July 1, 2023

Best swimwear for 2023

Head to the beach with confidence this summer with some of the best swimwear for 2023

I've been trying and testing out some new swimwear on my recent trip to the Maldives so I thought it would be good to share some of my favourites with you.It's a tough job but someone's got to do it!

Rachel Peru is sitting but the sea wearing a black bikini and black straw hat swimwear

I used to dread planning my swimwear for summer holidays, worrying about losing weight and looking for swimsuits that held me in and covered me up in all the right places. I get it, for some Summer is a time you may feel more uncomfortable in our bodies. Feeling the pressure to diet and lose weight for those two weeks away at the beach. I’ve been there and wasted far too many summers worrying about what i looked like instead of really enjoying being in the moment.

Let’s face it, it doesn’t help that most of the swimwear images you see are so unrelatable; full of younger women in their twenties so at 50 you feel like you don't stand a chance!

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll already know I share a lot of images of me wearing swimwear, I love the freedom good supportive swimwear brings you so here’s some of my favourite swimwear  for 2023.

Bridie & Bert Swimwear

I’ve recently discovered an independent brand called Bridie and Bert and I’m already a big fan. The brand was founded in 2021 and remains predominantly a towelling brand, their soft hipster towelling shorts and cosy robes are fabulous quality too. The brand describes its self as being “simple and uncomplicated but one that I hope you will enjoy for many years to come” and after wearing their swimwear I can imagine it will remain a firm favourite in my beach wardrobe.

I felt like a 1950’s beach babe in the Melissa strappy swimsuit. The cut is super flattering with the added versatility of adjustable straps from straight to cross over, whichever you prefer.

As I am bigger busted (34G) I rarely wear anything with extra padding, but I liked the shape it gave me so kept the removable padding in.

Available up to a size 18

If you prefer a two piece, then you’ll love the high waisted ditsy floral Mary Bikini. I used to shy away from wearing low bikini tops, but I’ve got over that now and I felt confident wearing this set. Like the swimsuit is has adjustable straps from straight to cross over and the cut of the leg is just right, not too high, or low.

Available up to a size 20. I’m wearing a size and in future I’d probably size up as I just about stayed in the top all day!

Both the swimsuit and bikini are available in Apple & White and Rose & White.

Whilst they might both seem a little pricey at £79.95, I really do feel like you’re buying a quality swimsuit that would last you for plenty of summers to come.




Rachel Peru is wearing a red ditsy print bikini on the beach swimwearRachel Peru is lying down in a hammock wearing a blue ditsy floral print Bridie and Bert swimwear


Curvy Kate Wrapsody

https://bridieandbert.com/products/melissa-swimsuit-ditsy-floral-strappy-swimsuitIf you’re looking for something that’s versatile this summer, then I can’t recommend the Curvy Kate wrapsody collection. I think this is the most versatile swimwear I’ve tried and there’s so many ways you can wear it, including creating looks that take you from the beach to the bar. The Luxe strapless bra leaves you feeling well supported too. I have the wrapsody red swimsuit and the black bikini and love them.





River Island #wishlist

Lady lying down on the beach laughing, wearing a River Island Black and Gold bikini

I keep seeing images of this River Island Black Plunge bikini set and I absolutely love it. I haven’t managed to try it yet as its currently out of stock in a size 16 but it’s giving me serious Ursula Andress vibes and the gold band and buckle detail is a winner. Available in Green and Gold and goes up to a size 18. The material is scuba so that’s a good indication that it will hold things in place too.

Reasonably priced. The top is £32 and bottoms £22.

River Island Womens Black Plunge Buckle Bikini Top


Supermarket Swimwear with F&F

Don't dismiss the supermarket clothing brands this summer. F&F have some great pieces at reasonable prices. I particularly like the Tummy control swimsuit with an overall black and white print. It has adjustable straps with a flattering deep v shape. This swimsuit also comes in lime green, blue striped and red.

Available at Next https://www.next.co.uk/g764000s1/955891#955891

Bravissimo Bikini

Last but not least if you’re looking to add a bit of bold colour to your beach wear how about this fabulous bright orange Cancun bikini from Bravissimo. I’m obsessed by this fun set, the colour and cut is super flattering and it’s underwireed too, so extra supportive for those larger busts like me.
I teamed the crop bikini top with wide legged trousers for an easy beach to bar look too.

Available up to a J cup too.

Bikini top £42.00

I’m wearing the Cancun swim bottoms £24 but there’s also a high waisted bottom available £26.


We Are We Wear

There's lots of reasons why I love this swimwear brand. We Are We Wear is an independent, black-owned business, created in 2019.

The founders, Natalie and Chelsea, quit their jobs to and set out on a mission to challenge the culture of unrealistic body standards we face today. Using their combined experience working for one of Britain’s biggest online retailers, they turned their vision into a reality with their inclusive, eco-friendly brand. Representation matters and they are passionate about showing up for all women and it's they carry this though, it's not just tokenism!

Another big tick is their use of regenerated industrial plastics, marine waste and fabric scraps to create the fabrics across our swimwear collections

I wore this Paper print Tilly crop top bikini set and sarong on our recent trip along the North Yorkshire coast and it was the perfect colour combination to brighten up some typical British summer weather!

