When I got my first job in the late nineties I looked forward to one day above all others (apart from payday that is) with the eager anticipation of a child on Christmas Eve - the September day my 2 inch thick Next Directory would land on my doorstep. I would practically block out a whole weekend to spend browsing its contents and turning over the corners of the pages featuring pieces I just HAD to have. And we all know the dilemma of wanting something on both sides of the same page. Which page to corner! Talk about critical decision making.
However somewhere between that first job and my first mortgage payment, I fell out of love with George-at-Asda-Davies' behemoth. I started actually being charged for my clothing bible as I never ordered anything and after a number of years of stacking them up as doorstops, I cancelled them. I can honestly say I haven't bought anything in Next for about 15 years - oh wait, that's a lie, I got some fabulous tan fringed loafers earlier this year - and I never walk into their shops or browse their website. Until now....
After seeing a rather lovely pair of brocade trousers featured in Hello Fashion Monthly I ventured onto next.co.uk and I must say I was incredibly impressed. After about ten minutes of browsing I'd added 15 things to my basket without even pausing for breath. I started in their Tall section as it is very good for trousers - they don't assume that just because you are tall you require a gargantuan rise on your jeans - and I imagine their Petite offerings are just as well proportioned. I found so many pieces I liked that I felt I had to share them with you. I will just say that I haven't seen any of them in the flesh though so I absolve myself of all responsibility if they turn out to be utterly horrid.
Navy embroidered bomber jacket £60 - Slightly pricey for a one-hit fashion item but I like that it's navy rather than black which makes it more wearable in the day.
Velvet bomber jacket £36 - This is going straight in my basket.
Grey metallic stitch bomber jacket £38 - A great piece to see you through Autumn. Wear as a cardi or instead of a blazer.
Printed bomber jacket £50 - This has a touch of the Mary Berrys about it (not that there is anything wrong with that) but to keep the look fresh clash it with animal print or wear with a skirt or dress - Paul Hollywood is an optional extra.
Gold/black jacquard denim leggings £26 - These are definitely going to need to be seen in 'real life' to check the fit but they are a great party trouser.
Gold metallic geo jacquard trousers £38 - Quite similar to the previous pair but don't overlook a patterned trouser - they can be very slimming especially if you are not a fan of your thighs.
Black sequin trousers £45 - I like a daytime sequin and I think these are just the trousers to take you from day to dinner. They also come in green but take care not to look like a Christmas decoration in those.
Pocket cargo trousers £35 - Cargo trousers are sneaking back into the shops with the re-launch of J Brand's Houlihan jeans. This khaki pair nod to the ever-present military trend but are also available in black - I can't move on without mentioning the blue metallic loafers they have been styled with; they are divine.
Berry embossed workwear dress £28 - I can't believe the price on this. Such a flattering shape as it gives a waist to athletic figures while gliding over hips of the pears among us. It is available in petite, regular and tall so there's a length to suit all. I just hope it is as lovely as it looks in the photo.
Ruffle blouse £30 - I love the star print on this and the shoulder detail is very pretty. If you already have broad shoulders this may not be the top for you but it's a must for pears.
Belted wrap coat £90 - Again this probably needs to be seen in the flesh to check the feel and fit but it's a beautiful looking coat for the price. Some figures can be overwhelmed by a coat so the belt to give you shape.
Black/nude long sleeved body con dress £42 - The pattern on this dress will hide a multitude of sins as it confuses the eye and blurs any lumps and bumps. I'll be giving this one a try and fingers crossed it solves my Christmas party dress dilemmas.
Don't get me wrong there are still some pieces that hark back to an era that no one wants to be reminded of but take your time, have a good browse, be selective and I think you might be pleasantly surprised. I never did find those brocade trousers though.....