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The best knitwear to buy now, whether you're in your 30s or your 60s

Samsoe Samsoe's cashmere jumper
Samsoe Samsoe's cashmere jumper

Two generations, one problem solved. In this regular column, fashion editor Charlie and her mum Geri share their shopping tips from two different points of view: this week, knitwear that will last all winter...

Charlie Gowans-Eglinton, 31

In the past, I have always thought of knitwear as a basic, a foil for the more exciting pieces in my wardrobe. I’ve stuck to black, navy and grey jumpers, assuming that neutrals would get the most mileage in my wardrobe. As a result, my knitwear drawer is full of useful, but not particularly exciting, pieces that keep out the cold on mizzly winter mornings, but don’t particularly cheer them up.

Mum has been put off buying cashmere by the miserly thin versions she found on a recent window-shopping trip, but some high street shops (I can’t justify designer knits as I’m hard on my clothes, as are moths) do cashmere very well, and I love the softness of it – I don’t tolerate any itch or scratch. I have a cashmere hoodie from M&S that is the ultimate comfort buy – perfect for plane journeys and lazy weekends – and Gap does very good cashmere rollnecks. For finer merino wool, I love Uniqlo.

My knitwear eureka moment (who knew such a thing existed) came in the form of this cornflower blue cashmere mock-neck jumper from J. Crew. I tried it first with burgundy trousers, and loved the contrast. Then I realised how well it went with camel. And khaki. And black.

Cashmere jumper, £170, J.Crew

But its real superpower is the ability to help with “winter face”: the dry skin and eye bags that come with switching the heating on and not seeing enough daylight. Black is draining: a bright colour is life-giving.

Blue might not be for you (I’m blonde and grey-eyed), but once you’re looking for bright knits, you’ll see them everywhere – it seems I’ve been walking straight past them with my colour-blinkers on. My J. Crew comes in eight colours. And Scandinavian label Samsoe Samsoe has a really chunky, beautiful quality cashmere turtleneck in a very grown-up speckled pink (£440, samsoe.com). Not cheap – but certainly cheaper than a week in the sun. 

Geri Gowans, 62

I know that it’s always been the case that fashion reinvents every seven years or so, but it’s amazing in 2019 to see coat styles from the Sixties; dresses, trousers, and jeans from the Seventies and Eighties; and jumpers spun entirely from recycled waste that could only be from now.

I’ve been on the hunt for a new favourite jumper. There’s a plethora of knitwear this season of very mixed quality, and a whole range of styles. I started with the twinsets, turtle necks and V-necks. I’ve caressed a hundred cashmeres that felt thin and even a bit rough this year. I’ve unfolded and refolded shelves of jumpers that have great style, but no natural fibres. Meanwhile, I’ve found myself continually drawn to the knit dresses draped seductively on racks.

I’ve always adored knit dresses and knit suits, and, when I was very thin, knit flares with matching polo necks. I had a fantastic gunmetal grey midi knit that, for more years than I can count, absolutely sang when I added big silver jewellery and suede boots. And now they are back!

I rejected polyesters, because I want it to breathe and not add to the planet’s landfill. It has to be snug, not stifling, so it just has to be wool – and wool with enough weight in it that it doesn’t sag. Then, when I have worn it to death, I can compost it.

Jaeger has a beautifully cut, red knit dress that is 100 per cent wool. It has a crew neck and fitted sleeves that flute at the wrist, with a subtle black stripe. At £135, it’s an investment and I can buy the navy one in the January sales.

A knitted dress will work with most jackets, or layered under a long cardigan. It’s a blank canvas for the chunky jewellery and soft scarves that have been waiting since last winter – bliss!

So now I’m impatient for a cold, frosty morning.