For maximum versatility on the beach or in town, the over-40s babe could think about a monochrome scheme this summer.
As aforementioned, once you hit 40, summer dressing can turn into a total nightmare. While most of us look pretty OK swathed in sweaters, manufacturers desert the average woman entirely come summer and produce a plethora of skimpy, low-cut, short bits of nothing that only look good on a 16-year-old.
There’s also the tricky issue of colour. Most women’s go-to colour is black and black clothing accounts for 76 per cent of all women’s clothing sold in the UK, but in the harsh light of summer, it looks a bit dreary to say the least and not everyone wants to dress in screaming shades of pink, blue and yellow as an alternative. Meanwhile, the manufacturers churn out black shift dresses all summer as if we all worked in law firms.
The freshest colour for summer is undoubtedly white, but it takes a brave soul to dress in white from head to foot and it’s hardly the most practical colour if you’re climbing in and out of cars or public transport or pelting along the UK’s crowded, dusty streets.
Monochrome schemes, however – mixing black and white – look as good in town as at the seaside, so if you stick to black and white for your beachwear this winter, when you get back you can continue to wear the clothes throughout the British summer, if it ever arrives.
The combination of black and white always looks crisp, which is important when you’re wilting like limp celery. You can go for the more formal combinations of block colour and trad patterns like stripes and spots, or alternatively choose florals – or even both: as long as the colour scheme remains monochrome, all the patterns will tie together. Once you’ve pulled together your basic wardrobe, you can add accessories in any colour you like to make things ever-more summery.
Flicking through the Damart catalogue recently, I noticed how quickly you can build a wardrobe from their offerings of black and white clothes this year, and the prices are very reasonable. Therefore all the pix shown are Damart, but you can probably get this look from any high street store.
I was very taken with the two-pack of dresses above, and the matching two pack of skirts (left), each with one plain black and one monochrome floral. They are all in pull-on cotton jersey for maximum ease of use (and no ironing) and the floral pattern will hide a bit of salt and sand as easily as city dirt. Add in both the black and white versions of this little cotton jersey shrug (above) with its cute fluted sleeve and that gives you many interchangeable outfits. It’s good to see a shrug that’s suited for daytime use and not just evening.
Cleverly, Damart have also produced a matching swimdress, which means you can simply pull on the floral skirt over the swimdress to be covered for the walk back to the hotel. Or you could try this swimsuit instead, which is toning rather than an exact match. It offers slightly less coverage but a different neckline.
This reversible skirt is also worth looking at – floral one side, diagonal striped on the other. I love reversible clothes when I’m packing and can’t take much and although this skirt design doesn’t exactly set the world alight, it looks very wearable with a simple tee or short blouse.
This bias-cut floral dress (below) is very simple and flattering, with a skimming cut that feels comfy in the heat and the diagonal pattern making you look slimmer. Again, it can be dressed up with cardis and shrugs for a different look. And for evening or lounging around, this colour-blocked maxi dress is fabulous, if you have the height to carry it off.
Add in a couple of pairs of jeans or trousers in white and black, and that’s your summer wardrobe pretty much taken care of, and if you want a bit of colour, add in some accessories in red, blue, aqua, gold or whatever other colour takes your fancy.
Have fun on the beach.