Thanks for the memories

8 Dec

Now that the weather is cold, and a t-shirt just doesn’t cut it anymore, I find myself wearing a hoodie all the time. I love hoodies – maybe a little too much. Believe it or not, I still wear an item that I’ve had since high school: a sorry-looking, saggy-baggy maroon hoodie.  I bought it used at Goodwill – or maybe picked it up on sale at a sporting goods store.  It never looked great back then, but now it’s stretched out, frayed at the wrists, and has a dime-size hole in the kangaroo pocket. Still, there is something so comforting about putting it on – welcoming and familiar- and provides a nice layer of warmth without being confining. It’s the closest I get to wearing a blanket without actually wearing a blanket.

During my senior year of high school, I wore this hoodie to an interview for a scholarship at UCLA. A few weeks later, I got the call from the man who interviewed me, saying that I got the scholarship – but “please, wear something more respectable next time you go to an interview.” Fair enough. Yet here I am, almost twenty years later, and I still love wearing the hoodie. Even though it looks like hell, I didn’t even consider ditching it during my last closet purge.

For momming around, the hoodie is hard to beat. It’s comfortable, washable, easy to tie around my waist at the playground, and zips down when chasing after my 2-year old has me breaking out in a sweat. It’s repelled almost every stain imaginable. There is always something I need to stow in a pocket, whether it’s my cell phone or my child’s most recently discovered “treasure”.

But wait, aren’t I blogging about upgrading my look? Maybe the maroon hoodie needs to be retired. Yet the thought of going without it makes me feel like someone has just told me that I need to give up chocolate. (My husband actually tried that a few years ago when we were trying to eat more healthy, and I think the look I shot him pretty much ended that conversation.) I need to find something that has the coziness and utility of my maroon hoodie, but doesn’t look like it just got picked up off a dorm room floor.

Past efforts to replace or upgrade the hoodie have failed – I have tried, and abandoned, at least 5 other hoodies because they started feeling too tight, too short, or too hard to care for.  It’s time to expand my fashion universe. Luckily, there are some nice options out there right now.  Unless you are in the haze of raising a baby or have been living on a similar far away planet, you have probably noticed the trend to wear long sweaters that drape open in front, often made of a thick cable knit. Sometimes they’re worn belted, but mostly they hang loose – kind of like wearing a blanket.  (Hmmm. I think I’m on to something.)

After my recent failures with shopping at Amazon for clothes, I am reluctant to try online shopping again. Then, my favorite catalog company, Boden, sends me an offer for “buy 2 items, get the third for $1”. Boden is based in the UK, and I appreciate their sense of humor, which is evident in their kids’ clothes which are cute and fun and well-made. I haven’t really ventured into the adult clothes much, but like most of us, I am tempted by the feeling of getting a deal. I decide to spend some time on their web site (Bodenusa.com). Three clicks later, I am in the knitwear section.

Usually, I am not a big fan of shopping for sweaters. Just the sight of all that wool makes me feel hot and itchy. After all, how cold does it ever really get in the Bay Area? However, this open, relaxed style of sweater has fitted short sleeves, and is loose and drapey off the waist – cozy, but not bulky. The fine print reads it’s machine washable, despite being a wool blend. Enticed by the sale, I order the two sweaters below (plus a silk dress which was so unflattering, I won’t bother discussing it any further here).

This cardigan is flattering, kid-friendly, and fun to wear - a winner!

I consider myself an optimist, so I will call this online shopping adventure a moderate success. I love the drapey cardigan – it’s warm and comfortable, and though I have not tried to wash it yet, the label says it can be machine-washed on delicate and hung to dry.  More importantly, I love the look- it’s stylish but still low-key, and goes with just about anything.  Even though I am wearing  jeans and boots from more than three years ago, I still look very current.  The cut is flattering – it follows the shape of my shoulders and arms, and drapes to mid-thigh with an overall long and pleasing line. It falls open in a way to add interest around the neckline without appearing fussy. In short, it’s fun to wear, and kid-compatible – my definition of success!

boden chic sweater

The drape of this sweater is a little relaxed for me, and the tie won't stay tied.

