Hello and welcome to another installment of The HG Fifty – and this time it’s an occasionwear edit!
Now that it’s already June (sure, sure almost halfway to Christmas because of course), I’m sure lots of you will have already got your wedding guest outfits well out the way, but for those of you who haven’t, and for those of you with graduations, birthdays, summer parties and engagement parties galore, this post’s for you.
It’s my round-up of the sweetest dresses and accessories available on the high street for summer 2019 – featuring everything from budget beaded bags from Matalan to slightly higher ends frocks from Ghost and Kitri.
Cor it’s been a long ol’ time since I last did a fashion edit over on the blog. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I do a weekly round-up of my fave fashion finds every Monday evening on stories – alternating between themed (midi skirts, swimwear, wedding guest dresses etc) and new-in pieces.
So I thought, y’know what sounds like jolly good fun? DOING AN EXTRA BIG HG TEN ON THE BLOG. And not just ten pieces, let’s make it fifty! So here we are.
My plan is to do this once a month – a bumper round-up that links to The HG Ten on Instagram.
And this month’s theme is holiday fashion.
I have simple holiday tastes – I like swimwear, basket bags, strappy sandals and lots and lots of delicious dresses. So I hope you like the high street pieces I’ve selected. Happy shopping!
If there is one thing that we can be sure of in this life, it’s that I love midi skirts.
I love leopard print midi skirts, I love silky midi skirts, I love bright coloured midi skirts, I love flowy midi skirts. I LOVE THEM ALL.
So I thought I’d share a handful of tips on how I style them and what I wear them with and how I make them very much part of my every day wardrobe, whatever the weather.
I’m also sharing a midi skirt ‘The HG Ten’ over on Instagram stories today which I’ll add to my highlights in case you’re reading this post a little late.
And for context, I am 5 ft 2, usually take a size 14 in clothes and my body shape is roughly hourglass – I have big boobs, a big bum and thighs, but come in at the waist, which is where I like my skirts to sit.
I don’t shop for petite midi skirts and prefer them to come at least half way down my shin, but am cool with them creeping towards my ankles. I also prefer a zip waistband over an elasticated waistband (unless the elasticated waistband is very thin), and prefer a flowy shape over a straight and slinky kind of shape.
The most obvious way to make midi skirts practical for every day wear – soft play, the supermarket, going to see your grandparents for a cup of tea – is to wear them with trainers. I have two pairs that I wear religiously with my skirt collection – the classic white pair (these ones are old Next, but similar here), and my Converse high tops.
Admittedly, I am not a tights girl, even in the thick of winter. I tend to balance out a soft and flowy midi skirt with a chunky jumper on top when it’s a bit chillier and pray that it stops me losing my nipples to the cold. My usual style is to keep the jumper loose on top and then just tuck in the front of the jumper to the skirt to make it look casual and a bit slouchy. If I wanted to be warmer I’d maybe stick a biker jacket or blazer on top – or another suggestion is to wear super cropped leggings underneath.
Current fave vibe at the moment is to match the colour of my midi skirt to either a t-shirt or jumper. During the festive season I teamed my silver skirt with a grey jumper and my gold skirt with a cream jumper. And now that it’s a bit warmer I’m all about the matchy matchy t-shirt. If a printed skirt has more than one colour than I’ll try and hone in on one of those colours.
Finding shoes that ‘look right’ with midi skirts is hard. If I’m not wearing mine with trainers then I tend to go with a classic strappy sandal – these ones are old Bershka but there’s loads of similar on the high street at the moment. I think you could equally wear a flat sandal – I’ve just got these Next ones for summer and think they’d look really well. I think boots can be quite tricky. I’ve seem some girls look AMAZING with chunky Doc Martin style boots and midis, but the only ones I ever really wear with them is a heeled sock-style boot which comes quite high up my shin. An over-the-knee style would look lovely too.
My go-to outfit every time would be a midi skirt, a slogan t-shirt and a blazer. It’s my formula which makes me feel good and the most ‘me’ every damn time. Sometimes I’ll switch out the t-shirt for a jumper or a white shirt, and every now and then the blazer makes way for a biker jacket or trench. I think it’s an easy combo to start with if you’re feeling a bit lost in the world of midi skirts.
So in summary, a short list of things I think look fucking fantastic with midi skirts: t-shirts, jumpers (I tend to go with plain one colour jumpers), white shirts, blazers, biker jackets, trench coats, trainers, sandals, sock boots and a pointed shoe.
THINGS IN THIS POST STILL AVAILABLE TO BUY
Once the baby is out, the first thing you will want to do having spent nine months with a creature strapped to your front is SHOP, SHOP, SHOP for all the glorious clothes that will now fit your new body.
