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Summer shirtwaists

A well-fitting shirtwaist is a godsend in summer.

Red seersucker dress

I've been treating myself to some 'new' dresses on Ebay this week. 

It started when I spotted this gorgeous vintage seersucker dress. Seersucker is a great fabric to wear in the heat, because the crinkle in the fabric makes it stand away from your body. This dress, which is rather like my old school uniform, or a 1940s nurse, has a number of little features that lift it above the ordinary: a bias placket, bias cuffs to the sleeves, interesting buttons. And it's my shape - a slight puff at the shoulder, v-neck, tiny waist, full skirt that comes below the knee (believe me, the general public would not benefit from a view of my chubby legs). I'm also a sucker for stripes and for other forms of vertical detailing, such as buttons. 

Close up

When it arrived, in double-quick time from the US, it proved to be absolutely perfect - it could almost have been made for me. I changed out of what I was wearing straight away and wore it for the rest of the day, aired it overnight and wore it the next day too. It's brilliant and I will definitely be copying it. The generosity across the back is noticeable - this is something that has suffered in fashion since the 1990s, as manufacturers seek to shave off ease everywhere and save themselves money. There are few modern dresses (without stretch) where you can hug yourself without strain. 

Plaid shirtwaist

Wearing it made me also remember what a fantastic thing a shirtwaist is in summer. It covers your arms a bit, so there's no need for a cardigan, and a fullish skirt allows lots of air to your legs. Getting one exactly this shape is not so easy, however, as it is really a 1950s shape, so when I spotted this blue and brown plaid 1950s one in my size, I bought it straight away.

Pink linen Orvis dressI then had a think about which companies in the past have produced dresses that I like, and remembered Orvis. I love Orvis clothes - it is one of the few companies that has retained its quality in the rush to commoditised fashion - and I regret every Orvis item I've ever let go. I therefore looked on Ebay.com for Orvis dresses and found these two in linen, in my colours, and again with nice detailing such as pintucking and shell buttons.

blue linen Orvis dress

My experience of Orvis linen is that it's superb quality - these dresses normally retail for around £120 but I got them for around $35 each, working out at about £33 with shipping. 

Brown Orvis jumperBlue Orvis jumper

I also plumped for this microfibre 'jumper' dress in two colours, to wear in-between seasons over a poloneck or teeshirt, with autumn coming up. My Orvis microfibre full skirt is still going strong after 17 years, so I have faith that these will be in my wardrobe for some time to come.

  

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What your clothes say about you, part two

The second part of a three-part series.

Yesterday, I looked at the first part of the questionnaire from What your clothes say about you by Jennifer Baumgartner. That dealt with your past and your clothing influences. Today, let's look at what she asks about the present. 

Present

* How would you describe your style now?

* How do you feel when you get dressed?

* Why?

* How do you feel when you shop for clothes?

* Why? 

* How often do you shop? 

* Why?

* Who is your style inspiration?

* Do you find getting dressed difficult?

* If so, when did the difficulty start?

* What is the most difficult part of getting dressed?

* Do you find that you have nothing to wear?

* Do you wear the same thing all the time?

* Do you wear a new outfit every day?

* Do you dislike most of the clothes in your wardrobe?

* Do you have a specific style that is ‘so you’?

* Do you wish you could improve the way you dress?

* What is your favourite colour?

* Do you have that colour in your wardrobe?

* Is your style classic or trendy?

* Traditional or modern? 

* Clean or adorned? 

* Fitted or loose? 

* Short or long? 

* Do you wear what other women in your cohort wear? 

* Have you ever tried to get help in creating a wardrobe? 

* Is your closet full of old or new items? 

* Is your closet neatly organised or messy? 

* Is your closet empty or crammed?

* Do you wear your clothes? 

* Do many of your clothes still have tags?

* Do you feel that your clothes represent who you are?

* Do you feel that your clothes flatter your body?

* Do you feel that your clothes enhance your age? 

