Monday, 29 July 2013


This weekend one of my oldest and dearest friends, the Other V, got married and I had the honour of being her bridesmaid. So last weekend I organised her a little hen do.  People get married at all ages these days but the concept of a hen party often doesn't extend past the twenty something age bracket. When you've rolled on well past this age, the whole idea of running around town with girlfriends dressed in ludicrous costumes with a driver's learner plate (or worse) taped to your dress starts to seem very undignified.

To be honest I was never into all that cringe and embarrassment factor heaped on a bride-to-be before her big day anyway and I knew she wasn't either. So instead of all that I organised her something just girly enough but ladylike at the same time - a Sunday afternoon tea at the British Museum with a few of her closest girlfriends.

I wore this Vivienne Westwood outfit to mark the occasion.  I bought it as a present to myself on my last birthday as a mark of surviving forty and properly entering my forties.  I was always a girlish dresser right up until my mid thirties, but lately that has started to look wrong.  I haven't got the face to pull it off anymore.  I have the face of a woman and I can see something of the face of a weather worn old gypsy awaiting me in the future.  I don't want to give up the things I have always loved in clothes necessarily but I do need to tweak the way I wear them to suit me better as I am now.

So now I figure that now I'm well and truly established in womanhood I may as well revel in the chance to wear the kind of clothes that women wear well and dress like a lady.  Not all the time.  That would be dull.  Variety is the spice of life and all that.  But when the occasion calls for it I'm going to allow myself to revel in the best that ladylike dressing can be.  And there is always a way in which to give a sartorial nod to the girl that grew into the lady.  The girl-me adored florals, lived in delicate and ditsy prints but shied away from the bold. The lady loves a floral too but her more ample curves can pull off a larger print in a way the girlish slip of her former self could not have.

Taking a page out of the girly rule book of dressing doesn't do a lady harm either.  I normally tend to be the worst sort of bag lady, dragging one or two other unattractive bags on top of a handbag in an effort to carry everything I need for the day around with me.  This time I took a step back to rethink this cumbersome strategy.  

Instead of opting for the bag lady look I went for the more romantic option my younger self would have approved of.  I took a girly bright pink basket that normally holds my magazines and used it as a carry bag in which to stash my jacket, scarf, water bottle, magazine for the tube ride and the presents for the bride-to-be.  Much better!  Still practical but so much nicer to look at than the bag lady.

The other element of accessorising I've taken from my youth is a love of pretty brooches.  The brooch is a very ladylike accessory.  I've only very recently returned to making the effort to wear brooches with outfits after a hiatus in wearing any sort of jewellery.  I'd forgotten how just spending a couple of moments longer when dressing to choose and pin one somewhere can add that finishing touch to an outfit in a very understated but elegant way.  This gilt pearl one was a cheap vintage find on Ebay and every time I wear it another pearl falls off.  But it was just right to keep the shawl collar on this top from slipping off my shoulders. 

In many ways the girl I once was made more effort to get dressed up like a lady than the woman now, so there are still lessons to be learnt in looking back to one's own youth to draw inspiration, even if it is from the approach to getting dressed rather than the type of clothes, which may or may not suit you anymore.  In fact I recall much of that dressing up was role playing at being a lady, but at the same time you would feel, despite being all dressed up, that you hadn't quite got there yet.  Yes, I think that in my girlish days, I probably had "lady envy" of sorts.  So here's to enjoying finally actually being a lady!

 Linking up to Visible Monday over at Not Yet Dead Style.  Also participating in the series "How I Wear My..." hosted by Everything Just So and The Rich Life on a Budget.  The theme this week is casual party outfits. Head over there to see what everyone is wearing.

Amaryliss rose print top and Rose Liberty print skirt: Vivienne Westwood Anglomania; White espardrilles: bought in Spain; Pearl brooch: Vintage; Pearl earrings: present from Mum; Pink straw basket: Market find in France; White Broderie Anglaise jacket in basket: Kate Moss for Topshop; Floral scarf in basket: 21% Lino


  1. ladylike, yes, and so perfect for you. I agree our tastes change and we tweak our choices as we grow older (although 40 is wonderfully youthful!) and seek to be true to ourselves. thanks so much for sharing this gorgeous look with Visible Monday.

