17 In Style

Style Milestones

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!

M&S black dress, sequinist

M&S Style Milestones Lisa

marks and spencer

The sequinistDress: 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!

Red shiny raincoat M&SSlicker: M&S raincoat Skinny jeans: M&S jeggings Shoes: Rupert Sanderson    Breton tee: Saint James Sunnies: ZeroUV

shiny red rain slicker hood

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.

Red Lace dress

Red lace shift dress M&S

Red Lace cocktail


Red Lace LipstickDress: 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!

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  • Reply
    August 9, 2015 at 11:37 AM

    Great clothes on a gorgeous lady! Now I need a little red raincoat–too bad we don’t have M&S in the USA!

    • Reply
      August 9, 2015 at 1:54 PM

      Thanks so much, Maggie. I can send you one if you like?! xx

  • Reply
    August 9, 2015 at 11:50 PM

    This is why I love your blog so much, you don’t follow society’s rules for what it looks like to be a mom over 35. I can only hope to be half as stylish as you are in the next 10 years. Giving me a lot to look forward to.

    • Reply
      August 10, 2015 at 9:09 AM

      Thank you, Anastasia, that’s so sweet of you! I have no doubt you’ll be stylish at every age. xx

  • Reply
    Suzy Turner
    August 10, 2015 at 3:21 PM

    WOAH you looks absolutely stunning! What a fabulous post. I’m totally inspired by you. I’m sitting here in my old yoga shorts and vest and am suddenly feeling frumpy. I need to start dressing up like I used to. Just because I don’t go out to work any more, doesn’t mean I should be a slob, right? Plus, with my new lifestyle blog just launched, I need to look the part!
    I’m so impressed with your blog, I shall simply have to subscribe. Thanks for being such an inspiration!
    Suzy x

    • Reply
      August 10, 2015 at 3:28 PM

      Wow, Suzy! Thanks SO much for that. It is hard to find your niche again after you stop going out to work…a suit and heels doesn’t work at home, but neither do gym clothes. I’m sure you’ll find some good smart-casual pieces that will work for you in your new blogging life! Keep me posted. xx

  • Reply
    August 11, 2015 at 5:38 AM

    I wish my style was more like your beautiful dresses, but I’ve never really been able to pull them off. Absolutely gorgeous on you! I’m more the red slicker gal, and I may need to order this one because it’s perfect.

    • Reply
      August 11, 2015 at 7:44 AM

      Thank you Lana. I think you could pull off just about anything though! I really love the red slicker too. xx

  • Reply
    August 11, 2015 at 2:06 PM

    Holy Smoke Lisa, you look HOT!!!!! Wow, that red dress looks stunning on you! In terms of revamping your wardrobe, I did the same starting two years ago. I sold all my old midlife stuff on ebay and bought myself those hot Gucci scarf tops etc I always dreamed of (but when my kids were young it wasn’t the most practical thing to wear). I totally get where you are/were. I’ve been in the same place and finally found my groove again too!
    I’m sending you a message regarding our day out in Paris:)

    • Reply
      August 11, 2015 at 4:40 PM

      Thank you, Abby! I really didn’t expect M&S to be so good on cocktail dresses, but it turns out they are. We’ll have to toast getting our groove back next week xx

  • Reply
    August 11, 2015 at 4:20 PM

    Va Va VOOM lady! Fantastic choices, it’s easy to see you’re a woman who knows what she likes & what looks great on her. I think our age group got the best out of fashion every decade, don’t you? Mind you I’m still a sucker for the 70’s 😉
    btw – I really love your expression in pic 2 x

    • Reply
      August 11, 2015 at 4:39 PM

      Thank you so much, Michelle. Yeah, I agree, we did get some good decades… although I would have liked some 1960s exposure as well! I love the styling in that era. xx

  • Reply
    Emma Peach
    August 12, 2015 at 7:16 PM

    I love the red dress and you look fab in it! I’ve got loads of M&S pieces in my wardrobe…great quality and affordable too 🙂

    Emma xxx
    http://www.style-splash. com

    • Reply
      August 12, 2015 at 7:39 PM

      Thanks, Emma! Everyone seems to really like the red dress; I think so many M&S dresses look way above their price point. xx

  • Reply
    August 13, 2015 at 12:52 AM

    you are my style icon! I love that last red dress and especially the shoes! I’m tall and tend to avoid wearing heels but it doesn’t stop me admiring a gorgeous pair on someone else. I’m also aiming at going blonder and longer soon to get ready for summer so there might be a little more style down in Australia soon 🙂

    • Reply
      August 13, 2015 at 7:28 AM

      Aww, thank you Leanne. I’m fairly tall, but I can’t live without heels! Post pics of your new ‘do for summer! xx

  • Reply
    Edison Malstrom
    August 31, 2015 at 2:28 AM

    Becoming a mum is a massive milestone, so be prepared with key wardrobe essentials. Wedding invitations throw up a whole host of wardrobe dilemmas.

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