Heroes aren’t always rugged, you know. The hardest-working piece in my wardrobe isn’t a structured blazer, or a pair of jeans, but a silk-and-lace camisole. Just a slip of a thing, but it does some serious heavy lifting, outfit-wise. A lace camisole holds everything together, and my wardrobe couldn’t function without one.
I say one, I mean three. OK, maybe four. There’s this toffee-coloured one, which was from Rosie for Autograph at M&S, which always does a great cami, but I’ve got them in navy, black and cream. And yes, they are all essential. The right one can bring instant relief from a wardrobe crisis. It is a salve when the sweater you want to wear ends at an awkward point on the waistband of your trousers or skirt: instead of tugging at your top all day, you slip the camisole underneath and it elegantly fills the gap. Ditto when you need a defensive layer against your office air conditioning, one that is a bit more chic than the cardigan on the back of your chair.
I’m super-fussy about what makes a good camisole. Cheap is a false economy: bits of it will show, so to be useful it needs to be a thing of beauty rather than a utilitarian make-do. The fabric needs to be slippery smooth and just loose enough to neither cling nor bulk up. Straps should be unadorned, spaghetti-style (not lace) and adjustable so that the hem and neckline can be moved up and down as needed. Lace on the hemline is nice if it’s good quality, but it should be properly finished, not the scrappy kind that has threads hanging off it after two washes. (Gifting tip: my black one was an inspired Christmas present from my lovely aunt. A silk camisole makes a great gift for any woman who loves clothes, being as useful as socks but so much more indulgent.)
Despite being worn all the time, mine rarely see the light of day. I love a camisole worn out and proud with tailored trousers for dinner, but for daytime I prefer them layered, most often under a blazer. In the summer months, a lace camisole provides a practical way to wear a trouser suit; anything heavier and you end up taking the jacket off after 10 minutes, which defeats the point. Your style reference here is Stella Tennant, 48-year-old supermodel and possibly the chicest woman in the world, opening the spring/summer 2019 Victoria Beckham show in an all-ivory cami-and-suit combo. An icon, wearing a wardrobe hero: that’s a win-win.
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