Paper print Tilly crop top £28.00 - https://wearewewear.com/products/paper-print-tilly-crop-bikini-top

Mid rise Paper print Sonia bikini bottoms £22.00 - https://wearewewear.com/products/paper-print-sonia-mid-rise-bikini-bottoms

Maria sarong £22.00- https://wearewewear.com/collections/all-swimwear-01/products/paper-print-tilly-crop-bikini-top

Ditch the rules!

When it comes to choosing swimwear, all I can tell you is to ditch the rules and wear what makes YOU feel good and to hell with what anyone else thinks. If you're a swimsuit woman that's great, if you prefer to wear a two piece that's fabulous too, there is no right way, whatever makes you have the most body confidence. I've heard so many women share opinions on both and it's time we stopped judging one another. I love wearing bikinis because they make me feel free, but I totally understand other women feel better in a one piece.

There are so many different styles out there that accommodate all shapes and sizes. Think of your swimwear like your lingerie, it’s all about the fit so take the time to try them on properly; shopping from home has never been easier, which takes away the pressure of shop changing rooms

Whatever you wear, enjoy your Summer, and hold your head up high.

Repeat after me...


Keep being fabulous.

Rachel x


October 25, 2021

Sustainable Fashion on the High Street

If you've been following me for a while you'll already know I'm a big fan of wearing vintage and preloved clothes. Not just because it's good for my bank balance but also because I think we all need to play our part in creating a more sustainable fashion environment. You can create sustainable style whilst shopping on the high street too. I love fashion and always will do but I am becoming increasingly conscious of the damaging impact the fast fashion industry has on our environment; let's face it, it's impossible to ignore! But it doesn't mean we can't remain stylish.

I completely understand that the thought of going vintage shopping is a little daunting for some and that spending hours in a charity shop or on Ebay isn't going to be for everyone. That's why it's exciting to see high street brands bringing this conversation into the mainstream. I love what the Designer Boutique as part of Next have been doing to make sustainable fashion more accessible.

The recently launched collaboration with designers Marques Almeida and Caroline Issa turns unloved, deadstock fabrics into 'wearable works of art'. Vogue business recently reported that "deadstock fabric and unsold inventory are weighing down the fashion industry, which is responsible for 10 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions" perhaps a sobering thought next time you look in your wardrobe!

With this in mind I'm really wanting to create a wardrobe that works harder for me, with pieces that can transition across the seasons.

I love this Marques Almeida X Label stripe shirt dress #gifted ,which will look great this Winter with a black polo jumper, thick tights and biker boots or over jeans as well as dressed up with heels for a night out.

In the Summer I'll be back in my faithful white pumps and denim jacket so this dress will still look fresh. You might be thinking £129 is a bit pricey for a shirt dress but when you think about how much wear you could actually get out of it then it becomes a sound investment.

Wrap organisation , a charity that works to promote and support sustainable resources, reported that "As a whole in the UK, the average lifetime for a garment of clothing is estimated as ~2.2 years" But if we extend the active wear of our clothing by an extra 9 months we can significantly reduce the negative impact on our environment.

I've also got my eye on the Bright check coat designed by Caroline Issa as part of this collection.

Of course it's not just Next that are making positive changes with sustainable fashion on the high street, here's a few of my favourites to follow!

H&M made a commitment to make sure at least 50% of each piece in their Conscious collection is made from sustainable materials.

Asos Responsible Edit is a one stop shop for environmentally conscious clothing and accessories. This seems like a particularly important move for a brand known for its fast fashion links.

You can't go wrong with & Other Stories and they have a great collection of clothes made from recycled and sustainably sourced materials.

If you're wanting a bit of luxury why not take a look at the Rixo Sustainable collection. I love the Pink Paisley dress made from  recyclable materials and off cuts of fabric that would have otherwise been wasted and it's made in a female owned factory in India too. Only available on line.

“As consumers, we have so much power to change the world by just being careful in what we buy”

#Emma Watson


If you'd like to read more about how to create a sustainable wardrobe why not read my Style Swops & Charity Shops post.

#gifted #sustainablefashion #highstreetfashion #sustainablestyle #midlifestyle #over50style #shirtdress #stripes #fashionafter40 #fashionblogger




October 19, 2021

Silver & Sassy- Grey Haired Women Are Not Invisible

Men are silver foxes but women are letting themselves go if they decide to ditch the dye?

When Annie Stirk first came to me with the seed of an idea to celebrate grey, white and silver haired women which we'd planned to be part of York Fashion Week 2019 I completely got it.

Silver & Sassy

I started going grey as a teenager, not really a shock as my grandmother was completely white at a young age.  Dyeing it every colour of the rainbow, from Navy Blue, Blonde, Bright Red and Plum , the list goes on.  I don't really remember anyone batting an eye.  Fast forward to age 45 when I decided to ditch the dye and embrace my grey hair and people suddenly had an opinion. Comments , which all came from women, included "You're too young" , "Don't let yourself go" and "it will make you look older".

I'm sure it's too do with societies conditioning around the fear of ageing. Grey hair is another sign along with wrinkles that we are ageing, and to be honest thank God we are lucky enough to still be here to show them when so many others aren't! There is still so much fear around the whole subject. We wanted to create an uplifting fashion event that challenges those outdated stigmas  and celebrates women embracing their grey hair. Reminding women that may be feeling a bit lost that we are most certainly not invisible!

