Tonal Layered Dressing with Carina Hildebrandt (and Judi Dench)



I am very aware we write for a number of different style tribes here on TWR. There are those who would love to move into Dover Street Market and dreams of doing a supermarket-style sweep around the store (ahem, me), there’s the COS/Finery/Whistles reader who wants modern contemporary clothes that don’t cost the Earth, (also me) and many other variations along this theme. As we’ve said many times before, we don’t suddenly all want the same clothes just because we’re over 40, 50 or 80. One thing we have noticed though, through out our EIGHT years of writing TWR (where did that time go?) is that we’re all picky over quality.


I went to meet Carina Hildebrandt last week, who produces some really beautiful quality, baby alpaca and fine Peruvian cotton knitwear. I have rarely encountered such gorgeous feeling knits, they are so deliciously soft I had a hard time putting them down. The simple shapes may not look much in the pictures, but they feel amazing on. A word of warning, these are not cheap, so those on a budget might like to look away now, as these pieces are easy to fall for.


They are also not high fashion pieces, instead they are simple, seasonless, elegant shapes that are flattering for all sizes (Carina goes up to a size 22). There are few seams, even fewer buttons and no twiddly bits.

The USP here is Carina’s tonal colour palette, from soft shades of damson, cranberry, rose and raspberry to indigos, teals and all tasteful shades in between. The idea is that you layer tonal colours together -coat over dress, jumper over top -for a coordinated look.

If I tell you that Judi Dench is one of Carina’s best customers (she has around ten of the Signature coats alone I believe) then you’ll get the picture.


I really loved the baby alpaca summer weight, not made from infant alpacas, as you might imagine, but the hair sheered off closest to the skin of the animal (alpaca look like small llamas) which is the softest part. Alpaca is hard wearing, durable yarn that rarely pills (unlike cashmere) and is very washable. It also doesn’t attract moths due to the lack of lanolin.

All Carina’s styles have pockets wherever possible too, and she takes a great deal of care over fit, using the knit in the best way possible to ensure her shapes glide over, rather than cling to, your body.


If you have the budget and you yearn for beautiful, stylish clothes that are tastefully simple rather than look-at-me-on-trend-ness, then I suspect you will love this range.

If you are one of our many US readers, Carina sells at the Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair in New York and shifts shed loads to the Hampton crowd via the Hampton Classic fair if you happen to attend. UK readers can buy from her website or phone for an appointment at her studio, where she will happily style you up with the right shape to fit and flatter.


More at Carina Hidlebrandt here, check out the signature coat, both lengths, the versatile shrug cocoon jacket, the very wearable empire line dress, or start with a scarf or wrap.


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