* Do your clothes function well with your current lifestyle?

* What is the most common fashion mistake you make?

* Have you tried to change that?

* Has your style changed with a time of major transition?

* Are you happy with this change? 

* Are you content with your current wardrobe. If so, why?

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And here, for the record, are my answers:

PRESENT

* How would you describe your style now?

Comfort dressing. Practicality HAS to come first, especially winter warmth. In winter I’m bundled up in thermals and fleece layers. In summer, I like a dress but it’s hard to wear dresses, because of the grass and nettles. Shoes have to be flat. I suffer from hot flushes, so I have to layer my clothes. Jeans, tees, vests, cardis, boots, wellies, waterproof coats and warm knits are my life - in summer, a linen dress with a blouse or cardi, or trousers with a tee. I don’t like to show my arms now that I’m older and I don’t feel comfortable in short skirts because I like to sit cross-legged and I also loathe tights. Jeans and a long-sleeve tee, or pull-on pants and a tunic, that’s me. 

* How do you feel when you get dressed?

Comfortable but often frumpy. 

* Why?

Because I’m not wearing the clothes I want to wear, I’m wearing the clothes my lifestyle dictates.  I’d like to look elegant, sophisticated and more urban but my lifestyle doesn’t support that look - not only are those kinds of clothes not practical for my life, I’d look totally out of place if I wore them. I thought when I came to the country that I could wear unsuitable clothing because I’d be in the house all day, but in fact the COLD in the house pretty much dictates what I wear. Even in summer, it’s cold inside the house -  I usually have to wear a cardigan. In summer I can wear prettier things, but in winter I yearn for things that don’t exist: stylish fleece, Viyella, knitwear that's actually warm enough. My indoor clothes are most people's outdoor clothes. 

* How do you feel when you shop for clothes?

In shops, frustrated: I just don’t bother any more - I buy nearly everything online. Half the time, the clothes in shops aren’t in my size, and choice is limited here, to either mall-style cheap things or expensive boutiques. I’m astounded by prices - 40 euros for a completely ordinary blouse, for instance. I can find things that I like and things I can afford but not both. French clothes aren’t cut for my shape either - they have very narrow sleeves and the French don’t wear full skirts. I tend to buy from the UK and stick to a few labels: Wall, Orvis, Boden, Land’s End, where I can guarantee the quality and have some idea of the cut. I get excited when the catalogues arrive and enjoy browsing around the sites. I’m quite good at interpreting a look at a lower price level. 

* Why? 

Frustrated because fashion isn’t designed for women my age, my shape or who live my lifestyle. French clothes are terribly, terribly expensive, other than cheap rubbish at the supermarket. I love my specialist clothes - my swimwear and my trekking clothes - they’re beautifully made and fit for purpose, but they’re not stylish. I find shoes a complete nightmare these days. 

* How often do you shop? 

Quite often, really, at least once a month. 

* Why?

Because I keep buying things that don’t quite work, then I end up having to buy more, different styles. 

* Who is your style inspiration?

Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. Tina Chow, and any of Balenciaga’s models - elegant, a little severe. Talia Shire in Godfather III with her beautiful velvets and wraps. The women in MadMen - so glamorous and beautiful. I love Inès de la Fressange, but her style wouldn’t suit me - she’s rake thin and six feet tall. I’m short and voluptuous but I don’t want to dress like an Italian bombshell. 

* Do you find getting dressed difficult?

On a daily basis, no - I just pull on my clothes and go. But I don’t look nice and I try not to leave the house in these clothes. Looking nice, I find more difficult. 

* If so, when did the difficulty start?

When I gained weight again after my illness. I hate being over 8st 7lb but am currently much heavier than this. I have large breasts and a pot belly. I don’t so much mind having a big rear and hips, thighs, etc, but I hate my matronly bosom - it spoils the line of clothing. 

* What is the most difficult part of getting dressed?

