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What to wear – Glyndebourne

With Glyndebourne Opera well underway I thought I’d bring you a selection of my favourite black-tie summer dresses. The annual Glyndebourne Festival Opera takes place from May to August in the grounds of Glyndebourne House, East Sussex. The founder of the Festival, John Christie, started the tradition of wearing evening dress during the Festival as he felt it was one way that the audience could show their respect for the performers. Black-tie dress is customary still. You can get away with a short dress for black tie these days but I prefer long, so that’s what I’ve selected here. As it is an outdoor event it is advisable to go for a block-heeled sandal or a dressy flat rather than spiky stilettos. There is no way of reliably predicting the English weather from May to August, so I would definitely bring some kind of cover-up. A pashmina wrap or cropped dressy jacket are the best options to keep warm and stylish.

For the dress, I like the idea of picking something that fits in with the outdoor setting – spring/summer florals, pale colours and lightweight chiffons, for example, rather than heavy velvets. You want to sashay around the grounds, and blend in with nature like a pre-Raphaelite beauty! And something with a loose skirt, preferable un-creasable, that makes it easy to picnic in style.

Here are some of my top picks available now:

Cassidy maxi dress, Alice & Olivia A pretty billowy ruffled silk-georgette maxi dress with a crochet-knit waistband and lace-trimmed hem from the Pre-fall 18 collection. Inspired by the country setting and costumes in the Academy Award-winning film Atonement.

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Cold shoulder gown, Dundas. An ethereal sunny yellow gown fit for a Grecian Goddess!

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Bouquets of painterly blooms adorn this stunning Malcolm open-back floral-print cloqué gown by Emilia Wickstead. Perfect for posing amongst the peonies!

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Another gorgeous colour for summer in this Alexis V-neck crepe maxi dress by Marni. A simple style with an edge of drama in the wide belt and skirt ruffles.

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La Fleur crepe maxi dress, Free People.

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I love this Whimsical Gown in rose quartz by Needle & Thread. Featuring a pretty ditsy floral pattern, and made of layers of tulle. A really romantic dress perfect for a night at the English opera.

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Floral embroidered mesh maxi dress, Self-Portrait .  A pretty long-sleeved floral mesh bodice with pleated maxi dress in a soft shade of blue.

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Mint green maxi dress with asymmetric shoulder, Ted Baker.

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Phase Eight, Anastacia embroidered dress.

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Adrianna Papell, long beaded dress in rose gold.

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Floral print chiffon maxi dress, Self-Portrait

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I love the fresh aqua hue of this Lace-trimmed Swiss-dot tulle gown by Costarellos. Topped with a leaf lace pattern – perfect for black tie summer soirees.

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The Little White Dress

If there’s one dress that screams summer it’s the little white dress. Simple, stylish and it looks great with a suntan. I love designs with a bit of broderie anglaise trim or frill to add a feminine touch, or button detail for contrast. Wearing white is great in summer as it reflects the heat rather than absorbing it so will keep you cool. The downside of wearing white is obviously that it is more prone to visible marks – so it will probably need washing more than other clothing. Wash as soon as you notice any marks – once they settle it will be harder to bring it back to its original pristine condition (particularly make up, sweat or sun lotion). Most of these dresses are cotton so will withstand a higher temp wash which is best for stain removal (check the care labels though – if there are delicate lace trims or linings hand-washing or dry-cleaning may be necessary).  Adding whitening or brightening agents to the wash will help to maintain the brightness too. And if you leave to dry hanging outside then the whites will benefit from the sun’s natural bleaching rays. Here are some of my top picks available now for every budget. There are some great budget little white dresses available that look just as good if not better than some of the designer options!

Designer:

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Sarafina lace-paneled embroidered cotton-voile midi dress, £650, Talitha

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Corsail lace-insert cotton dress, £975, Zimmerman
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Sofie broderie-anglaise cotton dress, £460, Sea

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Embroidered cotton silk dress, £696, Burberry

 

Mid-range:

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Y.A.S High Neck Lace Midi Dress With Asymetric Hem, £120, ASOS.

