Friday, 26 September 2014

A Dialogue on Shearling Jackets

Question: What’s a style staple?

Answer: A term meant to imply qualities like timelessness or longevity, but actually another commercialized phrase often used to encourage consumers to buy whatever’s been marched down the catwalk several months previously.

Question: Wait, so basically ‘a classic must-have’ dressed up in different words?

Answer: All too often, yes. Sometimes you will be advised to ‘update’ your ‘style staple’ according to how it’s been re-worked by designers. Take exhibit number one. The leather jacket. This is usually an item claimed to be a ‘fashion necessity’ - something that ‘your wardrobe really can’t be without.’ However, there will be permutations according to the trends on offer. This leathery ‘staple’ can take a variety of forms: the biker jacket, the buttery soft jacket, the long jacket tied at the waist, the sexy jacket, the boyfriend jacket, the tailored jacket, the retro nineties jacket, the zip-up jacket, the aviator jacket, the jacket covered in buttons (each more expensive than a decent meal). Then we have the humble shearling jacket, beloved every several years and sniffed at when not currently on sale. Like 70s maxi-dresses and 80s power shoulders, it will flare bright for an instance and then subside into the murky depths of a coat-rack.

Question: But what if I love shearling, and to me it’s a staple year after year – even if the industry aren’t too keen at a particular moment on big fluffy collars and outer layers that will keep me cosy?

Answer: Well then wear it! If you like it, and it looks great and makes you feel good, then go ahead – knock yourself out. Parade that fleecy bundle of warmth with pride. Who am I to stop you?

Question: Yet if I do that, doesn’t it make a whole mockery of the idea of trends? Won’t fashionistas look at me, aghast, with carefully manicured eyebrows raised and voices lowered to a muted grumble of “what on earth is she wearing? Doesn’t she know that Burberry did shearling in 2010 and we’re not quite at the point of rehabilitating it back into the mainstream ‘must-have’ lists?”

Answer: Actually, no. Little secret. Have you seen the latest Burberry campaigns for AW14? They’ve got shearling coats with floral patterns and everything – all belted and pretty. Cara Delevingne and Suki Waterhouse are doing some grade-A hair flicking in the ads. Then Prada did big, colourful shiny ones. They also turned up in various forms at Coach, Topshop Unique, Isabel Marant and a few others.

Question: Wait, so my plan to launch into a carefully orchestrated, very articulate tirade about being able to wear whatever the hell I want has been scuppered? You mean that this sartorial decision, which I thought was going all off-beat and individual in showing my complete disregard for what’s hot and what’s not, is actually going to look very carefully timed with what can now be bought in various high end stores? That all my protestations about another sprinkling of leaves on the lawn not requiring a new statement coat will be overshadowed by me looking like I was keeping this jacket hidden away for the next time shearling graced the list of top ten trends? And I only had to wait four years!?

Answer: Yeah, sorry about that…

I did indeed dig this jacket back out, having said to my mum, "Oooh, I really want a good leather jacket this Autumn" - her answer being, "but you already have one?" It's second hand Escada, bought from a charity shop five years ago. Mum helped me to turn it into a gorgeous shearling number in 2010 with the help of an old sheepskin baby blanket (my dad's!) that had already had a second life as a seat cover, before beginning to fray at the edges. It was then salvaged to shape into this collar . You can also see the life of the jacket pre-fluffy collar here in 2009

In this post I'm wearing it with a charity shop silk dress, vintage jewellery (necklace from a jumble sale) and second hand, velvet heels from eBay - that of course are only ever worn to stand or sit in (walking being ridiculously impossible).   


Carlota Antolin Vallespin said...

Is this a conversation with your self? I found it hilariously great. I was truly laughing when I read it. You are completely right.

And the outfit, great as always. I really get lost in your long burgundy legs. They look so amazing combined with this cute british-dominatrix green shoes.


Vix said...

Ha! brilliant conversation with yourself. Love that jacket and your incredible legs.
I can't imagine anyone ever looking at you and scoffing that what you're wearing isn't currently in vogue, rather they'd rush off and try and emulate exactly what you were wearing. xxxx

Closet Fashionista said...

So true ! There really are no 'style staples', just basics that take different forms each year. I do watch out for trends but I still wear what I want no matter what because in the end that's all that matters :)

Lola Byatt said...

Rosalind, this is excellent. made my whole day. Such a clever way of articulating our nations love of fast disposable fashion which changes with the seasons "must-have"items. I am guilty of this myself but I have been consciously trying to change this for the past few years. Really making efforts to find out what I really love as opposed to what I think I love.



Well, what a marvellous dialogue, and I must agree "staples" these days are more reworked pieces. I think wearing what you love is always the best way. Your style is a great example of owning your personal style.

Izzy DM said...

You perfectly articulated a thought I was just having the other day. I've got THREE leather jackets and already none of them are quite "right"-- one is too structure (thriftshop Theory, broken zipper), one is too shawl-collary, though this is still a trend (sale item), one is pale gold, also thrifted, collarless with odd short, belled sleeves and I saw Eva Longoria wearing it on a rerun of Desperate Housewives, and now I'mafraid it looks like something befitting a Real Housewife, and then I thought, well, why does that have to be? You can get around that by putting the whole ensemble together a certain way, or, by not caring.

Very funny, different piece, and I adore your mother. I can't believe she was able to re-up that blanket so many times. I wish I had skills like that... Maybe I should take a sewing class now that I've got a daughter of my own whose already showing a keen interest in all things pretty and fashionable. xx

Camille said...

Haha, this was great! I agree with your definition of style staple, especially as it appears we've just come out of a large 'staple/investment' trend, where all the classics that were paraded before us two or three years ago are losing favour. As for me, I'm a bit disappointed shearling has become desirable again as I've been looking for the 'perfect' jacket for at least 4 years, and that I'm afraid there'll be even more competition on the second-hand market. I might just have to make myself one out of those Ikea rugs. There must be a small, fluffy bomber jacket waiting for me somewhere, and I hope I'll find it sooner than later.

Anonymous said...

Loved reading this! :)

Ivana Split said...

Gorgeous outfit....and your legs look a mile long! I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading these questions and answers. Today it is quite possible (because of the abundance of trends) to be fashionable even when you're trying to do quite the opposite!

Maybe we cannot be rebels against fashion anymore? There are so many trends that even if someone wants to look like they don't give a damn- they might actually end up looking quite trendy.

Ivana Split said...

To answer your comment (which I saw a minute ago)- yes, I have been painting and sketching a lot lately...but last week I had to make a pause because I was asked to take over classes from one teacher that is sending her boy off to University, so she had to take a few days off and I was not left with much energy at the end of the day:)

Suzette Barnett said...

Shearling is so wonderful and cozy! I saw a shearling jacket in Edinburgh at this huge vintage clothing emporium ( and it's the only thing I regret not bringing home with me.... Suzette -

The Foolish Aesthete said...

Please send me your jacket's e-mail address as I would love to have a conversation with it about my wardrobe ... And the apple certainly doesn't fall far from the tree. With such a talented mother, how could you not be?

I so enjoyed this, and your re-worked jacket. I'll wear leather and shearling from any period! xx

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