After a two-year pandemic-enforced break, Wimbledon is back tomorrow. I’ve always loved Wimbledon fortnight – tennis is my favourite sport and Wimbledon is the most stylish of the grand slams, largely due to the traditions of the All England Club and its Royal patronage – it’s the only tennis grand slam with a strict dress code for the players who are expected to wear all white. Respecting the principles of tradition, history and style are what makes the English carry off their seasonal events so well – not changing for change sake, and upholding certain traditions that are important to the attraction of the event. (The most important of these are strawberries and Pimms, of course! 😉 ) Ahead of opening day tomorrow, here are eight Wimbledon-inspired dresses fit for a sunny day out at SW19.
This week I played dress up over at @theladysmaid to celebrate the return of the highlight of the summer season – Royal Ascot, and in support of some of my favourite British brands. Thanks to all the milliners and brands who loaned me their pieces for the feature. If you spotted something you liked for your next fancy event, browse through below to shop the look. After the last year of zero events, small occasionwear British brands are very much in need of our support!
- Rainbow Headband – Sarah Cant
- Short sleeved silk dress – The Fold
- Long sleeved dress – Rixo – available to rent at By Rotation
- Bag – Lalage
I love this retro style headband trimmed with rainbow ribbons by Sarah Cant Millinery. Sarah Cant’s hats are a great option if you want something more striking and original as the crowning glory for your raceday or summer wedding look. I’ve paired it with 2 dress options here – firstly the Tivoli silk dress from The Fold. I love the cut and fit of The Fold dresses. The Tivoli has a really elegant draped neckline and the multicoloured confetti painterly print is fun without being too loud. The second dress is by Rixo and available to rent at By Rotation. Renting dresses is becoming really popular these days as a way of being more sustainable when dressing for events and enabling you to wear designer dresses at a fraction of the retail price.
Juliette Botterill’s headbands and hats are so elegant, I love the entire collection. She’s a top choice if you want a refined and regal look. I recently chose this pretty mint green headband for a wedding outfit I styled for a lady in France – for her I matched it with a green Beulah dress; here I’ve paired it with a sage green silk coat with beaded waistband from Kathering Hooker worn over a matching appropriately named ‘Ascot’ dress. This ‘Buxton’ dress coat is also available in blue and cream– both with great reductions in their current sale. They are really high quality dress coats for formal occasions, expertly made in their London workshop from the finest fabrics. A great Mother of the Bride or Groom look for summer weddings.
The designer Katherine Hooker says: “My aim is that your piece is the best item of clothing that your granddaughter and great granddaughter will find in your attic – it still looks and feels fantastic. That is the definition of a classic – it goes on forever.”
I stepped out of my colour block comfort zone with this fun colourful look featuring an eye-catching hat by Camilla Roseand multicloured dress from Mojo & McCoy. London based milliner Camilla Rose’s hats are characterised by their vivid colours and exciting shapes. They’re particularly good for matching with multicoloured dresses that can be hard to match with hats like this one by Saloni – from Berkshire based boutique Mojo & McCoy. I’m wearing the Dosado in blue and magenta (available to hire) which I was a bit scared of when it arrived! But the blue base and magenta silk bow pick out the colours of the dress really well and I can’t imagine a better hat for this dress. Whenever there is a tricky patterned dress needing the right hat partner, Camilla is always the milliner I think of as her hats are perfect for providing the final flourish rather than competing with the dress too much.
Small boutiques like Mojo and McCoy have had a rough ride during the pandemic with the endless shop closures – they stock some great well-sourced labels from all over the world, so if you’re thinking of buying a special summer dress – consider shopping small from a boutique like this. Some of my other favourites from their summer collection are this white cotton daisy embroidered dress from Pink City Prints, a silk shiffon rose patterned dress from Temperley London and this bright and breezy cotton maxi from Heidi Klein.
This red sinamay saucer hat trimmed with handmade camelia flowers is by Edinburgh based milliner Sally Ann Provan. A popular milliner with the younger royals, including the Duchess of Cambridge and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
I’ve styled it here with a powder blue poppy print dress by Suzannah London. A popular choice with the Countess of Wessex, Suzannah’s quintessentially British tea dresses inspired by the 1930s and 40s are a signature style of the brand and a great versatile option for summer events as they’re easy to dress up or down for a variety of different occasions. They’re available in a range of pretty summery prints – each exclusive printed textile is designed and painted by hand, and then digitally printed on Italian crepe-de-chine. The silk fabric feels very luxurious but comfortable too and the midi length of the skirt is really elegant – perfect for swishing through the summer season.
