world according to sam

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first. Mark Twain

Category: FASHION

I’ve got Specs Appeal!

  FortyTen not only saw a surfeit of new body hair but also an escalation in my loss of vision For several years I have fought the scourge of mid-life macular degeneration, resisting wearing glasses for as long as possible. I have super sized my phone, my kindle is set to a ridiculously large font AND I put my make-up on with my nose pressed to the mirror. Having seen Mr H become almost partially sighted overnight with the advent of his own spectaclage some years ago I thought my avoidance may postpone the inevitable. 
It is a cruel irony that as we reach that time of our lives, so called ‘mid-life’, to see anything we need an unforgiving and harsh retina-burning white light that catches and accentuates every wrinkle and unthreaded whisker! And further down the line when the shortness of our arms prohibits bringing menus into focus, the required  magnifying properties of glasses do just that …. Magnify those crows feet to Ostrich dimensions. 
And still the situation worsens. .. to further add to my shame at having to wear glasses, I am now so mightily hacked off at having to retrieve said specs from my bag each time I need to check the price/size of any item whilst shopping, (made all the more abhorrent as I battle with the finger-nipping case wherein they lie), I have invested in a spectacle chain. No longer am I channelling geek-chic, oh no, I am now chanelling doyenne of Radio 4, presenter and advocate of the fancy glass chain – Ms Jenni Murray. 
As I searched for something discrete and innocuous to keep my glasses near, I was surprisingly drawn to something altogether more fancy than what I had anticipated choosing. A full-blown Hinge & Brackett worthy bejewelled chain!!  I love the freedom it has afforded me, no longer am I cursing and muttering as I wend my way up and down the aisles of Waitrose, no more throwing tissues, gum and handbag detritus during a mad search for my glasses to key in my PIN  – no there they are, swinging above my ample bosom, ever present and handy, capturing any stray morsel that may drop as I am eating … Collecting crumbs, the adult version of a pelican bib … Oh how I hate getting old!! But wait …. Hot off the press from a very beautiful and hip ski seasonaire, these jewelled chains were ALL the rage in Morzine last year … I’m back to cool! 


Countdown to……FortyTen!


Those of you that know me well will know that my age is rather a fluid thing, mercurial in that few are ever able to really pin down my exact birthyear … I have been skirting the subject for at least the past decade however now that my gorgeous baby boys are hirsute young men my age manipulation makes their births a criminal offence so I must come clean ….. Yes, I am about to become FortyTen! There, I have said it (again), the first time was when I started this blog last Summer and ‘fessed up that perhaps my Facebook profile was not entirely truthful (and I have NO IDEA how to change it *she lied unashamedly). My (younger) brothers at last breathed a huge sigh of relief at no longer having to bear the burden of being the elder siblings and all the responsibilities that come with that!


But what does it mean? To most, my ‘coming of age’ will mean nothing but I must confess I am approaching the date (6/6 – I only just missed that Omen moniker!!) with a little hesitancy. For a year I have been slathering on serums with youth-giving properties beneath super rich moisturisers and of course have resisted losing too much (any) weight for fear of my face caving in on itself – nope my body is still very much Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) rather than Melissa Joan Hart (Serena Teenage Witch)!  A new beauty and health regimen has been adopted and paying closer attention to the many Ageless Beauty blogging gurus, has replaced my former monthly magazine addiction.  Tricks for concealing, contouring and correcting – these are my new “Three C’s” and can be attributed to not only anti-ageing skin unguents, my make up routine but also MY KNICKERS!

Mr H passed particular milestone birthday some considerable time ago and sadly there is not the distance between our dates of birth as I have purported in the past.  I did for some time flag him up as J Howard Marshall to my Anna Nicole Smith but alas the gap is closing and my audience less amenable to the idea that there is a huge chasm between our respective ages. To add further humiliation, he is faring so much better in the ageing stakes than me. But there were some inherent changes to him and his demeanour as he turned his half century, namely climbing up onto his own, personalized and super-sized soapbox to rage at the world …. About everything!   And what an assault on the senses that particular joy was as he dropped me to the station in the mornings, rahrahrah at 7.30am …..rahrahrah at 8pm collection time. This particular curmudgeonly affliction, according to many of my peers, seems to be  endemic amongst most male demi-centenarians. On the plus side, those sexy salt and pepper flecks at his temples became altogether more distinguished, his leather Loakes and pristinely pressed, only-ever-double-cuffed shirts looked all the more fitting for a gentleman of a certain age and there is something quite comforting going to bed with a man whose failing eyesight will mean that when he wakes in the morning he sees you in that flattering soft focus, blurred around the edges imagery normally afforded to the Hollywood starlets of a bygone era.