Silver & Sassy event

The event, held at the beautiful Goldsborough Hall, involved 13 models who all volunteered to join Annie and I on the catwalk. These women had never done anything like this before but completely embraced everything we threw at them. With a fabulous styling team; Sara Anson and Trudy Fielding, behind us showcasing 7 brands from small independents to well loved high street names. It was important to Annie and I that not only did these women leave feeling more confident about themselves but so did our 90 guests. After the last 18 months there was a really positive energy coming from the audience and their support for every women that stepped out was palpable.

Our models ranged from late 40's up to 77 and indeed our oldest model Heather Sandler often stole the show with her sass and personality.

Why we need better representation in the media and fashion industry.

Although we have started to see more older women included in media and advertising campaigns they are still token gestures and  yet to be included in fashion campaigns on a consistent basis. Deciding to ditch the dye often comes at a time of great change in a womans life, children leaving home, adjusting to an empty nest, caring for older parents, the menopause. All these can have a huge affect on your body confidence. Add to that the lack of visibility in the images we are bombarded with daily and it's no wonder that women often feel invisible and lost.

When you consider that the over 50's spending power is one of the largest and fastest growing in the UK it makes you wonder at what point will brands start really listening and learning how to include us in their marketing. We were delighted to have high street brands John Lewis Leeds, Figleaves swimwear, Fenwicks and Jigsaw in York involved in the show alongside independents Copper & White, Cabi Clothing, My Vintage Beau, Natalia Willmott jewellery, Molly Titfer hats, The Yorkshire Handbag Company and Yorkshire Eyewear.

Seeing our models of all shapes, ethnicities, heights and at different stages of their grey journey really felt like a powerful statement. The women in the audience clearly enjoyed seeing the clothes on women they could relate to as they enjoyed shopping after the event after being inspired by what they'd seen. This seems to be a perfect way to shop and target the older market and perhaps we'll see more in person fashion events as an after effect of the pandemic. I really do hope so! I’d love to see more brands creating live fashion events to really connect and understand their midlife customers better.

Is the tide turning?

It does feel like the tide is turning with celebrity role models like Helen Mirren, Andie MacDowell and most recently Dawn French embracing their grey hair in the public arena. You often hear women described as being brave for going against the ‘normal’ and these women are under so much scrutiny in the spotlight but owning it. I completely agree with Andie MacDowell when she told Vogue she’d never felt more herself,  able to embrace where she is right now and completely comfortable in her skin,  I feel exactly the same and its freeing.

I’m sure that comes with age as much as embracing the grey, I’ve started to care less about what other people think of me. Deciding to ditch the dye can be a very positive experience and so many women find it liberating, stepping out of your previous fashion comfort zone can be a real part of that change.

Women supporting women

With award winning presenter Christine Talbot as our host we knew we were in safe hands and it was a pleasure to have Jayne Mayled, founder of White Hot Hair and Tricia Cusden from Look Fabulous Forever as our guest speakers to share their pro-ageing wisdom too.( I have to say our award winning hair and make-up artist Sonia Schofield and her team did an amazing job enhancing all the models natural beauty using Look Fabulous Forever make up).

There’s never been a better time for women to support women and this event really showed that as we also raised money for the York based women’s charity Kyra.  The event was kindly sponsored by York Gin and Figleaves.

Enjoy a few of the images of all our gorgeous models, all at different stages of their own grey haired journey, different shapes, sizes, ethnicities and ages but all Silver & Sassy!




Annie and I are already planning what's next for #Silverandsassy and we want to reach as many women as we can with our positive message. The icing on the cake came from being featured on ITV Calendar and then going national on All Around Britain.   (watch from 31 mins in)

We are Silver & Sassy!

Huge thanks to everyone behind the scenes who helped make the day the success that it was.

All images @Olivia Brabbs Photography

March 18, 2020

Have you heard about Cabi Clothing?

I thought I was pretty good at knowing what's out there in the fashion industry so I was quite surprised I'd never heard of Cabi clothing before now.

Am I the only one that this has passed by? I first heard about them through my lovely friend and co-organiser of the Silver & Sassy York fashion Week event, Annie Stirk.

Annie organised independent Cabi stylist Deborah Richardson to include Cabi clothing in our fashion show; we spent a fabulous morning looking at the Spring Collection and I was really impressed.

Annie and I are obviously gutted to have to postpone our event due to Coronavirus but it was the right decision and we are already making plans to be back when the time is right even sassier than before!

Cabi is an American clothing brand, founded in 2002 by Carol Anderson and Kimberly Inskeep (who I've now added to my podcast guest wish list), alongside 10 other co-founders. Cabi have made huge waves in the American fashion industry with sales now reported at £200m a year, this is a serious brand that has now moved in to the UK market.

I loved hearing the story behind the idea, born from women feeling unfulfilled with their working lives and bored with their wardrobes. They set out to create a direct home selling fashion brand; you need to get the 1970's Tupperware party image out of your head right now! They've certainly proved there's a market for it.

