Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Harry Goes Shopping




When you get to a certain age , where exactly are you supposed to go shopping? Or where might one actually enjoy the experience?
The old school menswear shops have largely disappeared. Perhaps no great loss. Although I lament the demise of Simpson's , which maybe was brilliant in the 30's when it opened, but when I knew the store they were certainly missing a trick.
There is a lot more to say on this subject, but for those readers ( or partners of readers) who are in London I'd like to bring to your attention the Designer Warehouse Sale.
They have been going for 21 years and hold about four menswear sales a year. I discovered them a dozen years ago, and go at least twice a year.
Next weekend they will be in new premises, so I can't give you a clear idea of what their new environment will be like ( they used to be in a photographer's studio).
They always have a lot of stock. Sure, much of it will be terribly youthful; skinny shirts, artfully modified jeans, streetwear with lots of unnecessary embellishment. But amongst all this you can still find well made and understated stuff.
That's if you are prepared to look. Because, although it is laid out largely by designer and types of clothing, it is rather like a well organised jumble sale. Which I happen to like. A lot.
And the people who run it are very laid-back, and certainly friendly rather than up themselves.
My last purchase there was a very fine Pal Zileri jacket. And before that a Jasper Conran overcoat. And , no, I certainly wouldn't have paid ticket price for either of those two items.
I will definitely be going next weekend. And I am very relaxed about probably being the oldest person there ( but one of my sons might come with me, and that's always fun)

Sewists' corner


I know there are quite a few sewists in the house, but me, I can't even get the needle through the thread and my attempts to re-sew a button in exactly the right place on a Jean Muir coat were humiliatingly inept. I do not do or make things with my hands. And my rule is, as my Jacobean manor house friends discovered when I stayed with them last weekend and they invited me to play boules, it is not that I am competitive, it's that I only do things I'm good at. Which is good, because it leaves so much time for lying around doing nothing.

But the next big thing, apparently is home remodelling of your own clothes.

Lilli Rose Wicks hopes to change our habits. In 2007, she won the Visionary Knitwear award at Graduate Fashion Week, and was inundated with offers to design for the high street. She turned them down as she felt the stores weren't willing or able to change their environmental practices. Wicks' work is made from organic or recycled materials. Her passion has always been to make or refashion her clothes rather than buy them new. "Before I buy anything, I work out whether I can make it myself," she says.

Wicks now runs workshops, in collaboration with the Soil Association, on customising clothes, and that is why I arrive at Wicks' cottage in Somerset with an armful of my own clothes, which, instead of joining the 300,000 tonnes of garments that end up in recycling bins, are going to be refashioned. I'm nervous because, having first-hand experience of my sewing, I'm not sure I want to mess about with my clothes. "Sewing is something you can learn. Everyone starts somewhere," Wicks assures me. Having spilt oil on a skirt I like, I'm hoping Wicks can help me hide the stain so I can keep wearing it.