Thoughts on // Simple clothes…

simple clothes editOk – so I have a little problem.  I am sure we all feel like this some time.  Not a biggie, I just need some help, some direction.

I need some new clothes.  I have spent many many hours on-line searching and searching for items that fit my criteria:

* stylish
* cool
* well made (i.e. not going to fall apart after a few washes)
* timeless (I want to buy now and wear it still in 5 years time)
* not too young (I’m middle aged don’t you know! and no using the word mutton)
* yet good for my low budget

Too much to ask?

simple clothes edit

I have come to realise that most high street shops are either designed for the young, or the old – being rather too dowdy or drab.

It’s my own fault – I’ve been skimming through the images of Closet Visit and I feel my wardrobe needs a dose of CPR after looking at these stunning women and their quirky, uber cool style.  I know the majority of what they have is vintage, but you need to have bags of time to scour the net or vintage shops for that perfect item.  Time I just don’t have.


I need a personal shopper.  A style guru to take my under their wing.


My wish list of items:

  1.  A good breton top (loose fit, good quality fabric, traditional French in style)
  2. A tunic dress with pockets (navy)
  3. Denim shirt
  4. Leopard print pumps
  5. Swedish Hasbeen ankle boots (I know, too much money, but I want a pair thanks to Jane Foster and her painted stairs!)
  6. Several beaded necklaces
  7. Blazer / Jacket

Is that too much to ask for?

Where do you shop?  If you own a vintage shop – please help me!

  • Hi Lou,

    Try H & M some great tunic dresses and green cardigans, also not expensive leaving more for the lovely boots. I also love the white company for long lasting stylish items. Jigsaw for jewellery, camper shoes, I love Birkenstocks for wearing during the summer. But why is it when you know exactly what you want it is so difficult to find.
    Where is your lovely basket bag from? I need one.
    Happy shopping
    Claire xx

  • Hello, Breton top : I Iove Petit Bateau & Armor Lux for the quality & tradition! Your blog is lovely!

  • Hi Lou, I really like Cos and H&M have just started another sister label & Other Stories, which looks promising.

    I also adore Jaegar Boutique, which does really gorgeous stuff and has really excellent sales.

    In terms of ballet pumps and other good quality shoes….personal question but what shoe size are you ? I’m a Size 4 and get my ballet pumps (and sometimes other shoes) in the children’s section of Russell and Bromley. Well made and about £40-£50 cheaper then the adult ones, yet in exactly the same colour and style.

  • Oh how I loved reading your post and looked forward to hearing the suggestions of where to shop. I find it so hard to find clothes too, my husband says I always take things back if I do buy them. Going to check out the Breton top recommendations. No advice – being a taker not a giver on this one. Great list. Have you seen the woolly inside hasbeen red boots, they are definitely on my wishlist.

  • If you have a tkmaxx nearby, I highly recommend them. I usually go there for quality italian clothing (cashmere coats and jackets) and for shoes and boots. You need time though to shop there as bargain amazing items are usually hidden among not so good items. They also sell online but their best stock is not online. For cashmere jumpers and cotton cardigans in pretty colours I go to landsend. And I also shop at uniqlo for their fab heatech clothing.

  • I’ve got so much from the charity shop lately. I love the challenge and plus can’t afford to shop elsewhere. There are some great classics and admittedly a load of crap too :) Good luck! xxx

  • Hi Lou, I personally love Toast, it’s a bit expensive but the quality is good and the shapes are classic but modern (it’s work seeking our an archive sale/sample sale or waiting for a seasonal sale too). They have an archive shop in Wales and also one in Shepton Mallet. I’d also second Cos and Uniqlo. Otherwise I also like Jigsaw for knits and I like NW3 by Hobbs for dresses and skirts. x

  • I feel your pain and think this is a real reflection of how poor stores are at giving people choice. I certainly don’t want to go around looking like everyone else.

    And that’s where making your own clothes and buying vintage comes in. You can get beautiful quality and made-to-measure items that you can be proud to show off. It may be a bit more effort than showing up to a shop a d taking so etching off the rack, but I love my wardrobe now and the memories contained in each pie e of clothing.

    x Elena @ Randomly Happy

  • I hear you!! I too over the last couple of years have started buying 2 or 3 good quality items of clothing each season that I’m hoping will last for some time. Even when on a small income it seems to me to make sense to buy more expensive clothes than lots of cheap stuff that will lose shape etc after a few washes.
    I’ve enjoyed reading the comments left, have noticed the same shops coming up time and time again, like White stuff/Cos etc. I too use those shops, Seasalt have some lovely stuff in at the moment like there Bramley dress and the Brigitte tunic from Toast looks stunning and something you could wear day in, day out.
    My winter staples have been a jersey stripy dress from People Tree, Orla Kiely Heat tech tops from Uniqlo, who are doing some really good stuff, and dare I say it Boden’s essential long sleeved stripy tops, I know you don’t like Boden, but these tops are great for layering wearing under tunics etc, Boden always have a deal on, so you never pay full price, and the tops are made with good quality cotton, that is quite thick, and I wash them probably at least a couple of times a week and they come out looking good, and don’t loose there shape, so I think even though I wouldn’t want to look like I’ve stepped out of a Boden catalogue they are worth a look.
    I’m also tempted by this from Modcloth I’ve not bought from there before but they say they post to the UK so I’m thinking I might give it ago
    As for jewellery its got to be Etsy or I like some of the stuff here
    Sorry for the long comment I have a Clothing Pinterest board here
    Maybe we should start one where we can all pin ideas for our perfect Summer wardrobe!