Think of it as a styling party with friends, a chance to try new looks without the confinements of a shop changing room with poor lighting.The stylist sets up the seasons' collection, showcases individual pieces and gives styling tips and advice along the way. The fun part comes when you get to play dress up and try the clothes on. It seems like in a world where we are all craving that connectivity and personal touch this is a brand with great timing.

It's a huge success in America and had been in the UK for three and a half years now. What impressed me most was the quality of the clothes, the material and the cut is better than in your average high street shop.

The price is mid range but although some items may seem a bit pricey, you are paying for better quality and designs that will carry on working in your wardrobe for years to come. I should point out I'm not affiliated with Cabi and this is just my first impression of something new to me.

Deborah kindly came to my home with the whole of the Spring Collection so I could have a one to one session and I tried on so many great items, I was spoilt for choice.

Here are some of my favourite pieces.

This Botanical Kimono is not something I would normally go for but I really liked how the geometric print breaks up the floral design and teamed with a bright Yellow Cami it looks fresh.

I'm a huge fan of wearing Red and Deborah showed me how to turn this Siren wrap dress in to a completely different look. That's why It's great to have a stylist on board that can give you great tips and push you out of your comfort zone.

This was one of my favourites and I don't normally go for the boho look but this Poet jacket and Discovery Trouser felt so comfortable and easy to wear. I can imagine living in this in the Summer and it would be great for travelling. I'm sure I'm not the only one mentally planning where they can escape to for some sun once we've got through this current time!

This Green library jacket would work with so many different looks, dressed down with blue jeans and a white t-shirt and trainers or dressed up Chanel style with a little black dress and ballet pumps.

Pretty in Pink. This blazer is part of the Grace suit and it's on my wish list. It's all in the detail, scarves can make such a difference to an outfit too.

Which outfit do you like most?

I could have created so many different wearable outfits and as I was trying things on I found myself thinking of my friends and who would suit what, so I have booked a Cabi party for when life gets back to normal. Fashion should be fun and shopping for new clothes should be a positive experience which I feel has been sadly lacking on the high street recently, especially for women hitting midlife who don't feel represented out there.

We all know there has been a sharp increase on shopping on line for convenience but maybe Cabi's home selling marketing might help bridge the gap for those wanting a more personal shopping experience. If you're thinking that direct home selling is not for you Cabi have been forward thinking to also create the Cabi Ap. Recently launched so you can watch style shows, see the full collection, create looks with previously ordered items which helps make sure you get the most of your wardrobe and then order on line.

I've been converted!

To find out more visit https://deborahrichardson.cabionline.uk/

Keep being fabulous!

Rachel x

March 16, 2020

Is your wardrobe colour confident?

Colour Reveals and Wardrobe Renewal with Rhona Langan Style Illuminated.

How often do you clear out your clothes or evaluate your personal style and how colour confident colour is your wardrobe? I used to think I was pretty good at this as I love nothing more than packing away the last seasons' clothes and bringing out the new. It's purely for space practicality but it's like greeting old friends you've forgotten, especially if they still fit you!

I was slightly nervous before inviting the lovely Rhona Langan, Founder of Style Illuminated into my wardrobe. What we choose to wear each day is such a personal choice and I’d booked in with Rhona for a full wardrobe review. The clothes we choose to wear shows the world how we want to be seen and often heard so there's an element of judgement involved. I avoid ironing as much as possible, it's a reaction to months spent ironing in Denmark as an au pair in my twenties, with an over zealous housewife. I was surprised to find myself spending the evening before pulling out the worst offending creases and ironing like mad

I love fashion and like to think I’m quite good at knowing what suits me best, but I’ve never had my colours done before and was intrigued to find out more.

After a long career in the fashion industry, including as style ambassador for Phase Eight, Rhona took the plunge and created her own styling company. Rhona offers colour reveal services helping women discover the best neutral and accent colours to create a wardrobe that fills you with confidence. I confess to living in black for many years but now I love wearing bright colours, it forces me to be more visible and definitely lifts my mood. Some women can be scared to try new brighter colours and having someone like Rhona come and help you is a great step forward.

The tester drape process threw up a few surprises, colours that I’d previously worn a lot no longer seemed to suit my skin tone when compared to others. I’ve worn lots of earthy, burgundy colours which I can now see made my skin appear duller and more tired after seeing how luminous a bright Fuchsia Pink made my skin look brighter.

Women are notoriously bad at spending time and money on themselves but when you think about how much you spend annually on your wardrobe, I think a styling consultation is a money saving exercise. The shift to having a more sustainable wardrobe is about buying less but making sure what you have is higher quality and clothes that work harder for you. Once we worked out my colour palette and discovered I am a Winter person, Rhona moved on to my wardrobe. Rhona is part of growing group of women who’ve launched styling careers in their fifties, I think age is an added bonus as a stylist; they can use their own personal experiences in a session which helps put a client at ease. There was definitely no wardrobe judgement. I found it quite a therapeutic session; working our way through every item in my wardrobe, it really made me think about how my clothes make me feel and if they brought me joy when I wear them, so maybe Marie Kondo’s decluttering lessons have something in them.

