Image: Will Thom
December 23 2009
Lucia van der Post
Many years ago I bought a gossamer-fine plain dark grey T-shirt from Banana Republic in New York. I thought it might “come in useful” some day. “Come in useful” scarcely begins to describe its role. It is possibly the dullest looking item in my wardrobe and yet it is an essential partner to at least three dresses I own, and it comes in mighty useful in lots of other contexts. Without the sleeves and neck provided by the T-shirt, the dresses would not only be unwearable for a woman of my age but for most of the year they’d be too chilly to even think of putting on. The other day I couldn’t find it and was distraught. The grey sleeveless dress I had planned to wear to a smartish lunch had to be abandoned.
I tell this story because there is a new online cashmere store that seems to me to come into this category – at first sight not too exciting, but look deeper and you’ll find some seriously useful pieces that will work with things you already own and will make travelling a whole lot easier. It’s a cashmere company started by two very chic women d’un certain age, Emanuela Calvi and Jane Cattani, who used to be on the fashion and art scene, and who came up with the idea for a super-chic useful cashmere wardrobe for women who need to look good and perhaps travel a lot but don’t have time to worry about “outfits”.
The colours are mostly sober – greys, blacks, burgundies, deep violet – and the shapes are pretty classic. There are dresses – V-necked, cap-sleeved, and high-necked (from £194), pants (flared, £162, or in the shape of leggings, £119), sweaters (from £135), simple little kick-pleat skirts (£162) and some accessories. All these would not suit anybody who isn’t fairly slim for they are above all chic if plain. Easiest to wear are the jackets, which would be wonderfully useful travelling companions – the draped versions are £355, while the fitted ones (rather smarter) are £322.
There are some jauntier cap-sleeved pullovers (£135), and there’s going to be a small collection for men as well as lots more accessories. Look out for scarves (from £168), gloves (£59), neck-warmers (£81), berets (£54) and some delicious evening tops (from £162). There are also some very useful plain cotton T-shirts – not as gossamer-fine as the one I own, but nevertheless good quality, for £65 each. If you could do with a bit of style advice, click on the image and up will come some suggestions as to how to wear the garment.
All the cashmere is processed in Umbria and the prices strike me as extraordinarily reasonable. Until the end of January there’s free shipping to addresses in Europe. It’s a website that could solve a lot of problems.