The Cashmere Cowgirl

May 21, 2012


This is my friend Linda Wright. Like me, she’s a displaced Texan, living in Paris. She grew up in Fort Worth and is originally from Big Spring. (Big Spring! You can’t get much more Texas than that.) When I call her, she always says, “Hi Darlin’!” with that unmistakable Texas accent and like, I don’t know, your sister might say. I love calling her just to be called darlin’. Seriously. No one has ever called me that.

We met a couple of years ago through her real sister in Fort Worth, who saw one of my Cowgirl Chef columns in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and figured the two of us would hit it off. And we did. Over coffee (me) and green tea (her) at a little bistro on rue Marbeuf, just off avenue George V, we struck up a fast and easy friendship, one that felt like a continuation of one that we’d started a long time ago, not something new. You know how sometimes you meet someone and the two of you just click and you just get each other from the beginning? It was like that with us. We’ve been giggling together over a coffee here or a sushi dinner there since.

Or over stories told in her sweet cashmere and scarf shop (Cashmere and scarves! My two biggest weaknesses…well, and boots…and just about any old thing at a flea market…), which is why I’m writing this. So you can get to know her – and her boutique, Crimson, which is also has an online store and ships to anywhere in the world…even to my mom’s place near Ponder, Texas (!!).

Just look for a moment at her super-easy, classic style that’s both cowgirl and Parisienne. Jeans tucked into a pair of Lucchese boots. Fat pearls. And a double-layer of cashmere. Every time I see her I think, OK, I want that outfit.

Not surprisingly, Linda worked at Ralph Lauren in Paris for years. And now she designs cashmere…sweaters, polos, hoodies and my new favorite thing, ponchos. (I wear mine all the time. When I’m at home, writing, or when I’m running around town. I wear it the normal, poncho-way or I twist it up and wear it scarf-like, in a big knot at my neck.)

Way I see it, y’all need to meet my Linda, too. So please, feel free to pour yourself another cup of coffee as you read on. Or tea, if that’s your thing. And don’t forget to insert a “Darlin'” here and there, because Linda would want that.

You’ve got such great personal style…classic yet never too serious, and with a look that seems effortless. How do you do this?

First of all, thank you for that vote of confidence. Truly appreciated…

It has always been important for me to feel like myself when I get dressed and walk out that door.

So mixing things up seems to do that for me. I always feel good when wearing something tried and true with something new from the season. My accessories tend to stay classic, and this is where I have invested in the best quality. For example, Hermes riding boots, Lucchese classic ropers, and for the “I Can Be A Lady” look, I will opt for a Chanel ballet shoe or a great Belgian Loafer. In case you are wondering, no, high heels have not co-existed in my closet for a few years now. That just ain’t me, girlfriend. Now, my two daughters would die without their Louboutins!!!

O.K., back to simple me. I throw all of this on with a great jean, good t-shirt, and a pretty cashmere sweater, and I am good to go. Oh, and I must not forget to mention that I do love pretty earrings. Here we are talking pearls and diamonds, please. (Do I sound serious here? Do not want to spoil my image.)

Three things every woman must have in her closet?

1) I will have to cheat here. Two pairs of jeans —  one boot leg and one wide leg.

2) A navy blue crew neck cashmere sweater or blazer.

3) A long-sleeved white silk t-shirt…so you can dress it up or dress it down, girls.

Since it’s almost summer, let’s talk about packing. What’s the key to packing light and packing smart?

Make yourself a mini-collection and go with a color concept. Pack things that can be mixed and matched and worn with the same color of shoes, belts and bags. Do not try to get creative when travelling. If in doubt, leave it at home. It will be there when you get back and have the space and time to play with it.

Please fill these in:

I never leave my apartment without: Sisley lip balm (it comes in a pink pot).

I always wear: pearl or diamond earrings.

I’d never wear: lipstick.

If I was going to the beach, I’d take these five things:

Total sunblock (you’ll get a glow even with it), sunglasses (must protect the eyes, also), camera, notebook and pareo (cover-up for lunch).

If I was off to the mountains, I’d pack these five things:

Sorry, I don’t do mountains.

What’s the difference between French style and American style – and how do you combine the two?

French style is about accessories and attitude. American style is more casual and cool.

Combining the two? Oh, this is easy, Ellise. Texans never lose their cool, and I know a good accessory when I see one.

Let’s talk cashmere for a moment. ( I know, I know. But even though it’s already boiling hot in Texas, I packed two ponchos to wear in Santa Fe and to bundle up for the chilly A/C blast everywhere I go. ) How is the cashmere at Crimson different from cashmere we’d find elsewhere (in the cut, quality, weight, etc.)?

To maintain the best quality, Crimson still manufactures in the same Scottish mills that supplies the best fashion houses in the world.

As far as cut is concerned, I constantly update my basics for a more modern silhouette.

Cashmere thickness includes single ply to 12 ply articles and we always have certain styles in finer yarn to give the wearer that feeling of extra lightness on the body.

What’s the biggest misconception about cashmere?

That it cannot be washed regularly. Just make sure it is washed on a delicate cycle using warm water and no fabric softener. Lay flat to dry. Comes out feeling softer than dry cleaning.

You can find cashmere just about anywhere now. What’s the difference between the cashmere that you can find at the Gap and the cashmere in your store?

Difference in yarn lengths. The longer the yarn, the less peeling you will have.

What are some tips on how to buy cashmere that’ll last?

Once again, look at the yarn lengths. The longer the yarn the more expensive the cashmere. Hence, quality.

OK, now onto the really important stuff. When you go home to Fort Worth, where do you eat?

Benito’s Mexican food for the authentic atmosphere and a killer cheese and bean nacho for dinner. Not to mention an ice cold Corona. Beats a glass of Bordeaux in my book any day. I guess this girl left Texas, but Texas never left the girl.

And Central Market for great salads at lunchtime.

Where do you shop (and what do you buy)?

Leddy Brothers in Cowtown to admire their beautiful handmade boots and to purchase another straw cowboy hat for summers in St. Tropez.

What do you miss most about Texas?

Texans….the most genuinely nice people in the world.

(I couldn’t agree more.)


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