(You’ll also likely want to down a large glass of wine, sleep on your front and eat a hefty wedge of Brie, but hey, that’s not what this post is about).
The only problem with that is that a) your body will continue changing and growing and shrinking and doing bizarre shit for at least another nine months (although the first three were the major ones for me) and that b) if you’re breastfeeding then you’ll notice further restrictions on your wardrobe.
I did loads of weird and wonderful ASOS hauls in the weeks following Atti’s birth in a desperate attempt to regain my old identity, or at second-best, claw out some new semi-stylish half-mum, half-old-Hannah identity.
The reality is that I spent a shit load of money I wish I’d just saved for maternity pay on clothes that didn’t fit or that I didn’t even like once I started getting enough sleep to look at myself properly in the mirror.
So these are my tried and tested pieces you’ll actually wear, will actually be practical and will see you out of the fourth trimester and beyond.
Long-sleeved striped tops.
Always opt for oversized styles, or go a size or two up so that they have a nice slouchy fit. Can be worn over maternity leggings and jeans, stuck under dungarees, or even tucked into elasticated midi skirts if you’re feeling 10 out of 10 fancy.
If you’re feeling self conscious of pulling up your top to breastfeed, stick a thin strappy cami underneath – the top can come up and the cami can come down and BOOM, easy boob access.
This is my current fave one from ASOS, but H&M is another of my fave stripe shops.
As you’ll likely know by now, I’m a big lover of the Matalan dungarees which come in both blue and black for their incredible comfort and stretch. I wore mine up until about seven-months pregnant and they were one of the first things I reached for in the early days for little family voyages out of the house.
Beyond Nine also do an awesome jersey jumpsuit that is a slouchy, comfy godsend both in pregnancy and once out the other side.
Most days you will likely stay in your pyjamas and dressing gown and guuuuurl there ain’t no shame in that, but for days where you want the same comfort factor but really quite desperately need a Tesco pitstop for more giant adult nappies and a bar of chocolate, meet your new BFF – the humble oversized cardigan.
Feels like a dressing gown, looks like clothes it is acceptable to leave the house wearing. Love this under-£20 one from H&M.
A bloody wonderful pair of trainers.
If you’re going to splash out and treat yourself to something in those desperate late pregnancy oh-my-god-this-baby-is-about-to-fall-out-my-vagina days, make it a pair of really sexy trainers that make you smile.
You’ll likely spend a lot of time popping out for fresh air (also known as plz lord send coffee and make this baby go to sleep), and if you’re going to be pounding the pavements you may as well make sure your feet are happy in the process.
One of my fave pieces in my maternity wardrobe was a men’s XL plain white shirt from H&M. Cost about £20 but I wore it religiously because it went with everything, comfortably covered my bump and yet still made me feel just a tiny bit chic.
It worked well in my new mum life because it allowed for super easy boob access and was still loose and comfortable unlike a lot of my old wardrobe.
Anyone who tells you you will never leave the house with a small bag again is a liar. A LIAR I TELL YOU.
I mean sure, you might have a baby bag or rucksack shoved in the pram basket, but honestly small cross-body bags became a bit of a lifeline.
They leave your hands-free, but also they allow easy access to the important things (phone, keys, bank card, money, lip balm). Which will save you having a sleep-deprived meltdown whilst wading through nappies and wipes on the floor of Starbucks when you just want to pay for your coffee damnit!
A bloody excellent high street brand for post-baby wear as so much stuff comes up slouchy and comfortable and glorious.
I have a couple of their jumpsuits and find their wide-leg, drawstring waist ones a particular delight on hangover days where I need to at least pretend to be presentable.
They regularly bring out new prints and designs, always have excellent sales – and yes, some styles have a button-down front so super easy for whipping out a nipple when needed. Shop here.
Posh trackie bottoms.
I used to have a pair of these from H&M and wore them until the bum split. But good news lads, Matalan have saved the day with this budget pair. They feel a lot like a trackie bottom and yet are made from a slightly smarter fabric so give off the impression you mildly have your shit together.
Also very excellent because they won’t cling to your Tena ladies. They’ll buy you at least another few months away from jeans.
Stretchy jeans. If you are desperate to get back into a pair of skinnies, try the Tu ones as they’re high waisted, have loads of stretch and are the most comfy I’ve tried.
A beanie hat. Will hide the fact you haven’t washed your hair since Queen Victoria was in power but also gives off ‘I’m a cool, casual, hip and happening mum’ vibes.
Wide leg trousers with elasticated waist. Wear with flat shoes, oversized shirts and slouchy jumpers.
