Shane Watson: Sun's out – but you still need a BBQ knit

How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson: Sun’s out – but you still need a BBQ knit

  • Shane Watson shared advice for embracing the trend for cashmere sweaters 
  • She advises opting for a bright colour that matches the print you are wearing
  • British style expert reveals a selection of the best knits to suit all budgets 

The arrival of summer has a slightly unexpected effect on me. At the first sign of regular sunny days I feel the urgent need of a brightly coloured, just-fitted-enough…cashmere sweater.

A while back you couldn’t find such a thing, it was like looking for ski wear in August.

But now, judging by the number of desirable cashmere sweaters out there, the luxe, colour-pop pull-over is officially part of the British summer wardrobe — as useful as a go-anywhere dress or the perfect pair of sunglasses.

It makes sense when you think about it. The first obvious point in a cashmere sweater’s favour is the weather.

However hot it is when you arrive at the neighbour’s barbecue in your sleeveless top or midi dress, it will turn chilly enough for a sweater before you leave. And, because you don’t want to cover up the effort you’ve made after months of no effort at all, you don’t want that sweater to be your husband’s bobbly grey crew-neck.

Shane Watson shared her advice for embracing this season’s knit trend, as seen on Olivia Palermo (pictured) 

What you want is a warm but lightweight and soft-against-the-skin extra: an outfit-enhancing, skin-flattering add-on. (NB: it doesn’t have to be cashmere, but only cashmere can be thin and chill-proof and not remotely itchy against bare skin — and only cashmere comes in a full range of juicy fruit and sorbet colours.)

For the real appeal of a summer cashmere sweater is as a brightening accessory.

I have a button-through Zara dress in a floral pattern with a hint of coral — nothing special, but sling a zingy coral sweater (£135, around your neck or knot it at the waist and the outfit instantly looks more interesting and stylish. A belt would lack the soft nonchalance of a skinny sweater; a wrap would be too dowdy and overwhelming.

Then, of course, there are all the benefits of a bright cashmere sweater in its own right. Hush also does a Judith cashmere jumper in lilac or peony with one of those deep, loose V-necks that you might find sliding off one shoulder.

The pink looks good with a hot pink satin slip skirt; the lilac looks great with light denim or white jeans.

No need to point out this sweater serves an entirely different function to the navy funnel-neck you wore all winter. The secret with summer cashmere is fresh and unexpected colour — we’re not talking grey or navy — or a pretty pattern.


  • The slide-off, wide V-neck is the neckline of the summer.
  • Pick a bright colour that matches the print you are wearing.
  • Go for the best quality you can afford, it will wear better.
  • Keep cashmere sweaters lightweight and not too baggy.

For plain, sweet-pea shades in classic shapes you can do a lot worse than Uniqlo, which has some of the best-priced cashmere on the market. Its relaxed-fit V-neck is currently on sale (£59.90 — or, for a little more, there’s Iris & Ink (£115,

In the stand-alone sweater camp, if you’re just looking for something to wear with jeans or shorts, it’s worth considering Boden, which has a bold-striped crew-neck (now £65,, or a cute, fitted, ivory sweater with cornflower-blue spots (now £91).

For bolder, bright patterns, Chinti & Parker, the label best known for its star-print cashmere, is a good place to start. Its rainbow-stripe sweater (£350, chintiand is one of those go-with-everything styles.

Parisian brand Kujten does various dip-dyed designs and even a rainbow tie-dyed sweater in four colourways (£214, It has a huge selection online, including a cashmere V-neck in 33 colours (£86) and the very wide V-neck of the summer in seven colours (£114).

Some of the styles come with a deliberately frayed neckline, which may strike fear into the hearts of those battling moths.

On which note, cashmere is expensive and there is no doubt moths love it above all other fabrics. You might want to try the cashmere and cotton blends (mostly cotton) at NRBY (

Finally, it doesn’t quite fit the brief, but & Other Stories does a slip-off-the-shoulder V-neck in pale oatmeal (£120, which could turn out to be very useful.

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