I turned 41 this year which was a relief if I’m honest. That benchmark year (the one with the ‘0’) is behind me and I can now completely embrace my fabulous forties, without lamenting the loss of my youth.
I’m lucky that both me and Mr ShoeThatAlwaysFits still have a full set (parents, siblings, etc), and know how incredibly lucky we are that we have been blessed in this way. And then we watched “This is Forty” – and could relate to a lot of that film. Left to our own devices we still feel as though we should be supervised at all times, but we know what we like, and are comfortable with the choices that we’ve made and the life that we’ve lived and which we continue to live.
We also understand each other, I’m cold in the evenings but suffer what can only be described as hot flushes in the mornings and the Mr is the opposite (well, without the hot flush part). On our recent holiday, by the time I shuffled out of the shower, he had already opened all of the windows to cool me down (he gets weirded out by my sweaty upper lip – but then again, who wouldn’t?)
I also love clothes and admire those who have an individual style (hence my following of MasonBentley and Citizens of Fashion). I think that I’ve found my signature look and and I don’t tend to veer away from it very often – if I feel weird in anything then it’s a no-go. I still make mistakes – but regular readers know my penchant for internet shopping and those little (or big) parcels of loveliness – so any mistakes can be returned easily, sans embarrassment. Occasionally my heart rules my head – this week I have a big return to make – I made the mistake of trying to recapture my rock chick days, but in a more grown up sophisticated way. I opened the afore mentioned medium-sized parcel of loveliness that arrived, but realised my error when the office fashionista deemed my purchases ‘brave’. And she’s 22. She approved of one of the pairs of shoes, but when I put the chunky heeled size 3’s on, I felt like a real life Minnie Mouse. Needless to say, it’s all going back.
And so, I reiterate, 40+ is a funny, but totally fabulous age.
Safely back in Brizzle with a mournful lament at leaving The Alps behind us and an alarming amount of washing it’s back to life as we know it. Reality hit hard with an 06:40 alarm call for Mr ShoeThatAlwaysFits as he headed off to film in some spectacularly unglamorous location.
And, in between loading and unloading the washing machine, I thought I would update you on how well these little beauties did. They safely jogged across Schipol Airport to meet a rather tight connection; they gazelle-like leapt on and off hop-on-hop-off city bus tours; they were nimbly secure up and down the 700 steps (some of which at a 45 degree angle) of the Eisriesenwelt Ice Caves; they were sure footed on the snowy tips of the Grossglockner mountain range; and most of all, they made me smile every time I did something mildly energetic.
I’m not saying that they should replace my hiking boots, but if you’re already used to stomping around the world in impractical footwear you can’t beat these. They were in my top three holiday in the rainy Alps hero items – the other two included my lightweight cream North Face jacket (I needed both windproof and waterproof) and my large leather Boden bag with built-in iPad pocket and security purse. If only we’d packed some insect repellant – more of that on a later post…
…28 mosquito bites later
From twinkle twinkle little toe
To my sensible shoes for holiday
I have 7 working days left before I go on my summer holiday – this is both fabulous and daunting.
I’m really looking forward to 10 days off travelling around with Mr ShoeThatAlwaysFits who also needs a break as he’s been working his derriere off. We’re not very good at staying in one place and relaxing, we get cabin fever so we’re flying off to Europe on a 10 day road trip. I love road trips – he drives and I read interesting things out of guide books to him (in between naps). We roam and take photos all the while looking for interesting coffee shops and enticing patisseries. He loves mountains and I love the sea – our last break was to the seaside, therefore this time we’re heading to the Alps.
And so, I’m in countdown mode – frantically crossing items off my work to-do lists and adding more onto the bottom. It’s comforting (kind of) and it relaxes my control freak mentality. But the best part of all is reworking the holiday essentials packing list, tweaking and amending ad infinitum until it’s perfect. The red wedge hi tops are en route to me so here’s hoping that they fit – if not, I’ve found an alternative pair in town so all is not lost. I showed them to the Mr and he was surprised at how nearly practical they were – I’ll take that as approval then. Although my Mum, on hearing that I needed yet more shoes, lamented the loss of my white kicker boots that I’d had since primary school (yes that would make them more than 30 years old) which would have done me just fine ! Ho hum, you can’t win them all.