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Belted pleated pointelle-trimmed cotton midi dress, £195, Michael Kors

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Aileen Zinnia Dress, £168, All Saints

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Ivory Broderie Anglaise Dress, £89 (reduced from £129) Mint Velvet

 

Budget:

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Embroidered midi dress, £39.99, Zara

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Ruffled lined dress, £49.99, Mango

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Broderie midi dress, £65, Oasis

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Embroidered dress, £69.99, H&M

 

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Dressy Flats

These looks are for a follower on my Instagram page who is looking for an outfit for a wedding at Sandhurst this summer. She specified that she needs to wear flat shoes due to a leg injury so I’ve scoured the shops for some dressy flat shoes and here are my findings!  These have to be my favourite flats – pointed satin slingback in emerald green by Zara. I love this jewel-like shade of green. I’ve matched them with a pretty lace-trimmed aqua green tunic dress from Ted Baker a jewel-encrusted bag from Zara and a champagne headpiece from John Lewis. Zara is one of my favourite high street shops and they have some great dressy flats and clutches at the moment.

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The second look features a vibrant yellow dress from Warehouse with asymmetric satin shoulder panel. Yellow is quite a tricky colour to carry off but if you have the right colouring it can look great in the summer – I’ve matched it with two sets of accessories for two different looks. On the left, silver pointed slingbacks from Boden, a striking geometric box clutch from Zara, Swarovski earrings and a black headpiece from Whiteley Hats. For a softer look on the right I’ve pictured an ivory/gold beret headpiece by Rachel Black Millinery, gold flat sandals by L.K. Bennett, a beaded yellow clutch from Zara, and earrings by Infinity & Co.

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The third look features a blue lace midi dress with black trim by Warehouse. This is a bit trickier to accessorise without picking out the black in the accessories which could appear too dark for a summer wedding…so I’ve gone for ivory jewelled pumps by Dune London, pearl earrings by Accessorize, a sheer black headpiece from Issa, and a pale blue bag by Zara.

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Here are some more of my top picks for dressy flats!

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Luisa pink jacquard flats, £125, L.K. Bennett.

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Nude diamante flat sandals, £75, Dune London.

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Bejewelled electric blue slingbacks, £25.99, Zara.

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Blush pink slingback shoes with pearl embellishment, £88, Phase Eight.

 

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Christmas Stocking Fillers

With the arrival of Advent, The Lady’s Maid’s mind has turned to the small matter of Christmas shopping. This post looks at her favourite ideas for Christmas stocking fillers with a Lady’s Maid’s leaning.

Liberty Print Sewing Roll Kit, John Lewis, £15.95

 

 

No Lady’s Maid would be without a sewing kit. This useful sewing kit from Liberty has everything you’ll need to make basic sewing alterations on the go. Features a classic ‘The Strawberry Thief’ Liberty print.

Katie Loxton Travel Jewellery Case, “Sparkle Everyday”, John Lewis, £19.99

 

 

This pretty gold leather heart jewellery case, lined with grey suede, is the perfect travel accessory to keep your jewels safe on the go so you can sparkle every day everywhere!

Cashmere Pilling Comb, M&S, £5

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If Father Christmas has brought you a luxury cashmere jumper this year, you will need to give it plenty of TLC to keep it in top condition. Knitwear is prone to pilling (little bobbles) after wear, so a pilling comb is essential for all those who covet cashmere. (See Caring for Cashmere for more tips on the care of woollen knitwear).

Golden Lily Lavender Eye Mask, Morris & Co., £16  

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If the festive season gets a little too much, you can relax in style with this Golden Lily Lavender Eye Mask from Morris & Co., featuring a classic William Morris print.

Vintage & Co. Fabrics & Flowers Scented Drawer Liners, Heathcote & Ivory, £7

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Scented drawer liners will help keep your clothing fresh as well as repelling bugs such as moths. These vintage fabric and flowers patterned liners from Heathcote & Ivory will also add a touch of colour to your drawers and shelves. (Fragrance Notes: Orange Blossom, Sweet Birch, Gardenia, Jasmine, Rose, Lilac, Coconut, Peach, Amber and Vanilla). See The Scourge of the Moth for more tips on how to repel this pesky pest.