There’s a misconception that a personal stylist is going to come and make you get rid of all your wardrobe and start again but I don’t think that’s the case. I do have a pile of clothes heading for the charity shop, some I will sell on Ebay, but the majority have remained. There are a couple of items that I’m just not ready to part with yet and Rhona gave me new ideas to style them differently with the right accent colours.

I’ve been left with my own Winter colour palette card full of bold primary colours, that I have already used whilst out shopping optimistically for Summer t-shirts, along with a list of ideas of how I can add to my wardrobe. I need to accessorise more with coloured bags, belts and jewellery and I will be more aware of gaps in my wardrobe rather than randomly buying items that I probably don’t need.

My wardrobe has been refreshed with new ideas and style combinations; I’m looking forward to seeing how I can style things up differently. I've already noticed a difference in how I plan my outfits now and I'm being more creative in mixing outfits together. If you've been put off in the past by using a personal stylist I'd definitely recommend it.

For more information about Rhona’s services please visit www.styleilluminated.co.uk

Keep being fabulous
Rachel x

February 8, 2020

How sustainable is your wardrobe? – Style Swaps & Charity Shops

How often do you clear out your wardrobe? I don’t have space to keep everything in mine all year round so find myself swapping my wardrobe over every season. It’s therapeutic and something I gain a great deal of pleasure from; unpacking clothes that you’ve forgotten about and putting away those pieces that you’ve worn to death over the winter. I love fashion and have always enjoyed that feeling of coming home with something new and playing dress up to see how you can style it but has the current fast fashion trend created an addiction for today’s fashion consumers?

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has become more conscious of the negative impact that the ‘fast fashion’ industry is having on the environment. If you haven’t already watched the BBC’s Stacey Dooley “Fashions Dirty Secrets” documentary, then I can definitely recommend it. As a fashion model its part of my job to sell the clothes I’m modelling, and I do try and keep up with the current trends for each season but I’m no longer a slave to the fast fashion market. I’m 50 this year and I finally know what suits me and try to keep to those key principles in my wardrobe. I think it’s about balance, sometimes I’ll see a new outfit that I know I will get a lot of use out of but I’m equally happy rummaging in charity shops for that bargain find.

I was recently invited by the Shelter charity shop at Kings Cross to come and style a few outfits. Social media is such a great way for shops like this to get their message out there by using influencers, bloggers and fashion lovers to have their photos taken and share their looks. I have always loved shopping in charity shops, I love that feeling when you come across something that fits you perfectly and you know you can give it a new lease of life. I am conscious that there's a lack of larger sizes available in charity shops, a mere reflection of what’s going on in the high street, but it’s often much harder to find clothes in size 14 upwards so I was a bit sceptical about finding 3 outfits here that would fit. I am happy to report this particular charity shop had plenty for me to choose from.

I found a great pair of vintage jeans that were the perfect fit (they came home with me) and teamed it with an Eileen Fisher vest and unbranded army jacket for a more relaxed day look. I’ve been wanting to try an army jacket for a while now and this style session really reminded me to have more fun with fashion and experiment more.

I loved the 60’s inspired Marks and Spencers dress which went so well with my own Steve Madden White boots and handbag. I’m hoping it’s still there on my next visit as I should have bought that too.

Lastly a full-on evening outfit, including a figure-hugging vintage dress, M&S shoes and handbag, proving you really can shop for every occasion in a charity shop. If you have time to spare next time you're in London this Shelter charity shop is well worth a visit.

You can also follow them over on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/shelterkingscross/?hl=en

So how else can we step away from that desire to have something new to wear that I suspect the majority of us experience at times?

Two stylists from York, Sara Anson and Laura Fawcett have created an event that hopes to change the way we shop and think about our wardrobes in the form of Style Swaps. I grew up constantly swapping outfits with my close friend as a teenager because we couldn’t afford to keep buying new clothes, in fact on some occasions we still do. I spoke to Sara about why they think it’s so important “We do it to raise awareness of the impact fast fashion is having on the environment & encourage people to think about how they shop. To date we have swapped over 1000 of items of clothes (over 3 events) that may have ended up in landfill".

The idea behind the style swap is that everyone brings a minimum of 8 good quality items, which can be clothes, accessories or shoes that they no longer wear, and they can then shop the rails taking the same number of items. What’s not to love about the idea of 8 new items of clothing without having to worry about your bank balance and knowing you’re doing something good to help the planet? Sara explained that ‘‘events are always very popular (usually sold out!) We get a lot of really good quality clothes, a lot of the time still with tags on. It’s a great way to refresh your wardrobe for minimal cost & socialise with likeminded women.”

Tickets for their last event in January sold out fast and for an £8 ticket you can come and shop, have a cocktail and gain on the spot styling tips from Sara and Laura to help you create your own capsule wardrobe. I can see how trying clothes on this environment would really make you think about what will work with your existing wardrobe and you are still left with that natural high of coming home with something new. Any clothes left over from events then get sent to charity shops to continue the sustainable journey.

It’s reported that across the world we’re producing over 100 billion new garments from new fibres every single year and that just can’t be sustainable. With fast fashion brands offering cheap clothes with new stock coming in on a weekly basis, it certainly makes you think how as consumer we all have a part to play in helping change the industry for the better. Whilst I can’t say I won’t continue to buy new clothes; I am committed to buying less and wearing more pre-loved clothes so I can’t wait to attend the next Sustainable Style Swap on the 30th April in Wetherby.