Shoes. My feet absolutely kill me and comfortable shoes require trousers when my body looks better in a dress. I cannot find flat shoes or boots that I like and can walk in. And bras are hopeless. What I really want is smaller breasts - an A cup would suit me just fine, thanks. 

* Do you find that you have nothing to wear?

Yes when I’m going out. At home, dressing is easy but when going out I often change multiple times to find clothes that are comfortable and flattering. I am too fat to wear the things I really want to wear. 

* Do you wear the same thing all the time?

At home, yes - either pull-on denim bootcut jeggings/jeans and a long-sleeve tee (summer), or thermals and fleece layers. Out and about I try to ring the changes, and I like to make an entrance with colourful, beautiful coats. Most of my coats are vintage - 1950s styles suit my shape better than modern clothing. 

* Do you wear a new outfit every day?

No - I very often gather the clothes from the day before off the bedroom floor and only change my underwear. 

* Do you dislike most of the clothes in your wardrobe?

Not really. I have some beautiful clothes, I just don’t get to wear them. But I’m bored with my everyday clothes. There’s only so much black, navy and chocolate brown a girl can take, but any other colours show the dirt so much... 

* Do you have a specific style that is ‘so you’?

When I dress up, I’m classical rather than frou-frou. Simple. Vintage. A little arty. I’m perceived as stylish by some of my friends, but they don’t see me at home, where I spend 90 per cent of my time. 

* Do you wish you could improve the way you dress?

Yes. 

* What is your favourite colour?

Sky blue. 

* Do you have that colour in your wardrobe?

A little bit. Not much because it quickly soils in our brown water. I do wear turquoise a lot, which is an easier colour to find and wears a lot better. 

* Is your style classic or trendy?

Classic.

* Traditional or modern? 

Traditional. 

* Clean or adorned? 

Clean. 

* Fitted or loose? 

Skimming - not loose but not tight either. I don’t like tailoring and anyway it would seem stupid to wear a jacket at home. I can’t bear to be restricted in clothing - I need to be able to sit cross-legged, do my yoga, etc, without getting changed. Jeggings work better for me than jeans. 

* Short or long? 

Long. I like to keep covered up. Even in summer, as I burn instantly.  

* Do you wear what other women in your cohort wear? 

No. Most of the women I know are horsewomen, smallholders, etc, so they are pretty scruffy - breeches, jeans, wellies, stained teeshirts, baggy sweats. One friend wears fleece pyjama trousers now instead of real trousers, as she can't get comfy otherwise. Many are short of money. Most aren't bothered by the lack of 'glamour' but some are and feel a bit disheartened by it. 

* Have you ever tried to get help in creating a wardrobe? 

No. Clearly I should....

* Is your closet full of old or new items? 

Quite a lot of new, actually, as I have bought more in the past year or two, as I’ve had more money. I am happy with most of them but I still struggle. I feel that I make a lot of mistakes. 

* Is your closet neatly organised or messy? 

Messy - I try, but I have too much stuff to be tidy. I do arrange things by colour and type though: stacks of vests, tees, polos etc. 

* Is your closet empty or crammed?

Crammed to bursting. There are clothes all over the house - in the office, in the sewing room, in the bedroom, in the living room. I have far too many. 

* Do you wear your clothes? 

Probably not most of them. Many of my clothes are ‘too good to wear’ for the life I lead. I hate ruining good clothes with dog hair and ash and fluff and soot, and yet that is my life. And I resent paying a fortune for more interesting basics, which is stupid, as these are the things I really wear. Many of my clothes hang unworn in the wardrobe, awaiting a suitable occasion, while I live in the same few things until they literally fall apart. 

* Do many of your clothes still have tags?

No. But I do keep my new clothes to wear ‘out’ on the first occasion because they never look as good once they’ve been washed.

* Do you feel that your clothes represent who you are?

No. They are a mixture of what suits my lifestyle and what I can afford rather than what I truly like. 