So what does it mean to me, this becoming 50? Will I be heading straight to a Cryogenic regeneration chamber? Taking up the 50-day burpee challenge? Rushing for Botox? Preparing a path to my door for a weekly Gin Tanker, with an artic’ full of Schweppes slimline tonic to follow behind? Donning comfy shoes and having my hair cut short as a ‘Hello Middle Age’ gesture!  No, not a chance! I have taken solace today in reading that 50 used to be thought of as the start to ‘old age’, fortunately not any more, that particular gem has been moved to 60-65 (phew!).  Besides I don’t feel middle-aged on the inside, I still want to read about the Kardashians (shallow, I know!), know the latest fashion and beauty trends, be blonde not grey, dance wildly, drink too much on occasion (though my recovery is closer to a fortnight these days), wear skirts above the knee and outrageously high heels – but not at the same time! Embrace Instagram, Twitter and the like.  And embrace totes amazeballs vocabulary too that will totally make your toes curl!  Grow old disgracefully in fact!

Come on FortyTen – bite me! (if you don’t know what that means check out your Urban dictionary chicas!)

Shellac Dark Dahlia



Order has been restored, following my little toe-op last week when I had to remove ALL nail polish (I know, shoot me now!) I have finally been able to hop over to have my hands and feet re-painted.  (*breathes HUGE sigh of relief)  As Autumn is well and truly here I have decided to move out of my comfort zone, I am usually quite catholic in my nail colour selection , French polish, Red and sometimes in the Summer fuschia pink, although I often regret the pink choice.  So this new (to me) CND Vinylux/Shellac colour was way off piste but I like it and even if I didn’t I am going to have to live with it for at least the next two weeks!  A deep, dark prune colour that suits all ages not just the young, works well on shorter manicured nails rather than talons (think Elvira!!) Dark Dahlia is a timeless colour to team with Autumn/Winter fashion and I am pleased to say that today, one day on … I still like it.  So many of these very dark colours, my favourite is Chanel’s iconic Rouge Noir, are for me too brown or too black, this is just DARK.  Of course my failing eyesight lead me to read Dark Delia which conjured up a post Apocalyptic Norwich FC Supporting Delia Smith …but it’s not, it’s definitely DARK DAHLIA and is available in both Shellac (for my hands) and Vinylux for my feet …. Roll on December and Holiday Red!

Weapons of Mass Seduction – October is Breast Awareness Month

Some people think having large breasts makes a woman stupid

Actually, it’s quite the opposite: 

A woman having large breasts makes men stupid

                                                                                                            Tuta Rudner

Bongoes, bangers, bazookas, boobs, bosoms, boobies,  Bristols,  Britneys,  baps, Brad Pitts,  …. and that’s just the B’s to describe your fun bags ….  but are they fun?  As I am heading towards the half century my own hunnybunz are becoming ever more cumbersome …. and more unruly ….  I am not sure if my eye to hand coordination is diminishing or that my own mammary shelf is spreading but I seem to have developed my own on-board fixture of a natural  pelican bib – catching everything that doesn’t quite make it into my mouth …. I am almost at the stage of banning any natural fabrics as I have so many silk garments now residing in the back of the wardrobe sporting indelible grease-spots!  My greatest fear is that it won’t be long until I am tucking them (da boobz), into the tops of my American Tan pop socks!   Children of the 60’s and 70’s will remember both these abominations … American Tan, an almost tangerine hue marketed as a natural flesh tone and created specifically for the hosiery industry …. can only imagine they took their Pantone reference from the beaches of Miami before anyone realised the damage being done by the sun!  And the Pop Sock ….. now when used correctly the pop sock has its merits, giving a sheer finish under trousers (as long as the trouser is long enough to cover the top of the sock) but people, it was never, ever designed to be worn under a cotton summer dirndl!!! (Mother-in-Law please take note!)


But back to Breasts …. aside from the obvious health checks which we should all be doing regularly, Wear it Pink and October as Breast Awareness Month are reminders to do just that … see how to correctly check yourself here at Breakthrough Breast Cancer we should also be making sure that we are wearing the correct size bra that fits well without crushing at the side, spilling over in the middle or riding right up your back.  But how do you do that? …. it is all too easy to ‘guess’ your size and make do ….. My first proper bra fitting, i.e. one that didn’t involve me copping a feel of an M & S boxed number and thinking that’ll do was when I was getting married, I headed to Selfridges Lingerie Department.  The ladies there were amazing and their sage advice has stuck with me and made me realise how important it is to be fitted correctly, although the fitter must be  well-trained.  I have tried since then to have fittings and been told ‘”well, that’s the best you are going to get”.  NOT TRUE! It just takes time and patience, which is why I now tend to buy from online stores and try on in the comfort of my own home, as I do now have an understanding of how a well-fitting bra should look and feel …. Though there are still some experienced fitters out there, tucked away in department stores … usually older ladies who really understand BOOBS, many lingerie departments are still staffed by girls with Polly Pocket sized boobs who have no understanding of the underpinning required to tame the larger breast.  When I was pregnant I grew to the gargantuan proportions of a J cup (yes, that is a real size) and felt that I could probably feed an entire army with those puppies.  The choice of nursing bras was limited and with a restriction on any under-wiring to prevent damage to the soft supportive tissue, I wore Triumph Doreen for both my pregnancies, it wasn’t available in any other colour than white in those days and was deeply unglamorous and inhibiting.  It is the one and only time that my lingerie drawer has had anything in common with my mother-in-law’s …. Now I am a less pneumatic GG cup and things have moved on in the plus-cup lingerie world.