This look is a bit of an ode to one of my favourite colours – blush pink. The disc shape hat is a signature (and my favourite) style of Rachel Trevor-Morgan. Rachel’s hats are all hand made in her St. James Atelier in London. An expert in her craft – she has run her business for more than 30 years and knows the balance required for a hat to flatter and finish an outfit. She gets the royal seal of approval too – HM the Queen has been wearing RTM hats for the last 15 years. I’ve paired the hat here with an elegant matching blush pink pencil dress from Jane Lewis Atelier who recently rebranded from Goat Fashion. I love the slightly puffed and gathered detailing in the sleeves. The classic, sleek and unfussy design of Jane Lewis dresses make them great investment pieces – timeless dresses for formal events and easy to match with millinery.
The Fonteyn Mignon in blush pink is my favourite bag style from Lalage – it’s small enough to use as an alternative to a clutch bag for formal day time outfits but fits more stuff in, so it’s practical as well as pretty.They also come with a detachable strap so can be worn more casually too.
This stylish blush silk rose trimmed polka dot hat is from the couture collection at Lock Hatters created by head milliner Awon Golding. It’s a perfect match for this palest of pink dresses scattered with spots from Hobbs London.
I like the simplicity of this elegant floaty white spot jacquard dress from Hobbs with its fluted sleeves and black piping to give it a bit of shape. I’ve paired it here with a black side disc hat trimmed with white silk flowers and black ostrich quills by Jess Collett and a black clutch from Lalage.
With meetings of groups of six allowed outdoors in the UK from tomorrow and sunny weather forecast next week it’s time to throw your joggers in the wash and put a pretty frock on to re-enter society! We’re lucky that the pandemic has coincided with a trend for oversized dresses (got to look for a silver lining) as these are the perfect style for comfortably reclining on a picnic blanket with the added benefit of hiding the waistline so you can go wild on the sausage rolls. Other things to look for in a comfortable dress for outdoor meet ups are elasticated / drawstring waists, empire lines or smock style frocks for ease of wear al fresco. If the thought of what to wear outside your home is sending your head spinning here are my top picks for spring picnic dresses.
Wear it with:
Wear it with:
An easy to wear throw on yellow gingham cotton dress from Mango
This pretty blouson sleeve dress from Hush is embroidered with daisies so definitely belongs in my picnic dress edit.
The pretty embroidery on this linen dress from Boden gives an otherwise simple dress an extra special touch.
Small British Brands
Love the statement sleeves and oversized fit on this dress by Stoned & Waisted seen here on Emma Paton.
Since I published this post I noticed Kemi Telford has these new check dresses which would also be great for picnics:
Splash the cash
With minimal travel abroad over the past year and eating out a distant memory some people may have managed to save money during the pandemic so if you’re looking for a post-lockdwon splurge as you re-enter polite society these are my top pics for an extra special picnic frock :
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This weekend I wanted a distraction from being cooped up in lockdown alone, so I asked followers of my Instagram page to send me their stories of lost jewellery (everyone has one). I was surprised by how many lost jewels actually turned up, and in the most random places – sometimes 10 years or more later. So often it’s the sentimental attachment that makes losing jewellery difficult, above the monetary value. A ring inherited from Grandma, a 21st Birthday watch – jewellery inherited or given as a gift can be the only tangible attachment we have with loved ones no longer with us, or symbolic of family bonds and milestones, so it is often irreplaceable. My favourite story was a lady whose husband lost his wedding band whilst preparing a cannon to fire during a military ceremony!
Another favourite was a lady retrieving a ring, lost for 15 years, on her gardening fork while digging up veg! It reminded me of this news story where a lady dug up a carrot and miraculously her diamond ring, lost for 10 years, was stuck around it. I think sometimes the jewellery wants to be found and eventually you’re drawn to it.
There were also lots of stories of children “playing postman” with Mama’s precious jewels and dropping them down floorboard cracks. I like hearing the random places where jewels turn up – biscuit tins, candle sticks, flower pots – and so many years later. Diamonds really are forever, even if they’re not with you!
I rarely travel with anything too valuable or sentimental these days after I lost a St. Christopher pendant I bought on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence to bring me luck when I travel. The pendant wasn’t so lucky, sadly, as I lost it in Paris along with my watch. The watch turned up randomly in the bottom of a garment bag (it must have fallen off whilst I was packing), but I never found the necklace. Maybe one day it will re-surface like in your stories 🙂
I’ve also been entrusted with extremely valuable jewellery with my work, so my focus is often on my employer’s jewellery rather than mine. I once worked for a lady who lost a yellow diamond earring when we were travelling in Japan (very rare and scarily expensive). We were travelling with a photographer, so I got his camera and looked through all the photos until I found one where she was wearing only one earring. The photo was taken in a clothing store where she was trying on scarves, so we called the store and they had found it! It was such a relief – and I got extra brownie points for my detective work 😉 I’ve also often had to retrieve a chain from a drain – blue tack on the end of a skewer works well for this!
