Fashion, books, fun for the over-50s.

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Monday, 30 March 2020

Style Not Age: Denim Directions

Is This Mutton over-50s blog interprets the challenge Denim Directions with a knee length denim dress and tartan tights
Here we are again, the Style Not Age collective, and this month it's my challenge, Denim Directions. The reason I chose denim as the subject is that there's so much of it around in many guises. There  are dresses, jumpsuits, boiler suits, jackets of many hues.  And jeans come in every cut imaginable - straight, boyfriend, boot leg, flared, cropped and there are no firm rules about which style is "in." So we can all look great in the style of jeans that suits us best.

Friday, 27 March 2020

Friday Favourites: Books, Viewing, Podcasts

Online workouts for kids are great for the over-50s too
G'day all. Nearly at the end of week 1, "gentle" lock down. The highlight was undoubtedly last night's "Clap for Carers." Putting on my anorak and opening the front door at 8pm, I was expecting to be the only one. But in fact nearly all my neighbours came out, clapping and cheering, with the distant sound of fireworks. Very moving.

I've started doing the live Joe Wicks "The Body Coach" workouts. It's 30 minutes and quite strenuous. Gets the heart rate up.

I planted some cerise parrot tulips and wallflowers in two containers outside the front door, and the first tulip is out. They're very early as they weren't supposed to be out until April-May. They're attracting bees, which is lovely.
The dramatic tulip Cerise Parrot alongside wallflowers yet to bloom, London, March 2020
Now for my Friday Favourites, recommendations for books, viewing and podcasts. I've chosen five of my all-time favourite books. Some of them are out-of-print but still available on Amazon as secondhand paperbacks or hard backs.

Memorable Reads - You Won't Forget these Heroines

Burial Rites, Hannah Kent

This is the story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, a servant in northern Iceland who was condemned to death after the murder of two men, one of whom was her employer. She became the last woman put to death in Iceland. It's a haunting book, pulling you into an unfamiliar world and the mind of a condemned woman. It was shortlisted for several literary awards

Human Remains,  Elizabeth Haynes  

A large number of people have been dying from natural causes in their own homes.  Police analyst Annabel spots the spike in figures but can't get her colleagues to investigate. Is there something sinister at play? Also available in Audible.

The Skin Chairs, Barbara Comyns

This was the first book I read by Barbara Comyns, a much under-estimated British writer whose books were mostly published in the 50s and 60s. The Skin Chairs is written from the perspective of a ten year old girl, Frances. When her father dies, Frances, her mother and siblings are taken under the wing of their horsey relations, led by the formidable Aunt Lawrence. Living in patronised poverty isn't fun, but Frances makes friends with Mrs Alexander, who has a collection of monkeys and a yellow motorcar.  This one is quirky and somewhat eccentric, but laugh out loud funny.Middle aged woman reading a paperback novel from Virago, The Skin Chairs by Barbara Comyns

Never No More, Maura Laverty

"You were the purple blog and ripe wheat-field and a crab tree in May. You were good food, and songs in the firelight and the rosary at night. You were a welcome for my coming and a prayer for my going out. You were Gran."

If you want escapism, in the form of the homespun charm of a cottage in Ireland and a gran who was forever cooking, this is it. Delia goes to live with her grandmother in County Kildare, in the 1920s, Ireland and we find a close knit community, not inmune from social problems, and there are surprising acts of kindness. As Delia grows up, she decides to go to Spain. Maura Laverty also spent time in Spain, firstly as a governess and later as secretary to Princess Bibesco and eventually becoming a foreign correspondent based within Madrid.  It is such a charming, beautiful book. I have read it countless times.

A Five Year Sentence, Bernice Rubens

Rubens was the most superb writer. Some of her books became films - for example, Madam Souzatska with Shirley Maclaine.  One of my favourites is the story of quiet, mousy Miss Hawkins, who is planning to end her life after her last day at work. But her colleagues give her a five-year diary, and as someone who has always followed rules and instructions, Miss Hawkins feels duty bound to fulfill the expectations of the diary and its timeline, even though the diary starts giving her instructions to do things she has never done before in her life.

Podcast Pleasures

Now that I'm not driving 90 miles a day to work, I'm not listening to so many podcasts, although I'm going to use them on my daily walks when I'm walking alone. I'm gripped by The Dating Game Killer. It's the true story of a serial killer who was so charming, well educated and plausible that hardly any of his employers ran background checks, and he would quickly skip state and adopt a new identity to avoid capture. He actually was on a TV dating show and was chosen as the date of the female contestant.  Find out what happened.

Viewing Delights

The joys of Netflix have quickly worn off and we're not watching much on there at the moment, having enjoyed Cheer and a surprisingly engaging documentary series going behind-the-scenes in Formula 1.

My current favourites:
Hidden:  extremely atmospheric and beautifully filmed thriller from BBC Wales  (BBC iPlayer). It's a bit long and drawn out, but kept our attention.
Race Across the World:  the contestants are more varied, interesting and likeable than those in the first series.  Racing as couples, the contestants are not allowed to use planes and have just the price of an air ticket to get to the final destination.  BBC 2 and iPlayer.
The Nest - (below) - episode one of the new drama from BBC Scotland looked promising.  A woman desperate for a baby befriends a young girl with a troubled past who wants to become her surrogate.  But her husband (Martin Compston from Line of Duty) is less convinced.
Glasgow looks very aspirational and the riverside home of the glamorous couple is to die for. BBC1 and iPlayer. Three cast members of The Nest by the river
Belgravia:  the lavish new drama from Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey).  The first episode was very strong, the second less so. ITV 1 and ITV Hub. It's very Downton-esque, even down to the theme music.

I'll be back on Monday with the monthly fashion challenge, Style Not Age.

Sharing this post with Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge. #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, #ShareAllLinkUp with Not Dressed as Lamb,  Anna at Mutton Style

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Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Polka Dots Twice - and Link Up

Monochrome with polka dots and a splash of green from over-50s style blogger Gail Hanlon
Hello everyone - hope you are all safe and well.  I was reading today that many online fashion retailers are not planning to restock for spring/summer because the sentiment is that by the time we've got through COVID-19, it may be too late for summer clothes. Let's hope not!

As I mentioned last week, I've made a few purchases, mostly timeless pieces that will serve me well for the years to come. Take this polka dot pair for example: both from Marks and Spencer.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Green Co-Ords and Link Up

Matching co-ordinates - tops with bottoms - are still very fashionable. Over 50s blogger Gail Hanlon shows a green leopard top with tie waist and matching culottes by Kettlewell.
This is an unashamed outfit post. The COVID-19 story plays out all day on the news so I don't need to cover it here.

I haven't done many "outfit posts" this year and the main reason is, I've got a bit bored with my winter wardrobe and there can only be so many variations on it to show you. I didn't buy anything new in Jan/Feb.  My intention was to radically change my shopping habits.  I learnt from another blogger, who's got years of experience in the retail sector, that when we order online a lot of the returns go directly to land fill.  This horrified me. For many mass market retailers, there's too much work involved in steaming and redistributing clothes to go back into the purchase chain. Plus there's the issue that young people often wear something and send it back the next day.

My plan to actually go into some stores and try on clothes has of course been scuppered. So I ordered some clothes instead, trying to choose retailers who I'm sure would not send returns to landfill.
Over 50s style blog Is This Mutton? on the figure flattering benefits of co-ordinates
Co-ords, matching skirts/trousers and tops, have been around for the last couple of seasons.  I initially liked this pair of culottes and matching top from Kettlewell.  Both co-ords can be worn individually,  and in fact it works better, because the culottes and the top both have a tie waist, which looks odd worn together. I tucked the waist tie of the culottes inside.

The co-ords come in four colourways.  I added white/cream accessories and jacket after trying pink, which didn't look right.

This is a great outfit for the pear shaped, because the long top skims the waist and hips and the wide culottes provide balance for your smaller shoulders, creating an hourglass figure.

But it's not a top choice for my shape.  After I'd taken and reviewed the pictures, I wasn't convinced I really loved the outfit.  I resolved at the start of the year I would only buy things if I really love them.
The main reason I don't love the outfit is that the top is a long one, and although it has a tie waist, this is not a length I normally wear.  I prefer to wear things tucked in because otherwise I look larger than I am, particularly if I wear a top like this with trousers because my hips and thighs then look proportionately bigger.
Cream accessories with a green leopard print pair of co-ordinates and worn by over-50s style blogger Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton?
The culottes have an elasticated waist which generally is not good news for me in the summer when I like to tuck things in.  A fitted waistband looks more streamlined;  elasticated can add bulk. As we get older we understand better which lines and styles are the most flattering on us - whether we are short legged, long waisted, whatever.
Now it's time for #WowOnWednesday, the weekly link up where you can find new blogs to read, and bloggers can find new readers. Please leave a few comments on the blogs you visit, it really makes a blogger's day to see their posts are being read  (and not just by other bloggers).

Last week's readers' favourite (most clicked) was Singapore blogger Anna from the Glam Adventure and her YouTube video recreating a casual look worn by Jennifer Aniston.
Jennifer Aniston's casual chic outfit of jeans, jacket and tan bag is successfully copied by blogger Anna from GlamAdventure
My favourite post was by Laurie from Vanity and Me, Baukjen Brand event Spring Summer 20 event. I love posts that preview fashion collections, it's like having a seat on the front row. I always like the look of Baukjen but I've never bought anything from them yet. As Laurie shows, the tailoring looks wonderful.

Sharing this post with Claire Justine, #iwillwearwhatIlike at Not Dressed as Lamb, Top of the World Style at High Latitude Style, Visible Monday at Not Dead Yet Style, Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge, Anna at Muttonstyle, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Thursday Moda at Elegance and Mommyhood, Turning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Style with a Smile at Stylesplash, Anna at the GlamAdventure, Style Six at Coast to Coast

Nothing was gifted for this post.
Stylish over-50s blogger Laurie Bronze from Vanity and Me in tailored jacket from Baukjen
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