your experience of online shopping?  Like or loathe?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


Have a lovely weekend.


Gail xxx


P.S.  Sorry this post is a day late.



She’s Going Out, Out

I’ve been asked for help.  A friend of mine has a girls’ night out coming up and would like some ideas on what to wear.

The request coincided with a sunday night at our local concert hall watching 1980s’ pop band, ABC.  Mr P was/is a big fan, I liked one of their songs back in the day and I’m known to belt out the chorus when it’s played on Radio 2, so he bought us a pair of tickets.

Turns out not being a huge fan and knowing every track on their (two) albums can make for a lot of down time during a concert and I assumed the position of voyeur rather than participant.  Looking around the stalls, which was full of 40-somethings and upwards, I couldn’t help but notice that I was surrounded by a lot of grey heads (mostly men TBH) and a flock of “going out tops”.

A going out top is a wardrobe staple for the over forties.  The younger generation has them too, but for those of a certain age it’s a steadfast must-have, because you don’t go out as much and likely have less money to spend.  You’ve also got kids that want the iphone 7.  So where as the younger women wear theirs on Thursdays going to the cinema on a date, we are wearing ours on Saturday night, to the pub, to the restaurant, on a girl’s night out, to get away from the date, who we married.

The only draw-back with this sitch is that you end up wearing your beloved top with slim fit, skinny, coated, pleather jeans, or even with the other wardrobe BFF, the black “I can wear these anywhere” trousers, that you’ve worn a million times before.  You never quite feel dressed up.

Nothing beats full on dressing up.  Didn’t we all love seeing Carrie strip down to her knickers and bulldoze through her way through “the” closet until she found the perfect outfit that made her feel like a million dollars, then head out with the girls?


Image via Pinterest

Image via Pinterest


I get it, I really do.  The last time I went out, out with the girls was in September.  It’s a rare occurrence for me to go out.  However, that last time, I wore a whole new outfit.  Not only did I think I looked okay, I felt great, and that’s the point, it’s an occasion to have fun, not “get by”.  So just for a change, why not put yourself first?

Now that you have to get a whole new outfit (yes, I’m being an enabler here) where do you start?   The good news is that this autumn, trends are on our side girls and you don’t have to spend a small fortune.  The shops are ablaze with flattering pieces and if you don’t have time just order stuff online.  It’s getting easier and easier to do and if it doesn’t fit/you don’t like it, nearly every retailer offers free returns.

Material-wise there is an abundance of silk (skims)  and velvet (warms) fabric pieces out there and if in doubt go for red, metallic or leopard print pieces that will add to your outfit.  A red blouse here, metallic shoe there, and a leopard bag is THE swag to have.

Store-wise I would  head straight to H&M and Zara for cost-effective, current designs.  Also worth noting here is the brand new Alexa Chung collection at M&S (see below), which is out this week, though I think M&S in general is brimming with finds this season.   Check out their shoe collection and you’ll see what I mean.


For a full make-over I would go straight for a 1970s’ mididress.  These have appeared in most retailers’ windows this autumn.  They are feminine, cut flatteringly and all you need do is add an ankle boot and you’re good to.   This dress also has a multitude of uses – school events, family gatherings and Christmas Day wear.  Here’s a selection of dresses on the high street and online.


Alternatively, jumpsuits are still around (but you know they’ll bug when you need to pee for the 9th time) and you simply can’t go wrong with leather or pleather skirts or trousers (no-one knows or cares if it’s real).

Fancy buying something that will last longer than one night?  Head for Mango, Top Shop or M&S and leaf through their velvet jackets.  In a variety of shades, wear one over a turtle neck with a great-fitting pair of jeans and the three bar heels that are going for just £29.99 in M&S. Boom.

Meanwhile, if you want to go all-out, look for the super-skirt in vibrant prints.  These are just begging to be worn.  See the Next version I’m wearing below with a black velvet top (also from Next) and ankle boots.  Skirt is £55 and I’m wearing a 10.  Would also look great with a tucked in knit and kitten heels a la Audrey Hepburn.


So that’s the skinny on what I would shop for.  Hopefully it gives you a starting point.  Here’s to a great night out.   You deserve it.  Oh and if on the morning after the night before you feel guilty about spending money on yourself, head to Ebay, Preloved or Depop and sell your outfit before the kids wake up.

Have a great weekend all!

Gail xxx

The Bag Lady

Last weekend a friend came to stay (hi Spilly!) who told me that she hadn’t been able to access the rolling items that I include at the bottom of the posts each week. She was using her mobile to read the articles, so I think maybe I’ve attached a file that’s too big. I’m so sorry if this has been everyone’s experience. It’s not supposed to happen and if you’ve only seen one example of shopping ideas, then you’re missing out, as I add lots of items. I’m trying to rectify this error, so please let me know if this continues.


On to another ‘bug’ of mine this week. Handbags. For the past few years I’ve purchased handbags with the view that there could come a time when my bag addiction might come under attack from another recession. I’ve saved up and bought a few designs that I think/hope will last. Here’s my current collection, excluding summer beach bags.


Clockwise (top left): Mulberry, Zara, Top Shop, French Connection, Russell and Bromley, Coccinnelle (centre)



Clockwise (top left): French Connection, Mulberry, Mulberry, Mulberry, French Connection

Clockwise (top left): French Connection, Mulberry, Mulberry, Mulberry, French Connection


Those eagle-eyed among you will realise what I’ve come to learn this week, without thinking it through I’ve just bought black and beige! Nice but *stifles a yawn* bit boring isn’t it? If you read my posts regularly then you’ll know that I’m on a mission to try and add more colour and style to my appearance. So wearing black and then adding black – is whack! If my intention has been to disappear then I’ve succeeded.


Handbags have been my thing forever. I’m way more interested in the swag on my arm than I am of what’s on my feet. I used to switch up my bag to match my outfits daily when I was young and though those days are over I would like a few more colourful option to choose from.


I’m thinking of a print design and a red or green bag would, I think, also be good choices. They don’t need to be big shoppers, but maybe small to medium across-the-body designs that will lift my outfits a little. I’ve been investigating and found a few that I really like.  There’s a great leopard print bag that I like in Top Shop and a red clutch in ASOS, which is just £25.00!  I’ve added them in the roll of ideas below.  See what you think!


One thing is for sure, I will definitely be adding at least one bag to my collection before the nights draw in and I disappear again. On the point of shopping, I just wanted to share this website with you that I came across during my search – Hardlyeverwornit – is a great place to find designer items at reduced prices, just in case designer goods is your thang.


Have a lovely weekend.


Gail xx