Jane and Beryl go to Henley

The long anticipated day that Jane and Beryl go to Henley has arrived, but not the hoped for weather. 7.30 am and our fashionistas are both in a state of 'pan-archy', Beryl's new made-up word for that panic stricken, chaotic feeling that besets a woman when she realises that her best laid fashion plans lie in ruins on the floor, and she has 
10 minutes to find something more suitable. 

Dress Lily & Lionel £100, coat Zara £69, fascinator M&S £5 (sale), shoes Zara £29.99

7.30 am. Jane crawls out of bed after a night spend too hot or too cold. She finds the weather inclement and her original choice of outfit for the day - maxi dress with coloured trench which the fashion mags tell us is The Thing this season - far too hot and bothersome. The fascinator was definitely de trop (too fussy, although lots of people did successfully wear them). And Jane is very fond of her satin shoes, but as showers were forecast she was worried about them getting ruined in the puddles and she had nothing other than wellies (Henley ladies do do this)... how an outfit can fail on the lack of suitable footwear. She is in full panic mode...

Blouse Seamstress of Bloomsbury £39, skirt Matthew Williamson £15 charity shop, shoes as before

7.40am Jane is getting worried. What else to wear?  Only 50 minutes until they have to leave and with the race at 11.40, rowers will wait for no woman... She tries again with a skirt and blouse combo, with Beryl's borrowed jacket. Still sweating like the proverbial pig. Tweed in July? Really, what is she thinking? Trouble is, she isn't really thinking at all... 

Boater from a New Zealand holiday with Abingdon hatband, jacket £25 second hand,
top Ghost £45, skirt Primark £7 charity shop, brogues Clarks £69

8.00am and Jane is back in the exact outfit which steely-eyed readers will recognise from this self-same week last year when she was very probably in the same panic (obvs she can't remember). It worked last time round, so why even bother to try to do something original? Her satin pumps are swapped for a sensible brogue (except they are pink) and she has a sleeveless top as a conjunction item to allow the wearing of a jacket. As she is supporting her nephew in the Abingdon boat, she feel the pink is appropriate. She is delighted that she colour coordinates so well with the tent, rowing cake... in fact, everything. And they really do have the best colour strip on the river. 

Goat coat £160 White House Designers Sale, Kate Spade handbag £150 TK Maxx
Shoes LK Bennett sample sale £30, hat Foxwell Moon, vintage poodle scarf £5  

7.30 and Beryl finds herself on the horns of a dilemma, the weather has taken an unexpected turn, and the pink Goat coat that she had promised an outing, is now making her melt like a pink blancmange. The heels are also the mother of all terrible ideas, it has rained overnight and the charming lawns may have turned into a quagmire, she pops her cherry coloured Hunters into the car just in case. Also something is playing on her mind, the combination of hat and coat remind her of something...oh yes...Paddington goes to Henley! She flings the offending items on the bed.  

Second hand Kate Spade dress £150,  Russell and Bromley mock croc shoes
£40 (children's department) Armani bag (present) boater £7charity shop.

7.40 and this time Beryl pops out of the wardrobe as another literary bear, Mary Plain VIP. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this outfit, it is simple, elegant and restrained, but Beryl has the niggling sensation of a lost opportunity. Genuine dressing up opportunities for the WOACA are rare.  By now she is feeling more like Mary Plain in trouble.
Massimo Dutti skirt 89 Euros and Principles charity shop top £4,
 Kate Spade handbag £150 TK Maxx

Five minutes to blast off, and she has miraculously managed a decision, the white skirt and silky top look fresh and understated, a good foil for the incredibly loud and out there statement coat that's coming next, and phew, not a fictional bear in sight. She doesn't really like her footwear, but neither does any other woman there, everybody is wearing 'fugly' shoes with the hint of crisis about them. She vows to do better in the summer flat shoes with posh outfit stakes.

This lovely lady, boating mum Helen, in her rowing blazer from Wadham College. Jane and Beryl have serious jacket envy. 

Coat Mamaison £179

And the coat, yes Beryl is sporting a duster with a full Italian boating scene. But as Louis de Bernieres of Captain Correlli's Mandolin fame once pointed out the English are very 'exotic' to everyone but themselves. She chats to their hostess boating mum, Jackie and her chum in their finest as they wait for the 'boat off', or whatever it's called.

Trying on very reasonably priced hats in the shop.

Beryl and Jane making the Glorianna look subtle in the outfits that they actually chose. Thank you to Jane's family for a marvellous day to remember and to the lovely ladies of the Abingdon Rowing Club for a first class lunch. Their boys made it though the first day with aplomb. Well done, guys!

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