Monday 20 May 2019

What to Wear 10

The ladies are lunching in John Lewis again: Caro Stow Crat buys Rowan yarn and Samantha Upward purchases white baby wool – she’s going to dye it with natural substances like blackberries and beetroot. Eileen Weybridge and Jen Teale have acquired a jade two-piece and a pair of robust jeans on the womenswear floor – Eileen's off sailing again.

"Lovely!" shudders Sam, and boasts that she buys all her clothes in charity shops.

“I’m sure more people would, if the shops would only wash the clothes first,” says Eileen.

“It seems so obvious,” says Jen.

“I must admit I don’t appreciate odeur de charité!” says Caro, looking round her at the crowds. "Why is everybody wearing plimsolls? And how do they keep them so white?"

"They're trainers!" says Jen.

"Nothing but trainers on sale – even in Clarks!" bemoans Eileen.

"You spray them with Gleem-o-Brite!" says Jen.

"Oh for the days of Meltonian shoe cream!" sighs Caro. "Those happy evenings at boarding school whitening one's tennis shoes."

She is still wearing the Stow Crat hairstyle: blonde, layered, off the forehead, off the collar, and brushed behind the ears. Earrings and a silk scarf in the neck of her cashmere jersey go with it. When skin-tight jeans are in, her grand-daughters wear a more relaxed version, and Caro's heels are always slightly lower than the fashion. Thalia Upward wears the sexy/unsexy look, featuring bare legs and black ankle boots.

A Sloane in Cirencester? Short tweed skirt and riding boots if young, longer tweed suit if not, or jodhpurs, or good jeans. Expensive yoga wear if she's more on the New Age side. You see plenty of quilted gilets at the track, usually with that sort of heather-coloured hat that suggests someone has sat on it. (LW)

To lead her Qi Gong class, Arkana sports a blue and hot-pink block-coloured shirt, pink patterned leggings, and orange rubber shoes – with lifelike toes. Her hair is the same shade of orange, which makes her look somewhat haggard, but Sam finds the whole ensemble soothing to rest her eyes on as Arkana takes the class through a gruelling session.

She showed up in total nerdcore clothing, head to toe: bow tie, thick-rimmed specs, sweater vest, plaid buttondown... (via Twitter)

This month’s collection references the interiors of Charleston, the country home of Vanessa Bell, and also the wild gardens of her childhood home in St Ives. (Seasalt Cornwall. The clothes are slightly influenced by the colour palette, no Charleston designs are copied, anyone can have a wild garden – but the magic words “Vanessa Bell” may get middle-class buyers to bite. See also the Past Times catalogue and “inspired by”. Cardigans printed with a pattern a long way after a medieval manuscript are the height of frump, the depth of chic.)

It’s all in the detail! says the Damart catalogue. Oh dear, it’s the details – the embroidery, the applique’d flowers, the top stitching, the asymmetrical hems – that make the clothes frumpy. We want completely plain clothes, a bit like a school uniform, made of good materials, that fit. Thanks.

Update: In 2022, paper catalogues have all but disappeared, so there's no way of getting a feel for this season's look.

More here, and links to the rest.