So remember – never wear precious rings when gardening or washing up! And never put your jewellery in a tissue or anywhere temporarily that isn’t a container – you will always forget it’s there!
With jewellery safe places and storage in mind – here are some ideas for trinket trays to keep near sinks, dressing tables and bedside tables, and portable travel jewellery organisers to keep your jewels safe and prevent future diamond dramas!
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If you haven’t yet added a contrast collar top to your working from home wardrobe here are 10 of my favourites available now. I think they’re an ideal top for video calls as the contrast collar frames the face nicely so looks good on screen. And no-one will notice if you pair it with sweatpants and slippers 😉
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I have selected some of my favourite British brands to feature in this Christmas style and gift guide. As most Christmas shopping will be done online this year I thought it would be a good idea to bring together some great British brands that complement each another into one virtual Christmas “pop-up” shop, and encourage people to shop from British independent brands this Christmas. Many milliners and designers, such as Camilla Rose, Bee Smith, Beverley Edmonson and Lisa Redman, have pivoted during the pandemic by introducing small accessories which are a bit more lockdown friendly than their usual flamboyant race day creations. I’ve also included a few beautiful occasion wear pieces by Laura Green, Suzannah London, Vaai and Lalage Beaumont, Claire Mischevani and Caroline Charles for those who are planning on dressing up for Christmas Day at home. There’s luxe loungewear and fancy flats from Sargasso and Grey, Yosuru, Ethereal London, Nuiami and Bombshell, for sitting room soirees. For more casual festive style, take a look at my top picks from Troy London, Really Wild and Guinea London for Christmas walks in the countryside. Finally, it wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of sparkle, courtesy of Jennifer Gibson, Susan Caplan and Auree Jewellery. I hope you enjoy browsing and find something suitable to buy for yourself or to give to your friends and family and support small British brands this Christmas!
My top picks from Troy for Christmas in the country:
Enter Ladysmaid at checkout for 10% off at Suzannah London
Smart/Casual Festive Frocks
More festive velvet pieces from Bombshell:
Smart/Casual Festive Frocks
Elegant and comforatbale festive flats and low-heeled shoes. Use the code: THELADYSMAID20 for 20% off.
For the Little Ladies:
Gifts benefitting charity:
Happy shopping! 🎄
(N.B. this guide contains some affiliate links)
A round-up of my favourite pyjamas to make staying home in lockdown a little more comfortable and chic. Some of these are too good to save for sleep 😉
If you want a premium look on a budget – buy just the trousers and wear with a T shirt/top you already have:
And what to wear over them:
If pyjamas have slipped into your working-from-home uniform wearing them with a cashmere poncho knit will elevate/disguise the look a little so that you can open the door to the DPD man and they will be none the wiser that you haven’t properly got dressed ;). I’d go for a neutral poncho style or knitted gilet – super comfortable to wear and much more chic than a dressing gown.
With heels a distant memory for most, this winter will be all about the fancy flat and the house shoe. Here are some of my favourite cosy slippers to motivate your feet to stay at home for Lockdown 2.
With a winter lockdown looming, cosy comforts are on my mind. I’ve always loved the timeless and traditional look of a fair isle jumper – there’s something reliable and nostalgic about the classic pattern, making them my top pick for the wardrobe this winter when we are all in need of a sweater hug.
The island of Fair Isle, where this distinctive style of knitwear originated, is one of the most remote Scottish islands with a population of only 65. I imagine the people of Fair Isle are a hardy self-sufficient bunch for whom lockdown would be barely noticeable. So if you fancy adopting the style of a stoic Fair Islander, then here are some of my favourite knits for all budgets.
I’m raffling this Valentino “Va Va Voom” red crystal and leather bag worth over £1,000 to raise funds for the British Red Cross Emergency Beirut Appeal.
Prior to the horrific explosion on 4 August Lebanon was already in crisis with a 50% poverty rate, and hospitals struggling to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. The Lebanese people are in desperate need of help and as fashion is the only thing I can help with I decided to raffle this dazzling bag worth over £1000! All funds raised go directly to The Red Cross Beirut Appeal – helping to provide basic things like food, medical supplies and shelter to those affected by the explosion. As many as 300,000 people have been made homeless, 6,000 people are injured and 200 lives have been lost.
How to enter the raffle: Follow this link to my Just Giving fundraising page and make a donation to The British Red Cross Emergency Beirut Appeal. (Suggested amount £10, but any donation will be accepted as an entry).
The winner will be chosen at random (please leave an Instagram handle or email address in the message of your donation so that the winner can be notified). Good luck!