The London Season


Beryl and Jane like the London Season when invited (which frankly isn't often) mostly because it is the one moment when they can indulge in a little no holes barred, over the top British dressing. No cool international vibe is required here. Louis De Bernieres, who wrote Captain Corelli's Mandolin once described the English in particular as "exotic" and Jane and Beryl think we (the British) are at our most splendid when eccentrically dressed to kill.

Ok, Beryl isn't really at Ascot here, she is actually at the village fete, which was vintage themed. However, as someone commented the outfit could have gone to Ascot, perhaps with a little additional hat trimming. Luckily, Jane is also a milliner. Crikey, Jane and Beryl are annoying. The hat, which is probably 1960's and very Audrey Hepburn, cost £25 from Velvet Rose in Hampshire. Vintage hats are hugely bargainous compared to contemporary buys which can run into hundreds. If you come across a marvellous vintage bonnet, buy it immediately, it will be gone if you dither. The coat, also from the 1960's, cost £40 from Poot in Frome and channels Beryl's inner Princess Margaret a treat. If you think that HRH would not have been seen on a Lambretta you are wrong. Beryl's uncle was once given the task of trying to dissuade the headstrong Royal from driving a tank on a visit to his regiment. Eventually they came to an agreed position (pun intended), whereby Beryl's relative steered the tank, with Princess Margaret, balancing with a foot on each of his shoulders, poking out the top of the vehicle.

This is Beryl's neighbour Juanita Coulson who is the fashion and literary editor of The Lady sporting a charming 1960's hat. Obviously Juanita is not 50, but as this is not her fault, and she looks so lovely, she has been included here.

Jane is definitely going for the Cecil Beaton version of Ascot.  She is wearing a dress so old it's vintage from the worthy Debenhams by Jasper Conran. It cost £70 and has been trucked out for many high days and holidays (and lent to many a friend). The trick is, it's cut on the bias and therefore expands to fit all. She has put it with silver shoes from Fenwick £120, a folding hat from M&S for £5 in the sale, and a silk stole by Droopy & Brown which is at least 20 years old. 


Ahh Wimbles, again not invited this year, but ever hopeful, Jane and Beryl have outfits to go. This spotty dress and jacket combo has become Beryl's go to all purpose summer occasion outfit. The jacket is Hobbs and cost £40 in a sale. and the dress was £95 from Emily and Fin. Minnie Mouse also loves red polka dots, but Beryl's decided to rise above this.

 A comfortable flat shoe that passes muster is a summer must. Middle-aged feet are tricky beasts and could have a blog of their very own. Beryl favours a ballerina pump, as they are still feminine, compliment a frock and cover ageing toes a treat. Beryl was in Barcelona this week, and snapped this amazing shoe shop. The ruby slippers pictured are from the children's department of Russell and Bromley and cost £40. The red handbag is by Armani and was a pressy 20 years ago. This outfit was about to join the Queen's birthday celebrations in Beryl's village, but like Wimbledon rain stopped play, so botanical print trousers were substituted.

You may accuse her of 'dressing-up' in this outfit, but there is method in her madness. Jane is sporting a boater for this sporting event as a useful antedote to the sun (ha!) as a hat really is de rigeur on Centre Court (if only she was likely to be anywhere near it) and a boater suits one and all - really, if in doubt, wear a boater. Her jacket was £59 from Debenhams, wide legged trousers by Autograph at M&S £45, pink blouse £46 by Tramontana, and pink shoes £59 from Clarks. The straw clutch came with some bath smellies but is being pressed into service here as a handbag.


Jane is off to Henley and not just for the Pol Roger and the seafood salad, but she actually has an interest in the rowing this year as her nephew is in the Abingdon boat (oh, how she is enjoying saying that!) Her sister-in-law has come up with the following advice, and she should know as not only does she have a son in the Abingdon boat (see above), but she lives in the borough too: the no skirts above the knee rule is absolute, but no-one gives a damn how much tittage one shows; wear flat shoes as it's on grass and it can get mighty hot in those tents. With this in mind, Jane stumbled upon this dress in Zara for £49.99. She feels it has the right amount of chic asymmetricity going on, while adhering to the rules of coverage, and a flat shoe will not look out of place (these are from Molly's Den in
Winchester, Jaeger £29). The jacket is from Top Shop, part of a suit bought
last year from Mind for £15. Hats are 'encouraged' so Jane will probably put on the Devizes Emporium one bought for £35 two weeks ago.

 Boaters are big this summer, as fashion has taken an Edwardian turn. This old battered one is actually Beryl's boater from school. The blue jacket is doing great service, bought last summer it has surpassed its required 30 wears and become eco-friendly. Pandora Sykes fashion editor of The Sunday Times suggests that any item should be able to be worn three ways, before being considered a worthy purchase. Here, for Henley it is put with a Barcelona buy, a white floaty skirt from Massimo Tutti 79 Euros and a white top from a Barcelona-based company called Dr Bloom also around the 79 Euro mark. Tied round Beryl's waist is  the stuff of vintage clothes hunters' dreams.; a genuine Hermes scarf bought from a vintage warehouse for £1.50. Capacious handbag useful for                                                           bottles of water, pashminas, small umbrellas etc, £110 Cath Kidson.


 Beryl has made it to Glyndeboure, but would love to go again. Glyndebourne does live up to expectations, people set up elaborate picnics in the garden, before entering the opera house. The dress below cost £15 from a charity shop, but makes its owner feel fabulous, it is by Rene Derby and has shot pink undertones to the orange. Dressing beyond 50, is all about being interesting rather than beautiful and this dress fits the bill.

Pink shoes by Elia B of London. Freshwater pearls held together with a vintage broach. 

Jane has yet to make her debut at Glyndebourne, but if she was to be asked, she is thinking of keeping warm in the British summer, so has added a vintage wrap to her outfit to keep out the chills. This is a 1920s version bought for £65. Underneath, she has a practically vintage (i.e. very old) dress black from French Connection, not very summery but it it pouring with rain right now and is under 10 degrees. She has put on silver Mary Janes (as above) and a silver clutch bag £79 from John Lewis, several seasons ago.

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