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The Dictator: on style, she rules

 

I was really happy with the way I packed for my summer hols. I chose whites and felt stylish and didn't need to think too much about what I'd put on every day. The only thing I'd do differently is take a thin white cashmere cardi - my black one ruined the look! I did have a quick look around the shops, but couldn't find white. Do you know where I could buy one?
The White Queen, Hatton Road

The Dictator rules: No. Here's why. The wool of cashmere goats isn't white. It's more of a cream to beige tone. And it's not advisable to bleach it as that can weaken and even destroy the fibre. Think about it. Have you ever ruined the softness of something cashmere simply by washing it? You get the idea. Loro Piana is one of the best, and most indulgent, sources of cashmere - and if you'll accept off-white, you'll have a plethora of beautiful cardigans and pull-overs to choose from (HK$9,800 to HK$15,200; Chater House, Central, tel: 2868 9623). Pearls & Cashmere (Mandarin Oriental, 5 Connaught Road, Central, tel: 2525 6771) has well-priced basics in cashmere and cashmere blends. However, there, too, the cardigans (HK$1,500 and up) come in a slightly creamy white that will not match your pure white resort wear. Shanghai Tang might be your best bet, with short- and long-sleeved cardigans in 100 per cent or silk-blend cashmere with cute buttons in jadeite or enamel (HK$2,350 and up; 1 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2525 7333). Unless you're summering in the southern hemisphere, a cosy cotton cardigan should be more than enough coverage. Otherwise, I thoroughly sanction a tonal story, mixing white, cream and even light beige together. Done right, it can be tres chic.

 

I love those Gidget-style tie-up shirts for summer. (Are they 1950s or 60s?) I just don't know where to find them.
Tie Me Up, Happy Valley

The Dictator: Not to worry, dear reader, I know exactly where to find a tie-front top for you: in your wardrobe. Put on a button-down top, button it down to your waist, then tie the two tail ends in a knot. Who knew? Honestly, what did you think they did back in the day? Incidentally, "the day" for Gidget would be about 1957, when the first novel by Frederick Kohner was published. OK, fine, I'll grant you that other consumers these days are just as coddled as you, and you can all now buy tops specifically made to be tied at the front. In fact, teen-focused brands seem to be carrying them this summer. Maple does them sleeveless, in graduated denim with studs (HK$99.90; 19 Lee Garden Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 2895 3950). And there's a real bonanza of them at americanapparel.com (HK$420 each; remember to set the "country" to Hong Kong). Or go high end with a gorgeous Peridot London white cotton tie-front shirt (HK$1,924; www.farfetch.com). In silk, there's the lovely Maje Aoutien tie-front cropped shirt (HK$2,637; netaporter.com). And finally, if you've added some girth since the 50s, this might not be the top for you. (Read: muffin-top alert!)

 


 

Got a question for The Dictator? E-mail her with your name, or alias, and address at: dictator@scmp.com

 

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