Style secrets of the French by Casilda Grigg
It’s years since I’ve stepped inside a branch of Jigsaw. Experience has taught me that I’m not a Jigsaw woman. I don’t look good in all those cosy knits and muted Highland colours. I look frumpy.
It is Delphine, my Chanel-booted Parisian friend, who tips me off that Jigsaw has at last woken up from its long sleep. Apparently it has produced a jacket this season that is positively oozing Paris style. ‘It is made by the same English tweed company as Chanel,’ she says. ‘C’est un look super.’
As luck would have it I’m on the number 27 bus just a few stops from Jigsaw on Kensington High Street when Delphine emails me a picture of her latest acquisition. It turns out her couture hunch is spot-on – Delphine’s jacket is made by Linton Tweeds, the very same Cumbria mill that weaves tweeds for Chanel. Given that a Chanel jacket costs £2000 plus and Jigsaw’s version is £149 this strikes me as an irresistible bargain.
Quickly I grab Cristina, the lovely Spanish sales assistant, and swoop down on a changing room with Delphine’s plum-coloured jacket in a size 10.
Here’s my verdict
1. It’s beautifully cut
2. The tweed is high quality
3. It’s properly lined (not usually Jigsaw’s forte)
4. The pockets are well placed
5. The sleeves are flatteringly narrow and just the right length
6. There’s a smart navy trim
7. The shoulders are feminine (none of that butch Eighties padding)
8. It has designer touches e.g. there’s a chain along the inside hem to give it weight
Here’s what I don’t like (and why I don’t snap it up)
1. The damson/plum colour. As I am cursed with pink cheeks it would only take one glass of wine, or one mad scramble for the bus, for me to look like a fire engine
2. The flap at the back – but that’s probably easy to fix
On someone with the right colouring it would look fantastic, though it perhaps needs what the French call un petit côté rock to really work. I don’t think Coco Chanel would approve of my rash decision to undo the jacket’s top buttons à la British barmaid – and she may well be right – but that doesn’t mean you can’t jazz it up and make it less formal.
Femme Actuelle, the French women’s magazine, has nine ideas for updating couture jackets. Some involve miniskirts and frayed white shorts, but others are achievable. I like best the eighth idea in which a couture jacket is teamed with an empire line silk blouse, skinny dark jeans and a long chain necklace.
Delphine, who is ‘busy sorting out radiators and wall paint’ after a hectic day of business meetings, is not impressed when I run this look past her. Jeans are fine, she says, but not the rest. ‘I am not into silky tops and chains,’ she sniffs. ‘All you need is a white t-shirt from Zadig.’
All the sizes are currently available from Jigsaw online (code 1020001) and I’m told by head office that’s there’s a good chance it’ll be in the sale at the end of June. Linton Tweeds sells its tweed online in all sorts of fabulous colours.