So it is with great pleasure that I bring you the second of my spotlight posts which, as you will remember are the posts where I focus in greater depth on a single brand. Today I am looking at Pure Collection. I will be honest and say that when they first got in touch with me before Christmas, I told them that I wasn’t convinced that they were the right fit for Midlifechic readers. Although I knew that they made great cashmere, I didn’t think that there was enough scope in the rest of their range for a dedicated post.
However they explained that there were changes afoot and suggested that I delay my decision until I’d seen the first of their Spring catalogues. As soon as it arrived, I could see that it is a brand that is moving in an interesting direction.
Let me give you a little bit of background before we move on to the clothes. Pure Collection is a medium sized British brand. Rather than being London based, they operate determinedly from the North of England in the pretty Yorkshire town of Harrogate. They launched in 2007 as a cashmere specialist and then expanded their range to include a wider selection of womenswear.
They have a chain of bricks and mortar stores in market town locations and you can buy an edited selection of the range from John Lewis. Until now, in my mind it was the type of brand that you see advertising in the Sunday supplements. I had looked at the website in the past and seen that there were a few strong pieces of cashmere but not much else to back it up. The designs and cuts were just not quite right.
Now however, it appears to be evolving. You will still see elements of the old style in the current collection but there are also some real hero pieces. The new catalogue with its focus on high quality simple style reminds me of Boden in the days when they were still focusing on a clearly defined customer base and delivering what they wanted.
As I researched the brand, I discovered that Pure Collection’s new direction is being overseen by Jo Hooper who was recruited last August as Product Director. She was previously director of womenswear buying at John Lewis where she introduced ranges such as Somerset by Temperley and I sense it is her touch that is starting to come through in the new collection.
I was inspired to put the range to the test, especially as there is currently 25% off their new collection (deducted at checkout). Despite the fact that it was tempting to swaddle myself in lots of cashmere, I thought I ought to see whether the range could meet the three key requirements of my wardrobe: work, weekend and evenings out.
Pure Collection – working wardrobe
This year I am trying to consolidate my working wardrobe by hingeing it around a limited number of core pieces in luxury fabrics such as leather, silk, linen and cashmere. The reason behind this is that as someone who is growing older in the visually dominant field of the creative industries, I am having to work harder to achieve standout. The ‘eccentric’ route which would be the alternative is simply not my style so I’m taking the Mies van der Rohe approach of ‘less is more’ and concentrating on the essential elements of what I wear.
As soon as I saw this leather skirt I knew it could form a key component in this capsule. Leather can be brilliant for work if you get it right. I didn’t want a very fitted leather pencil skirt because with its borderline ‘sexy’ personality, I felt it would be harder to find the right pieces to wear with it. This skirt is slightly A-line and yet as you move, it wraps itself around the form of your body to give you shape.
Whenever I wear it, I will add one single ‘fashion’ element so here, I have paired it with fishnets. I have resisted them until now, even though I had plenty of pairs in my hosiery drawer untouched since about 2004. There is a lot of debate around whether women over 40 should wear them this time which, in itself, annoys me. I think they work well as part of an otherwise simple outfit. They keep your legs warm and they are certainly much easier to adopt than the 15 denier ‘barely blacks’ that we will see coming through in the Autumn.
The top that I am wearing is also from Pure Collection and it is made from their premium jersey which has a fine, silky quality. It feels lovely to wear and the sheen makes it look more expensive than it is. The whole outfit felt great to wear for a meeting with some very serious town planners about retail development infrastructure. As I always say, the feeling that you are wearing the right clothes can make such a difference to the outcome of a day’s work.
Pure Collection for an night out
Here we have an area that I’m sure Pure Collection will be looking to expand as they develop their range: simple pieces that you can wear for a relaxed night out. Our Friday evenings are usually very dull because they are focused around the intensive karate sessions that Mr MC and the youngest attend. However last week (to my delight) the Dojo was closed and so we decided to do what normal people do and go out for dinner. This Bardot top was an easy way to dress up jeans for a relaxed look.