Slogan tees. Minimal spend for a lot of wear. Marks & Spencer have a really great selection at the moment for £6.50. I would size up.
A decent tracksuit. Most of us have some gross grey, holey, sexual things hiding in a drawer somewhere, but if there is ever a time to scream fuck it and invest in that leopard print two-piece.
Ah Black Friday, you sweet, hideous, persuasive bastard you.
As has now become my annual tradition, I’ve whipped up my usual cyber week blog post with all the best discounts and sales across the high street.
I’ll be updating daily and whacking the very best new discount codes on Instagram stories as I get them so that if you’re looking to snag some Christmas presents or replenish your beauty supplies or treat ya self to a little summin’ sexy for Christmas day, I got ya covered.
Here’s what’s going down at the moment…
Birchbox. You can nab two boxes for £5 with code ‘FRIYAY.’ Shop here.
Boohoo. Currently 20% off all womenswear, no code as reductions already applied. Shop here.
Debenhams. There is currently 20% off across clothing and home with code ‘RK22’. Shop here.
Dorothy Perkins. There’s a big up-to-50% off sale currently live. Shop here.
GAP. Currently 30% off entire order with code ‘COZYGAP’. Shop here.
Kurt Geiger. There’s currently 20% off selected boots. Shop here.
La Redoute. You can get 40% off everything on site with code ‘BLACKFRIDAY’. Shop here.
Matalan. Currently a bumper Black Friday up-to-50% off sale live online. Shop here.
Miss Selfridge. You can get 50% off ALL jeans today only. Shop here.
Monica Vinader. There’s 30% off everything on site. No code needed as discount already applied. Shop here.
New Look. There’s a huge 50% Black Friday sale now live on site. Shop here.
River Island. There’s 30% across partywear on site. Shop here.
I’ve spent the last six months blindly moseying on by in a blur of cute slogan t-shirts and midi skirts, popping on the odd blazer when the weather crept below twenty degrees. And it’s been a blissful fashion existence.
I’ve worn cross body bags and strappy black heeled sandals and I have felt a bloody lovely balance of me, and comfortable.
But then lol haha, the Indian summer suddenly fucked off and left us with classic British weather and quite honestly, I felt like it took some of my identity with it.
Is that a thing?
So I have spent the past two weeks researching my style. Which I know sounds like a lame thing to say. I’ve been pinning on Pinterest, reflecting back on my past Insta outfits, and going right back to last winter on some of my fave Insta fashion accounts (@livpurvis, @thefrugality, @erica_davies) to get some inspo.
And from my screengrabs and saves, I’ve managed to collate a bit of an idea about what I’m into for winter 2018 and what I’m drawn to over and over again.
Of what combos might keep me warm, but also feel kinda cool and work not just with my body shape, but with lots of the things already in my wardrobe.
1. Wrap coats.
The only coat I’ve got eyes for right now is the humble midi style (gotta sit somewhere between knee and ankle), which ideally would have a lovely wrap belt so that I have the choice of doing it up and showing off the fact that somewhere under all these layers of knitwear, I have a waist. A waist, guys! It’s under there! Promise!
There’s some delish ones on Arket and & Other Stories, but if your budget is a bit lower then check out eBay, so many gorg wool styles for under £50.
2. Midi skirts.
Because I refuse to believe they’re just for spring and summer. I will be wearing them without tights. Dun dun dun. But if the weather really drops I’ll maybe stick a pair of cropped leggings underneath to act as a very sexy pair of thermals.
I’m particularly loving all the autumn-hued silky satin skirts at the moment (like the sold-out £29 Topshop one), as well as animal print styles which look great with a big fluffy jumper half-tucked in.
3. Sock boots.
I find midi skirts and midi dresses really hard to match with footwear. In the summer I love heeled (but not too heeled) sandals, and I’m also a big fan of the white trainer look.
For AW18 I’m going hard on the sock boot, and if not the sock boot, then an ankle boot style that is both heeled (three inches is my ideal for being practical yet sTyLiSh) and sits a little higher up on the ankle, because they seem to work best with the ol’ midi length. This is the kinda thing I’m talking about.
4. Warm and camel tones.
I don’t know if I have finally entered adulthood or if I’ve been spending too much time with Chloe (@chloeplumstead), but I am apparently very obsessed with camel right now. Camel coats, camel knitwear, camel trousers, the list goes on.
Also loving deep rusts and mustards and oranges. I am an autumn tree.
5. Cropped trousers.
As someone who puts off wearing trousers wherever possible because petite size 14 trousers are the pits, I am trying to branch out this year. If only because chances are there will be some days where skirts will not be an option unless I want a snowman to attach itself to my shin.
