It might seem a bit previous, but I’m sorting out my winter wardrobe already.
I have conceded defeat. Summer is over.
I suppose it isn’t over in some parts of the world. In Italy, for instance, I can see on the weather forecast it’s still sunny and hot. And an American friend has just headed for her summer house on the Cape.
But here in Normandy, the summer never really got going.
I don’t think we’ve had three consecutive dry days this summer, and right now, the rain is torrential. Even when it isn’t cold, there is that melancholic, autumnal feeling in the air. It is more like October than August and it can’t be long before we have to light the woodburner just to keep out the damp.
The reason I feel in my heart that summer is gone is that yesterday I performed that rite of passage – I packed away my summer clothes. The REAL summer clothes, I mean – the linen dresses and skirts and jackets, the little tops, the cotton blouses. They won’t get an outing this year.
I wish I hadn’t bothered ironing them when I unpacked them all in May. I’ve worn a dress precisely twice this year – the rest of the time I’ve been in mid-season clothes – jeans, long-sleeved Ts, sandals – but increasingly resorting to socks in the evenings, plus a cardi. We might get a bit of an Indian summer even yet in September, but jeans and Ts will get me through it without resorting to anything thinner.
August is also a little early to be thinking about winter clothes, but nevertheless my thoughts have gone in pursuit of them. Every year, twice a year, I sit down and carefully think about what I need for the coming season – the wardrobe gaps that have to be filled, the clothes out of which I’ll get the most mileage. Yeah, I know, this is boringly practical, but it’s how it’s got to be when you’re older, or on a tight budget – you can’t be endlessly tempted by pretty stuff you never actually wear.
This year, I reckon winter could be cold, and even if it isn’t, the cost of fuel oil and wood is ridiculous, so I don’t know if we can afford to heat the house as much as we would like. Therefore warmth is my main priority as per, though I hope also not to look too much like Eskimo Nell while I’m at it.
I really do need new UGGs as a priority, as mine are falling apart, so I am looking at black knee-length ones. And I have decided that my ‘fashion’ buy will be three knee-length, slim-cut, belted, cable-knit cardigans, preferably with a big shawl collar or a hood for snuggling.
Because I sit at a desk all day writing, my knees and thighs get cold and last year I had a blankie over my legs most of the winter: long cardis strike me as a more stylish option. Acrylic for preference, as they’re lightweight, they can go in the washing machine and they dry quickly on a rack. I used to be a snob about pure wool, and I still wear cashmere next to my skin, but for a top layer, acrylic cableknit is just fine by me nowadays.
Given the colours in the rest of my wardrobe, one cardi in black, one in brown and another in something like grey should do the trick, and along with three new pairs of trousers, that will see me right until next spring – I have enough coats, boots, socks, thermals and cashmere turtlenecks to get me through the next ten years.
So quick as a flash, I’ve already bought the trousers – relying, as usual, on my favourite label Boden. Boden’s new winter collection is gorgeous – just check out this BEAUTIFUL corduroy coat (right), which would be fab in my wardrobe. However, being a downshifter, I, as usual, headed to Ebay for my Boden, where I got everything BNWOT.
The lovely thing about Ebay is that you can search for exactly what you need without being tempted down seductive byways. So I am now set up with blue Boden jeans, brown Boden cords and brown Boden cotton trousers (above). Being a bit naughty, I also got a pair of H&M cords in beige (on their side, above). They look very similar to the Boden trousers but they’re a different fabric. As with all my trousers, they’re all bootleg and have a relatively long rise. They were also all less than two quid a pair, and all second-hand, which makes me feel a bit more virtuous about the planet.
I’ve also plumped for the brown knee-length cardi from Dorothy Perkins shown above (also BNWOT), and have my eye on a grey lambswool cardigan too, which goes in a day or two (not showing you the picture in case you bid against me!).
For my third cardi, I might actually buy something new if I can’t find what I want on Ebay. I’m looking at La Redoute, though strangely, the kind of design I want only seems to come in larger sizes – do they not think thin women get cold or something? But this dark-grey hooded cableknit ticks just about all my boxes, if it doesn’t come up too large. I would probably get it in black and it would do double duty as a light coat for dry days, which is always useful.
So that’s me sorted and I can face winter with a bit more equanimity.