The second sweater, which ties at the waist, is a less exiciting cut, also a bit too thin to hold its shape. The rear likes to ride up over my bum and hang out there. Also, the tie is made of slippery satin trim and does not want to stay tied, which I find irritating. I already have plenty of moments when I feel like I am coming undone from drama with the kids; it doesn’t help for my sweater to *actually* come undone too.

Still, the color is nice and it provides lightweight warmth, and so I decide to keep it – I tell myself it will be a useful layering piece into next spring. Only time will tell if I just talked myself into keeping a dud.

I wish I could say that I finally found a sweater to replace my hoodie – but no such luck. It’s really hard to dethrone the hoodie that is the wardrobe equivalent of my security blanket. As any mother knows, it’s not easy to part with your lovie, even when it’s high time to do so. I’m unwilling to let it go. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of my carefree teenage years, or maybe of my father, who died earlier this year and whom I still miss dearly. (I haven’t looked through my high school photos in many years, but if I did, I am sure I would find a few photos of me standing next to my father wearing that hoodie.)

I’ll take that one up with my shrink. Meanwhile, I am shopping for more drapey, open-in-front sweaters.  Shouldn’t be too hard to find – I see a lot of other women, including moms, wearing them.  (Send me a link if you have seen a good one online – otherwise maybe I’ll see you in a few weeks in the real world, shopping the after-Christmas sales.)

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5 Responses to “Thanks for the memories”

  1. Grace December 9, 2010 at 7:44 pm #

    I remember that maroon hoodie!!! But I do think it’s good to think about upgrading too… Have you thought about cashmere/blend hoodies? I find that cashmere is not so hard to take care of (buy it slightly large, then throw in washer/dryer like normal clothes…). Or else, polar fleece-type sweaters? (I know I’ve seen them before, but can’t think of where.) It is certainly true that looking put-together makes me feel different… although I haven’t yet upgraded my favorite sad, saggy pair of cotton pjs with faded snowman print… Anyway, I like the sweater options you’ve picked – hope they work out!!!

  2. Chelsea January 4, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

    I love Boden. It’s my new favorite. I have decided, to hell with it, I will wear cashmere blends despite toddler twins. I am tired of only wearing cotton (layers upon layers of cotton). I’m in the Bay Area as well — found you via PAMP — and think this company offers some good casual sweaters that are a deal when you wait for their promotions. I am chiming in to suggest a wool and cashmere shampoo by The Laundress, available on Amazon. I use it to wash all of my wool and cashmere in my (front loading) machine, on the handwash cycle. So easy to use, so nice to save the dry-cleaning money. I am currently wearing a Boden henley sweater. Nice to feel like I look grownup 🙂 Cheers!

    • Sally January 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

      Hi Chelsea,
      Do you even use “The Laundress” to wash sweaters that say “dry clean only”? If so, that’s really brilliant. It would be nice to worry less about the kid-splat that inevitably lands on my wool sweaters during the course of the day. I am going to check it out, thanks for the tip.

      Sally

      • Chelsea January 6, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

        I read somewhere — Real Simple Magazine, perhaps? — that “Dry Clean” is a suggestion. “Dry Clean Only” is a rule. Cashmere and other wools are hairs, so they handle shampooing better than they do dry cleaning. It keeps them softer, or so this article said. I don’t wash the “DC Only” items in my closet, but that’s mostly dressy pants and other things I essentially never wear.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Dressing for the Part of…Janitor? « What to Wear After Kids - January 18, 2011

    […] her face is buried into my shoulder and I see that shiny mix of tears and boogers imprinted on my brand new sweater. After a moment of panic, I recover my wits and toss the sweater into the next room, and ponder the […]

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