From left: Jaquine Oliver Purchase (Hope's Designer); Nayna McIntosh (Hope's Founder); my daughter Anna and me all wearing Hope Fashion.
One of the pleasures of this life I have created around Look Fabulous Forever is the opportunity I now have to meet some really inspirational like-minded older women. On 4th February I met Nayna McIntosh who, having worked for 30 years in the fashion industry, decided to found a new clothing label for women over 40 called Hope. Her ideas for the brand were pretty radical. The clothes would suit women aged from 40 to 80 and beyond and the sizing would mean that they would work on ANY body shape. To quote the Hope philosophy "this collection is about feeling positive about how you look, no matter how old you are, no matter what your shape - we celebrate you." So how could I resist? This sounded like the perfect clothing brand for 'Look Fabulous Forever' women everywhere!
Shall I be completely honest? At that first meeting when I was shown the clothes (on hangers) and the design concept was explained to me I was deeply sceptical. Nayna herself is tiny as well as being beautiful, warm and engaging. The female partner in the husband and wife design team, Jaquine is likewise slim and petite and whilst both Nayna and Jaquine were wearing Hope designs and looked fantastic in them, my immediate thought was "they wouldn't suit my pear shaped body and would they really work on someone (as they claimed) who was a size 20+?" I tend to prefer quite fitted, tailored clothes and these designs appeared softer and less structured than I would usually choose.
So I suggested that I return in March for a styling session with a photographer in order to try the clothes and see how they worked on me at 5'7" and a pear shaped size 14. Nayna also agreed that she would have another model there who was decidedly curvy and more of an apple shape. Anna, my 41 year old daughter also came with me on Wednesday this week, so that we could see the clothes on someone who is 6'1" and a slim size 12. So, for the styling session there were 4 women, aged between 41 and 68 and ranging in height from around 5' to 6'1" and from a size 8 (US 12) to a size 16 (US 20) - which I think was quite a convincing test of the Hope claim of appeal to a wide range of age and body shapes! White Foundation Vest £55, Navy Ankle Grazers £95, Silver Lurex Pop On £75.
I am very happy to tell you that the Hope Spring/Summer Collection came up trumps. I moved quite quickly from sceptic to convert and I now have a wish list of 7 pieces for my summer wardrobe! The design concept of the collection is layering, so the starting point is the foundation pieces. These come in five shapes (long sleeve scoop top, vest, body, leggings and a slip dress) and two lengths - regular and long. All of these foundation pieces are cut for a body-skimming fit in a super soft Italian fabric. There are also pull on stretch trousers in black, navy and ecru. I immediately wanted the navy 'Cotton Stretch Ankle Grazer' (size Curvy) which fitted me perfectly. With an elasticated waist, these were super comfortable and very slimming. I also fell for the black and white foundation vests which were long enough to cover my bottom and in size Dual Slim were very fitted and gave me a great silhouette. Butterfly Cocoon Knit £95
Next came the top layers most of which I could have worn over the black Narrow Stretch Trouser (size Curvy) with the black vest or the navy Cotton Stretch Ankle Grazer with the white vest. Not everything worked, including the Silver Linen asymmetric dress and the Blue Linen Kimono Jacket - neither of which were right for me (too unstructured). I loved all the tops that I am wearing in the photographs, and I would definitely buy all of them for a versatile and elegant summer wardrobe. I particularly loved the Silver Lurex Pop On Knit (see above left) in Dual Slim. What was clever about this and the black Butterfly Knit (see left) was the way that they showed my shape whilst softening the outline of my body in a really flattering way and disguising any lumps and bumps.
Anna also found several pieces that worked well on her. The cobalt blue Cocoon dress (below left £95) looked really wonderful with her colouring worn over the Ankle Grazer trousers in chalk £95. Both of us fell in love with the Poncho Knits which come in 6 colours and are either a mix of Merino and Cashmere or are a super soft luxurious 100% Cashmere. I will probably treat myself to the one in Fuchsia pink (below right £95) as it will be the perfect addition as a top layer for cooler summer evenings and Anna looked amazing in the more coral toned Hot Pink in cashmere (£195) that she is wearing in the group photograph above.
The results of the styling session are here for you to see. I was genuinely delighted with the suggestions that Jaquine made for me and also relieved that the day left me feeling so positive, because I really admire what Nayna is doing with the Hope brand. I can promise you that if you are petite, short and big busted with slim legs, bottom heavy like me or tall and slim like Anna, you would definitely find some lovely pieces in this collection to suit you. The clothes aren't cheap being comparable in price range with Whistles and Hobbs, but they are beautifully made in either the U.K or Italy with superior quality fabrics and finish. The other thing that I like is that they are 'classic' pieces in the very best sense of the word. The foundation pieces will work with many other things in my wardrobe and I can imagine wearing the top layers for a long time to come. There really is Hope for us all! Silver Linen Pop On £75. Navy Ankle Grazers £95.
Exclusively for LFF customers, Hope is offering 10% Discount off the Hope Collection. To find out more visit www.hopefashion.co.uk and simply enter LFF10 at checkout. They also offer Hope at Home events with stylists so that you can try the clothes with a group of friends. Email customer email@example.com or call 0333 220 1907.