The Chelsea set: The Sloane Ranger rides again

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Does this season’s mass of bows, pearls and ruffles mean the Chelsea set is back in style? Rebecca Gonsalves reports

As the nation is again divided into haves and have-nots, it may seem in bad taste to be celebrating the style of that once-dominant breed, the Sloane Ranger.

But sometimes the most meaningful way to make sense of the fashion world is with tongue placed firmly in cheek. Many designers are proudly political animals, happy to fly their party colours with pride. Look at Anya Hindmarch, who dedicated a window display to Lincolnshire’s most famous  grocer’s daughter to coincide with the release of The Iron Lady; or Alexander McQueen, who reportedly chalked expletives on the lining of Prince Charles’s suits when the designer worked at Gieves & Hawkes. But there are many who won’t publicly align themselves with one faction or another.

So while in certain circles the preponderance of pearls, bows, twin-sets and tweed has not faltered in the 31 years since The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook was published, a sudden convergence on the catwalks of Europe is something of a surprise.

Make no mistake, modern Sloane favourites Issa, Matthew Williamson and Alice Temperley haven’t come in from the cold. But a clever spin on the signatures can be jolly good fun.

This season, designers have kindly catered to the female Sloane Ranger in three stages of her life. Boarding School Sloane sneaks out of the Bedales dorm window and into the night in a regulation duffle and  tea dress.

A career is no longer distinctly  non-U among the smart set, so  high-flying hotshots dress the City Sloane part in pussy-bow blouses and ruffle collars, accessorised with smart skirts and killer heels.

And Country Sloane is perhaps the most familiar specimen, in tweeds and tartans, twin sets and practical shoes.

Though they’re traditionally staples of the more mature matriarch’s wardrobe, young designer Emilia Wickstead, a favourite of the Sloane set, is working to pass the country casuals baton to a new generation. Giles Deacon’s  leg-of-mutton sleeves were a joy to behold, but, styled with super-sized beanies and gothic pallor, the look was at once romantic and revolutionary. At Alexander McQueen, pearls were used to stud Sarah Burton’s ecclesiastical, couture-like collection.

While ruffs, gilded cages and fulsome skirts are pure fantasy, the brand’s extremely successful commercial line is strewn with pearls – from box-clutches and high-heeled booties to pencil skirts and pie-crust-collared knits.

What has led to this retro return? Is it sociological? Perhaps. The original Sloane Ranger was identified after a period of recession, after all. An alternative source of inspiration could be the Victoria & Albert museum, which is currently hosting an exhibition charting the history of pearls and their association with royalty, wealth and glamour as far back as the days of the Roman Empire.

The Harpers & Queen-published bestseller did warn us: “Sloane Rangerhood is a state of mind that’s eternal. You might believe it’s all different now, that nobody’s like that any more. You’d be wrong.”

There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit director Peter Jackson with his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Life and Style
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

    £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Analyst / Helpdesk Support Analyst

    £16000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is the UK's leading ...

    The Jenrick Group: Finance Manager/Management Accountant

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: The Jenrick Group: Finance Manager/Manag...

    Recruitment Genius: Manufacturing Manager

    £35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a rare opportunity for ...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'