* Do you feel that your clothes flatter your body?

I don’t think my current body CAN be flattered - it’s too fat. But I do think I choose clothes quite well for my body. I don't think people realise I weigh as much as I do. 

* Do you feel that your clothes enhance your age? 

I don’t know. Sometimes I think I dress quite well for my age. At other times, I think I’ve lost the plot. Dressing advice seems to be so much about looking sexy and that’s not really something I want to convey in my clothing - I'd rather my clothes say 'hands off', to be honest. 

* Do your clothes function well with your current lifestyle?

My everyday clothes are perfect - I just don’t like them or am bored sick with them. And the clothes I want to wear don’t suit my life - they’re too delicate.   

* What is the most common fashion mistake you make?

A: being unwilling to buy an expensive basic and wear it and potentially ruin it. I try to protect my clothes as if they were art objects, and in practice, that often means not wearing them.

B: I also still buy clothes that aren’t suited to my practical country life - I like glamorous, impractical clothes that don't suit my life. 

* Have you tried to change that?

Yes to A:, no to B: I long for the glamour that would go with my clothes. When I dress up, I tend to overdress compared with everyone else. I get a lot of compliments but often feel out of place. 

* Has your style changed with a time of major transition?

Yes, menopause. My body has changed a lot this past year. 

* Are you happy with this change? 

No. I feel fat, frumpy and mannish. Huge boobs that spoil the line of everything. Sweaty and disgusting. I can't wear cotton any more and have to dress in layers for when the flushes strike. I'm constantly pulling jumpers on and off. 

* Are you content with your current wardrobe. If so, why?

No. I can’t seem to marry what I need with what I like and find clothes that are beautiful, flattering and practical all at the same time. 

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Well, clearly I am in a bit of rut to say the least! I've put on a lot of weight this winter, as I do every winter, but it is hanging around more than usual, partly because I am rubbish at cutting down on grub when the weather's so cold. But also I am utterly sick of my winter clothes now. It's nearly April, for God's sake. I tried wearing a cotton teeshirt yesterday (under a fleece polo) but soon headed upstairs to change into my usual ski thermals. It was 5 degrees outside, with a wind that could take your face off. This time last year, we were in the high teens. Still, could be worse, could be a sheep farmer, poor sods. 

I am also in a period of transition with my style, casting about to find things that suit me as I head into my 50s. Last summer I longed for pretty, floral things but when I put them on, I felt a bit like a man in drag - I prettied up the house instead, with chintz curtains, etc, as if I felt like I myself was past redemption. 

I have in my head what I want - beautiful wide-leg or bootcut cotton velvet, cord and tweed trousers in shades of grey, pewter and plum, with lots of grey and pink cashmere, pashminas with beads or sequins, sweaters with contrast detailing or beaded necklines, etc - something a little more glamorous than my everyday wear. Well-fitting indigo denim bootcut jeans with slender white shirts and cotton cardigans with some interesting detailing. Beautiful flat shoes in bright suedes and velvets. I just find them very hard to track down....

Still, at least this exercise has made me think about all this a bit more. I am now heading for Boden for a look round.

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Tomorrow, the Future.  

 

 

 

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What your clothes say about you, part one

A look into the psychology of clothing.

I've been feeling pretty fed up with this endless winter, though thank heavens, northern France isn't copping it as badly as north Wales, for instance. But apart from the cold and the rain and the lack of light, another thing winter means is endlessly dressing for warmth. It can be hard to get motivated, style-wise, when you absolutely have to layer up.

Dressing in winter, for me, means bra, pants, mohair socks from Corrymoor, ski thermals from Five Seasons, fleece pants from Lands' End, a Lands' End fleece poloneck, and Uggs. On really cold days I'll top it with a fleece gilet. It's warm, and I really do attempt my best with flattering colours and mixtures of colours, but stylish it ain't and I have dressed like this every single sodding day for months now. Believe me, I've tried with jeans and silk thermals and cashmere knits - not warm enough, not by half, not when the bedroom is 8 degrees and the kitchen 9 degrees and the office 16 degrees. Outdoor temperatures indoors demand serious cover. 

