"One of the things I've always liked about clothing is the potential for a positive connection to someone else - either the designer, the seamstress, a fellow admirer, or the original owner, etc." - Editor

I remember that comment made by editor on a post last year because it simply and elegantly captures how I feel about certain purchases - you're not just buying things to clothe yourself in, it's an appreciation of something personal to you.

I've long felt that way about Margaret Howell's clothes. I don't need any of the things she's designing but ever since I came across her designs and her design philosophy, I've felt the desire to buy something of hers when the magic item comes along. A bit like rooting for your favourite sports team, to put it clumsily. When I was at the V&A last year, I took pleasure in checking out the staff uniforms, which she designed.

I spotted the magic item a couple months ago, and have been stalking it since. It did go on sale, but it's sold out in my size online.

However, after a helpful, responsive email exchange with the shop in London, I found that my size was in stock and they would happily ship it to me from the shop - which is remarkably helpful - and they even provided me with the measurements.

So, I committed to it. Certainly I don't need another striped shirt, but the curved collar, the shirttail hem, the 3/4 sleeves, and oh yes, the fact that it's by Margaret Howell, proved powerfully persuasive.




So there you have it - my one sale purchase of the season (I returned the trousers that didn't fit). It feels like a positive end to a year of shopping.

P.S: I've posted this quote by Margaret Howell before, but I don't see why it shouldn't be repeated -

"I am a hands-on designer and make is integral to my philosophy. It's crucial how a piece of clothing feels when worn. I've always wanted clothes to be the way I drew them - relaxed, lived in, a natural look.

I am inspired by authencity in nature, people and places; the same quality I look for in fabrics whether Harris tweed or Irish linen....I enjoy pulling these threads of British quality, tradition and skill together in clothes that are meant to be worn in the real world, where good design is about living with thoughtful style."

Picture from margaret howell


Jenny said…
I know exactly how you feel! It is a beautiful shirt:)
Kate said…
Beautiful shirt! Congratulations - I know exactly what you mean. I've long admired Howell's style and philosophy and I'd love to own a little part of that.
lpindelune said…
I'm very fond of Margaret Howell, and glad that you have located something precious to you. I have had my eye on one of her frocks for quite some time, which might very well qualify for 'dream list' status - but I am somewhat concerned about sizing, especially for dresses. And those items which I love so rarely hit the sales!

I also admire her philosophy.
One good trick for MA shopping - seek out her garments via lagarconne or such rather than her own site, I think the styling and descriptions are a little better there.
lapindeloony said…
*MH shopping* oops.
Maja H said…
"A bit like rooting for your favourite sports team" - I love that comparison! It definitely feels a bit like it, when the purchase doesn't really make sense but you still feel like you need to own a piece of a favorite designer. The heart wants what the heart wants :)
Anonymous said…
Have I ever told you how much I love MH??!!?? The inside seams of the shirts (MH, not the MHL pieces necessarily) are worthy of a 15-minute tribute, which I readily launch into if anyone patient is around. And I am so grateful for her collars too. I own 2 tops (one in duplicate on reserve, so technically 3), 1 skirt and a dress. Her disciplined yet feminine tops are the perfect balance to my more sweet items (linen pinafore). Loooove her. And her personal style, oh wonderful!
Now her expansion and increasing availability put the sting back into the price tags for me though since before I felt it was a matter of limited production at least. Oh, but it's usually made in Italy or the UK. Love.

As for your opening quote (oh my), I absolutely still feel that way. And when I really love the item (the requirement for purchase), it is easy to become a weeeee bit infatuated with the designer. And I always feel gratitude.
Anonymous said…
Ooops, just remembered I have a grey mac from her too. Love it. Thought I was a trench girl, but no, definitely it's a mac for me.
Your top is beautiful - I've admired it many times. ;)
Anonymous said…
Congrats on your MA purchase! Great sale price and definitely worth the wait:)

I find their SAs very helpful and patient when I was asking them about S/S2012.

Cant wait for it to debut!
What good customer service! Money well spent for an overall pleasant experience.
Lindsay K said…
You're top is beautiful. I love the sage color-I find it really calming.

I do like Margaret Howell's design philosophy. A designer's inspirations and philosophies are always endearing to me.
petrichore said…
Thanks for exposing me to a new designer! I'll have to check her out more.....
minima/maxima, a blog about minimalist style
lin said…
Jenny: I hope it works on shopping is so laden with pitfalls.

Kate: I felt like I was contradicting myself because I admire her non-consumerist business ethos and yet I'm paying homage by shopping, haha.

lapindelune: I loved one of her dresses last fall as well! Actually I would love to own one of her tux jackets...but no way I will buy one without trying it on. Especially since it's not something I expect to wear often.

I have been checking out La Garconne's selection as well - MH needs to post better picts of the items worn. But the MH website has measurements of the items for some pieces, so that's a boon.

editor: I remember your paintings of a particular grey blouse from MH :) I will gladly hear that tribute. I can't wait for the shirt to arrive so that I can launch into a soliloquy of my own.

As for her prices, I'm trying to look at from a point of view that her business appears to support British cottage industry, so if growth is what it takes, then I'm willing to accept it. It would be TOO depressing if the quality of her clothing is somehow affected (though I have no basis to compare since it's only recently I got to see her clothes in person).

I was very in love with a hooded wool trench she did for the fall season - but it has no place in my life. I also covet her furniture.

Pret a Porter P: I was quite surprised - and it was all very promptly done. I always see "email us" as some kind of black hole for queries haha.

Lindsay K: I love the colour as well - it looks greenish-grey in some picts, and a little bluish-grey in others - but either way I'll love it.

petrichore: I can only hope I won't cause serious damage to your wallet :)
positdesign said…
I completely understand the sports team analogy! The comparison I made to my boyfriend just yesterday was "Of course I would never actually buy a $4,000 item of clothing--but it's sort of how you feel about Maseratis."
lin said…
positdesign: Precisely! One is not better than the other.
indigo16 said…
I have lusted after her clothes for a long time, she lives very close to me and I was friends with her au pair many years ago, who regaled me with stories of her amazing interior design skills.
I love the weight of her clothes, the way the hang. Margaret Howell’s sister once had a knitwear company that produced wonderful stripy jumpers, sadly no longer, which makes me sad, since I did not treasure what I bought from her.
lin said…
indigo16: Wow. I actually first heard of her because I googled a chair and found out she has a collab of some kind with Ercol. I wish there are more profiles about her and her business out there, I didn't know she has sis with her own knitwear company.
Anonymous said…
The shirt is beautiful. I love Margaret Howell's designs and her philosophy. I hope to own one of her pieces too, someday! Everything she designs is a classic to me.
lin said…
J - I agree, I looked up her previous collections and I feel like they won't date.

Popular Posts