The Damart catalogue has one or two bits that are worth a punt
Damart can be horribly frumpy (they were once best known for thermal underwear, after all), especially in summer, when the majority of clothing available anywhere seems to turn to a dreadful hideousness, but as usual there are one or two gems there.
Bypassing the vile leggings and cropped trousers, these jeans struck me as useful. You can choose from this pull-on type at top left (flat-fronted, but with handy belt loops, should you wish to hide your dreadful elastic secret), or a tummy-support design - IMHO, something every woman over 40 should have in her wardrobe. The former are only £16, while the latter are £35 and the nice thing about ordering from a catalogue is that no-one's watching when you try them on.
This blouse (right) also has some very nice details - note all the vertical seams, the flattering neckline, the three-quarter sleeves that allow you to show off a bit of arm candy. It comes in ivory and a sort of grape colour on the UK site, but this taupe shade is only available on the .fr site.
This camisole (left) is also a good design - again with vertical detailing, wide straps you can get a bra under and enough length to be useful - while the piped navy cardi below is the sort of thing that would smarten up jeans or team with a white skirt or navy trousers for summer. It is a little formal for me, so even better is a navy and white striped one they have on the site.
Dressing smartly in summer is always a problem for mid-life women - especially for work. The office might be either air-conditioned or a sweatbox, while travelling can be a nightmare on public transport - at least in a car you can set your own temperature, but on a bus or a train, you never know what you're going to get. Meanwhile, if your look or your lifestyle doesn't suit strappy, clingy little bits of nothing and you do at least need to look respectable, the manufacturers aren't interested in you.
Summer colours are often rubbish too. Pastels are often horrible shades of turquoise, peach and pink in cotton jersey or poly mixes that look cheap and nasty, and there are lots of overblown florals. Personally, when it comes to pattern, I favour stripes and polka dots for summer as they always look fresh.
With regard to colour, you can't go wrong with combis of a good neutral such as black, navy, khaki or taupe, mixed with white or cream, or self-patterned and tonal mixtures. The latter often work best in in medium-toned colours such as denim blue or taupe, as these go with virtually all other colours.
This classic shift dress shown right (what the Americans would call a 'jumper') is again available on the French site but I didn't see it on the UK one. Made of chambray, it could be worn almost anywhere from the city to the waterfront. I can see my friend C wearing this.
From the French site (not available in the UK) comes this crinkle cotton outfit (left), in khaki or blue. This is the kind of outfit beloved of French women in mid life: a bit of pattern, vertical detailing, no ironing required, a bit of flirt in the ruffles, and quite a lot of flexibility. You can team the dress with a cardi, shrug or the matching blouse, or go sleeveless, and the fabric can take an absolute hammering without showing a mark. I see a lot of women wandering round my supermarket in various dress-and-blouse or skirt-and-jacket combos like these.
Sad that the UK site isn't offering these excellent clothes, given that it’s the same company, but there are some other nice dresses to choose from, including an A-line, button-down, princess-seamed dress in chambray. This is one of the most flattering dress shapes on most women, is cool for summer with that lack of a waist seam and can take a lot of dressing up or down with cardis, belts and bags. For my casual lifestyle, it would be a winner.
More on Damart later.