Has Mary Portas lost her way?


After we had a good laugh the other week about an outsized Mary Portas batwing number we’d spied in a magazine, I thought it was time to revisit her clothing range for House of Fraser.

It was such an inspiring programme and launch that we held high hopes for MP’s determination to clothe the coolstylepost50 crowd, but my investigations proved disappointing.

The styles look too oversized, too boxy, and too many waterfall drapes, tucks and folds. We’ve tried this look and it doesn’t flatter a bust or a stomach.

The models are styled on site wearing these short tops with leggings? This is not something MP – or any self-respecting woman over 24 would consider wearing.

The prices seem to have come down a bit but the prints and colours are starting to sway into Wallis territory.

What do you think?
Have you recently bought anything from MP or seen any nice bits in the range?

Would love to hear your thoughts….






The Great Summer Cover-Up

It is a myth universally acknowledged that women of a certain age must be in ownership of a summer holiday cover-up.

Whilst there is undoubtedly a need for women, of all ages to veil their swimwear clad bodies when leaving the pool for a drink, this need not take the formless shape of an M and S polyester kaftan. This is for several reasons:

1.) Polyester is a man made fibre. This will encourage sweating and feel uncomfortable in the heat.

2.) Shapeless ‘throw-ons’ are akin to ponchos. ask yourself when you would consider wearing a poncho in everyday life?

3.) Similarly with the garish prints and colours these monstrosities tend to be sold in… When would you ever wear orange or lime paisley in everyday life?

I can can sense your panic…. If kaftans are out, then what do I do to cover myself poolside? With a veritable minefield of varicose and thread veins, cellulite and those extra pounds in need of camouflaging, our skimpiest outfits leave us feeling at our most vulnerable. As Bonk pointed out, ” it’s easy for a middle aged woman to look good in A/W’s coloured overcoat, long boots and tan bag, but stripped of our accessories, we panic.”

Luckily, there have never been more viable alternatives to the Wallis zebra print beaded kaftan… Here are a few:

1.) The Kimono.

Not as ridiculous as it sounds… Kimonos are wonderful for many reasons, but many- the sleeve. Although loose, airy and laid back, it is NOT a batwing – and that, dear readers, is a blessing! Vintage kimonos are relatively inexpensive and come in fine silk or cottons (both natural fibres and therefore much more breathable). They come in a variety of lengths so for those wanting full coverage, go for floor length. They also double up as a dressing gown – or glamorous evening jacket- so invest in one that you love and I promise you will fall for its charm.

2.) The Man’s Shirt

Admittedly, this will not cover below the knee. However, make it oversized and you will be astonished at how flattering and stylish a crisp cotton shirt with sleeves rolled to mid forearm can be. Looks equally good unbuttoned.

3.) A Simple wrap around.

A lovely, thin rectangular cotton scarf can be simply wrapped around your body and tucked into your swimwear straps. The beauty of this is you are able to pretty much choose your print… Think of a faded Liberty print or large check… Very easy and will fall to mid-calf. Failing this, you can tailor make these to suit your required length.

A few extra tips from our recent week in Portugal…

Don’t be tempted to buy ‘big’. Apart from the oversized shirt option, things always look better if tailored to fit/relatively slimline.

Enjoy the sun’s ability to disguise those problem upper arms-  use the opportunity to wear sleeveless maxi dresses without the fear of bingo wings- when it’s hot and you have colour, it’s amazing how comfortable you feel.

Make it easy. You will not bother with fiddly outfits, buttons or trousers etc when in the heat so be realistic and if all else fails, hunt down a simple vest shaped straight maxi dress in a plain colour… These are easy to throw on and surprisingly flattering over the ‘smoothing’ line of your cossie.


Christmas Knitwear – Embellished, Embroidered… or Novelty?!

There is a veritable plethora of “Christmas Jumpers” on the High Street this season as Bonk and I discovered on a shopping trip to Exeter on Saturday. 

The trouble is knowing which way to go with this trend?

