This week I thought we’d do something a bit different and hand over the topics to you, my lovely readers. A ‘readers question time’ if you will. I asked you for niche requests that maybe wouldn’t warrant a whole post but that you are keen to hear more about. I had hundreds of responses, some were VERY specific, hello to whoever wanted “An outfit to wear at a baby shower in a rented cottage in New Zealand in October”. Some were unanswerable (“Where can I find a dress like that one my mum wore to my christening in 1976?”) and some just completely unrelated to fashion…“Can I ride my bike with my dog?”
Obviously I picked the ones I fancied answering because this is my blog, but it was a really fun one to research and write so let me know if you like it and, if you do, I shall revisit this topic again another time. We’d better crack on as it’s a long one…
A CROSS BODY BAG THAT’S BIG ENOUGH FOR ESSENTIALS
Other than socks (more on those later), this one came up A LOT. I do always try to include some cross-body bags in my posts and there are so many to choose from. If you want to splash the cash then my favourites are the Gucci Disco Bag; surprisingly roomy, but also now surprisingly expensive. They’ve gone up by nearly £300 since I bought mine, but that was 6 years ago and I still use it every week, so… And basically anything by APC. Slightly less expensive but also pricey. On the high street I think John Lewis and & Other Stories are my go-to for quality leather bags.
Some of you also asked for small bags that are big enough to carry a water bottle. I’d advise sizing down on your drinks container. Check out the small ones from Halo. Also, word to the wise, you DON’T need to take a massive purse out all the time. I slimmed down to a small Comme De Garcons wallet years ago and ditched those cumbersome zip-around wallets that you have a tendency to overfill and that take up your entire bag. Honestly, you don’t need to cart around every loyalty card you’ve ever owned and receipts going back 3 years. Try it, it’s liberating.
DRESSING FOR ARCTIC & TROPICAL WEATHER ON THE SAME DAY
The pubs and restaurants in the UK are open! Yay! But it’s outside only right now and this week, once the sun went down, the temperature plummeted from a reasonably acceptable 11 degrees to something utterly Baltic. This means you need to really think about your layers and your accessories when you go out. Same could be the said in reverse if you’re heading to the shops and you require a coat first thing, but then need to shed items as the day moves on.
For dresses, thermal ‘secret’ leggings are key. My favourite are the Uniqlo Heattech. Easy to fold up the ankles if you don’t want them to show. For the pub, take a blanket scarf and a packaway vest. You can carry them in a fold-up tote. I love a good fold-up tote bag. You can pop it in your handbag for carrying all your layers around in if you get too hot. I still love a quilted jacket in this weather, I find them to be light yet warm, which is a good thing for April.
1. & Other Stories Oversized Quilted Jacket
2. & Other Stories Due Tone Wool Blanket Scarf
3. Mango Babydoll Collar Blouse
4. Whistles Hollie Button Front Jeans
5. Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Compact Vest
PRETTY SUMMER SANDALS THAT COVER YOUR TOES
Ok, so I’m not sure what constitutes ‘pretty’. I don’t really do ‘pretty’, so I’m mainly ignoring that part, sorry. I do know a good closed-toe sandal when I see one though. I also totally get why you might not want to show your toes off to the world. When you get to a certain age your feet have taken a battering, especially if you were partial to goth-style winklepickers or bunion-inducing pointy stilettos in your youth. I was the former. Honestly, I had shoes that were so pointed, they would enter the room before I did. I still have the corns to prove it. A caged sandal could be a great spring/summer alternative to a trainer or a loafer.
A CASUAL WHITE DRESS FOR ELOPING IN
This one really was niche. It was a lone romantic request in a sea of sensible questions. Plus I loved the idea of someone just eloping to Gretna Green one day to get married. Also, I love a good white dress for the summer so I think this is one for all of us. I had to include one not-so-casual though as this Self Portrait dress is too cute.
