Cashmere: a guide to Scottish luxury
Any stylish dresser worth their salt has a capsule wardrobe ready for every occasion – and any capsule wardrobe worth its salt will include cashmere. In this new guide to the luxurious wool, Lynne McCrossan, author of A Girl’s Guide to Vintage, takes us on a journey around Scotland to visit her favourite makers:
BARRIE KNITWEAR • BEGG & CO • BUTE FABRICS • DC DALGLIESH JOHNSTONS OF ELGIN • LOCHCARRON OF SCOTLAND PRINGLE • WILLIAM LOCKIE These makers are the creators of cashmere favoured by: BURBERRY • VIVIENNE WESTWOOD • THE DALAI LAMA • BUCKINGHAM PALACE JAMES BOND • CHANEL • HERMES • DIOR • YVES SAINT LAURENT • MULBERRY RALPH LAUREN • LIBERTY • ROCOO FORTE, PRAGUE • CHANGI VIP LOUNGE, SINGAPORE • BANK OF QATAR • GOOGLE • PIXAR • HRH ELIZABETH II LOUIS VUITTON • JOHN PAUL GAULTIER • PAUL SMITH • CALVIN KLEIN COMME DES GARÇONS • GANT • GRACE KELLY • TILDA SWINTON SOPHIA LOREN • NORTON AND SONS • DOLCE & GABBANA
An investigation of wool from goat to coat, this beautiful book is a must-have for all lovers of luxury. Here you will discover the three essential components – The Goat, The Water and The Artisan – which make up supreme Scottish cashmere. Wear it with pride.
The Holy Trinity
A Capsule Collection
Any woman worth her salt has a capsule wardrobe ready for every eventuality.
These are the go-to items that remain in your closet for decades. You will be all too familiar with them. It’s the coat, suit, t-shirt, cardigan, jumper, black boots, the list goes on. In essence the staples that everything else orbits.
These are investment-worthy pieces, and stick around a lot longer than transient trend purchases.
By winding the style clock back to the beginning of the 20th century we see shopping habits that supported a capsule wardrobe right up until the late 1980s. A shift in consumerism and consumption for fast fashion meant that investment buying became a thing of the past as the want for cheaper and newer brain washed shoppers. This shift in attitude is a false economy and has led us to spend more money while creating a recycling crisis. Annually we are binning around 1.4 million tonnes of clothing and textiles, worth an estimated £25 million, in the UK alone.
When you invest in something it means you are committed to it. Quality is key to these investment choices; going to the highest level of a budget you are financially comfortable with means there is longevity in your choice. Commit to good materials, great craftsmanship and classic items that won’t age over passing decades.
Follow these key guidelines and the quest for unique, chic dressing will only be some staple buys away.
My cashmere capsule collection is a no brainer. Six rotatable jumpers that will be with you for the rest of your life should you chose to invest and take care of that investment.
The cashmere T-shirt
The Cable knit
(ahr-gahyl): noun - A geometric knitting pattern of varicolored diamonds in solid and outline shapes on a single background color; also : a sock knit in this pattern a diamond-shaped pattern of two or more colors, used in knitting socks, sweaters, etc.
I am a child of the '80s, when Argyle knits adorned every golfing legend and Sunday afternoon swinger down the county club - I’m referring to the golf course, of course. This was my first introduction to a pattern that has been adopted by so many world wide.
To be frank, the '80s gave an absolute kick-in to the Argyle's fashion credentials but the passage of time has smoothed those sporting edges. In reality argyle has always belonged to the classic-set dressers - you don’t have over 200 years of longevity as a pattern without style being on your side. You only have to look at the chicest dressers in the '40s and '50s to see why this print is so palpable.
Being adored by so many sections of society can only be a good thing, and I urge every wearer to do this look as THEY see fit. It’s fashion after all, have fun with it.
Pop culture is littered with argyle gems. James Dean dawning a beige/black concoction in East of Eden. Claudia Schiffer doing off-duty model chic in oversized argyle sweaters. Cher Horowitz wearing her grey and white diamond motif skirt to fail her driving test in Clueless. Even Paul Newman rocks it circa all of the '60s.
The modern day shift in menswear has really put argyle back on the map, both Dior and Balmain featuring it in collections. There is a lovely duality and gender neutrality about argyle that gives it durability. In short, this is in your wardrobe forever.
(or tee-shirt, tee shirt): noun - a lightweight, usually knitted, pullover shirt, close-fitting and with a round neckline and short sleeves, worn as an undershirt or outer garment.
The humble T is over 100 years old, beginning life as a military garment between the Spanish-American war in the early 1900s.
Its transformation into style staple circles around Pringle of Scotland’s twin-set invention of the 1930s. The twin-set is part of Scotland’s textile royalty, a gem that placed us on the map a la mode with Hollywood starlets and feverish fashion follower alike.
Two components created the look, a crew neck cashmere t-shirt sitting underneath a cardigan of the same colour.
Lana Turner. Grace Kelly. Carole Lombard. Jean Simmons. All part of the cashmere t-sisterhood, not bad company to be kicking it with.
