Advice from Vogue: Be Crisp, Tailored, and Simple

Jessica Cashmere SweaterIn the November issue of Vogue (with Anne Hathaway on the cover), Marcia DeSanctis tells us what she learned about style one summer spent on the Cote D’Azur with a French woman named Shirin. Some of my favorite quotes from the article:

Marcia’s observation on Shirin’s closet: “Her clothes hung in geometric simplicity. The pallette was black, tan, and white. There were trim linen blouses and A-line skirts of cotton gabardine, Yves St. Laurent and Courreges, and dresses cut at the the neck to highlight a perfect necklace.”

Marcia remembers Shirin’s style while shopping: “The spangles and crazy prints had tempted me, but something steered me away from all of that clutter. Shirin could not have known that her example had already made her mark: be crisp, tailored, and simple. Never skimp on shoes.”

Cashmere Care 101

Rita-Place-Dauphine

Nothing quite compares to cashmere when it comes to style, not even cotton is so gentle on skin: wear it with jeans, wear it with a dress or slacks and you’ll feel wonderful – of course you’ll look fabulous! But any garment so versatile and comfortable requires a minimum of care. Whether it’s new shoes, a new cut or a twinset, special items deserve special attention. My customers want the best return on their investment, and to that end I’ve always provided instructions: with each sweater comes a note outlining proper care – how to wash it, how to store it, etc. But we all live such busy lives! Kids are off to college, dogs need vaccines and houses demand renovation! Cards get lost (where’s a set of instructions when you need it!), so I thought to publish my instructions here. A blog ensures they’re easy to access; it ensures your sweaters –thank heavens they’re timeless!– will keep for years.

The instructions that follow are simple, straightforward. Taken as a whole, they amount to just a little TLC.

After wearing three or four times:

  • Hand wash frequently. Avoid heavy soiling.
  • For best results, soak for five minutes in cool water with baby shampoo. (We recommend Johnson’s Baby Shampoo with Lavender Scent.)
  • Agitate gently when washing.
  • Rinse thoroughly in cool water until the water runs clean.
  • Squeeze gently to remove excess water. But don’t twist or wring out your sweater.
  • Block carefully into shape. Do not twist or ring the fabric.
  • Dry flat. Avoid direct heat or sunshine.

A note about pilling: A few small balls of fiber may form at the surface of your sweater after wearing the first few times. These balls, or “pills,” are caused by loose fiber tangling during wear. Pills can easily be removed by hand.

A note about moths: they love cashmere! We suggest that you keep your sweater in a storage bag to protect it.

Finally, proper care will ensure your sweater lasts for years! I’ve even found my sweaters’ softness to improve following the instructions above. I know! It’s hard to believe! But you’ll find your sweater’s quality gets better and better.

Notes on Starting a Business: Isle of Skye Cashmere

RitaNote to Reader: Customers often ask how I got started and I thought to respond in greater detail with my blog. Below is the overview of a conversation I recently had with our chief blogger.

Feel free to ask any questions you may have!

Question:

Why did you start Isle of Skye Cashmere?

Response:

We had just moved back to the States after spending years in South America. Venezuela –our home away from home– was warm enough to make sweaters unnecessary, so I needed to update my winter wardrobe.

After shopping at high end boutiques and department stores across the country my choices were surprisingly clear – in fact I was shocked by my limited options! Cashmere came in only two kinds: loosely knit and liable to pill, or of high quality but more expensive than dinner at The French Laundry!

Why did I want cashmere – in particular, Scottish cashmere? Not only is it whisper soft and stylish, but a cashmere sweater is so gentle on skin. Allergies had always bothered me and back in the States, the fall pollen was especially taxing. Also, winter was on its way and looking over my closet left me feeling unprepared.

But I needed something I could afford, something that would last…

So just like that, Isle of Skye Cashmere was born.

I ended up buying one of those sweaters more expensive than The French Laundry –I needed something! – but I also researched its origins, trying to find its actual cost.

Pretty soon I’d convinced myself to start my own business – never mind I hadn’t worked in business for over 10 years!

High quality, affordable cashmere – my wardrobe needed it! – but more importantly, I thought what I wanted was representative: maybe other women had spent days shopping at the best stores, frustrated. Maybe they even needed it due to sensitive skin, like me.

I contacted a mill in Scotland (the research I mentioned above), my husband helped with a website, and just a week after receiving my first shipment from Scotland, my first order came in: a twin set in periwinkle blue.

I was surprised, even thrilled.

Things were slow at first (I stored inventory in a room next to my home office.) But one order led to the next and then… Real Simple Magazine called! But that’s a story for another time.

A few years later I opened my first store, surprising everyone – most of all myself.

Looking back, you could almost say I found my way into the business the way people say you find your way into anything that makes good sense! What I had was one really good idea. But I learned that when you’re starting a business, good ideas are the key to sustainable growth and long-term success!

Tips from our Resident Stylist: The Cashmere V-Neck Cardigan

Caroline V-Neck Cashmere Cardigan - Kelp
Caroline V-Neck Cashmere Cardigan in Kelp by Isle of Skye Cashmere, Custom Skirt by Sue Kim for Isle of Skye Cashmere, Only Hearts top, Maison Boinet belt, Cleo Pumps by LK Bennett, Necklace by Ann Lightfoot

Cooler weather is rapidly approaching. Our days are still pretty warm, but we are starting to reach for our sweaters for an added layer of warmth in the evenings. A simple, but classic Cashmere V-neck Cardigan is a great item to have this time of year and a perfect staple to any wardrobe! I especially love it in a dark, neutral color like black, navy or the wonderful green in the photo. This versatile cardigan can be worn casually with jeans and a printed top. The neckline is perfect over a beautifully tailored collared shirt or it can add the finishing touch to a simple shift dress worn with a great pair of pumps. We have some beautiful LK Bennett patent leather pumps in our store right now! While a v-neck cardigan is the perfect accent to almost any look, it can also be the foundation of the outfit. Whether worn with a skirt, pants or over a dress, just button the middle 2 or 3 buttons and add a belt as shown. This really transforms a timeless piece into something unique!

