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Carr & Westley - Blog

  • Classic Fashion Infographic

    We recently asked 1,015 women over the age of 60 for their views on the UK clothing industry. Through the survey we wanted to know how they felt about current retail offerings to their age group, how their confidence in fashion has evolved over the years and how their shopping habits have changed.

    The results of the survey are displayed here in a handy Infographic. To see an enlarged version please click on the image.

    Carr & Westley Infographic

    Carr & Westley Infographic v3

    Please feel free to leave your own thoughts and views in the comments box below.

  • Raglan or Semi-Raglan - What’s the difference?

    As you know, a Carr & Westley collection contains many styles and designs of clothing. Through our product descriptions you will notice we regularly refer to specific features on items of clothing with strange terms, some common, some not so much, in the world of fashion.

    In our latest series of articles we’re going to help clarify some of these descriptions by delving into the more specific aspects of these cuts. We’ll explain exactly what they mean and show some examples to look out for.

    The first design feature we’re going to look at is the raglan and semi-ragan sleeve.

    The History Of Raglan Sleeve

    Raglan Sleeve Raglan Sleeve

    The raglan sleeve was first designed and named after Field Marshal FitzRoy James Henry Somerset, 1st Baron Raglan. Raglan was a respected individual who fought and lost his arm at the battle of Waterloo.

    After losing his arm, a new coat design was commissioned to help accommodate his missing arm - one with fuller sleeves.

    The Raglan Sleeve

    The term raglan sleeve refers to the way a top’s sleeves are sown into the main shell of the garment. The more common style of sleeve is the ‘set-in’ sleeve, where the armhole of a garment is at the natural edge of the shoulder. With a raglan sleeve, however, the sleeve seam goes straight from the underarm to the neckline, running across the collarbone.

    The raglan sleeve design has proved popular with long sleeved jumpers and cardigans as it provides a very comfortable fit with easy movement - particularly in plus size clothing.

    The Semi-Raglan Sleeve

    Semi Raglan Sleeve Semi Raglan Sleeve

    A modification on the traditional raglan sleeve design is the semi-raglan sleeve. In this design, the armhole has curves setting in the mid of the shoulder seam.

    What makes a semi-raglan sleeve distinguishable is the slanting seam. The way in which the seam is placed makes it appear as if there is not a specific defining line of shoulder placement within the garment.

    There are many other variations of the raglan sleeve too. Popular examples include the saddle sleeve, gathered-raglan and raglan-yoke. Have a browse through the website and see which variations you can find.

  • Old Catalogues In The Post

    Last week we were delighted to receive a letter from a lovely customer who mailed us an old, pre-WW2, Carr & Westley catalogue she had found at home.

    Pre-WW2 Carr & Westley Catalogue

    While we can't be sure of the exact year the catalogue is from, the address is for East London, which is where the company lived before the second world war. We moved out into the countryside in the early 1940s to escape the blitz.

    We do like receiving these things as it always keeps us in touch with our heritage.

    So thank you, Mrs E Treadgold, from Salisbury.

  • Pure Undies Launch

    Big news!

    We've recently released a sister website to Carr & Westley.

    Pure Undies is your one stop shop for all essential underwear purchases. It stocks all the most popular bra models from Triumph and Bestform, as well as bestselling knickers from top brand Sloggi.

    We've also made it really easy to use. With the 'Shop By' feature, you can filter products by your size, cup size, style, price or colour.

    We're making essentials shopping easy! To browse for your favoured styles and sizes, head over to today.

  • History Of Carr & Westley's Catalogue

    Carrandwestley-jacketBy now, you will be accustomed to the natural lifestyle photographs featured in our catalogues. Photography like this is a great way to show off new products and emphasise how they can fit into modern living. However, using photograph like this has not always been possible. In the past we had to find more cost effective ways to showcase a new collection.

    Pre-Catalogue Days

    You may have seen some old posts on our blog about post-war Carr & Westley adverts. During the 1940’s and 50’s these one-off advertisements where how we sold our products to the general public. Each advert would include an illustration of the product and a wealth of detail about the style and fabric of a particular garment.


    By the 1970’s, we were promoting our products in simple catalogues consisting of only a few pages. It is also important to mention that around this time we began catering nearly exclusively for women. Alongside classic everyday women’s wear we included some specific clothing like nuns habits.

    Into The 1980s and 90s

    The rise of the modern woman in the 80’s was reflected in a new style of catalogue. To accurately portray the attention detail in our garments we employed highly skilled textile illustrators to produce drawings.

    Back In The HabitMuch like they are still today, the clothes were diligently designed in the Carr & Westley factory, then prototypes were made up. These were then sent off to individual illustrators based around the country, where they were hung on mannequins and carefully drawn to show off the style, fit and details.

    We know of one particular illustrator who was responsible for many of the beautiful black and white drawings which we have stowed in our loft here at Bourne Mill. She was so dedicated to bringing our garments to life that she worked for us well into her 80’s.

    Black and white was slowly replaced by colour, then in turn, when photography became possible, by simple white background photographs. These were the days of film photography, making the whole process more complex than we take for granted now!