The cashmere t-shirt from this day forth shall be known as ‘the all rounder’. It can take you from day to night, formal to casual and most importantly winter to summer. If you're going to own any piece of cashmere this is THE ONE.
(cable–knit): adjective - having or made with a knitting stitch that produces a pattern resembling the twist of a usually two-ply cable
During the 17th and 18th century knitwear dominated infrastructure in Scotland. Kicking off with accessories from socks and stockings, right through to underwear and jumpers. During this time Fair Isle techniques were honed and developed, leading the way to cable stitching used on Aran sweaters.
It’s in the early 20th century that we see cable knit becoming a fashion symbol rather than practical workwear for fishermen. The post Second World War boom allowed knitwear becoming flavoursome with haute couturiers and knitting crazes took off around the globe.
There is not an autumn-winter that passes you do not see an adaptation of a cable knit go down a runway or hit the high street. Sure as season change and sun follows snow so too do these jumpers make an annual appearance. For that reason it's a no brain to invest in one that will see you though not just one winter but several decades' worth.
Due to the dense, soft nature of goat hair the marriage between cashmere and a chunky knit means warmth is at a maximum. The better the cashmere quality the warmer you will be. The higher the ply the softer it will feel. For me, grey makes sense. It is a natural tone, easy to keep at that shade should anything go area in the cleaning process plus goes with every colour, print and texture you can through at it.
(hoo- d-ee): noun - (informal) a hooded sweatshirt
You may be fooled into thinking this garment is a relative new kid on the block - that’s where you’d be wrong. The origins trace back to utility wear in medieval Europe. Fast forward to the roaring '20s and the humble jumper we call hoodie takes its final fashion transfiguration into the garment we wear today.
Hoodie roots have remained in workwear, its felicitous nature making sportwear its natural home at the start of the 20th century. Adopted by nonconformists, this inconspicuous piece of clothing has become a complicated cultural symbol.
This is dreamy dress down attire. Think weekend lounging, cozy, comfortable clobber that maintains a style edge. There’s a reason sports luxe was coined as fashion terminology, I like to think the black cashmere hoodie was the nucleus for the movement.
The hoodie sits within its own set of rules for the wearer, add Scottish cashmere and this congruous concoction will leave you with plenty to play with in your wardrobe.
Pop it underneath suiting to give a casual visual to work wear or plonk on with some stretchy trousers and trainers to take the slacker edge off of slob dressing (one of my favourite vibes). Part of The One Hundred: A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Should Own by Nina Garcia, the cashmere hoodie has the luxury of going with everything in your established wardrobe.
(houndz-tooth): adjective - woven or printed with a pattern of broken or jagged checks:
a hound's-tooth coat.
Houndstooth comes in many different names. There’s dogstooth, dogtooth, hound’s tooth, hounds tooth check, puppy tooth - for smaller scale patterns (too cute) - and my personal favourite - the shepherd’s plaid.
Classically it is a duotone textile characterised by broken or abstract check with four pointed corners. Mainly monochrome in manor, houndstooth has made its mark in black and white, however any duo colours can be used.
Its roots can be traced to the Scottish Lowlands where it was woven into wool cloth. Its fan base is broad and wide from Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickins to Christian Dior and Alexander McQueen.
This print is pretty much omnipresent all year round. Working well in both winter and spring wardrobes. It is a clean, chic textile with chameleon-like qualities masquerading in a multitude of style genres from punk to preppy.
What’s so great about this print is that for almost a century true fashion diehards have been using and wearing it. I am convinced houndstooth was the real reason The Auld Alliance came about, you only have to look at the French fashion houses to see the treaty is alive and well. Am I right Chanel, Dior et Vuitton? Oui!
(ˈrap): verb - to cover (something) by winding or folding a piece of material around it; noun - piece of clothing to be wrapped or folded about a person, especially an outer garment such as a robe, cloak or coat.
Our most salacious of cover-ups, the wrap’s evolution is one worthy of gossip. Design power house Diane von Furstenberg claims the invention as her own, and although it is certainly synonyms with the living legend the roots go deeper than the dawn of disco in the '70s.
We find ourselves heading further back to the '30s where Elsa Schiaparelli was delving into Dadaism in her designs to truly witness the conception of the wrap. This free flowing frock was, in essence, a way of giving freedom to the female form. A symbol of sexual liberation, this item of clothing has become its own movement within a woman’s wardrobe.
As a stylist I know there is no such thing as one size fits all. Different body shapes demand different treatments when it comes to dressing. Having said that, there is always one thing that defies any rule. In this case it is the wrap. Tall, short, slim, thick, busty, bony, hippy or skinny - whatever style your mortal coil comes in a wrap will be your buddy.
You only have to look at the dedicated followers of fashion wearing wraps through the decades to see confirmation of this. From Hollywood royalty to real life Queens and Princesses - this item is loved by all. I haven't yet found a body shape this style doesn't work on. Couple style ergonomics with cashmere and you have a match made in sensual heaven.