The folded band on the top is not stitched down but it behaved pretty well – although if I waved my arms around too enthusiastically when I was talking, it needed readjusting.
It will be great to wear on its own in Summer – at this time of year I soon added a jacket…
… which needed to be zipped up as the chilly March evening progressed!
Pure Collection relaxed weekend
I had one of the best kinds of surprises last Saturday morning when the eldest son called and asked if I could pick him up from university so that he could come home for a night. I sensed that the combination of coursework deadlines, interviews for internships, rugby training and wild nights out was taking its toll and he needed a few hours of TLC. We stopped for a catch up over coffee on the way home which meant we could take some photographs of this very lovely oversized cashmere ‘shrug.’
It’s made from gassato cashmere which is a light, open knit for Spring and it wraps around you like a soft, warm cloud.
I’m raving about this shrug. I love the shape, the warmth and the sheer luxury of it, in fact I would very much like one in navy too. It elevates a simple outfit so, for example, I can imagine wearing it with bretons or throwing it over a simple jersey dress on a summer’s evening. For work I will wear it with leather leggings, a blouse and heels. You can wash it by hand which is an important factor for me and the quality is several tiers higher than the cashmere you usually find on the high street.
We took the photo above when we stopped off at our local farm on the way home to buy cakes for tea. As regular readers will know, it is on the edge of the salt marshes and whilst we were there, we heard the ominous sound of the coastguard’s helicopter landing.
All of the mothers in our village have a particular fear. We don’t really worry about traffic or strangers, instead we worry about the tides and the mudflats – the shoreline of our village is where the cocklepicker tragedy happened in 2004. The children are drilled in the dangers of the quicksands from an early age and know that they must act counterintuitively and lie flat if they are caught. The problem last Saturday was with a teen who, despite knowing the dangers, had tried to rescue his dog and quickly found himself sinking.
The rescue effort was amazing but it took a team of more than 20 coastguards over two hours to rescue him. If he hadn’t had his mobile phone with him it would have been a tragedy and the sense of near disaster has made everyone shudder all week.
However, moving back to Pure Collection, one thing I didn’t expect to find in their collection was a range of accessories. They do some really pretty pieces of inexpensive costume jewellery. This set of crystal bracelets comes in different colours. It’s the sort of thing that is great to wear in the summer and it shows that they have an eye for contemporary trends. There are also tassel and coin necklaces and beaded bracelets.
Pure Collection – the fit
After each post I receive a number of questions about fit so I’m now going to cover this at the end of each post. I am a standard size 12 in most brands.
The leather skirt: tight, I usually fit comfortably in a 12 but would have preferred a 14 in this one.
The collared jersey top: true to size
The Bardot top: true to size
The gassato shrug: I ordered a S/M and it was the right fit for me
Pure Collection – Deliveries and returns
Pure Collection offers international delivery – details here.
UK delivery varies and there are regular discounts and free postage offers. Returns are free within 90 days.
Pure Collection – my verdict
Unusually for a brand targeting midlife women, Pure Collection was founded by two men. There’s nothing wrong with that but I wonder if the involvement of a strong woman who is at one with the customer base is what they have been lacking until now.
The quality of their clothes is without question and it’s really good to see some more contemporary styling coming through. The cashmere is particularly good and I would hope to see fewer dropped shoulders and crew necks in the next collection. It would also be great to see more jumpers with a longer cut.
As for the rest of the range, let’s hope they can become the brand we are all looking for that focuses on the cornerstone pieces that are so hard to find. There is such an opportunity for a brand to offer an edited range of simple, well designed core pieces at the mid to upper end of the high street. I really hope we have found the people who are going to do it. I will be watching them like a hawk over the coming months to see how the range develops.
As always, it would be great to get your feedback on Pure Collection. They will be reading this post and together, we can help them to grow.
Pure Collection – mid Season Sale
There is currently 25% off the new collection (deducted at checkout) and a mid-season sale has just started. There are lots of great offers on cashmere here. My top tip: make the savvy woman’s move and shop out of season. There are some amazing sequinned pencil skirts at a great price that you will wear right through December – just add a cashmere jumper by day and a silky top for evening.