As good as some of the high-street fashion chains are, there are times when you might regret not putting slightly more effort into your shopping. Turning up at a party and discovering two other women in the same Zara/H&M/Cos dress as you is one of them. Literally, common.
Granted, genuinely posh people don’t use the word ‘common’. Or the word ‘posh’ for that matter. Also, there are many kinds of posh, from the Made in Chelsea lot who dress like second-tier Kardashians, to the tight or severely strapped-for-cash posh, who look as though they’ve dressed from a jumble sale.
The stylish posh still wear variations on the classic Four Weddings and a Funeral formula – smart tailoring from small, independent businesses as opposed to loud international labels. For everything else, it’s tea dresses that may or may not be vintage, velvet shoes or interestingly sourced trainers, unconventional layering, and lots of heritage fabrics like tweed, linen and fabulous-quality silk that belong to your very posh granny.
Apart from outerwear like a Barbour, none of it should be instantly identifiable – one doesn’t need screaming monograms when one has a family crest. This is about under-the-radar labels that use top-notch materials, often recycled (extra posh brownie points), make in small batches, sometimes specialise in just one or two areas (very old-school) and offer value for money. The posh don’t like waste.
Here’s a round-up of the best.
The brainchild of former fashion editor Deborah Bee, who marries wonderful designs with recyclable natural yarns. ‘Currently nine out of 10 garments end up in landfill, however diligently we try to recycle them,’ says Bee. Synthetics tend not to biodegrade. Simple as that.
A new ethically minded label with an excellent line in vintage-inspired sneakers you won’t see on everyone else. Good enough to wear anywhere.
Seasonless, durable, design-led, consciously sourced denim and recycled or organic cottons – in trousers, jumpsuits and dresses sans naff monograms. Launched in 2020, the label is part of the Jeans Redesign project, an initiative under the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Launched in London during the pandemic by Chinese-born Yue Jiang, this is an antidote to excess. She previously worked as a buyer in Paris, then at JW Anderson, and was sickened by the waste in the industry. ‘Often brands over-order fabrics and end up shredding them,’ she says. Má + Lin specialises in delightfully plain blouses, tops and shorts made from ethically sourced linen at honest prices.
Effective skincare using natural ingredients, accessibly priced. It’s all about cultivating skin so good that it doesn’t need make-up. Particularly great: the Whipped Butter Polish and Bioluronic Buzz hydrating gel.
Founded by former interior architect Natalie Lake, this label is 20 years old and still selling stylish town-to-country classics, designed with longevity in mind.
Clutches and totes, weekend bags and phone cases – here, all are made with meticulous weaving techniques and durable leather and straw. Working directly with artisans in Bali, Brit Lorna Watson combines the flair and nous acquired through 25 years working in luxury goods to produce eye-catching accessories for a fraction of the prices of big labels. For those who scorn logos.
A family-run set-up that makes understated but decorative jewellery from recycled gold and silver. Excellent for all those christening presents, too.
Lisa wears: Linen blouse, £140, Má + Lin; Jeans, £105, Seventy + Mochi; Silver earrings, £213, Bevza; Bubble bag, £780, Tissa Fontaneda; Suede sandals, £169, Calla; Hair and make-up by Elizabeth Hsieh Using Suqqu and Oribe%n