I don’t know about you but the weather’s been a bit cold these past few days.  (And for those of you reading this outside the UK, the temperature is not that low but we have a damp cold that gets deep inside your bones.)  So, I tend to wrap up and wear several layers.

But, possibly not as many layers as I wore as a child.  Who remembers the liberty bodice?  My mother used to put me in them for 6 months of the year. They were worn over a wool vest and under a (flannel) petticoat.  Yes, I did wear all that, but not for long, just when I was very young. Weren’t there a lot of rubber buttons on the bodice, which were not just down the front?   On this link my memory has been confirmed with a delightful photo of a liberty bodice with loads of rubber buttons!  The text reminds us that these bodices were to free children from wearing boned corsets, and they not only had rubber buttons, there were reinforcing cotton tapes to attach our drawers and stockings – good grief!

Well, perhaps we don’t go to those lengths to keep warm nowadays but it certainly is the time to get out all those winter woollies.  And in one high-end magazine (all right, November’s Vogue) the jumper, or the ‘It Sweater’ as they like to call it, is very high fashion indeed with prices (OK, it’s for a Christopher Kean) reaching a stratospheric £2,500, *catches breath* recovers.  You know, the more I read Vogue the more I think it a very strange animal indeed.  Yes, you can pick up a lot of information about fashion and style, but it’s stuffed with advertisements and offers a vision of a life that is so far from reality if you won the lottery you wouldn’t want it anyway.  Invisible Woman has written a really good piece on Vogue, and how it ought to reintroduce a modern day version of Mrs Exeter – an older woman who featured regularly during the 1950s – not holding my breath.

A much better choice of reasonably priced fluffy jumpers from the High Street starting at £45 can be found here.  More recently The Observer fashion team has focused in on some neat sparkly embellished knits, which are the ones I’d go for if I had the cash.  And for some lovely and very mouthwatering designer jumpers look no further than the Save the Children’s Christmas Jumpers: prices are unknown because you have to bid for them. And let’s not leave out men in this blog – here they are resplendent in some great woolly jumpers!

For me, jumpers have to be made from 100% wool.  I don’t like a polyester mix. And before anyone says, ‘100% wool would be difficult to wash’, as many of you already know, the great secret about wool is you hardly ever need to wash it – it’s kind of like Teflon deflecting the dirt and even, depending on the quality of the wool, the rain.  Just look at these amazing jumpers as worn by Sarah Lund based on designs worn by generations of Faroese fishermen.

red-jumper-smBut if you’re short of cash or on a small pension there is no need to spend much money on woollies.  I have loads of them and most have come from charity shops. As I say in that great little film made by my friend Lorna, I run my hands along the racks and feel for the wool, and this way I’ve found some quality knits including a lovely cashmere top – all for well under £5.00.  Here’s a cheery red knit worn with a fun Per Una wool skirt – both bought for under a fiver.

That’s all for now – next blog will be on accessories and will feature my favourite jeweller, the wonderful Joy Fox.

With love

Penny

The frugal fashion shopper

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