As our decollatege heads south we need to constantly assess and reassess – I have liked lots of brands over the years but find that my changing shape often means a change of brand too … the brands I find consistently good are Freya, (pretty, matching sets available) and lovely swimwear too up to a K-Cup; Panache, again modern designs and Fantasie sometimes – although a lot of Fantasie styles push your cups in opposite directions, like Marty Feldman’s eyes … I held out high hopes for the Elle Macpherson range but this didn’t quite meet my support requirements …. I need jiggle restriction and M&S consistently lets me down with a poor fit, though recently I read in Sarah Vines’s column on Get The Gloss about a new breakthrough from M & S called the Youthful Lift  Bra, so am keen to try that out as  over the years they have marketed some terrific ideas …. there were plastic side inserts at one time that promised to push the larger bust forward (which frankly is where it’s meant to be – not hiding under my armpits!!) but it was uncomfortable and gave an odd shape, so poor in its execution … And thats another thing – the shape of the cup is also important – the Triumph Doreen mentioned above actually looks pretty fantastic under a 60’s style black jumper as you take on a Madonnaesque pointi-ness.    It does give me hope that Marks and Spencer has  a department of TIT-ivators, innovating for those of us described as embonpoint.


So October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month was my prompt to turn my attention to our jubblies and celebrate them …. a well-fitting bra will not only help prevent flop, sag and stretch (think Spaniel’s Ears!!) but can also help you look one or two dress sizes smaller (just ask Gok Wan),  as said cleavage is hoisted up and away from the waist.  My top tip for checking the fit of a bra is to try a skimming  t-shirt over the bra, check for back bulge, cups brimming over and the general line and shape.  I like my boobs to be held high but not so high that I am peering from between them like a pair of giant inflatable headphones. Do have a proper fitting but give yourself time to try on lots of sizes for fit and comfort.  So where to shop? … All the big department stores have a wide selection of brands and styles but rarely carry much stock above F/FF or a G if you are lucky. Specialist retailers include Bravissimo and Figleaves. You can try on at your leisure with your own clothes to test out necklines, smoothness etc and you have the added advantage you are working with a mirror you are familiar with – mine is full length and possibly rose-tinted (!!) and it doesn’t feel as if you are in the bowels of Hades’ Underworld, overheating in department stores is a BIG problem for me!!  Bravissimo now have stores all around the country including London, Guildford, Brighton all with fully trained fitters, my big criticism of Bravissimo is they are increasingly producing more and more of their ‘own brand’ bra and knicker sets and that their matching knickers are predominantly a short design (don’t like them, they are for androgynous straight up and down types) or a G-string (my days of cheese wire cutters up my bum are over, O.  V.  E.  R!) and I am yet to be convinced by their Pepperberry clothing line, to me they seem to draw more attention to ones bustline but not in a good way.  I understand the desire for having a fitted shirt that nips in under the bust but somehow these don’t quite work – for me the best thing to do to stop shirts gaping is to buy a normal size that fits everywhere else and stitch behind the buttons so you don’t have that unflattering reveal or worse still run the risk of popping a button and someone losing an eye as the button ricochets like Halley’s Comet across the room. Figleaves is my preferred online destination for my swimwear, they carry the Freya ChaCha design which I love and have in most colours – though yet to track down the coffee colour. I like quite plain bikinis as I feel patterns get misshapen as they are stretched and in particular floral designs when even the tiniest floral sprig design turns into a giant floribunda worthy of Best of Show at Chelsea!  Full cup, plunge, soft cup, moulded, strapless, half-cup?  Fit, design, style and shape are all important in bra selection – what’s your favourite? Mine is probably the Balconette but they often have wide set straps which slip off your shoulders as you move around and it looks a little inelegant to keep scooping your hand inside your clothes to retrieve an errant strap!

Let me know your favourite Boob Wrangling Apparatus (B.R.A) ….

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