SOCKS FOR TRAINERS OR LOAFERS
This is the topic that came up more than any other. Socks, it seems, are a big deal. Not that I’m surprised by this, I do love a good sock. When it comes to what socks to wear with what shoes, I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules. So many people ask me if you can wear socks with trainers. Of course you can! It has to be at least 20 degrees for me to consider a bare ankle, so socks are the way to go. I like to have a good selection of plain colours to tie in my socks with something else in my outfit, and colourful patterned ones are a great way to make life a bit more interesting. You really don’t need to stick with just navy and black. Often the men’s department has better colours than the ladies if you’re size 6 or above.
I tend to find smaller boutiques do the best socks, so try your local independent shop first and see what unique brands they have to offer. Genevieve Sweeney does the best wool socks. Le Bon socks (from Quattorish) are perfect cotton socks. On the high street Uniqlo, & Other Stories and Arket always have a good selection. A top tip is to buy the socks when H&M do those designer collabs, as they are always great quality and you get the logos for less.
The best secret socks I have tried are the footsies from Primark. They don’t slip off and they come in various colours. Usually found at the till point. M&S run a close second with their high cut footsies, the low cut ones are not as good.
1. Genevieve Sweeney Samar Cerise Wool Socks
2. Yinka Ilori Patterned Socks
3. John Lewis Organic Cotton Socks
4. Holzweiler Stripe Embroidered Hanger Socks
5. Quattorish Le Bon Shoppe Girlfriend Socks Sage
6. Iets Franz Tie Dye Socks
DECENT BACKPACKS FOR CYCLING THAT ARE BIG ENOUGH TO FIT A LAPTOP IN
I was really glad that someone asked this as I’m looking for one myself. I’ve been lucky enough to have an electric bicycle on loan from Brompton. I can’t even tell you how much I’m loving it. I call it the ‘pocket rocket’ as I can go SO FAST on it! Never have I travelled such distances in such a short time on a bike. The electric battery pack is a game changer. You still have to pedal, just not as hard, so you don’t arrive at your destination in a sweaty mess.
The ONLY downside to the Brompton electric bike is no basket, so a bag is needed. I’ve been reduced to using my son’s old school backpack. But I’ve found lots of great backpacks now so I shall purchase one of these. I think the front runner is this one from Good Ordering as it can be used as a rucksack, pannier bag or tote bag. Love triple purpose bags!
OUTFIT TO BREASTFEED IN A PUB GARDEN
It’s been a very long time (14 years to be precise) since I had to think about any kind of maternity or breastfeeding clothes, so bear with me on this one. Back in my day, when it was all fields and we only got coal for Christmas, there wasn’t a lot of choice on the high street for maternity wear, so I didn’t have much of it. I just bought regular clothes in a couple of sizes larger. The one maternity item I do remember being VERY useful though was the jeans with the large elasticated band from H&M. They lasted a good 4–5 months after having the baby too. For great maternity wear that will last beyond pregnancy, check out independent brand ‘Beyond Nine’. They do a really good selection of jumpsuits and dresses that will keep you going for a while.
For breastfeeding I’d probably look for button-down shirts and cardigans. As mentioned before, if you’re in a pub garden it will inevitably be quite cold now and you don’t want to get your extremities frozen. So look at the blanket scarf again too. Good for draping over baby as well as keeping you warm. As for nappy bags, waste of money. You really don’t need all those pockets and sections. Just get a good tote bag with a long strap that you can fit over the buggy. Fill it with a selection of cool fabric pouches from Etsy to separate your nappies, wipes etc.
I’m sorry I couldn’t do everyone’s requests, but I will do this again soon as it was really interesting to see what you wanted to hear about (socks mainly!). I’ve made a note of the other dilemmas. Another one that came up over and over was trousers that aren’t jeans or joggers. That warrants a full post I think, so I might run with that one next week. Or maybe buffet dresses again? I saw that they did them (and actually called it a buffet dress!) on the Great British Sewing Bee this week. I thought I was the only one who called them that.