Hence, in my fed-up-ness, I've been reading a book on fashion and psychology: What your clothes say about you, by psychologist Jennifer Baumgartner. 

The book has its flaws and I'll be reviewing it in full when I've finished it, but the intro questionnaires were very interesting and gave me a couple of lightbulb moments, so I thought I'd share them here. II think it might be worthwhile for many of us to fill in that first section and see what we come up with. 

Past

* Who dressed you when you were younger?

* How did he or she dress?

* What were you taught about getting dressed?

* Was learning to a dress a necessity, a creative process or both?

* When did you begin dressing yourself?

* Did you find the process exciting?

* Did you find the process frustrating?

* Were you indifferent?

* Have you suffered a wardrobe trauma such as being bullied at school or parent criticism?

* How has your style changed throughout your life?

* What has prompted these changes?

* What has remained the same?

* Who were your style inspirations when you were younger?

* Have you held on to your clothes from the past?

* What are your favourite outfits from your past and why?

Here are my answers, for interest.

 

PAST

* Who dressed you when you were younger?

My mother. 

* How did she dress?

Badly. Frumpy elastic-waisted polyester trousers, short at the ankle. Silly little shoes - her feet always hurt. Short, tight, shiny acrylic knit tops that cut into her fat arms. She kept her good things for ‘best’ but never had a best. She never wore her nice things because she never went anywhere. Nor did she wear perfume, or makeup other than lipstick and powder. She never owned jeans that I remember and my father didn't like her wearing skirts in case she attracted male attention. 

* What were you taught about getting dressed?

To be modest. To cover up. High necks, long skirts, trousers. To take care of my clothes because they were expensive. We bought twice a year - one new summer dress, two new pairs of winter trousers, a coat every five years. No impulse buys: everything had to be carefully weighed for its cost per wear, etc. Clothes were 'dear', there must be no mistakes. 

* Was learning to a dress a necessity, a creative process or both?

A necessity. There was a degree of enjoyment to it, but we shopped low-end, at markets, C&A etc: it was often a question of what we could afford. An item from M&S was a major treat. I did enjoy, each year, picking my two new pairs of cord trousers - one year I chose teal and plum, I still remember those trousers. 

* When did you begin dressing yourself?

A little at puberty - tie-waist cheesecloth tops that bared my midriff, flared trousers, platform shoes, skinny-rib polos and tight, matching-colour jeans to go down the youthclub, learning to show off my budding figure. Then at 16, when I was into vintage fashion, I began to find my own style more. But my mother still bought my day clothes, uniforms and underwear until I went to college. My sister was horrified by my granny-pants when I was 18 and immediately gave me some sexy undies. 

* Did you find the process exciting?

Yes. I loved buying my own clothes for the first time, especially lingerie - a lilac lace set of bra, briefs and suspenders. I loved it. I’ve never forgotten that underwear. It represented freedom from parental restriction. 

* Did you find the process frustrating?

No. I found it exhilarating. I loved, with my own money and no parental oversight, being able to decide who I was. 

* Were you indifferent?

Never. 

* Have you suffered a wardrobe trauma such as being bullied or parent criticism?

Lots of parental criticism. My mother HATED when I got into vintage and started wearing Victoriana. She said I looked "like a nursing mother". She hated my excess weight, as she struggled with her own. In retrospect this seems ridiculous, as I was only a size 14 - a modern-day size 12 - and I had a 23-inch waist. 

* How has your style changed throughout your life?

As a young girl I wore what was fashionable, though I was pretty clueless, but I got into vintage quite young, and have always worn some vintage ever since. At college I took care to be clean and neat, ironing my jeans, etc, because I was ‘fat and fat people can’t be scruffy’. I tried to find my style but made a lot of mistakes - clothes that made me look heavier etc.

