I’m really excited to be participating in Marks and Spencer’s current Style Milestones project, where bloggers share their style evolution. Style Milestones certainly fits in with the focus of The Sequinist, where I was inspired to re-connect with my personal style after it suffered from a year or two of post-baby neglect.
I’ve been thinking about how style has co-evolved with me throughout my life, almost like a character in a novel, or an imaginary friend. I was a child of the 70’s (mustard-toned corduroy, lots of rainbows), a teenager of the 80’s (shoulder pads, stirrup pants and big hair), a young working woman in the 90’s (black trouser suits, slip dresses), and a proper businesswoman in the Noughties (always in a suit or a velour tracksuit!). I’ve weathered my fair share of fashion trends. At each milestone in my life, I can remember exactly what I was wearing… when I had my first date with my husband, when I went for my first job interview in New York, when I was en route to the hospital to have my son, when I turned forty… On all of these occasions, I’ve felt most at home in glamorous, out-of-the-ordinary, eye-catching clothes, and not very at home in what most people consider comfortable.
A few years ago, I realised that I was starting to do that clichéd middle-aged-dressing thing; I put aside the statement-making sparkle that had always been part of my signature style, and I started dressing out of habit rather than joy. I wore different versions of the same thing all the time– grey cashmere sweaters, black shift dresses, black boots, white t-shirts, etc. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I had recently had a baby, so like most new mothers, my life revolved around wearing loungewear at home with the baby rather than planning what I was going to wear to cocktails on Saturday night.
One day, I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognise myself. Who was this person wearing yoga trousers and a t-shirt every day? Where had the sequin-loving, cocktail-dress-wearing woman gone? Just because I had left my job in the City and had a baby didn’t mean she shouldn’t exist! As my son became more independent, so did I, and I regained my love for style and glamour, right there in the middle of Midlife. I was tired of my personal style suffering from neglect, and I was tired of my interchangeable ‘capsule wardrobe’ rut. I re-vamped my wardrobe, getting rid of anything that didn’t make me feel like my best ‘me.’ I reconnected with my inner Holly Golightly, and I now ensure she gets a few outings a week (once my little one is asleep). Midlife dressing does not have to be any different from any other stage of your life. You write your own rules. My own rule is bin the ‘capsule wardrobe’ dressing and wear things that make you feel amazing.
For the Marks and Spencer Style Milestones project, I chose this black dress, which I have worn several times already. This is my style, nailed. It manages to be both very modern and very retro at the same time, which is my idea of perfect. The neckline is gorgeous. Because of the blindingly sunny London afternoon, you can’t see the sparkle detail on the fabric, but it is there! This is a cracking dress, and looks way above its £89 price point. I absolutely love it. This is a dress for reconnecting with your inner Holly Golightly!
Dress: M&S Cuff: Hermes Shoes: Manolo Blahnik
The next item I chose was this adorable fire-engine red rain slicker. On a dismal rainy day, this is just the ticket to keep me bright and stylish. Sure, it has useful things like pockets that zip, pockets that snap, and a hood (since I am always leaving my umbrellas in taxis, this is welcome), but it was the playful shine and shouty colour that grabbed me. This is the must have item that I never knew I needed! Is this an item on any “What you should be wearing in Midlife” checklist? No. Do I care? No. Does it work? YES!
For my final piece, I chose the red lace siren dress below. Like the black dress I featured first, it feels both retro and modern to me. It could easily be a dress from the 1960s, except for the bright blue satin lining which adds a modern spin. Usually I shop at Marks and Spencer for things like pyjamas and tights, but I’m really impressed with the more fashion forward pieces in their range in recent years. The only problem is that it isn’t a secret, so the really knockout pieces (like this dress) tend to sell out quickly. Today, I’m off to a friend’s 50th birthday party in this dress, but I think it works well for a wedding too.
My ‘Style Milestone’ has been about reaching Midlife and realising that nothing has changed! Style for me is all about fun and glamour, no matter how old I am. I might have lost track of that for a little while, but the girl who was sewing sequins onto her shirts to make them more glamorous at 18 is buying red lace and sparkly black cocktails dresses at 46. What are you doing to keep your style at Midlife? Have a look at some other bloggers as they celebrate their Style Milestones here in a video.
Dress: M&S Red Lace Dress Shoes: Rupert Sanderson Bag: Louis Vuitton Photography: Lottie Anderson
A big thank you to M&S who gifted me the red lace dress and the red raincoat!