Mini Initial Lavender Pillow, Museum Selection, £9

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Delicate, hand-embroidered cotton pillows filled with lavender inspired by Victorian embroidery. Lavender is particularly hated by moths, so place these in your knitwear drawers to help keep moths at bay.

“Star of Wonder” Myrrh & Opium Flower Scented Candle, M&S, £7.50

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Christmas candles create a cosy ambience on winter nights at home – this Myrrh and Opium candle from M&S is subtle and exotic without being overpowering.

L’Occitane Refreshing Verbena Bauble, M&S, £12

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The Lady’s Maid’s dainty hands suffer in wintertime, especially when she is hand-washing delicates! This festive bauble will add a little luxury to your hand-care. Inside the gold bauble there are three L’Occitane verbena surprises: verbena soap gently cleanses, and the hand cream and body lotion protect and moisturise hands and skin, leaving behind an invigorating scent.

Twelve Poems for Christmas, Seren, £5

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A sparkling anthology of Christmas-themed poems to peruse over the festive season.

Charbonnel et Walker Milk Chocolate Handbag & Heels, John Lewis, £7

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Stylish and tasty – the perfect gift for every shoe-loving lady!

How to Dress for Success, V&A Shop, £9.99

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Edith Head, Hollywood designer to the stars, offers no-nonsense fashion advice straight from the 1960s. There is still much to learn today from Head’s witty style tips and delightful drawings. Bound in real cloth with ribbon page marker and foil embossing.

Happy Advent!

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Christmas Stocking Fillers 2016

With just two more shopping days to go before Christmas, the Lady’s Maid brings you a few of her favourite ideas for last-minute stocking fillers! Let’s hope Santa is listening in!

Molton Brown’s limited edition bauble shaped shower gels come in a range of festive fragrances to choose from: There’s Blossoming Honeysuckle & White Tea, Black Peppercorn and Coriander, Juniper Berries and Lapp Pine, and Rhubarb and Rose…..but the Lady’s Maid’s personal favourite is this opulent Oudh Accord and gold – a blend of sweet cinnamon, oudh accord and gold leaf extract to add a luxury lather to your Christmas morning shower!

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Molton Brown’s Bauble Shower Gel, £11

Make your own merriment this Christmas with Fortnum and Mason’s Mulled Wine Spice bag. Each bag contains 4 separate little sachets filled with mixed spices including cinnamon, orange peel, allspice and cloves. Boil one sachet with water, add some red wine, orange juice, brandy and sugar to taste and you have a perfectly delicious winter warmer drink for cosy Christmas nights by the fire!

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Fortnum and Mason Mulled Wine Spice Bag, £6

The Lady’s Maid loves cosy Christmas nights but hates her twinkle toes to suffer in the depths of a  bleak mid-winter. These socks from Johnstons of Elgin are 100% cashmere and will ensure your tootsies are kept toasty and warm!

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Johnston’s of Elgin Cashmere Cable Bedsocks, £69

Christmas Candles are the perfect way to enhance the festivities with the scent of Christmas. The Lady’s Maid loves to light a candle and snuggle up to watch a Christmas movie with a glass of mulled wine!  Encapsulate the spirit of Chistmas in a candle with Lily Flame’s “Christmas Day” – an evocative blend of white cedar and nutmeg.

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Lily Flame “Christmas Day” Candle, £12

This luxurious and creamy lipstick from Chanel is the perfect classic red to brighten up your outfit on Christmas Day. Moisturising and long-lasting it will hopefully stay on your lips well past the brandy butter!

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Chanel Rouge Coco Lipstick, Gabrielle 444, £26

The Lady’s Maid loves Ted Baker’s “A Prettty Sip to Keep at Your Hip” – a stylish hip flask for those who like a tipsy tipple at Christmas time and beyond. An elegant way to carry your drink of choice when on the move!

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Ted Baker Hip Flask, £35

Sanctuary Spa’s Thermal Detox Mask instantly goes to work the minute you put it on your skin. It is self-heating so you will feel your face warm up on application with the clay mixture drawing out all impurities to leave you with a fresh new face to face the New Year!