To keep up to date with Sara and Laura’s events you can find them at https://www.styledbysara.co.uk/ and www.laurafawcett.co.uk

I'd love to know what your favourite charity find has been?

Keep being fabulous
Rachel x

December 8, 2019

Discovering Independent Fashion Designers at Fashion Fiesta Leeds, 2019

I love taking part in runway shows so when the opportunity came around to take part in the Fashion Fiesta 2019, I jumped at the chance. What's not to love about showcasing some fabulous up and coming Yorkshire designers alongside raising money for great charities. From hats to full-on glamour gowns and street styles, the fashion show and mix of designers covered everyones taste.

Simply Devine hats opened the show and I loved the 'hatinators', a clever balance of hat and fascinator run by award-winning milliner and businesswoman Liz Devine-Wright. Simply Devine is a Tadcaster based business which specialises in supplying beautiful Mother of the Bride; wedding hats and race day fascinators to customers up and down the country.

Josephine Bloom @josephinebloom

I am fortunate to have come across Josephine's work before as she very kindly contributed some of her designs for a magazine feature I worked on at the beginning of this year. The feature made the front cover of Canadian fashion magazine Feroce and her designs fit the brief perfectly.

Josephine's collection How Cheap Can You Get? focusses on physical forms of social acceptance. Playing with how society views women as being desirable, and encouraging more freedom in how women express themselves through fashion. Challenging, thought provoking and eye catching.

Fruitbats & Screwballs by Debbie Wilkinson

I am a huge fan of this designer. Debbie chooses beautiful wools and patterns turning them into the most amazing capes and ponchos. She has really managed to take capes to a different level and created something that is so much more flattering and wearable than any traditional capes I've worn. I loved modelling this cape and fell in love with the colours and faux fur detail that creates this eye catching and cosy collar.

I actually can't decide which cape I love most, I've always loved tartan and the colour clash on this one is fabulous. The belt detail and the way it's cut makes these so much more wearable and flattering, especially for bigger busted women who could easily end up looking like a tent in a traditional cape!

Anthony French @af_editions

Anthony French's designs, based in Doncaster really caught my attention and is somebody I would really like to see more of. A collection of knitwear and textile classics with a contemporary twist, I fell in love with this embroidered net skirt; It makes me want to go to a somewhere special next Summer so I can wear it. I love that he mixed it with a jumper to give it a modern more wearable feel to it and at £95 for such a special piece I think it's a reasonable price.

But it was the little touches that Anthony French brings in to his collection that I loved too, this cute colourful handbag finishes the more relaxed day time trouser outfit perfectly.

What's Your Skirt? @whatsyourskirt

Siobhan Thomas describes What’s Your Skirt?’ as being "inspired by 'The Confident Woman', she is a go-getter and knows her identity. The sophisticated and modern well-dressed woman with a twist of individuality is her daily style. She is glamourous, personable and ambitious. She loves bold colour and statement pieces.

I really love this skirt and have added it to my wardrobe wish list so will definitely be following this label.

Bekaka Franck Diabagate

This designer really added full on drama and glamour to the event with his designs. Real show stoppers, these Haute Couture designs are inspired by the late Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. I have to admit I really wanted to walk for this designer and it does seem that older models do get stereotyped when it comes to runway shows. I definitely could have rocked Queen of the catwalk in one of these dresses!

I loved the elegance of this outfit, modelling for Mikkimono designed by Sue Gillespie, simplicity and style. As a curvy woman I also loved to hear that Sue was inspired to create a collection that accommodated larger sized people which in fashion design still seems a rarity. It seems a shame that Sue isn't yet on any social media platforms which makes it even harder to find her designs. So how do we find out about independent designers? If you regularly shop away from the high street and are great at sourcing independent designers i'd love some tips as I would really like to head in to 2020 supporting more local independent designers.

I have only included a few of my personal favourites from the evening but the other designers involved are all worth looking into.

Corinne Coolican @coolibycorinnecoolican

Deepinder Kaur @dipskaur88

Jag Kaur - The Ujag Fashion house

Kelsey Locke @kelsealocke

MGE Clothing - Mel Fox @mgetheginme

Salma Badat @salmabadat

Thank you to the Fashion Fiesta team for not only raising awareness of some great designers and offering them an opportunity to be discovered but also for helping raise money for some great charities. This years charities were The Teenage Cancer Trust and the Lee Fancourt Mental Health Trust.

Photographs credited to Charles Waller photography


November 25, 2019

Curve Fashion Festival 2019

Since the 2015 launch thousands of women from all over the World have descended to The Curve Fashion Festival for a full day of shopping, catwalks, celebrity talks and much more. 2018 was my first year modelling at the event and I was delighted to be asked back to walk in the catwalk shows and represent curvy women over 40. 2019's event was sponsored by SimplyBe so you just knew it was going to be a good one.

The amount of preparation that goes in to these events is immense and I take my hat off to the organisers and all those involved behind the scenes because its huge task to be ready on the day.

Serena Arthur MUA did an amazing job of my make up. It's all in the eyes.

