capsule wardrobe for the older woman !

(45 Posts)
doughnuts Wed 11-Jul-07 17:07:23

I'm 48, 5ft 5,broad shoulders,curvy but not fat,slim hips and bot - ie. 14 on top 12 on bottom - I work from home so don't need workwear, but would like to construct a capsule wardrobe to see me through autumn/winter. Bear in mind that I have very limited funds at present but would like to buy good quality things which will last and not go manky in the wash. I am not one for patterns and like navy,blues,greens,pinks and white - I would like to look chic but not dressed up -so relaxed but a bit smarter than I am now. Think French ladies !! Can anyone help me with some ideas - I'd be soooo grateful. By the way, I have short hair - just cut from a bob, so am feeling a bit insecure until I get used to it. Don't like too much jewellery or accessories but love bangles and always wear them. Also sometimes wear glasses which are v nice Lulu Guinness ones - so feel quie groovy in them. Don't want to sink into middle aged frumpishness - help !

bundle Wed 11-Jul-07 17:08:10

have seen some nice pieces in the betty jackson diffusion range (black) in debenhams

doughnuts Wed 11-Jul-07 17:09:07

Betty Jackson - what kind of prices are we talking bundle ?

bundle Wed 11-Jul-07 17:09:48

about £35 for pair trousers

aloha Wed 11-Jul-07 17:10:50

I would go to a personal shopper. John Lewis have them, so do Debenhams and numerous other places inc Selfridges (v good in the past)
It can be a fantastic way to get a lot of shopping done.
I am in the process of losing weight (have lost about 20lbs with about 10lbs to go) so am saving that particular treat up, but it is really excellent. I once started a new job with the most brilliant wardrobe. All things I would never have thought of at the time - such as shapes - high waisted and short, and colours, eg plum and grey, I would not have considered. You don't actually have to spend anything and there is no fee, but I think it is better to have three nice things that ten rubbishy Primark ones.

aloha Wed 11-Jul-07 17:11:38

I'm nearly 44 btw, so know the dilemma of not wanting to become a middle aged frump, but also not wanting to be muttony.

I agree Aloha - I think that as one gets older quality clothes are more important - you don't have to be boring and unfashionable but a really good cut of a shirt cans take lbs off you

doughnuts Wed 11-Jul-07 17:12:54

aloha - good idea - wouldn't you feel a bit obliged to buy something though ? Absolutelyt agree about having a few nice things than a load of tat - and congratulations on impressive weight loss too !

Idreamofdaleks Wed 11-Jul-07 17:14:20

do you like boden

I reckon that you would want to buy something - these people know everything in the shop and get you into stuff that you might not have ever of considered but actually looks rather good on you too...

doughnuts Wed 11-Jul-07 17:15:07

er yes (in fact I'm wearing a Boden cardi right now !)

aloha Wed 11-Jul-07 17:16:35

Yes, you do feel a bit obliged, but tbh, most of them are really good and you want to buy! And instead of sweatily trudging around the rails, thinking 'oh I have NO IDEA what this would look like on, I have nothing to wear it with and I want to sit down and have a coffee', someone else does the trudgingand matching while you do sit down having a (free) coffee'. Tis marvellous! As you plan to shop anyway I really do recommend it. Have been three times, but not recently. Do plan to though. Because they shoppers are not paid commission they aren't pushy, but they do want to make you look nice.

doughnuts Wed 11-Jul-07 17:17:26

I'm sure I would want to buy something. I feel panicky because I'm not earning anything at the moment as my work has dried up -am self employed illustrator- and that always makes me think that I can't really spend anything on clothes which is so depressing. So I really want to make the best use of whatever funds I can lay my hands on !

Do you think you could stretch to hair too.

Ooo and the other day I went to one of the make up counters and told the woman what I wanted to look like - not orange and caked in make up - but naturally beautiful (am not) and she did. Gradually buying her majoic lotions and potions and paints and powders as and when...

aloha Wed 11-Jul-07 17:19:48

I think a personal shopper is the best use of your funds. And they don't just present you with clothes and expect you to buy them, it's really interactive. You say, 'urk, no, I hate green' or 'I feel really uncomfortable in straight skirts' and they take them away. They aren't bullies!

aloha Wed 11-Jul-07 17:20:58

I totally understand the horror of freelance cashflow btw. I'm sure you will have lots of work soon. (I'm always reassuring fellow freelancers they aren't going to starve in gutters and they me!)

Idreamofdaleks Wed 11-Jul-07 17:22:27

Analyse your lifestyle, eg do you need an outfit for
school run
dog walking
shopping & lunch with friend
theatre
etc
then get outfits for these occaisions. Make sure you have the whole outfit for each incl footwear and jewellery. Sticking to one colour palate is sensible if you want to spend less.

doughnuts Wed 11-Jul-07 17:23:53

aloha - me too ! I am slightly more panicked than usual as there's been a very big gap between jobs this time...things usually turn up in the end though.

doughnuts Wed 11-Jul-07 17:27:22

Idreamofdaleks - sensible advice - I'm mostly at home but would like to know that I have a few nice smart things for going out in. Noodlestroodle - I do fork out on my hair every 8 weeks, half head of foils and cut and I find buying lovely perfume is very therapeutic - occassionally order from Jo Malone .

SilentTerror Wed 11-Jul-07 17:30:49

I think simple pieces are best,perhaps
Linen wide legged trousers(woollen in winter)from M and S.
Good quality white/cream/favourite colour vests and scoop neck t shirts(I find Kew a bit pricier than some but excellent quality).
Couple of fine knit cardigans in colours that you like,perhaps lime green/teal/other bright colours that you like(again Kew good for these,as is Boden!and Monsoon)
Good pair of jeans
Flat ballet pumps(limited collection at M and S good)
As you like bangles get lots in the colours of your cardigans,again Mand S good,Wallis or East.
Perhaps pretty dress,empire line or wrap(Principles/Boden/Warehouse).
Obviously you don't need to rush out and buy all this!Just a few ideas to work with!

aloha Wed 11-Jul-07 17:31:49

sounds like you need - easy outfit x2 for working at home, popping to shops, picking up kids, 1xoutfit for casual socialising (dinner at friends house /pub with dh) and a slightly smarter outfit/dress (dinner with dh in nice restaurant/event)
would that be about right?

Idreamofdaleks Wed 11-Jul-07 17:34:01

I am sad that you don't like patterns as I think you are missing a trick here

40+ year olds might have trouble with minis/sleeveless etc but patterns are great whatever age you are!

Like your list SilentT

bundle Wed 11-Jul-07 17:35:42

where do you live? a shop called Cos has opened on Regent St in central London and it's full of nice lineny separates etc

doughnuts Wed 11-Jul-07 17:44:28

aloha - yes, you're right there ! and SilentT - thank you - that's a really helpful list - will print it out to keep. Idreamofdaleks - I know - I have a close friend who is always on at me about patterns and colour - she is incredibly stylish and despairs at my fear of pattern and colour - I used to dress much more vibrantly but I was a lot younger then and could do quirky/vintage with confidence - 50s frocks etc..I think it's my trying to want to look good but understated - she thinks I should go for weacky and look at me !! This really suits her as she's more flamboyant and as a larger woman she wants to make a bold statement rather than cowering away in taupe. I just don't feel comfy in these things though

doughnuts Wed 11-Jul-07 17:45:53

bundle - until 2 yrs ago I lived v nr Richmond which was fab - now live in Hampshire, so would cgo into Winchester or Basingstoke ( prefer Winch)

Carnoodleusfudge Wed 11-Jul-07 17:46:10

Ah but you can add colour and pattern with a brightly coloured scarf or similiar accessory couldn't you...

MrsBadger Wed 11-Jul-07 17:46:22

Get your colours done

I have Pattern fear too and tis nowt to be ashamed of, but cowering in dull colours that don;t suit you is. Ask for it for a birthday present or soemthing.
ALso means all items in the capsule wardrobe will go with each other thus multiplying outfit combinations...

bundle Wed 11-Jul-07 17:47:15

i think patterns can work really well if quite funky in say an a-line skirt, teamed with trainers or pumps

Idreamofdaleks Wed 11-Jul-07 17:48:27

doughnuts I think you can do pattern and colour in lots of different ways, it doesn't have to be loud and look at me!

I think accessories are pretty important to the chic look too, as is general grooming...scarves and necklaces are really useful to get the look you want

doughnuts Wed 11-Jul-07 18:14:56

I tend to try to accessorize to bring colour/pattern but still find it hard - I'm funny about necklaces for some reason - love them on others but can't get on with them myself ! Scarves I like a lot.

aloha Wed 11-Jul-07 18:16:10

And that is why you need a personal shopper! Extend that comfort zone!

doughnuts Wed 11-Jul-07 18:17:53

you've convinced me aloha !

Hideehi Wed 11-Jul-07 19:23:44

Debenham's personal shopper dressed me like my grandmother (i'm 31) and stupidly i bought most of it and gave it to a charity shop, some of the jumpers will do for work this year but I should never have been at college looking like a blooming granny (and I did tell them that's what I want the clothes for).

I don't think i would use the service again.

Tutter Wed 11-Jul-07 19:39:06

just picked up one thing from your op - the fact you are bigger on top than on bottom

i too have narrow hips and thighs, and smallish arruss, but wide waist. i avoid bright colours or white on top plus dark colours on bottom, as this accentuates top-wieyness

if poss go for darker tops with lighter bottoms - e.g. chocolate top with beige trews

Pannacotta Wed 11-Jul-07 22:32:06

Agree with all the good advice and following on from some other posts how about getting a patterned skirt in colours which will go with the tops you buy and already have. Do think pattern can really enliven a look.
I too used to buy plains only but I think they can be a bit boring/aging, gentle pattern is more youthful/fresh but not in a muttony way.
Good luck with the personal shopper and work too. Def think its worth buying some nice clothes, its a way of showing you believe in yourself which I am sure somehow encourages good karma and therefore more work...

doughnuts Thu 12-Jul-07 10:49:34

thank you tutter and pannacotta - yes I do think that if I feel I look good then I have more confidence and more of a positive outlook which will draw work to me - or at least make me feel more confident about my work...makes sense really.

nappyaddict Thu 12-Jul-07 11:01:27

i think every woman needs

a nice black dress
a suit
a pair of good fitting jeans
a pair of stilettos
a pair of good boots (knee high are best imo)

how do you feel about polo kneck jumpers? i think they can look very classic but some people don't feel comfortable in them.

nappyaddict Thu 12-Jul-07 11:03:51

oh and i second a trip to john lewis or selfridges for that personal shopper.

doughnuts Thu 12-Jul-07 12:44:22

don't like things around my neck at all !

bundle Thu 12-Jul-07 12:48:11

i have some funky coursage things (which I've crocheted ) that look good on jacket/cardi if you don't like necklaces they might work

MrsBadger Thu 12-Jul-07 12:57:10

(nappyaddict, poloneck jumpers are an absolute nooooooo for the top-heavy. Or anyone with norks at all, in fact)

nappyaddict Thu 12-Jul-07 13:45:04

sorry i only read the title!

Mog Thu 12-Jul-07 14:47:41

I've visited a personal shopper at Debenhams three times now and I think they're brilliant. Because they co-ordinate your wardrobe, it is cheaper in the long run. I now never impulse buy as I know exactly what colours and style suit me and I save up and try and visit the shopper in winter and summer. I always hated shopping and now it's sitting down with a coffee, almost everything they bring suits and I'm in and out with a whole wardrobe in under 1.5 hours.
If you feel a bit unsure at first (I did) go in with a definite event in mind. I asked for an outfit for a christening and got everything (shoes,dress,necklace,cardi,jacket) in under an hour. Would have taken me days on my own, she dressed me in colours I never would have tried on my own and got loads of compliments at the christening (that never usually happens).
I think Debenhams is good because most of their clothes are affordable.

doughnuts Thu 12-Jul-07 16:03:22

there's a Debenhams nr me, so will try that - thanks all !

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