Who could blame you for wanting to wear a blanket today? It is, after all, Boxing day. That many of us have been wearing blankets, duvets and pyjamas for most of the year is a moot point but let’s gloss over this fact for a minute, because nearly a third lockdown in, I like to think we are some way to getting our home wardrobes sussed. Namely, how to seduce/host an important work meeting/jump on a parent-teacher Zoom, with some degree of panache from the comfort of your very own sofa.
Eighteen months ago, when lifestyle press announced that interiors were the new fashion, I’m not sure anyone imagined that we would actually take to wearing our blankets. But one Wuhan wet market later and here we are. The appeal of a blanket is not difficult to pinpoint – not since a onesie has an item so blatantly riffed on our desire to stay indoors; flickering fire, palms around a warming cup of vegan cocoa.
And while there were several prescient fashion labels (Michael Kors, Chloé) which touted checked, fringed blanket-y shawls for AW20 and gaucho molls have been tackling this look for years, what interests me most are the hybrid versions. The DIY styles if you like, the ones that I’ve taken to wearing and not only because I was also without heating and hot water for the best part of lockdown two.
On any given day before last spring, a Mourne Textiles or Catarina Riccabona throw would have been found on my bed. The lipstick in a room so to speak, it is the finishing touch which elevates everything else, except now they are draped around my shoulders. There is something effortlessly hygge-ish and beguiling about wearing one.
Lucinda Chambers, fellow blanketeer, founder of Collagerie and former British Vogue fashion director of 25 years, recently launched throws for her label, Colville. She also concludes they are a no brainer. “They are so multi-tasking, throw one over yourself, sofa/bed/car/a pet. There is little it doesn’t work with and they become friends very quickly.” Chambers admits to wearing blankets as skirts which she photographed for Colville or doubled up as a shawl; “I cycle in them, they feel protective and very chic too.” Blankets, she thinks are a wonderful segue from fashion to homes.
The figures on the high street speak for themselves: sales of wool throws are up by 44 per cent at John Lewis and blankets 53 per cent up at Selfridges. In many cultures they are given as gifts, and become heirlooms, interwoven threads that become greater than the sum of their parts and handed down through generations.
“They are,” reflects, Rebecca Kramer, founder of Aessai, “symbols of untold comfort and warmth, much like giving a hug. From the moment we are born, we are wrapped in a blanket.”
The #Hermesblanketchallenge back in April conjured strapless evening dresses, but at £1,200 a pop for the Avalon with its distinctive blanket stitching, it is clearly not for everyone. What many of you may not know is that the Avalon is produced by the wool brand Johnstons of Elgin, and for a quarter of that price, stealth knitwear label &Daughter has manufactured, with the very same Scottish mill, a smaller blanket-wrap version with arm holes.
Wrap jacket, £165, Aessai; Mohair throw, £126, The Wool Company; Colour block blanket, £350, Victoria Beckha; Yellow blanket, £195, Toast; Wool throw with marine blue detail, £580, Maria Sigma at The Garnered; Grey blanket, £89, Heating & Plumbing London at Wolf & Badger
But that very cosiness which makes blankets so appealing can also make them challenging to pull off. Smarter shapes help, by which I don’t mean a trouser suit or an evening gown which highlights its potential evacuee effect. Rather, clothes with a bit of snap.
Could the blanket be 2021’s answer to the hoodie of the early noughties? The blanket in its many iterations only serves to fuel the appetite for comfortable, multi-purpose clothing which transcends more traditional smart casual tropes. Will the blankirt be joining coatigans or shackets in the fashion vernacular?
Polka-dot wool-blend blanket, £435, Colville at Matches Fashion
“Nothing is off limits,” says Chambers. “I have a logo-ed Louis Vuitton one which is a favourite that I’ve had for 20 years. In a way, it’s very un-me but I love it as much as the one my husband gave me from a market in South America. Those are two ends of the spectrum and I’ve collected everything in between.”
At Matchesfashion.com, Chelsea Power, senior buyer, has seen customers gravitate toward bright colours and rainbow patterns. Similar in fact to those that Victoria Beckham launched recently for her new homewares collection yet more affordable than the highly covetable yet spenny offering at The Elder Statesman.
One thing is certain though, no matter how many liebeskuchen you scoff this week, one size really will fit all.