Black Velour Silver Gem suit

There is no guarantee when you're modelling that you will actually like the clothes but you know the stylists and photographers will make them look good on you. However I was obsessed with the suits that SimplyBe chose for me to walk in. I am a huge fan of a trouser suit as they are so versatile to dress up or down. This Black velour Silver gem suit will now be popping up at lots of my Christmas nights out and its so comfy too. The jacket is £55 and trousers £35.

Walking in the Black appaloosa spot print collar front wrap dress from the Blue Vanilla Curve range. £22.

I am a huge fan of Hayley Hasselhoff and am constantly inspired by her body and style confidence so it was a pleasure to have a quick chat behind the scenes after her stage event. I've also fallen in love with this suit, SimplyBe have got it so right this season.

There was a good selection of stalls to cater for everyones tastes including Matalan Papaya curve range where Felicity Hayward could be found showcasing the collection and taking time to chat with everyone. The open plan of the Exhibition centre really gave the festival a more inclusive and welcoming feel and I hope it comes back there again in 2020.

This year saw more diversity than ever before, including a gorgeous model in a wheel chair and men on the catwalk. If you haven't heard of American body positive fashion blogger and model Kelvin Davis, Notoriously Dapper then I strongly recommend you look him up. His confidence is infectious and as for his smile, it speaks volumes. It's such a refreshing change for a man to be able to speak up about body confidence and he does it so well. A real inspiration.

I take any opportunity I can to be able to model lingerie and represent women over 40. If we all saw more diversity and older women in the industry I think we would all be less critical of our own bodies and learnt to accept ourselves just as we are, flaws and all. Elomi lingerie fit my 34FF was the perfect fit. Why are we all so hung up on size labels? So many question that I don’t look a size 14-16, why do we have a preconceived image of what a size looks like and want to judge people by it. We are all beautifully different in our body shapes and a size label doesn’t alter that. I am fully aware that I am one of the smaller sized models at this event but it doesn't make me less able to represent my size group and I certainly don't make the fashion industry size label rules. I salute the other models that are larger sized than I am, beautifully confident and I can also appreciate how much more difficult it is for them to find good brands that include them in the fashion industry which is why the Curve Fashion festival is so important.

My excitement was real when I saw my second SimplyBe outfit. This silver glitter lurex tuxedo blazer and trouser suit fit perfectly. Blazer £60 and Trousers £45. I was over the moon to be gifted both my outfits at the end of the show. I might even wear this to a Black tie event on New Years Eve, watch this space!

What I would say to anyone who is thinking of going to this event next year but is worried about going alone is just do it. You will be welcomed with open arms, it's such a friendly and inclusive day for everyone involved and social media leading up to the event is a great place to shout out and make new friends before you arrive. Here's to 2020!

November 18, 2019

My favourite pieces from the H&M, Richard Allan collection 2019

As soon as I saw the Richard Allan collection in H&M I knew I needed to get this outfit. I have always been a huge fan of sixties fashion, I used to have my own vintage fashion business and I love the bold prints and styles.

If you haven't heard of Richard Allan before he was responsible for creating iconic silk scarves in the 1960's with fabulous bold, abstract prints, becoming the 'it' scarves of the decade. It's fabulous to see his daughter Cate Allan carrying on his legacy whilst adding her own vibrant style.

H&M describes the collection as

"Abstract, avant-garde design in high octane colour. H&M’s latest collaboration celebrates the legacy of iconic scarf designer Richard Allan with a contemporary new collection."

Modal polo neck and pleated skirt. Shop the look here-https://rstyle.me/+muqnNd-ghMjfZYTTu3uqGA

Modal polo neck £9.99 Shop the look here-https://rstyle.me/+f9Wmd1wKHdeEbCqYniW4iQ

This polo neck would look equally great with black jeans or leather trousers this Winter.

Modal polo neck and pleated skirt. Shop the look here-https://rstyle.me/+muqnNd-ghMjfZYTTu3uqGA

This outfit is my new favourite and who says women with big boobs and curves can’t wear full on pattern! I would have shied away from wearing this previously because we’re constantly told what we should or shouldn’t wear. I say wear what you want if it makes you feel good.

Pleated skirt £29.99. Shop the look here-https://rstyle.me/+muqnNd-ghMjfZYTTu3uqGA

I never used to like wearing pleated skirts but I've realised they are so versatile. This skirt would look cool dressed down with white trainers and a t-shirt as well as adding heels and pretty vest top for a night out.

Modal polo neck and pleated skirt. Shop the look here-https://rstyle.me/+muqnNd-ghMjfZYTTu3uqGA

I also bought this day dress and pencil skirt along with a blouse from their collection. I can't remember the last time I went for more than one piece but its clothes I know I will get so much wear from across all the seasons. I've already had so many compliments when I've worn them too. It's not surprising that some of the collection sold out so quickly.

Shirt dress with tie belt. Shop the look- https://rstyle.me/+7mGiOyd7CEGwePDnEVwv3w

Jacquared knit pencil skirt. Shop the look here- https://rstyle.me/+0pDuKO-bB22Vxisuk1PRtw

V-neck camisole top £12.99 Shop the look-https://www2.hm.com/en_gb/productpage.0794061001.html

Patterned dress £17.99 Shop the look-https://www2.hm.com/en_gb/productpage.0754274002.html

I like the length of this dress as I think it would look good over leggings. I'd probably add a belt to it as a curvy woman I like to add some definition to my waist.

