Beauty & Fashion

A midwinter midlife lately – Midlifechic

It feels as though the year is slowly opening its eyes doesn’t it? My grandma was an incurable romantic and she insisted that Valentine’s Day was the day when every bird found its mate. Obviously nature isn’t quite as well programmed as that but some are pairing off already – the owls in our garden have been busy for ages and now the herons on the canal are catching up. It does feel as if hope is there, even if it’s a few weeks yet until we change season – and as I type it’s snowing outside but we have both Pancake Day and Valentine’s Day next week and carbs and romance always make for a happy combination!  So let’s do a bit of catching up, here’s a midwinter midlife lately, a few recent outfits from when we’ve managed to duck out from the otherwise endless wind and rain.

Midwinter midlife lately – Newcastle life

This was a couple of weeks ago when we were over in Newcastle and our first stop was a careers fair for the middle one. Mal had a meeting but I was keen to tag along because it was being held at St James’s Park, the Newcastle United football stadium and I’ve always wanted to go inside. High up on the list of things I want to do is see a match there but we haven’t managed to get tickets so far. I hung back while he went to talk to a company that he’d applied to but hadn’t had a response from. In the meantime I enjoyed the view. One day!

A midwinter midlife lately

It’s going to be strange if he ups sticks and goes back to that side of the country again. I’m just getting used to having him at home, he’s good fun to be around and usually willing to be in an outfit photo…

Midlifechic and middle son

… even if he does insist they should be more animated. I know it looks as though I’m wearing black in this photo but it’s actually navy with cream.

Midlifechic sons

Zara jacket (AW21); Inès de La Fressange @ Uniqlo hoodie SS19; Wide leg trousers; Trainers; Uniqlo gloves AW16

I’m so pleased to see him getting his spark back. Although he really wanted to build his life there, his last 18 months in Newcastle were tough with the tribulations of his degree and his dysgraphia along with a very, very painful relationship breakdown that took months to recover from. He’s been pretty low for quite a while but at last I can see he’s much more himself. I’m glad he came home for a while, I feel as though it’s given him a chance to build himself up again. It’s hard to see your adult children facing adult problems isn’t it? You just have to stand by and be there when they need you and then step back sharply when they’re ready to move on.

Being out and about with him like this again reminded me of the year we spent going around university open days in different cities. It was a lot of fun and such a shame that we missed out on all of that with the youngest because of lockdown. We’ve all been meaning to go to the Discovery Museum in Newcastle for ages, it’s the one that focuses on the region’s history so that was our next stop. I don’t know about you but I’m really starting to notice the lack of investment in museums and galleries now. This one was probably really good circa 2005 when the budget for culture was higher on the government agenda. Now, like so many places, it feels dated, it was still interesting though.

The only photo I took was for our family BeReal (you can imagine the banter from the other two when they saw this, knowing that he was in Newcastle for a careers fair!).

A midwinter midlife lately

We met up with his girlfriend when she finished work and it’s lovely when you see that somebody really cares about your adult offspring. She always has a thoughtful little something for him, this time a Yoda cookie because he’s always been a Star Wars fan (they’d been nibbling at it as you can see). So they went off together for the rest of the weekend and we headed back to our flat – the temperatures were plummeting as they do in Newcastle at this time of year.

A midwinter midlife lately

We were up and out early the next morning for a run along The Tyne – I’m determined to keep it up after the wellness weekend but it isn’t easy getting back into it. It’s a jolt when you see the ghosts of lockdown isn’t it? It was such a strange time that we all lived through and things like this bench remind you of the intensity of it. Yet here we are, carrying on – whilst still totting up costs of all kinds.

Midlifechic running

Later on we popped into town for a few bits and pieces – I’m trying to make winter feel better by wearing bright colours when I can but I’ll be so glad when it’s warmer and there aren’t as many darned layers to coordinate.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic winter outfits

Hush coat AW17; John Lewis scarf AW22; Hush jumper AW18; Boots (now in the sale – gifted AW23)

Slowly, slowly the old Grainger Market in the centre of Newcastle is becoming gentrified. There are still the old haberdashery stalls and fishmongers but they now sit alongside street food stop-offs like this one. I was eating chopped samosas covered with dhal (and for some reason there’s nothing Mal likes better than taking a photo when I’m tucking in). There are so many different types of people in the market – old Geordie pensioners buying their veg for the week, rubbing along with the young hipster students who’ve come along for the trendy vermouth bar. It’s a great place to sit and watch worlds colliding for a while.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

Hush jumper AW18; John Lewis scarf AW22; Earrings

Then it was back to the flat to get changed for a night out – you know my shorthand now, wearing black for a quiet evening à deux. We went to Horticulture, one of our favourite cocktail bars with one last drink at the very traditional Beehive.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic night out outfits

Satin shirt (now in clearance); flared jeans; Hush leopard boots AW18; Hush leather jacket AW16

And I just wanted to show you this picture because I was wearing the ‘baby skin’ BB cream that so many people talk about. It really does make your complexion look as though it has a filter on it although the lights have picked it up especially well here, it isn’t quite as luminous in daylight. I bought the 15ml travel size in nude to test and it’s perhaps a little bit pale for my skin so I’m going to try doré as well to see which is best. It’s one of those great value Korean beauty products that gives a really good result.