Whilst we love showing a bit of personality in the Festive Season, there are some pretty naff and predictable sweaters out there… 

We found some great alternatives to the Santa/Reindeer/Christmas Puds… 
This Dickins & Jones teal sweater (which Bonk snapped up with 40% off) is just the right measure of fun: 
Sequins are always a nice way to go come December. This Laura Ashley one is nice and subtle – and Country Casuals have a nice Breton Stripe with a delicate sequin running through it. 
Here are another couple of options – from Cath Kidston. 
Bonk’s purchase has inspired me. Personality is often overlooked for the sake of style. When done right though, the two should co-exist… 

The Capsule Holiday Wardrobe

As I get older I find it increasingly difficult to pack for a holiday. I can’t decide what to take -especially if the weather can be variable. This year I decided to be very limited for a 5 day break.

I concentrated on plain clothes and accessorised with coloured jewellery/ bag etc. Plain large leather shoulder bag for travelling and daytime with coloured clutch as an alternative.


Navy skinnies and cut offs with navy and white tops.

the navy look

the navy look


I took 2 linen dresses -one long off white and one short whiteDSCF2520

All black with new Mint Velvet detail linen cardigan

All black with new Mint Velvet detail linen cardigan

. Both did for day and evening

Going down to dinner - purple cardigan and jewellery

Going down to dinner – purple cardigan and jewellery

Also took zinging yellow silk top to wear with navy or black. One of my more successful holiday packing – comfort and ease – !

I’d love to hear tips from others….

The look for me

I’ve been looking for ages to fix the right skinny trouser/ layered top look for me. ( Nearly 60, fuller figure and short). In this Jigsaw and Noa Noa combo I feel I’ve got it right at last.

DSCF1784DSCF1785The trousers, in a thick jersey with zip at back are VERY tight on the leg ( and everywhere else) but have the effect of making my legs look longer. The floaty underdress is just the right length and has pretty detailing. The black cardigan is good quality and short and tight so the entire silhouette is flattering even after all the mince pies.

As Josie so often tells me tighter clothes are often more flattering – I’ve listened. All this goes with ankle boots and hopefully in the better weather black flats.

We’re Back and we’re talking LEATHER JACKETS


Now that we’ve absolutely cracked our summer travel wardrobes (India- and Bonk mastered the Lumley Linen Look to perfection ** sponsored by www.saharalondon.com*** 

Been thinking recently… and I believe your wardrobe would benefit from a leather jacket. 

Think how great the denim one has been for making outfits more casual/weekend-y – the leather jacket does the same, but keeps you warm in Autumn and Winter.

A few things to remember… 

1.) As  a Polyvore reader explained…. “Brown leather jackets are more of a fad than an investment. You can’t mix brown and black. Ever. A brown leather jacket does not mix with a black belt, or black boots. Ever. So practically, you would get a lot more use out of a black leather jacket than a brown leather jacket. If you are going to invest in a real leather jacket, go for a black one which will be in style forever”. 



** Someone had mistakenly told granny that brown was the new black…** 

2.) Go for a FITTED style. Biker jackets are timeless, but the oversized look is best left the the young and waifish… remember a short jacket can go over thin, loose longer layers if you are scared of your bum being on display! I always by my jackets snug as they define your silhouette.

This one, £199 from Autograph (M andS) is a good starting point…


3.) A leather jacket is MEANT to be edgy. Zips, stud poppers etc are par for the course. Don;t shy away from them, as it is these details which will dress down your blouse/dress/cardigan and make you feel instantly stylish. See MP’s use of leather to transform an otherwise middle-aged ensemble….


There are some lovely unlined waterfall leather jackets around, so if this is a style you know suits you, it could be a good move-on. Be warned however, I wouldn’t recommend double-waterfalling! Better to wear with a simple T-shirt or round neck sweater and jewellery for an unfussy look. 

This one is by Oasis and at £140, it won’t have to be a second-mortage decision. 



If leather really isn’t your thing, there are a lot of mixed fabrication jackets around at the moment.

Take this Ponte and Lether Number by Mary Portas for House of Fraser:ImageO

Or, this leather armed safari jacket is from Zara (£80) 



Never underestimate the effect a touch of leather has on bringing your look up to date. (Denim has the same effect). Even the most classic of items can take on new life (and make a serious style statement) if paired with a touch of leather. Take this overcoat … £125 Topshop – it’s totally ageless. Image 

Or.. if you have a bit more cash to spare, this Helmut Lang number is now half-price at Flannels (£320)



Anyway, hope I’ve inspired you… It’s hard to adapt to the cold post-India, but I think these options make it a bit easier to skin and bear it… (sorry).