It’s a thought isn’t it? Possibly not the biggest thought you’ll have when leaving behind the city in favour of green fields, open space and a New Life in the Country, but nonetheless how you will dress away from the Bright Lights is most definitely something to – at some point – think about. Does moving to the country condemn you to a life of tweed, sensible shoes and wax jackets? Will you open your wardrobe and suddenly find that none of your clothes fit your new life? Or, is country style basically the same as city style, give or take the odd pair of wellies? After two years of country living, I think I’ve worked it out…
When Kirste, one of our lovely readers, emailed me to ask how my style had changed since moving to Sussex, it struck me, that yes, it has. Previously, I hadn’t given it much thought. We moved in the summer, when my uniform is pretty much shorts, sandals and tees anywhere I am, and then I was pregnant, which for me is a no-style zone full-stop, followed by post-baby fat, too tired-to-think times, so it’s only really now that I’m working out what my style is again. And, the truth is, that yes it has changed.
Where once I wore beautiful pointed flats, sometimes velvet, nearly always embellished, I now pretty much wear trainers or boots or all the time. I still love velvet flats, but almost-daily interaction with mud and puddles prevents me from wearing them on a day-to-day basis, so they’ve slipped off my radar. As have heels. I may well have dipped my toe in the kitten heel trend if I was still in London. But, down here, practicality triumphs all and they’re just not right for the school run/muddy walks/playing in the garden, are they?
I’ve also found that being out of the London bubble (and it’s probably the same in other big cities) means that I don’t come across as many super-stylish people as I used to. I’m not saying there aren’t super-stylish people down here, there definitely are. What I’m talking about is the volume of people. In a big London pond, I’d walk past 1000s of people a day, of which at least a several were guaranteed to be incredibly stylish. Spend a day ‘in town’ (i.e. W1) then you can up that number significantly. Just seeing people in fab clothes inspires you to up your game or try something new. Trends are jumped upon in London. In the country, they take time to filter down, if at all, so you just don’t get the same kind of daily fashion assault that you do in London. To an extent, this is really refreshing. In London, especially because of where we lived (Shepherd’s Bush – surprisingly fashionable) and the industry I worked in (magazines), there was a definite pressure to not only look good, but look on trend. My life down here doesn’t have that pressure and it’s really quite liberating.
So, yes, my style has changed. And whilst a lot of this is to do with having children and working from home, some of it definitely has to do with moving out of the Big Smoke and to the countryside. Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone who has done the move. I’m sure there are a lot of women who still dress the same, still love a high stiletto heel and a mega dress, but to be honest, in the two years I’ve been down here, I haven’t seen any of them. People seem to be more low-key (in their clothes, if not their cars!) and it just feels ‘right’ for me to do my version of the same. So, in answer to my own questions. Yes, I did open my wardrobe and find that some things just don’t ‘work’ for me down here (super-smart blazers, uber dresses, velvet flats, kitten heels, mega statement tops, anything that needs dry-cleaning). But, no, I’m not in tweed or a wax jacket, even though I have fully embraced the sensible shoe. But, who knows. This might all change. I may – and I quite like this idea – go stark raving fashion-mad and decide to become the peacock of the village wearing all manner of extraordinary get-up. And who wouldn’t love that?
My country look at the moment (before I lose the plot and embrace my inner mad woman)
Surprisingly practical when worn with rolled-up sleeves, trainers or boots. Chuck a jumper, tights and boots on in the winter (or a polo under the dress) and you’re good to go. Great for city or country, this is my look for autumn. I love (and am wearing in the middle pic) this dress from Monsoon. I also like the look of this and have this from H&M (above). Totally shapeless and thus I love (I never liked tight clothes in London either).
So everyone wears trainers, city or country bound, but I think they work really well in the country. They appeal to my tomboy heart and also make sure everything is practical, easy and low-key. I have been wearing my (more suitable for summer) Supergas to death and am on the look out for a new pair. I’ve heard amazing things about Air & Grace and like the look of these ones with sparkly stripes (you can definitely still sparkle in the countryside! Maybe even more so!) These star ones from M&S are also really nice. These Gazelles are lovely and also 25% off at the moment. I’m very tempted. These are suede (arrghhh I don’t think I can do suede and mud? Can I?) but lovely – and 25% off…
Yes, I did say mega-statement tops don’t work – but I’m thinking huge ruffles, things with super-low cut fronts..Statement jumpers are almost a must down here. When the bottom half is usually low-key, then it’s great for the top half to be understated but cool. Also, I think you can wear chunkier jumpers down in the country, which is great by me. I have and love this from Needle Knits. Chunky grey with a neon trim, it’s the perfect example of understated with a ‘I’m not out of the game yet twist!’ I also love a bit of Hush – this is the autumn dream. Cashmere is great in the country – you’ll be needing it if your house is old and draughty! This navy jumper with neon details by Cove is on my wish list as is this Bowie sweater by Orwell & Austen.
Because my look is generally pretty low-key (jeans, jumper, trainers/boots at this time of year) I like to add interest with a bit of jewellery. So, big chunky bangles, layered bracelets by the likes of Bella Jane Jewellery, Treaty, cuffs etc all get a big yes from me. I also like layered necklaces – Tilly Sveeas makes amazing ones that sit perfectly together, and I really like the look of this M&S one below. And the odd chunky ring.