I upped my game a little when I met wealthy middle-class people who knew more about cut and fabric. When I learned to sew in my 20s, I discovered far more about construction and quality and what constitutes a good garment. When I got a job, I power dressed, always wore good wool suits (rarely separates) or coat-dresses, good court shoes, etc - I expended a lot of money on my work wardrobe and kept my clothes in good order. At home I’d wear any old rubbish - I changed the second I got through the door and ironed my blouses for work every Sunday, cleaned my shoes etc.

After I met my husband, I became a more casual dresser and wore more jeans and knits, and full leather skirts for work. When we moved to rural France, I found it a real shock, especially the cold, which absolutely dictates clothing in winter. It’s taken me years to find clothes warm enough to wear in winter, and they are not stylish - style has gone out the window, though I still make an effort when I leave the house. But it’s hard to find attractive evening wear that is warm enough - most evening wear is about exposing skin, which just isn’t suitable in local restaurants, etc, as they are freezing.  

* What has prompted these changes?

Puberty, discovering vintage at 16, leaving home at 18, leaving for college at 18, getting my first job at 20-odd, changing fashion in the 90s, moving to the countryside and working from home, menopause. 

* What has remained the same?

I am still obsessed with quality and still prefer vintage clothes to modern ones. 

* Who were your style inspirations when you were younger?

Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Tina Chow. 

* Have you held on to your clothes from the past?

Many of them. Mostly vintage because the quality isn’t replaceable. I also yearn for clothes I used to have. I regret giving away most of the things that I have given away. 

* What are your favourite outfits from your past and why?

My green 50s bubble-fabric dress, because it gave me a sensational hourglass figure; my Jaegar 60s knitted dress, which was such a beautiful colour; my petrol blue viscose jersey v-neck dress from college because I fancied myself as a femme fatale in it; my blue cotton jumpsuit; my khaki cotton jumpsuit that I wore to the Duxford airshow; my Victorian white cotton camiknickers, because I felt beautiful in them; my white cotton broderie corset with attached slip, for the same reason; my pale sage green maille dress that showed off my sensational figure in my 20s.

I notice that most of these date to my college days, which I feel were my heyday, and the last time that I was truly able to use clothing as a means of self-expression. At work I always tried to be smart, but I wouldn't have chosen to wear those clothes in private life, and in fact never did. And now, necessity once again dictates my wardrobe, which I find dispiriting. 

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Well, some of that was a surprise to me. For instance, I hadn't made the connection that even at pushing 50, I still cover up like a nun. This was absolutely drummed into me from being a tiny girl. I came from a strict, religious family - one of my cousins was sent away in the early 80s for getting pregnant 'out of wedlock' and there was a time my father refused to have any of his children visit because we were all living with people we weren't married to. I still prefer high necks, long sleeves, long skirts etc, and don't feel comfortable showing skin as I feel people are 'looking at me'. However, I think I inwardly rebel by wearing quite form-fitting clothing - see mum, I'm covered up, so you can't object, can you?

I also grew up with the value of clothing drummed into me - the expense of clothes, that they must be maintained. And I only really had a few years of fun with clothes before having to dress for work. I never have, and still can't bring myself to, regard items as disposable.

And clearly, I'm somewhat in mourning for my youthful shape. Menopause is whacking me with a big hammer these days and leaving me overweight, big-busted, round-tummied and sweating like a pig - none of it useful for a woman's self-image. I am struggling now to find a sartorial balance for my present and my future.  

Tomorrow: The present - your attitude to clothes right now.  

 

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Lucy Worsley's dress sense

Lucy hasn't been on our screens for a while, but here's a quick refresher.

I just found this lovely little article on Lucy Worsley's dress sense. It's from some time ago when she did an interview in the Sunday Express. 

