Where to buy the best, part 2. I will skip the big preamble this week, as we are following directly on from last weeks post. I will say again that these are only my opinions and I haven’t tried every brand ever. We all have our favourites and I’m always up for hearing the ones you like, especially any great small independent designers. I love our High Street but I also love to seek out and spend my money with smaller brands when I can.
So here’s the round up of the best Coats, Knits, Boots, Shirts & Blouses and, my personal favourite, socks…
Often people say you should spend money on a good designer coat that will last you forever, and I do agree with that sentiment to a point, but I have to say that my favourite coats, the ones I’ve had the longest and that I wear the most, are not the priciest. Mango and Jigsaw are probably my first port of call when looking for a good, traditional coat. Both have a consistently wide range of well-designed outerwear. Jigsaw do classic, timeless styles at a slightly higher price and Mango are a bit more trend-led for less cash. See also M&S and John Lewis, although it’s still a bit early for the winter collections.
For more casual and quilted jackets, I rate Hush. For the best waterproofs ever it’s Protected Species and for budget-busting, beautiful and reversible parachute jackets look at Marfa Stance. I will do a full coat blog soon as there’s almost too many to mention here.
There are some great small British brands for knitwear that I love. Check out Navygrey for timeless, simple pieces. I have their navy ‘relaxed’ wool jumper and it’s just the most perfect sweater. Hades make cool, music-themed sweaters – the current collection is David Bowie-based – and alphabet knits. Genevieve Sweeney is another designer who makes both classic and contemporary pieces (along with great socks, but more on those later) and I recently bought the ‘Feel Good’ oversized cotton jumper from Slow Love that I know I’m going to be living in when it gets colder.
On the high street, I think Cos make the best knitwear. Their cashmere is particularly good AND it goes in the washing machine. I’m not sure it’s supposed to but I wash all mine on a cold delicates and they’ve been fine. I have cashmere I bought there 14 years ago that still looks good. Also look at Uniqlo for wool and cashmere jumpers. I tend to go for the men’s styles as I prefer the fit. For reference, a men’s medium is good for a women’s 12.
Boots, shoes and bags are probably the items that I would advocate spending a bit more on. As I’ve always said, you never get too fat for shoes and bags so it’s worth saving up to get the ones that will last. Some of my favourite shoes and boots are from Grenson. I love their quintessentially British style of loafers, hiking boots and brogues. (I take my regular size at Grenson.) I’m also a big fan of the Air & Grace Jessa boots, a classic and slightly more feminine winter boot that goes with everything and with extreme comfort thrown in for good measure (also true to size).
And shoutout to Dr Martens. They were the first pair of boots I bought with my own money, at Shellys shoe shop on the Kings Road in 1988. What a Mecca that was for suburban kids who wanted to be cool. I still love the classic 8‑hole lace-up and the Flora Chelsea boots. You do need a bit of perseverance to break them in – see this post from a few years ago for my tips on how to do that.
SHIRTS & BLOUSES
My top spot for a feminine blouse with an edge has to be Sézane. I love their range, in fact I love most of the things they sell tbh. I always think I should try and be more ‘French’, that kind of understated, effortless ‘cool girl’ look, but I never quite manage it. I feel a ‘French chic’ blog coming on just to give myself some more inspiration. On the more budget-friendly end of the spectrum, M&S – especially Per Una – do good blouses too, as do Oasis. For smarter shirts, check Boden and Arket – Boden for more standard-fit ones and Arket if you’re into the more oversized tailoring look.
As with shoes and boots, you get what you pay for here. Leather is always my personal preference when it comes to bags that will last. My current favourites are A.P.C. (I’m saving for the Grace bag as I think it will be a timeless addition to my bag collection) and Coach. Now, Coach used to be a bit Michael Kors, if you know what I mean, but in recent years its creative team must have changed as they’ve added some more contemporary designs to their collection. I love the Pillow Tabby bags and the Willow Saddle bags. For UK-made and designed bags, have a look at Tusting. My favourite is the Cardington saddle bag.
SOCKS & PANTS
I could wax lyrical about the joys of a good sock for far longer than is socially acceptable. On the whole, my favourite sock brands are all small businesses. Like dresses (see last week), I prefer to spend my sock money on little brands. So there is Rock and Ruby (great cotton socks), Ivy Ellis (perfect college-style socks), Le Bon Shoppe (the perfect short sock), Genevieve Sweeney (excellent wool and cashmere socks that can be MONOGRAMMED!) and Scott Samuel’s cashmere retro socks. On the high street, I still head to M&S for my plain socks, particularly the knee-high ones that don’t fall down.
A quick mention on tights. Tabio and Falke are my favourite; they’re more expensive but they last for years. Pants, I literally only wear the Innersy big pants now. They are not going to get you a boyfriend but they are going to make your clothes look better.
Next week I will attempt your 15 piece Autumn capsule wardrobe.