As someone who has been in the fashion and media industry for years, I often get asked what’s the one item in my wardrobe I couldn’t live without.
I’ve discovered that it is not, in fact, a designer coat or a little black dress or a comfy sweater, although I own all of those.
It’s a big rectangular piece of Italian linen I bought quite a few years ago in a wonderful store in Bangalow, NSW, called Island Luxe, for reasons I don’t even remember.
I was initially drawn to the colour, which was a deep dark indigo blue, and I loved the thick, slightly coarse texture and raw edges.
It was quite expensive, but I decided I needed it in my life. I started wearing it as a big, oversized scarf, and then sometimes as an evening wrap when temperatures got cooler.
Every time it was washed it become slightly softer, and the blue changed shade.
I started to take it with me on planes, in my hand luggage, as it was the perfect weight as a blanket and then could be draped around my neck when I arrived at my destination, instant boho chic style.
I take it on beach holidays and wear it as a wrap over my swimsuit. It also works as an effective beach towel when needed.
I tie it as a sarong and wear it with a white shirt, and sandals for dinner. I have it with me currently, in very hot France, and I am using it to sleep under, the duvet provided folded and put away in a cupboard.
I think it has become my security blanket.
Like many children, I did have a blankie when I was little, which I obsessed over. I refused to be parted from it, even when it was just a worn piece of rag, much to the exasperation of my poor mother.
I would sit in front of the washing machine and watch it until the cycle finished, then wait impatiently under the Hills hoist, whining “Is it dry yet, is it dry yet?” watching it spin around the baking-hot backyard.
One day it disappeared. I vividly recall that I made my mother turn the house upside down for days, while I wailed and raged and accused her of throwing it out.
I was sure she had, probably because having a 7-year-old daughter who still sucked her thumb and clutched a grubby rag day in and day out wasn’t the image she was going for, but I remember that I was inconsolable.
I did testily remind mum about my missing blankie for the next, hmm, 30 or 40 years, but she continued to protest her innocence.
Now I have created a new one.
A large, good quality linen scarf/wrap in your favourite colour may be the most versatile, useful, comforting, cost-per-wear effective fashion item you will ever own – one that will travel with you, and even become your preferred bed throw.
Just keep an eye on it when it goes in the wash.
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