For this week's Wellbeing Wednesday, we're focusing on sustainability through style and catching up with the lovely Jennie, founder of Lois Avery. Based here in the UK, Lois Avery produce beautiful Italian cashmere shawls. Working with the most renowned family-run mills in Italy, their cashmere comes from different breeds of Asiatic goats, including Capra Hircus Blythi, a breed producing one of the world's finest natural fibres. Timeless and classic, her pieces are designed to be loved and treasured for years, so it felt only natural that when it came to catching up with their founder, we talked about why it makes sense to invest in your style, and of course buy less but better!
Would I have worn it 5 years ago? Will I still wear it in 5 years’ time?”
I love fashion. This was a big influence in my decision to leave my life as a lawyer in the City of London and start my own business. In October 2016 I launched Lois Avery, a brand of Italian cashmere shawls. It was really important for me to produce a product that would add value, and would mean something. For a long time I’ve believed in “buying less but better” and I wanted Lois Avery to encompass that philosophy, but I was confused about whether this was realistic. Over time I’ve figured out what this means for me, and it is absolutely at the heart of Lois Avery.
Put simply it means that I should never buy something that I don’t really love, and feel committed to wearing for a long time. I’ve read a lot of articles by Livia Firth, whom I admire greatly, and I love her saying “Will I wear this a minimum of 30 times?” I think this is a really helpful starting point for any purchase, but I still felt confused about how to apply this to my own wardrobe.
I’ve taken this to the next level with two simple questions: “Would I have worn it 5 years ago? Will I still wear it in 5 years’ time?” For me, this perfectly solves the dilemma and definitely ticks the “30 wears” box. I now consider my wardrobe a collection rather than a cupboard of stuff I’ve bought, and this mentality influences my purchases, as I’m pretty protective of what I add to that collection.
Quality is key to making this philosophy work. It doesn’t mean that I can never buy on the High Street (I do), but rather it means that I must make sure that the quality is there, that it fits and flatters, and is not a “one season wonder” that I will regret at a later date.
Personal style, taste, and budget will differ for us all. It certainly helps that my style is very classic and I steer away from purchases that are “trendy” or “popular”. My inspiration is a mix of movie stars from the 1950s, like Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn, and icons from the 1990s like Christie Turlington and Carloyn Bessette-Kennedy.
This has left me with a collection of clothes that includes an eclectic mix of vintage, High Street, independent and designer pieces, emerging brands, and charity shop finds. My Giorgio Armani dress, Louis Vuitton bag, and Missoni dress sit next to H & M, Boden, J Crew, as well as vintage pieces from my Grandmother. My wardrobe is a much loved mix of clothes and accessories that I will still wear in 5 years’ time, including my Lois Avery cashmere shawls, of course.
Jennie is the founder of Lois Avery, a cashmere brand based in the UK who offer beautifully woven cashmere shawls in a range of styles and colours.Visit the Lois Avery website to shop the collection online, or head over to their Instagram page for more inspiration, styling ideas and cashmere care advice.