Wardrobe planning #06 – garden centre chic?

Dilemma: how to change a wardrobe that suited my working life to fit with retirement?

In 2014, I officially retired from my position as a school librarian. As I had been off work for some time with illness, this was the obvious next step. Over the subsequent weeks and months, I began to realise that I needed to make some changes in my clothing to fit with my new life.


Being so ill has a real impact on how I shop for clothes. Some weeks I hardly leave the house and when I do it is usually to go out with Lovely Husband for a cup of tea and a stroll. This short walk tends to be around either of the two large garden centres in our area. Very occasionally, I can manage to go into our local town but I have not been able to visit our nearest city for some years. We have also not been on holiday for a long time.

This means that my access to shops is very limited. The local town is very restricted in terms of clothes shopping for women. We have no Marks and Spencer, so apart from a few shops aimed at teens and younger women or a couple of upmarket boutiques, we have to rely on ASDA and Sainsbury’s clothing departments. Oh, and loads of charity shops!

Lands' End twinsets collage

Lands’ End twinsets collage

I read the Mumsnet forums a lot on my iPad and I winced the other day when I saw someone making a very disparaging comment about middle aged women wearing garden centre clothes. That’s me! Our two big garden centres have quite a lot of clothing concessions, such as Cotton Traders.

So, these are the places where I can occasionally pick out items and try them on without too much effort and getting exhausted and ill. If I look carefully, I can find quite nice t-shirts, vests, base-layers, jeans, joggers and so on. Knowing my colour choices really helps me to search out reasonable items. I am also keen to wear natural fibres as much as possible and so avoid polyester as I hate the feel of it on my skin. The other important consideration is, of course, how the item fits – nothing is worth having if it doesn’t look good!

If I want to branch out a bit then I have to shop online and I tend to use the following sites most of the time (all links are in the sidebar):

  • Lands’ End for cotton mix twin-sets in lovely colours, t-shirts and cotton sweaters. As they seem to have almost constant sales, I rarely buy anything full price.
  • Pure Collection for gorgeous cashmere cardigans, t-shirts and jumpers. Also tops in silk. They have sales quite often too.
  • Kettlewell Colours for a fantastic range of beautiful colours set out in colour analysis “seasons”. Their clothes are not the cheapest, but you can find just about any colour that you want.
  • WoolOvers for a range of well-priced knitwear in a range of cashmere/wool/ cotton/silk mixes in a wide range of colours and styles.
  • Marks and Spencer for just about anything although their site is not the best designed.
  • John Lewis again for just about anything, but particularly for cashmere knitwear.
  • Other department stores like House of Fraser and Debenhams.

As most of my clothes tend to be simple basics, these kinds of shops pretty much fulfil my needs and if I want anything really special, then I search online and order at my leisure.

I believe the key to dressing with style is in the quality of your accessories. And by quality I don’t necessarily mean expensive. Scarves, jewellery, footwear and handbags lift an outfit and should be chosen to fit your personality and lifestyle. New colours and fabrics can be introduced and can enhance a basic outfit, taking it to another level. At the very least, a well chosen scarf or brooch can make me smile on a dull day. Well, that’s what I think, anyway!

Middle aged woman buying from the garden centre? If clothes are carefully chosen and worn with good quality accessories…

…I say garden centre chic!

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About The Librain

Retired School Librarian
This entry was posted in Clothes, Lifestyle, Wardrobe, Wardrobe planning and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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