Ashley at Isle of Skye Cashmere

Caroline Cashmere V-Neck Cardigan
Caroline V-Neck Cardigan in Black by Isle of Skye Cashmere, Custom Shirt made for Isle of Skye Cashmere, DL1961 Jeans, Sabira Pumps by LK Bennett

Christmas shopping made simple: The Statement Cashmere Cardigan.

Callie Cashmere SweaterSend your husband, partner, or significant other to Isle of Skye Cashmere with your list for Santa. You may be in for a very Merry Christmas!

Isle of Skye Cashmere
7006 Center Street
Cincinnati OH 45243
513-271-2589

We are open until 8pm on Thursday night, December 16.

Hope to see you before Christmas!

Rita Jones
Isle of Skye Cashmere

On the First Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

Fiona Cashmere Cardigan

Thursday Night (December 9) is Men’s shopping night at Isle of Skye Cashmere. We’re open until 9pm.

Send your husband, partner, or significant other to Isle of Skye Cashmere with your list for Santa. You may be in for a very Merry Christmas!

Reminder…this week 20% of everything you purchase in our store goes to Every Child Succeeds!

Rita Jones
Isle of Skye Cashmere
Store Phone: 513-271-2589

Chic en Seine

Chic en SeineSome of our favorite pictures of classic style come from an editorial feature in the September 2007 issue of Vogue (French edition) called Chic en Seine.  The model is Raquel Zimmermann, shot by Terry Richardson. If you have strolled across these bridges in Paris, the  locations and simple chic are instantly recognizable. We love the classic French style – the great blazer, the tailored shirt, the white jeans. Of course, the accessories (sunglasses, belt, and bag) complete the look.

We were reminded of this classic Vogue feature when a few of our favorite bloggers recently commented on it. You can see more pictures from Chic en Seine over at This is Glamorous.

Habitually Chic reflects on these photos and the French concept of La Rentree, which is the return to normal life in September after an August vacation.  And, we totally agree with her thoughts about white jeans this time of year:

“I also love the outfits which are great look for transitioning into autumn.  I know the old fashion rules dictate that you can’t wear white after Labor Day but I think this rule is meant to be broken.  I am actually wearing white jeans today which can be worn for a few more days or weeks depending on the weather.  I think they look great with a blue shirt and navy blazer or an oatmeal colored cashmere sweater.”

Cashmere Princess
Fashion Apprentice – Isle of Skye Cashmere

Its been a while since we’ve talked…

Cashmere PrincessI haven’t updated our blog in a while, and there is a lot going at Isle of Skye Cashmere to get ready for the fall. As usual, the Isle of Skye Cashmere store in Cincinnati has been closed during July and August. We’re getting ready to open up again for the season next Wednesday, September 1.  We will be open on Wednesday through Saturday, with store hours from 10am to 5pm.

You know from our website that we specialize in great cashmere sweaters from Scotland. But if you haven’t been to our store, then you don’t know about the other great clothes we have. Rita has built Isle of Skye Cashmere around her own ideas about style; I’ll be writing more about what I’ve learned from her in future blog posts. But, in the meantime, I thought I would share this quote from noted French fashion designer Roland Mouret. It summarizes perfectly the Parisian sensibility about fashion that is at the core of Isle of Skye Cashmere:

When putting a wardrobe together, if your budget is limited, the most important thing is having the discipline to invest in one or two beautiful pieces and mixing these with classic pieces like the cashmere sweater, the great jean, the perfect crisp white shirt. Plan your long term wardrobe. Only buy pieces that you can’t live without; don’t be tempted by disposable trends.

If you want to learn more about our point of view regarding style, then watch this blog. I’ll be updating it regularly over the next few months.

Cashmere Princess
Fashion Intern at Isle of Skye Cashmere

Cashmere Sweater Care

Cashmere Sweater CAreCashmere is one of the finest natural fibers in the world. It is combed from the fine undercoat of Mongolian goats. Knitwear from this precious fiber is luxurious to wear but requires a little more care and attention.

After you wear your sweater for the first few times, you may find a few small balls of fiber forming on the surface. These small balls or “pills” are caused by some of the loose fiber tangling together as areas of your garment are rubbed during wear. Pills can easily be removed by hand.

You will find that that as you wash your cashmere and remove the pills, it will soften to the touch. Cashmere will improve with age if cared for properly.

We also recommend that you hand wash your cashmere sweater after you have worn it three or four times. We find that this helps reduce pilling over the long term.

Washing instructions:

  • Hand wash frequently. Avoid heavy soiling.
  • For best results, soak for five minutes in cool water with baby shampoo. We recommend Johnson’s Baby Shampoo with Lavender Scent.
  • Agitate gently when washing.
  • Rinse thoroughly in cool water until the water runs clean.
  • Squeeze gently to remove excess water. But don’t twist or wring out your sweater.
  • Block carefully into shape. Do not twist or ring the fabric.
  • Dry flat. Avoid direct heat or sunshine.

Moths love cashmere! We suggest that you store your sweater in a storage bag to protect it when you are not wearing it.