|Clearly nicked off the M&S website and I can’t get a better picture but here’s the cowl neck which is £99.
My penchant for cowl necks probably dates back to one of my primary school teachers, Miss Evans. She used to wear angora cowl necks (they had a high fluff factor) and she used to read us stories on sleepy afternoons. Some of us used to sit behind her, perched up high, and comb her hair.
She was a particularly benign and gentle teacher. But I don’t remember a single other thing about her other than these lovely dozy afternoons and her jumpers and hair (flicky, blonde).
Now that I’m fully a grown up, and not scared of womanly things (although I still have problems with writing words like ‘womanly things’) I can embrace the wonderfulness of a cowl neck. It’s a big, blousy jumper you can play with, hide behind, pull up the neck on if you’re cold. And for the last three years, I’ve searched, not extensively, but enthusiastically, for a cashmere cowl neck in some wonderful jewel colour.
The other day, when I was already late, I was in the corner entrance of the M&S in London’s Marble Arch. Possibly one of the busiest shop entrances in the world. And some lazy shopper had not put back a cardigan, a long cardigan the sort that would be part comfort blanket, part apparel. A cardigan which I happened to touch and which immediately told me this was no ordinary cardigan.
This wasn’t even an M&S cardigan.
|This was the cardigan. Of course it looks like nothing here, but it is snuggly and has pockets and is warm and you’ll live in it this winter. It costs £129. Gasp.
It was something better.
It was 100% cashmere with a price tag to match and the label said M&S Woman. A title I found a bit nauseating but I ignored this. So I went in search of the rest of the M&S Woman stuff and found it tucked away opposite the Per Una collection (not my favourite bit). There was so much cashmere. Cowl necks, short cardigans, long cardigan, ribbed cardigans, round necks, twinset cardigans, sweatshirt and hooded jumpers. Cashmere cashmere cashmere. In blacks and navys but also COLOURS, including pinks and purples and greens.
I’m going to cut a very long story short. A story which sees an assistant called Maree spend an hour with me (not then, but later as I had to go back) watching me whilst I tried on every colour of every jumper. Watching me in a helpful way, not in a security kinda way. I learned about every place she’d ever lived so it was a reciprocal arrangement.
It involves my friend Karen, a professional personal shopper, altering her plans to come and meet me to watch me trying on lots of knitwear in various colours. It, further, involved a quasi 3hr stay in the M&S cafe with Karen whilst I deliberated over what to buy, in what colour and gave myself my own advice: about how you should always buy something when you see it, because when you need it, you can never find anything you like to wear. (We did also talk about other things. I’m not that self absorbed.)
So. I bought some cashmere. I can’t tell you how much as people I know in real life read this. And if my mother is reading this, I DIDN’T buy any cashmere.
Anyway, what you need to know is this: this is a good collection with some lovely pieces. But in the way of the world, by the time it’s cold enough for you to be thinking “I need a cashmere jumper” they will have sold out and swimsuits will be on sale. So if you need cashmere, buy it now. The cowl necks are gorgeous, so much better on than off. And cashmere is so warm, you can delay putting the heating on.
I’m sweating as I write this because I feel so guilty, although it could of course be the heat retaining properties of 100% cashmere.