  • I feel the same way… I have in my mind what I’d really like, but I can never find it. I find online shopping frustrating and going to shops even more!
    I wish there was a clothing line for women of my age… I’m not in my 20s but I don’t want to dress like an older woman… I like simple, stylish, classic cuts, good fabric, variety of colours… I’ve yet to find it.
    Great post… x.

  • I find i go round shops and come home depressed that nothing seems to be designed for me – maybe i’m too fussy, or have a particular item in mind that doesn’t actually exist. Maybe i need to be braver and try on shapes that i haven’t tried before and open my mind, but i think i know my body shape [that has changed with age and children] and style well enough by now that i know deep down what looks right.

    I too have a very low budget, and any time i have ever splashed out and bought something a bit more special, i have spilt something down it within days of owning it! Lou, i have been doing some dressmaking in the evenings – do you sew? – we’ll have to start a sewing club!

  • I want everything in that top photo! She looks amazing. I know exactly what you mean – and I think it’s normal to be feeling this way, at a change of seasons. Plus, the getting older thing is really tricky. How to dress your age, while still being yourself (especially when yourself feels young!) …. I say splurge on some big pieces. You deserve it, and if you buy well, you’ll be wearing it well into your 40’s (and 50’s???) so it’s worth it. Kellie xx

  • i hear you!! trouble is i have a number of stone to loose before the wardrobe planning begins…i love the excitement of charity shops though and white stuff has some great stuff x

  • i hope you know that was me…and that ben hasn’t taken to wearing cute dresses with leggings ;-)

  • i like how you have a solid list there of things you need. i can’t really help too much. i think i have hit the age for cos, they have some great things, but pricey. if i went to an office every day i think i would wear cos all the time. i quite like this:

    it would be cute with leggings. x

    ps always worth looking at asos too, they have so many sales and offers all the time. probably got a squillion blazers. x

  • I am hearing you sooo loud. Try being fifty and not wanting to wear clothes that look like they come from Country whatever it is called. I have a horror of fleece and stripy rugby tops too! I am planning to buy a Breton top in France this summer. Mark bought one years ago and I was very happy wearing it until Erin took it off to uni. Of course she rocks it far more than I ever could… I find having fewer things but of the right quality is what works now so Cos, Toast, Seasalt and whisper it sometimes M&S are all good. Life is too short to wear what you don’t love.

  • Have you tried Pink Lemons on Gloucester road? Lots of lovely stuff in there and reasonably priced for a boutique (they have good sales, too).

  • I’ve just bought this from TOAST (sorry about the giant link)…it was a bit pricey but I’ve worn it or wanted to wear it everyday since purchase (none of my coats work with it though!!)

    I’ve been having the same wardrobe issues, must be the time of year. I’m generally pretty scruffy as I work at home alone all day. But my too faded jeans and overwashed stripey tops have been getting me down a bit recently. My shoes (all converse or superga as anything else isn’t comfortable despite my love of brogues) all have holes in them.

    If I had loads of money I would dress head to toe in Maison Scotch

  • Seasalt, Toast, Fashion Conscience, People Tree, White Stuff and most of all, eBay!

  • Hi Lou, its difficult I agree. I think cos too although the cut can be a bit weird and origami like, uniqlo have a japanese guest designed range at the moment called GVGV which is nice (and cheap) and I buy one piece from Marimekko every year and wear till it falls apart! For breton tops go vintage or Labour and Wait have the real thing but a trip to Britany might be cheaper!

  • White Stuff is always reliable for jeans and cotton tops that fit well and last, though some of their prints can be a bit “Hi, I shop at White Stuff” so I usually just go for plains. Noa Noa, pricey but gorgeous.

  • Try I love their stuff, comfy but different. They’ve got some lovely Breton tops and tunics etc in at the mo. every time I wear one of my seasalt outfits I always get a nice comment, which after the disheartening experience of high street shopping is very nice!

    Good luck
    Steph x

  • Cos and Monki! Cos have some really nice breton tops in at the moment, and a good navy pocketed dress can always be found! and Monki have some nice thin cotton//denim shirts. Cos is especially good as you can wear their dresses mostly (i think) in all weathers, as they look good with tights or no tights, or over trousers to!

    Scarlett x

  • Yes I’m with you… I’ve got so fed up I’m learning to sew so I can alter and make my own… I’m desperate for some 100% cotton wide denim jeans!
    Yep I buy from Seasalt or White Stuff the rest is secondhand finds… Cx

  • I like your list! Sounds classic and stylish. I get in a similar rut at the start of each season x

  • OOps – just realised this posted in my husbands name! I’d just like to point out he doesn’t wear womens clothes – or scour ebay for them! Ha ha! Nic xx

  • Love those hasbeen boots too, they are just too expensive, keep looking to see if I can find them in a sale.
    Mainly shop on line nowadays, always check to see what secret sales has to offer!
    Good luck with your search. x

  • Oh I feel your pain! I find going shopping too confusing these days – there seems to be just sea’s of clothes that all look the same! To be honest I tend to decide what I want – then just buy on ebay (it suits my limited budget!) – Obviously you can’t always find what you want though….
    I did find a denim shirt for 99p, a monsoon mustard cardi for a fiver and a lovely cotton St. michael (!) navy knee length skirt with pockets (like the one in the second picture ) also for 99p!
    I have some clogs but they are from Lotta of stockholm not swedish hasbeens – they were significantly cheaper, but they are sandals I don’t know if they do boots. Hope this helps! Happy shopping!

  • Oh god I hear you – I have completely the same dilemma. May I suggest seasalt for the breton top? I bought one just before Christmas and it’s great. Excellent quality, shape and fit – it’s quite big actually so hides my muffin top (ha!). Very French in design too. And my only other suggestion is Cos – but I’ve never bought anything so I’m totally unsure of their sizing, but they do always have nice pieces, simple in design and of our age group! Good Luck. x

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