As the autumn short break beckons, Stephanie Smith finds the perfect pieces that blend cosy luxury with classic country style.
We may well have said goodbye to the summer for another year, but we have certainly not said goodbye to the beach. For many of us, the autumn is when the UK coastline holds its greatest appeal, taking on a rugged, muted and misty appeal that has little to do with the ice cream parlours and cartoon beach towels of July.
Autumn means rich textures and exquisite colours. Luxury is becoming ever more important in modern life, particularly when it concerns what we wear and what we surround ourselves with. In our homes and against our skin, we want cashmere and fleece, soft wool and a touch of fur, although we tend to prefer our fur faux (and why not, when it is so soft and beautifully textured?).
For outdoors, we want stylish country classics that have stood the test of time and can certainly stand up to the inevitable weather.
The best autumn short breaks must take in a little fashion shopping. If you are ever up on the Moray coast, in the north of Scotland, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Elgin to see Johnstons of Elgin, the cashmere and wool specialists, which has a lovely saphop and cafe on the outskirts of the town.
Established in 1797 on the banks of the River Lossie by Alexander Johnston, its high quality, exceptionally designed woven and knitted clothing and its interiors products are produced in its mills at Elgin and at Hawick. Jumpers, throws, cushions, capes, tweed jackets and caps… it’s an amazing place.
The brand has just released a collection of luxurious, tailored winter essentials called Sartorial Edge, featuring its classic three-quarter length cashmere coat and its Donegal reversible scarf. This range is sold exclusively at the Johnstons New Bond Street store and online at www.johnstonscashmere.com, but if, on the way up to the north of Scotland, you stop at the wonderful House of Bruar shopping village, near Perth, you can find plenty of examples of Johnstons knits and wraps.
Further down and back towards Yorkshire, in South Shields, is another great British brand, Barbour, the internationally renowned country clothing specialists. The company has made great strides in popularising classic countrywear, bringing it up to date with contemporary styling and technology, and making sure its designs become must-have pieces for all ages.
Founded in 1894, Barbour is still a family-owned business, its classic wax jackets still manufactured by hand in the factory in Simonside, South Shields, (more than 100,000 a year). And, it’s got a factory shop there.
The waxed jacket is a good starting point for putting together an autumn break look. Other key must-haves include a knitted poncho in cashmere or lambswool, or a blend of the two. Mix in skinny stretch jeans or thick leggings, sturdy calf-high boots, a fine cashmere sweater and a three-quarter or shorter tailored wool coat that works for both smart and weekend looks.
A chunky fisherman’s cable jumper in cream or oatmeal will always come in handy. Add in brushed cotton shirts, a cashmere tank or cami top, a knitted dress, an easy skirt of the length you prefer, a pair of heels for evening, plus tights, and you’re good to go.
With the Yorkshire coast right on our doorstep, it’s high time to get packing and head, if not for the hot-spots, for the beautiful breezy cool-spots.