  2. Wow! That dress is just unbelievable!

  3. What an absolutely beautiful dress, you look stunning. It is evident that you are a dancer, you sit with such elegance and poise!
    I think I dress far better now than I did as a youngster - not bothered about trends and blindly following suit any more, and I know what works for my body shape. AND I am more prepared to take a risk - who knew that would happen on the road to being 50?!
    Hope your friend enjoyed her "hen day"! Sounds a little classier than the bride-to-be I saw at York station at the weekend, flashing her backside at her mate on the train, who replayed the compliment by squishing her bare boob against the train window. My kids were mesmerised! xxxxx

  4. What a stunning dress. The print is gorgeous and I love the little brooch you've added.


  5. Pissing myself at Curtise's comment! My lot would have their eyes on stalks too!! I adore your beautiful VW frock Miss V, what a glorious, elegant, spunky statement you make in wearing it and it's lovely to read of your decision to make a few tweaks to your style. I think I've gone full circle and I've evolved into a 18yo again, even though I certainly do NOT look it! I can't wait to see more of this wedding in pics, ooooh and I do love your lippy! xoxoxoxoxoxo

  6. Absolutely gorgeous! I hope you didn't outshine the guest of honor.

  7. Just beautiful - you and the dress, you in the dress. Personally I wouldn't mind developing the weather worn face of a gypsy (though mine will be more the Irish kind :) and I certainly wouldn't mind having you organise my hen do... including the outfits!

  8. Goodness me, Miss V, that dress is glorious and your come hither pose and sexy red lips certainly don't conjure up images of an weather worn gypsy.
    I've a few years on you and still haven't stopped to consider toning anything down. I popped into town earlier in a Sixties playsuit (as opposed to a floor length frock) and several people commented I looked even better than usual - it's good to ring the changes occasionally. xxx

  9. Oh hen night can be so much fun, I recently went to my cousins and it was a blast! I love your floral printed dress. Prints like these suit you so well. Brooches make me smile, as I'm such a fan of them, and they also remind me of my nan (in the most positive and stylish way). Enjoy your week dear. :)xx/Madison

  10. You should be so contented with your Just Now 40 loveliness! On you, your age looks to be the beginning of just another, more gorgeous era. Beautiful, beautiful dress, crisp and lush at the same time.
    And YES ... decades and life-stages stay with us if we let them in wonderful ways. Twenty and thirty-somethings undoubtedly have their full youthful beauty, but the burnishment that comes with the experiences of decades often makes for something richer to cherish where appearance is concerned.
    And practically, you show why every woman needs a really beautiful tote or two, or six!
    Hope you had a wonderful party.

  11. Gosh you're stunning in that AMAZING dress, Vivienne Westwood is such a goddess of design, and you wear it with such grace! The pattern is so romantic with your seductive red lippy.
    As for Curtise's hen story, hilarious!

  12. Very pretty dress. Style and pattern make it comfy and chic. You wear it well.

  13. Beautiful! I love your dress and your evolving style philosophy! Xo

  14. What a wonderful ensemble, and absorbing, soft, bright images of you and your accessories. They belong in a magazine, really!

    I've been thinking for a few years now that it's time for brooches to come back, especially perched in that general shoulder/collarbone area, 1950s-60s style. I've got some good ones from grandmothers and a great aunt!

    I've been contemplating whether hen parties (bachelorette parties here) are really all that customary anymore, at least here in Wisconsin. I think among some circles the crazy ones are still expected -- at least among women *not* of a certain age, they will go out drinking, and giggling at scantily clad dancing men, and sporting silly accessories.

    But it's also okay to do something more subtle. A friend *insisted* on doing a bachelorette thing for me, so we had an evening tea and made jewelry at her home. Another bride had her friends join her in a nearby city to stay at a nice hotel, and we dressed like normal people and went to a chic restaurant and a couple of bars.

  15. Oh V, how incredibly lovely you are in this beautiful print, shape, neckline, sunlight. The chair, the bay window, the bag of flowers, your shoes are gorgeous, as is the generosity, confidence, and peace in your words and posture. It must have been a cherished event and time with your friend!

  16. Completely crazy about whole outfit especially the collar of the dress, the pin and the shoes. Thanks for linking up to the Verizon Voices Style Hop last week. Hope you will consider
    linking up this week for the Verizon Voices Style Hop. We are at Modly Chic this week:

  17. Holy cow do I love that dress. Love the larger scale of the print and how organic it looks. Fan-freakin-tastic.


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