Getting dressed (without the fuss)
Meet The Telegraph's Timeless Style columnist, Anna Harvey: the Ex-Vogue deputy editor, consultant to Princess Diana and author of Timeless Style: dressing well for the rest of your life (£12.89, Double-Barrelled Books).
As I write this, snow is falling outside and I have just turned up the thermostat on the central heating. So naturally, my thoughts have also turned to cashmere. What else? No fabric is softer, warmer or more luxurious; I’m sure we would all be thrilled to bits to wrap ourselves in nothing but cashmere all winter.
With a little careful shopping, one almost could. While there is still plenty of cashmere out there that you could happily remortgage your house to buy, there are also several high street labels selling excellent quality cashmere at reasonable prices (in fact, with Christmas so close, it might be worth leaving this page lying around in case any of your family might be in need of a little last-minute present inspiration).
I am a particular fan of Brora, Winser London, The White Company, Cosi Textiles at Browns, M&S’ Pure Collection, David Nieper and Zara - the latter does a beautiful big scarf, which at £95, is very good value. It’s by no means an exhaustive list but all of the above are worth looking at - especially now, when a lot of items are on sale. And if a jersey or coat seems too extravagant, smaller items such as a pair of gloves, a scarf or hat are just as cosy and still a treat. No-one ever groaned on being given a pair of cashmere socks…
Cashmere that is still going strong in my wardrobe after many years includes a simple navy coat; a dark red knitted, double cashmere dress (knitted cashmere comes in a variety of weights - the heavier the weight, i.e. double, treble or even quadruple wefts, the higher the price), which is perfect for town and country; a variety of men's’ classic round-neck sweaters which I love because they are forgiving and so comfortable with trousers at weekends; and a wonderful big cardigan bought in a Bamford sale.
If you want it to last, taking good care of cashmere is vital. Net-a-Porter stocks a cashmere care set (£335, net-a-porter.com) that comes complete with beanie hat and scarf. A good debobbler is important, but clothes moths are the greatest enemy. Dry cleaning rather than washing helps to eliminate the eggs, and my grandmother swore by Epsom salts sprinkled liberally in all her knitwear drawers and in the boxes in which she kept her jerseys for the summer. You can also vacuum pack cashmere over the summer to keep the moths away, and/or store it in the freezer if yours is big enough. Properly looked after, there’s no reason that your cashmere shouldn’t last you for many years. Which makes it an excellent investment, when you think about it.