    A new century

    catalogue-autumn14As we moved into the 21st century our catalogues began to reflect contemporary living. Around 2010 we took the step to photograph our products out and about in real-life scenarios. Suddenly, the classic functionality of our clothes was brought to life.

    Over the last few years we have given the location of the photo shoots increased thought and attention. We have thoroughly enjoyed soaking up the sights and atmosphere of picturesque locations such as Bath, the quaint seaside town of Rye, Royal Tonbridge Wells, pretty Bourton-on-the-Water and the Regency town of Cheltenham Spa. This has added another angle to our collections and promotes the association between Carr & Westley clothing and an active lifestyle.
    We would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for potential future photo locations – so drop us a line if you have any ideas.

  • Introducing Autumn 2014

    aw14The colours around us are changing as Autumn draws in. Here at Carr & Westley we are proud to present our fresh collection for the new season ahead. You will have noticed that the catalogue is awash with eye-catching new fabrics and prints.

    A particular favourite is the two-tonal Kielder print separates collection, available in this seasons must have colours – dignified cobalt and exotic magenta whilst maintaining a classic look. The Kielder Print Skirt (JP120) stands out when teamed with a subtle plain top such as the Kempsford Cowl Top (JP115) in Cream or the Stow Top (JP123) in matching Cobalt and Magenta.

    Another great print in this collection is the fresh Blenheim Cardigan (KT11) which effortlessly carries over a touch of Summer into the next season. It looks fabulously striking when worn with a simple Shipton Top (KT12) or navy Turtle Neck Top (KP31) combined with smart Carr & Westley trousers.

    We also have a fantastic selection of chic tartan skirts – a classic print hailing form the Highlands which is very much on trend this season. We noticed that the print featured heavily during London Fashion Week. Our Lindsay Skirt (S410) in deep red and green tartan is made from the highest quality pure wool fabric. Wear with the firm favourite Step Neck Top (JP39) or the Swinbrook Tie Neck Jumper (JP014) for an up to date look, perfect for the approaching colder weather.

    We would also like to take the opportunity to introduce the stylish new Ampney Jacket (JP133). This is a chic solution to the slight drop in temperature outside due to its light weight fabric and simple design which can be worn open or buttoned up. It looks great when matched with plain Carr & Westley trousers and a classic Turtle Neck Top (KP31). For a more vibrant look why not wear it over the elegant Lynton Top (JP125).

    Here at Carr & Westley we are always thinking of new ways to expand our range, ensuring our customers get a wide selection of the best garments.

    As always we love receiving your feedback, both about our collection and service as we continuously strive to make sure our customers feel valued and happy with our products.

  • How A Carr & Westley Skirt Is Made

    At Carr & Westley we take pride in being one of the last bastions of British manufacturing. Our skirts and dresses have been made in this country since 1919 and home-based manufacturing is a legacy we are proud to uphold in today’s heavily outsourced world.

    From our workrooms in Kent, we still put the same passion and detail into the production of our clothes as we did 90 years ago. To give you an insight into how our manufacturing process works, we’ve put together this short article that details the production process of a Carr & Westley skirt – from conception to the wardrobe.

    Product Design


    The first part of the skirt manufacturing process is creating a design. Our designer will sketch out a number of rough designs for the new season and these will be made up into product samples. With a range of product samples to choose from, our designer and management team will select five or six designs that they want to put into production and include in the next catalogue.

    The chosen design of a skirt is influenced by a number of factors. The most influential of course being seasonality. Summer skirts are usually designed from lighter material with flared hems and rarely feature pockets to maintain smooth lines. Winter skirts are more robust and many are designed with full linings for warmth and comfort.

    Once the design of the skirt has been finalised, we have to decide which material to make it from.

    Choosing Material

    choosing fabricTaking the finished skirt design, our production team undergo ‘material sampling’. Material manufacturers from all over the country send us fabric samples in 6x6 inch squares. These samples come in a variety of patterns with different fibre contents and washing instructions. We can receive up to fifty different samples before we whittle down to three or four for each design.

    The materials we choose for sampling are determined by a number of factors. First and foremost, we want it to look good. Is the pattern right for the season? Is it a unique and distinctive design? Next, we need to make sure that its weight, fibre content and texture is suitable for the time of the year. Summer skirts are generally made from light material like cotton. Winter skirts a denser, wool-heavy material.

    With three or four sample fabrics chosen, we make up a working prototype of the product. From the different fabrics, we can observe how the material looks, sits, stretches, washes and endures through everyday use. At the end of this testing phase we choose a final material and put the design into production.


    Catalogue PhotographyOnce a skirt design has been approved and a final sample made up, we have to photograph it for our catalogue. The catalogue production team will take the sample out on location for what we call ‘lifestyle photography’. After lifestyle photography, we then shoot the product again in our studio against a white background for inclusion on the website and examples of all available colour ways.

    With the skirt photographed and included in the catalogue and website, it awaits its first customer order.

    Receiving An Order

    When a customer orders the new skirt online or via the phone, a product ticket is generated in our workrooms. This tells the manufacturing team which model has been ordered and in which size, colour and length. The ticket is passed to our team in the cutting room where the first stage of manufacture happens.

