A couple of years ago, I was sent two stretchy T-shirts from Uniqlo. One was a cream crew neck, the other a purple scoop neck. I read the first two lines of the press release, as you do, before putting it into the recycling. I gleaned enough information to learn this was some sort of modern thermal wear.
And they were relegated to my drawer.
Most of my life, I’ve worn Damart underwear. As a child, my mum got them sent over from my Parisian uncle – bright turquoise, short-sleeved thermal vest t-shirts. I can’t say I liked them. When I got undressed for PE I stood out like a traffic incident sign.
As soon as I could, I stopped wearing vests and started getting sexy with my La Perla underwear. I was fashion editor of a national newspaper, I had my place in the front row at shows to think of.
When I became fishing correspondent of the Independent, all this changed and keeping warm on the banks of huge rivers in Scotland, in January, became a keen quest. I tried all the thermal underwear I could get my hands on Patagonia (most of my other fishing clothing-kit was Patagonia, and it was/is excellent), Marks and Spencer, Damart and various others that I’ve long forgotten the names of. It was all pretty useless. Except for Damart (see, Mamma knew a thing or two and let me tell you, she still does). Thankfully, its designs have improved since my turquoise vest days. However, the catalogue is still crap and they really should redesign it because there are some really pretty little vests that they do, in great colours, that are hidden hidden hidden in amongst the hip huggers and giant slippers that you put both feet into.
Anyway. The one problem with Damart underwear (I still recommend it as the warmest thermals you can buy) is that you cannot, under any circumstances, tumble dry it. And, as is the way when you’re busy, the odd vest does sneak in and then it shrinks. So I had a lot of Damart vests that were really small. When I was pregnant they barely covered my breasts, let alone my bump as well.
At the bottom of the drawer, recently, I rediscovered my Uniqlo Heattech t-shirts. Now, they are not super warm. Don’t go putting them on expecting to be able to step out on a freezing day and not feel the cold. But they are a really useful warm, extra layer. The t-shirts come in three styles: crew, polo or scoop. But you can also get leggings, tights, socks, leg warmers, SHORTS. I went into the Oxford Street store on Friday and stocked up with socks, more t-shirts, nearly bought leg warmers but didn’t (wish I had) and the leggings had sold out.
The fibres are all synthetic (acrylic, polyester, viscose, elastane – the generic name for Lycra which is a brand name), but I’ve tested them RIGOROUSLY and even after a hard day’s cycling/being on the tube/rushing round London there is no stinkiness. The t-shirts are so fine and stretchy and LONG (BRILLIANT if you’re pregnant by the way). You can read all about the technology here. The t-shirts work brilliantly under jumpers (I hate jumpers right next to my skin). They are also thin enough to wear under dresses.
T-shirts cost £12.99, but until 22nd December you can buy two for £19.99. Don’t panic if you’re not near a store, you can buy everything on line.
Addendum added 17th December: the leg warmers are weird. They’re seamed, so not as stretchy as they could be. I have really slim calves and I can just about get them to knee height. So these are fine if you want to wear them a la Fame, as ankle warmers, but for anything else be warned they’re not very stretchy.