Nikki and Mal Garnett

This is the morning after, popping out for newspapers in preparation for a lazy afternoon. The sun was warm so we sat by the river for a while before heading over to mum-in-law’s and here’s a new word I’ve learned – apricity – a sudden burst of warm sunshine in winter that takes you by surprise.

I’m glad that long black coats are back this year. I’ve had this one since 1995, it was £500 from Selfridges, marked down to half price in the sale but it still felt like a huge splurge at the time. It’s a 70:30 wool and cashmere blend though so it’s warm but incredibly light and wearing it again after so long really brought home how the quality of clothes has declined.

Nikki Garnett, winter style

Selfridges black coat AW95; John Lewis Jumper AW19; Hope snood AW 18; Boden boots AW20; Leather leggings AW17 but still available here

And this was Monday morning, heading back home to my desk again. As I said last week I find it hard to settle down to work in Newcastle so I have to discipline myself by leaving the bright lights behind.

Nikki Garnett, winter outfits style

IdLF at Uniqlo coat AW18; White Stuff tank top SS22; Mango jeans AW23; Boden boots SS22; John Lewis scarf AW22

Midwinter midlife lately – back at home

Moving on, last Sunday was a special day because it was Midlifechic’s 10th birthday – ten years since I sent my first ever post live and what a joy it’s been. We were busy with a spontaneous but enormous decluttering session – the lights had failed in my dressing room so Mal had to empty it completely in order to fix them. It made sense not to put everything straight back so I went through each piece, one at a time instead. It means there will be a very big charity sale coming up at some point because having seen how lovely it was to have so much space in there, I was brutal. It’s going to take about a month to get everything photographed and listed as and when I have a spare moment but I’ll let you know when I’m getting closer.

Anyway, this was the hour that I took away from it all for a little celebration…

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

Boden jacket AW20; Me+Em flared jeans SS23; Boden boots AW21; Baukjen top AW 18

… it definitely felt like an occasion for cake – and yet again he caught me just as I started to eat.

Nikki Garnett

So I just want to thank you again for reading as you do and giving me a reason to keep on writing this blog. I did a little style retrospective on Instagram and was actually quite choked by the response so a particular thank you to everyone who took the time to write something, I was very moved by it. I don’t often post on there because I don’t feel it’s my space but maybe I will a bit more now. Anyway I’ll replicate the pictures for those of you who don’t use social media (those who do, scroll on). I was illustrating my journey through style over the last ten years. I feel as if I’ve gone from lost to refound but it took a while.

Lots of people asked for advice so I’ll add tips into style posts as we go along in the season to come. The most important thing though is assessing and understanding your body’s architecture. Only then will you find the clothes that work for you – but we’ll go over that again soon.

2014 – the very beginning

Digging out an old corporate piece that I was just fitting into again and wondering if I could wear it. A perfect example of not knowing how to dress for my architecture.

A midwinter midlife lately

2015

Tentative steps towards colour.

A midwinter midlife lately

2016

And my first ever completely red outfit – it set the stall for many, many more.

A midwinter midlife lately

2017

My 50th birthday outfit, I still have the skirt, shoes and bag, wish I had the top.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

2018

The tail end of the skinny jeans trend but they were never really right for my shape.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

2019

And I’m comfortable here – I still have and wear this outfit.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

2020

And this one too – my first ever purchase from Me+Em. As the quality on the high street plummeted I started spending more on pieces but buying far less.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

2021

I still have and wear all of this too.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

2022

And this – I love wearing black in summer when you can break it up with more skin on show.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

2023

And of course I still have all of this – short skirts were a new move for me in 2023 but I was so sick of midis, especially in winter. I can’t stand the way they stick to tights and boots.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

And so Midlifechic moves on into a new decade. It feels as though I’ve travelled through a whole lifestage since I started writing – back in 2014 I was still a primary school playground mum. And I suppose the next ten years will be a big move on again, who knows what’s ahead? We’ll see an enormous change in retail – it’s going to be a choice between price or quality and the middle ground will be eroded. I think we’ll all get more used to buying preloved – and that has to be a good thing for the planet, if not for the store groups.

So I think my role as far as style is concerned will be to continue to help you by sifting through it all and finding the pieces that are worth buying. And I’ll keep on wearing the clothes I already have too, hopefully giving you ideas for new ways of wearing what you have in your wardrobe. I’ll keep you up to date with trends and continue to tell you if I find beauty products that genuinely work. I’ve been approached about a book but the conversation’s only just beginning so who knows if it will lead anywhere. I’m also interested in helping to tackle ageism and continuing to challenge the way that growing older is perceived in this country. And of course I’ll keep on sharing midlife lately with you.

With that I’ll leave you and head into more celebrations, this time for our wedding anniversary. We deliberately chose 10th February so that we’d always have a wintery lift; back in 2001 we had the idea that it would give us an excuse to go away every year to celebrate and last year we were in the Masai Mara. This year we won’t be anywhere more exotic than Newcastle but it doesn’t matter, we’ll just have to wear a few more layers. They say that your life parter should be someone who is both your safe place and your biggest adventure. Here’s to many, many more years of that Mal ❤️.

Disclosure: ‘A midwinter midlife lately’ is not a sponsored post

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