    The Cutting Room

    Cutting TableFrom the order received our cutting team have to select the correct material and then cut chosen dimensions from the roll. The material is cut from design specifications which can mean marking out and then trimming a number of separate panels, accounting for pockets and additional design features. If the skirt design includes a lining, this will also be cut here alongside the main material.

    Unlike many other manufacturers, all our skirts are made to order. This means that when a skirt order comes through, we actually make it from scratch. This process is not efficient, especially by today’s automised standard, but it is traditional and allows a flexibility not granted by other manufacturers. It allows us to offer five different skirt lengths – a real rarity in today’s clothing trade.


    Sew TableOnce the panels, pockets and other features of the skirt have been cut they are passed onto the stitching department. This is where the pieces are put together like a jigsaw.

    In the stitching room, we sew the skirt panels together and adjust the waistband and hem to specification. If the model includes them, pockets are finished here along with other design features. Finally, the C&W label is sewn in along with the product size label and fibre content. With all the components of the skirt pieced together, it is pressed, packed and ready to send out to the customer.

    Working As A Team

    Team PhotoWe have to work as a team throughout the manufacture of a Carr & Westley skirt. Many of our workroom staff have been with the company for a long time and have formed strong personal bonds because of it. We believe that these relationships and our respect for traditional manufacturing techniques have helped us maintain a unique level of quality. We are proud of our team and proud to be different.

    Click here to see a range of Carr & Westley made products.

  • Carr and Westley Photoshoot

    Bath Photoshoot

    On Location: Bath

    The Carr and Westley team are currently on location in Bath taking some snaps for our Autumn/Winter range. We are excited about the range. With some gems old & new,  we can't wait for you to see the new photos in our autumn brochure.

    Bath is a city in the ceremonial county of Somerset in South West England. It is situated 97 miles (156 km) west of London and 13 miles (21 km) south-east of Bristol. The city was first established as a spa with the Latin name, Aquae Sulis ("the waters of Sulis") by the Romans sometime in the AD 60s about 20 years after they had arrived in Britain (AD43), although oral tradition suggests that Bath was known before then. They built baths and a temple on the surrounding hills of Bath in the valley of the River Avon around hot springs. Edgar was crowned king of England at Bath Abbey in 973. Much later, it became popular as a spa town during the Georgian era, which led to a major expansion that left a heritage of exemplary Georgian architecture crafted from Bath Stone. The City of Bath was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1987. Well worth a visit, a world class destination located within our own fair isles. 

  • Back in the Habit

    In 1971 Carr & Westley used to manufacture nuns habits at our current site in Kent, England.

    Things have changed a lot since then, but we are still using some of the same skills on our Carr and Westley branded products. We are proud of our history of craftsmanship. Attached is a page from one of our old catalogues displaying three items. This was also the year the UK went decimal, with prices listed in both sterling and decimal.

    Nuns Habits


    All dresses are well made in good quality black crimpelene. There is a long back zip and a pocket in the right hand side seam.  Belts are supplied with all dresses if required, and dresses and skirts will be made to any length ordered.

    The skirt has three panels back and front and is fitted with a waist band and side zip.

    Any garment can be supplied separately, lined or unlined as needed.

    In order that we may choose the most suitable size, please give bust, waist and hip measurements, full back length for dresses, full length including waist band for skirts, and underarm sleeve length.

    We are prepared to modify any style to your requirements if a quantity of dresses is required.  Please do not hesitate to ask us if you have any problems you think we can solve.

    Prices :                  Hips 36/42           £7.10.00s             £7.50

                                 Hips 44/50           £8.0.00s                £8.00

                                 Fully lined £1.10s extra (£1.50)


  • Post-War Advert

    Carr & Westley was moved from Central London due to the Blitz. We knew that the company had moved down to the West Country, but were not sure of the precise location. Recently however, while refurbishing our factory, this order form came to light. As you can see on the bottom, St. Ives, Cornwall is shown as the address.

    Post-War AdvertLovely and Useful

    This all-wool dress we can recommend the more heartily as we think it corresponds with all the requirements of the times; bearing in mind that need for economy of material combined with seeming ampleness in appearance, our designers have produced just the right dress for those who admit the need for austerity as well as utility.

    The soft all-wool material, bought direct from the manufacturer before big rises in prices, has a richness of colour and readiness to drape gracefully the no other fabric can possess.

    The price is so low because we are the manufactures dealing direct with you.

    It’s easy to tell test the truth of our remarks by sending for a dress today while you have the opportunity. You risk nothing, for we assure you that we will refund money and coupons if you are not satisfied?

    Colours Navy, Wine, Green, Brown & Black

    11 Coupons Required.

    Carr and Westley - St. Ives, Cornwall


    To CARR & WESTLEY, Ltd.,

    St. Ives, CORNWALL.

    Please send me Dress No. 750 as illustrated overleaf, for which I enclose £…………. and 11 coupons.

    It is understood that I may return the garment within seven days and you will refund my money and Coupons in full.



                    Bust………. Length………. Colour………

    This loose leaf forms part of our Autumn/Winter Catalogue and its cost is covered by the charge made for it.

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