Lots of folks are coming back from their summer break rip roaring and ready to go. I’ve certainly noticed a renewed energy from those returning to work anyways.
But spare a thought for those of us who haven’t taken more than a few days off this summer – those of us who have battled on through the heat waves, the monsoon rain and the thunderstorms that have defined this epic summer.
But don’t feel too bad for me since we’re heading off for a 10 day break in less than 2 weeks time (hooray). However, it does mean more stress at work trying to get everything done before I go (and that’s quite the list).
I’ve compiled my holiday packing list too, but in doing so have realised that I need a new pair of trainers as I’m only taking 3 pairs of shoes with me – wearing one pair and packing two more. I’m taking the lovely yellow wedge sandals, some khaki Birkenstocks that go with everything but I also need something a bit more practical – a pair that are both supportive and good looking for some more strenuous activity. I was going to take my walking boots, but they’re just too ugly and only look good with some suitably outdoorsy clothes. So this weekend has been spent trawling the internet for something practical and stylish – and that’s easier said than done.
I’m also getting in those last batch of workouts and have averaged 3-4 a week at the moment which is pretty good for me. I may not be quite bikini fit yet, but I’m not that far off from where I want to be. So I’ll continue hitting the gym with gusto knowing that it’s doing me some kind of good – all the while getting rid of the muffin tops.
So off I go to have one last look and fill that online shopping cart, I need to do it soon so that I can break them in before we go. Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it 🙂
I sometimes use colour to define my mood, or even to improve it if I can.
Earlier this week I posted “Walking on sunshine” – my little yellow shoes exude happiness, I wore a matching yellow jacket to get the full happiness quota in. The reaction of those around me was surprising, even the concierge at work commented on how lovely they were. The one aspect of wearing bright colours is that you have to be feeling pretty brave, it’s just because they demand attention. Our eyes are drawn to bright colours. In nature, they can show great beauty but can also be used as a sign of danger, or to stay away.
I wear red if I’m scared or want to look confident, navy and purples suit my colouring so I try to wear as much of them as I can, and khaki is my dress down colour, my off duty wardrobe.
I don’t always get it right – I was wearing a red, white and blue ensemble on the day of Prince George’s birth – a tad bourgeois for my liking. And I’ve learned never to wear head to toe cream or white unless you have guaranteed sunshine (transparent / mud spattered / clingy) or wear full skirted dresses when it’s breezy (you really want to be wearing biggish pants on those occasions). But embracing colour can be a huge mood-lifter.
I went through a decade long phase (early 20s to early 30s) of wearing pretty much nothing but black – I liked it. I liked to look alternative, I liked that everything matched. But it was drab, painfully so. And so I slowly introduced colour to my wardrobe. Depending on my mood I can colour-block with the best of them, look elegant in muted hues or opt for a clever contrast combo. But I draw the line at beige – I want to look sophisticated and together, but the reality is that I feel beige when I wear it. So, it is the end of beige. Apart from a lovely pair of nude peep toe shoes – because, if nothing else they elongate the leg. And that’s something I’m in dire need of.
Self-expression is an important part of who I am. Just because I have a responsible job in the business world does not mean that I have to dress in a corporate uniform.
I carefully choose clothes that are smart (they have to be) but which are also quintessentially me. I do wear suits occasionally, but I usually compensate the severity of the suit with a flamboyant scarf and killer heels. And with messy, plenty of volume hair. That’s how people usually remember me – either for my hair or my shoes, often both.
And that’s ok, I don’t want to blend into the crowd. I like to look different, I like to be colourful in a grey world.
I encourage everyone I work with to be themselves, just because we have to be smart on a client site, doesn’t mean that you have to compromise on who you are. Be yourself, be authentic, be memorable.
It’s all about the balance (or, the shoes I pack for a weekend away)…