A huge thank you to Charlotte Nelson Photography who kindly agreed to take these fabulous images whilst we were both at a recent Yorkinstameet networking event. It was such a great opportunity to see behind the scenes at Castle Howard whilst they were preparing for their dazzling Christmas opening. I can't wait to go back and see what it looks like this week. Watch this space!

Keep being fabulous! x


I am a member of the rewardStyle affiliate programme, this means that if you click on a link through to a retailer and purchase something, I may receive a very small amount or percentage of your purchase. This does not add any additional cost to you, the customer. Adding these affiliate links into a post happens after a review or opinion of the product has already been formed and so does not affect the products that I choose to write about.

September 30, 2019

Shopping with the Long and the Short of it

I had kindly been asked to join Ruth @wearitlikeruth and Lisa @thesearchforsassiness for a styling shopping trip at Marks & Spencers in Leeds. Ruth is 5'8'' and a size 10/12 and Lisa is 5'1'' and a size 6-8 so the idea behind #thelongandtheshortofit is to go out and show you what the same outfits look like on different women. Add my curvy 5'7'' size 14/16 in to the mix and you have a lot of womens shapes and sizes represented. It's hard when you go out shopping to imagine what you will look like as the images promoting the clothes are often full of younger, similar slim shaped women so it can make shopping feel a little daunting and unrelateable.(Loved the fact that we all turned up dressed in Autumn colours and maxi dresses too)

How come I have never heard of M&S Fit and style service? A free personal styling service which could really take the stress out of trying new looks and styles with an assistant helping you find that perfect outfit.

I love the colours this Autumn and It was hard to narrow the outfits down to only 5 as there is so many lovely things in the store at the moment. I think the problem with M&S is that their stores are so big with so much stock. I think it can be a bit too daunting for some people. I have been using there online styling TY Tuesday service recently and that's a great source of inspiration and help in choosing new looks.

We were all fans of outfit no.1 and the fact that the trousers come in different leg lengths suited Lisa too. Evie checked straight 7/8th trousers £35 with Checked double breasted blazer £69. I think the stiletto high cut court shoes in Yellow are such a good price at £25.

I loved the trousers, mine were a size 14 and they fitted perfectly. I have a 34G bust so I tend to struggle with a square jacket shape. My jacket was a size 16 and felt a bit shapeless on me so maybe I would go down size to see if that gives more definition.

I would never have picked this floral midi dress (£45) to try as high necks scare me a little. I was pleasantly surprised. I think because the waist is elasticated it gives the waist more definition and gives the dress more shape so I was less conscious of my top half. I love the colours and print too, especially paired with this beautiful coat. We all loved the double breasted wool coat, in fact Ruth couldn't resist it and went back to buy it a few weeks later. At £99 it is more of an investment for Winter but it has such a classic cut it will go with so many outfits and last for years.

The colour of this belted wrap coat is fabulous, although the style didn't really suit me, I need more of a tailored look so I tied the belt behind it to create more shape. I absolutely love the high waisted wide leg trousers at £39.50 and they remind me of Victoria Beckham classic look. I've never worn this colour before so it really is good take yourself out of your comfort zone and try new colours and styles. I used to live in Black, especially when I was self conscious of my body because I felt like I could hide and blend in. I love wearing colour now and I've discovered some colours really give me a boost of confidence, especially Red.

I think we were all impressed with the fit of the trousers, I chose some Magic lift straight legged jeans £35 in Dark indigo and they fit me perfectly. I have been living in white trainers recently and was tempted with these white and navy blue ones, £49.50, but not sure I can sneak another pair in the house! The aviator jacket at £69 looks cool dressed down with a plain white t-shirt, it also comes in Black which I think I prefer. The faux shearling material is actually lighter than it looks so that was slightly disappointing for a winter jacket, but I guess you could use more layers underneath.

This colour combination is everywhere and because I like to show my curves off knitted dresses have become a big favourite of mine so I was comfortable in this Blue ribbed fit and flare dress, £39.50. I am not a huge fan of the double breasted jacket on me again, although I love the Cognac colour, I think its the just this style doesn't work for me. Let's talk about the boots though as I can't find them on the website now so I think they might be out of stock and I am already regretting not buying them. I live in flats and trainers most of the time as I just don't feel comfortable in heels unless I'm wearing them for work. However these boots were just the right height, felt so comfortable and because they are laced up to the ankle they made my size 7's look much daintier.

The beauty of having some go to blazers in your wardrobe is that you can really dress them up or down. I personally prefer this jacket with the jeans rather than the dress.

My favourite outfit of the day! What's your favourite look?

I came away with lots of colour and wardrobe inspiration and am definitely going to keep shopping at M&S, they have nailed the Autumn collection.

More from the blog

Social Bubble - On Instagram

Wrong or no access token.


Liberte Free to Be champions women who are embracing life and leaving a trail of inspiration along the way. Inspiring others to become more confident in body and mind.

We all have a story to tell.


If you're looking for a safe space to share experiences, challenges and successes with a global community of women finding their own way through midlife, then come and join the group.

Join Now


Please wait...

Thank you for sign up!