I’m hunting out styles which are slightly cropped, wide leg, and ideally have a lil but of elastic in the waistband (to help allow room for mince pies). This pair from Miss Selfridge are my current squeeze, but am on the hunt for a similar pair in black. Also, not entirely repulsed by the idea of a pair of cords? Am I crazy?
6. Jumpers over dresses.
I’ve long admired anyone that can throw a jumper over their fave midi/maxi dress and not look like a giant blobby potato.
I have since discovered that there are two tricks to it. One is to add a tailored jacket (either coat or blazer) to make you look a bit more put together (also, warmer) and the second is to go for a slightly cropped jumper, especially if you are v short so that it doesn’t look like you are about to be the first person to ever be drowned by their outfit.
7. Snake print and leopard print.
No shocker here then lads, eh? If you are going to jump on the midi skirt trend for autumn, I would suggest doing so in one of these prints because they are pretty much definitely a neutral and therefore go with everything.
Look cute with black, grey, beige and camel. Leopard also looks lovely with pink or violet or blue. Snake print also looks cute with yellow or orange.
8. Understated knitwear.
Previous years I might have gone all guns blazing with bright HELLO I HAVE ARRIVED knitwear which is basically putting on a pantomime for whoever looks at it, but this year I’m keeping things simple.
I have a few styles on rotation at the moment (an excellent mix of both old and new) in dark blue, grey, yellow, beige and off-white. All have a hint at a roll neck style, some are thin and good for layering and others are thicker. They all go with my excessive midi skirt collection but also are easy to throw on with jeans and Converse too.
What are you guys wearing right now? Lol OK sure, somehow that sounded sexy. I cringe, I cringe.
Having a baby is absolutely delicious. But it also completely strips you of your identity and then you have to play a fun lil game of piecing yourself back together again week by week until you can look in the mirror and be like HEY I KNOW THAT GAL! I KNOW HER! I DO!
And, whilst it’s still very much early days for me, I thought I’d share a few of the things that have made me feel more like me over the past few months. Like a Hannah Gale I recognise circa 2018.
I’m very much of the belief that a happy mama equals a happy baby, so am trying to take some time at the moment (and dedicate some mental energy) to the second most important person in my world, ME! Lol.
Here’s what has helped me…
1. TAKING AN HOUR TO MYSELF
Trying to take short bursts of time completely to myself. No baby in my arms, no baby snoozing on the monitor next to me, just an hour here and there where I don’t have to think about someone else before I get up for a pee. I usually go out in the car, turn my music up so loud that my ear drums are quivering, get some coffee, and then just enjoy hanging out with my laptop. I’m not gone long enough for the baby to miss me, I’m not gone long enough to miss the baby, but I’ve had a breather, a little break, and it feels good.
2. ONLINE SHOPPING
Ain’t no kind of clothes shopping that’s better than post-baby clothes shopping. After nine months of trying to squeeze yourself into ~trendy~ bed sheets, the online high street is suddenly your oyster again. Huzzah! I’ve found some of my best recent purchases to be trainers (thankfully it seems to be cool at the moment to wear them with midi skirts and dresses and I’m so here for that), crossbody bags (hello hands-free), and slogan t-shirts.
3. HAVING A PAMPER
I’ve been trying to take time to actual pamper myself a bit recently. Now, I’m not talking like lavish massages and facials, but actually – and this is a wild one – remembering to wash my face and moisturise day and night. Whilst it’s not exactly ground-breaking, it’s the little details like that in every day that make me feel more like a functioning member of society and less like a decaying potato.
4. HAVING ‘NORMAL’ CONVERSATIONS
Not that conversations about formula and sleep routines aren’t normal, but bleedin’ heck, it’s wonderful to discuss non-baby stuff too.
I try to make an effort to send texts to my mates about stuff I would have done before – a little pic of my latest Domino’s order or an update on a crime mystery we’re all hooked on. No matter how much I just want to chat baby baby baby because it can feel like the only thing floating around my head a lot of the time.
5. DATE NIGHT
Whilst we do a lot of family dates these days – brunches, lunches and overnight stays in hotels, we also try hard to have a night just the two of us every month.
It’s an excuse to put on all my good make-up (sometimes even EYE LASHSES and TAN and OK look I’m getting carried away here), to have a wee little cocktail and to pretend I’m still hip and fun and young and happening.
I’ll hold up my hands and admit that I was desperate to rush back to me. I wanted to prove to myself that I could have it all and LOL OK HUN GOOD LUCK WITH THAT ONE.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is just accept that you’ve been through one of the biggest things anyone will ever go through in their life and y’know what? It’s OK to go slow. It’s OK to just live in that moment, to breathe deeply and let go of the person you were before. Because the new you is awesome too.