Real Clothes: Ripping yarns

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Forget sloppy Joes and twin-sets with "pretty" beaded details this season - even the moths won't want to nibble on them. Knitwear for autumn/winter '99 is all about making a statement. Thick and chunky (think hand-knitted) is the dictum from the catwalk for cardigans and jumpers, but also fitted in shape and sexy - and it's not an easy combination to pull off. Necklines have been taken to the extreme - you could lose yourself in the latest, cowlnecks, they're so enormous. And sleeves? Well they're either very very long or very very wide.

Designer Betty Jackson, whose autumn/winter '99 collection includes cashmere handknits, explains: "The key to this winter's look is to combine textures - wear a luxurious jumper with a pair of slouch trousers, or with a satin floor-length skirt. Layering knits is another option - a fine-knit top underneath a heavier cardigan."

Of course, chunky knits can make the average women look like a sack of spuds, so make sure you choose carefully. If you have a bust, a smaller fitted knit is far more flattering than a huge oversized number. Concentrate on details like fluted sleeves, funnel necks and cabling. Jigsaw has probably the best selection I've seen so far on the high street. It has repeated its fantastic Shetland-mix polo neck which was a hit last year - it's just the right length (sitting on the hips), slightly fitted and comes in orange, green, red and teal. And at pounds 56, it's a bargain.

If Shetland wool is a little too itchy and you fancy something more gentle to the touch, then angora or cashmere would be your best bet. You don't have to spend an arm and a leg for a more luxurious yarn. Benetton has produced a cashmere-mix sleeveless polo in pastel shades from pounds 59. Fenn Wright Manson has done the most wonderful angora vest (pictured) which also has a matching scarf at pounds 50 - the perfect pashmina replacement.

Photographs by TOM CORBETT

Make-up by Sharon Willmore using Cosmetics A la Carte. Hair by Gareth van Cuylenburg at Premier. Photographer assisted by Daniel. Modelled by Serena. Shot at Alphaville studios (tel: 0171 490 8889). Backdrop painted with Benetton special effects paint available from B&Q stores nationwide.

HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR KNITS - THREE DESIGNERS ADVISE

Nicole Farhi: I rarely dry-clean my jumpers, I wash them by hand using simple baby shampoo. If it's good enough for a baby, it's good enough for a jumper.

John Smedley: Follow washing instructions and treat gently. Nearly all of our garments are machine washable, designed for easy care.

Martin Kidman: To stop sweaters pilling, keep in the fridge. If you are worried about hand washing wool, use a reputable dry-cleaner.

ANNIE SAYS...

I never dry-clean my jumpers. If a jumper says it's dry-clean only and it's precious then I hand-wash it gently using Woolite, which is fabulous. A chain-store jumper that has pretensions to call itself dry-clean gets thrown in the washing machine. If a jumper says it's hand- wash only then I put it in my AEG washing machine on a wool cycle with Woolite (which can be used in an automatic, unlike lots of wool washing liquids). For a more fragrant finish I use Tocca's Laundry Delicates for hand washing.

BOBBLING

Bobbling is caused by dry friction which is why it's at its worst where the arms rub against the body of the jumper, and on the seat. There is very little you can do to avoid this, but choose a washing machine that fills with water before moving the load around - this is more gentle on delicates. Shear off bobbles with the Lint shaver, pounds 12.95, from Lakeland Ltd (tel: 015394 88100). It has a larger head than any other lint shaver and can eat more bobbles in one go.

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