I love Lucy - the way she doesn't pretend to be stupid, the lisp, the willingless to make a tit of herself. And her style - like a heroine escaped from the pages of a 1920s children's book. The clipped back hair, the heavy eyebrows, the cute little cardis (wish I knew where she got them from - my guess is Boden) and her flat flat flat shoes (thank heavens). Just the sort of thing to get up the snout of a tweedy old prof like David Starkey, the silly sod. 

Lucy professes to not spend much on clothes, says she never wears trousers and confesses to owning a nasal hair trimmer. Which only makes me like her even more. Check it out.  

 

 

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Wall preview

I've been in conversation with my favourite clothing label.

Jessica dress from Wall

I was having an email conversation with Wall London the other day and they have pointed me at a couple of dresses from their new summer catalogue, which isn't out for a couple of weeks yet. Check them out - the Jessica in both long and short, with interesting cut-outs at the neckline. These have my name written all over them. 

Jessica short

The reason we were in touch was I'd received my first haul of clothes from the company on Thursday and worn the first of the new dresses - the 'Pirouette' dress in the red umber colourway - out to our monthly book club meeting.

This strong red is new for me - in the days when I had dyed black hair, I could wear scarlet, but since returning to my natural blonde, I normally stick to 'spring' shades like baby pink and baby blue. But both the colour and the dress itself garnered a lot of compliments, even from my normally immune husband, who said I looked 'very elegant'.  

pirouette dress

I loved the actual wearing of the dress too: heavy, swirling, substantial jersey with a great drape, a comfortable and becoming cut, pockets (thank you Wall) and a draping cowl neck that not only flatters my substantial bustline (to my surprise - I always think of cowls as too bulky but this one is deep and fluid) but can also be worn as a hood, Valentina-style. This will be in my wardrobe until it falls to bits.

I logged back onto Wall to get it again in grey (a choice I'd only subsituted for the red at the last minute) but sadly it was no longer available, but I did buy the Lantern dress in black, along with a skirt (in teal) and cowl-neck top that I hope will go together to make an outfit.

Then I emailed the company and suggested a few ideas about their range: that it would be nice to see the Lantern and the Pirouette again next winter, in different shades; that the Issy dress would be great with sleeves for winter; that the cowl neck top might also work well as a longer tunic; that the pleat-front dress would also be nice in a longer length; that the gored dress - on me - was too wide at the neck and showed my bra straps so would be better with a v-neck, and that pockets on any dress are very welcome.  

To my surprise, they emailed back to say thanks for the feedback and also for the coverage on this blog, and so we fell into a short exchange of emails whereby my ideas are being referred up to design level (and one or two, they'd already put into production, oddly enough, so we are clearly on the same wavelengh). Well ooh err.

It's nice to get such responsiveness from a company and it also serves to remind that it's a two-way street. Companies need feedback from us too, and the more that we do that, the better are our chances of actually getting the kind of goods that we want.  

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Every woman needs an LBD or two

Or three or four, in fact...

Clothes stash: Wall LBD

I have finally treated myself to a garment from Wall.

Top ten Christmas wishlist

If money was no object, what would you want for Christmas? Here's my top ten list.

Clothes stash: Orvis dress

This recent purchase is something I've been after for a long time.

Fashion-proof your wardrobe - part two

Every women can benefit from a little black dress.

Longer skirts are coming in - get them while they're good

This summer might just be the season that's it's easy to find a frock.

Fluid designs for the over-40s babe

Caroline Gallagher designs fashions that flatter a fuller figure

Yasmin le Bon reveals new clothing line

80s supermodel Yasmin le Bon has designed a new clothing line for Wallis

Yasmin thumbWallis is showing a new line designed by 80s supermodel Yasmin le Bon.

The allure of the summer dress

Summer abounds in dresses, but most of them are hopeless for a woman over 40 - time to get the needle out?

Why is a good summer dress so hard to come by?

Knee-length shift

A range of simple shifts for Summer from Dorothy Perkins.