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Sanctuary Spa 5 Minute Thermal Detox Mask, £2.99

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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The Lady’s Maid Recommends…Christmas Stocking Fillers

The Lady’s Maid has been off-line for a little while…tending to the the never-ending needs of her employer…but with Christmas just around the corner she is taking a well-deserved break for the festive season and has time, at last, to put her dainty feet up for a few days and pen a new entry for her blog!

There’s nothing the Lady’s Maid likes to do more than indulge in a bit of retail therapy; even shopping for someone else, it is still possible to get a kick by proxy (especially upon realising, once the post-purchase high fades, that her bank account remains undented). Errand running for her boss means that she gets to shop and be paid for it with the added bonus of being able to do a quick spot of cheeky browsing for herself 😉  So with just a few days of Christmas shopping left, the Lady’s Maid has chosen to share with you her recommendations for a few last-minute Christmas stocking fillers. Merry Christmas!

 

Ted Baker Travel Laundry Bags, set of 3, £35

Top of the Lady’s Maid’s Christmas list this year is these stylish travel laundry bags from Ted Baker – the perfect gift for jet setters who like a place for everything and everything in its place. Available from  John Lewis.

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Ted Baker Travel Laundry Bags, set of 3, £35

 

Aroma Home Printed Owl Freshener, £15

The Lady’s Maid loves lavender – the best natural ingredient for keeping your wardrobe smelling fresh and keeping moths at bay. This cute wintery themed lavender hanger would make a perfect stocking filler this Christmas for those who care for their clothes! Available from John Lewis.

 

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Aroma Home Printed Owl Freshener, £15

 

British Birds Frame Washbag, £20

The Lady’s Maid is a big fan of the new Cath Kidston frame wash bags – the sturdy metal frame at the top retains the opened shape once unzipped, ensuring you can easily locate the contents when propped open on your dressing table, making them perfect for home and on the go. The Lady’s Maid’s favourite is the new British Birds design – no Lady, or Lady’s Maid, for that matter, should be without one!

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Cath Kidston, British Birds Frame Washbag, £20

 

2016 Filigree Floral Ebony Diary, £12.99

One thing that is vital for The Lady’s Maid, when it comes to maintaining her air of serene calm when faced with all manner of problems from every direction, is organisation. She may be forced to succumb to the technology of the 21st Century and use her iPhone calender to record appointments, but deep down she secretly loves writing them in her paper diary also. For 2016 she has chosen this Paperblanks A6 Diary with a Filigree Floral Ebony cover, which brings to mind the stylish refinement of a nineteenth-century drawing room. Available online and from bookshops, e.g. Waterstones.

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Filigree Floral Ebony Diary, £12.99

 

 

Morris & Co. Hand Cream Collection Gift Set, £9

The Lady’s Maid’s hands have to withstand the perils that come with the constant hand-washing of her employer’s delicate smalls, so wouldn’t be without a good hand cream. One of her favourites is Morris & Co’s Golden Lily Shea butter hand cream. The hand cream is composed of fresh citrus scents of tangerine and bergamot, blended with cinnamon and nutmeg spices on an earthy base of cedar wood. Elegantly presented in William Morris inspired packaging. Available in miniature size in a boxed trio – the perfect stocking filler.

Available from Heathcote & Ivory and John Lewis.

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Morris & Co. Hand Cream Collection Gift Set, £9

 

Charbonnel & Walker Milk Chocolate Handbag & Heels Set, £6.50

The Handbags and Shoes don’t have to stay in the wardrobe on this occasion – The Lady’s Maid couldn’t resist including these adorable edible shoes from Charbonnel & Walker. The ideal little gift for shoe and chocolate connoisseurs. Available from John Lewis.

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Charbonnel et Walker, Handbag & Heels, £6.50

 

The Duties of a Lady’s Maid, £12.99

This fascinating book published this year by Chawton House Press is a reproduction of the 1825 original “The Duties of a Lady’s Maid” [London: Printed for James Bullock, 163, Strand, 1825] and was, in its day, the go-to manual for all aspiring Lady’s Maids.

If you ever wondered what the actual duties of a Lady’s Maid were in the 1800s, then this book reveals all, bringing to life the unique and challenging role of a 19th-century Lady’s Maid.

available online at www.chawtonhouselibrary.org

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The Duties of a Lady’s Maid, £12.99

Merry Christmas!

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