The Style Police: Find it on the mean streets

If your bank account doesn't stretch to this season's luxury fabrics, never fear: the high-street retailers are on the case. And it doesn't matter if your cashmere isn't really 'shmere', no one will know the difference, promises James Sherwood

AS MARY QUANT once said, "Having money is rather like being a blonde. It is more fun but not vital." If this season's fashion means anything to you, money seems absolutely vital. Every season, we look for the message behind the clothes. The message is luxury. It says three- ply cashmere, alpaca, finest merino wool and, for those of us without an account at Coutts & Co, major credit-card fraud.

In a week of Diana conspiracy theories - "The nation yawns" - Style Police would like to sow the seeds of a new fashion conspiracy. We all know the British high street rocks, it can "interpret" catwalk messages and have near-perfect facsimiles of key silhouettes on its rails before the major design houses have even delivered their first shipment of new season stock. It has even offered the old baksheesh to designers Hussein Chalayan, Ben de Lisi, Pearce Fionda, Betty Jackson, Clements Ribeiro and Sherald Lamden to design capsule collections for M&S, Dotty P's and Top Shop.

Why else would the designers pick on luxury as a buzzword for Autumn/Winter 98 but put two fingers up to the high street? The high street's lethal weapon is fashion for nada. So the design houses produce the classic cashmere twin-set in finest cashmere and subliminally say, "Copy that for pounds 12.99."

Now here's the dish. The great British high street knows the teenage market couldn't care less whether a jumper is produced from cashmere or petroleum by-products as long as the finished article feels fabulous. Nobody's suggesting synthetics can compare to a bit of "shmere". But money talks. pounds 22.99 compared to pounds 150 for a woolly sweater sounds good in any language.

So prepare yourself for the Style Police guide to doing the season high street-style. First stop is French Connection, and you've got to give it up for these guys. The most important piece to freshen up your wardrobe is the knife-pleated skirt; the kind you'd imagine a Fifties bobby-soxer wearing with a cardie round the shoulders and a ponytail. It has grown up, sits bang on the knee or slightly below, and French Connection have a killer knife-pleat skirt in charcoal grey for pounds 80. You'll find this skirt's shape all over the high street. FC's version is fabulous because they haven't skimped on the fabric. There is plenty of flow in those pleats. Style Police absolutely insists you find the Wallis black knife- pleated skirt for pounds 70. It whirls like a dervish and looks like Marc Jacobs.

You've already got a wardrobe full of pencil skirts so maybe the maxi is more important. Style Police had them covered a couple of weeks ago but did find the classic black, ankle-length skirt with a back split that stops well short of the knicker line from Austin Reed for pounds 119. The other absolute beauty is a Ben de Lisi for Debenhams, navy, viscose-wrap maxi for pounds 80. There's also an asymmetric tunic top to match for pounds 60 and bear in mind the combined price wouldn't buy you a button at Donna Karen mainline.

With the lean, languid shapes for this season you're going to need a charcoal grey overcoat that stops in symmetry with either the knife-pleat skirt or the maxi. For on-the-knee you need to forget label snobbery and get yourself down to Benetton for their charcoal single-breasted at pounds 99.

For an overcoat that hugs you like a six-foot lover, it has to be Jil Sander's alpaca for pounds 3,500. Only kidding. French Connection do the best salt-and-pepper tweed maxi overcoat for pounds 190. Your pinstripe slouch pants are at M&S, your knitted tanks are at Warehouse, and there's only one high-street store for flatties and that's Ravel (from pounds 45). Any questions?

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Extras
indybest
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
News
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

    Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Support, Help desk)

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

    Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, Brokerage)

    £30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

    UNIX Application Support Analyst- Support, UNIX, London

    £45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape