Monday, December 24, 2012

Day 11 -- Yet Another Abercrombie Turtlenck--Is There No End in Sight?

I'm going to come clean here--I kind of rigged today's entry.  In the political arena (which I only enter when it's time to vote for "American Idol"), this would be known as "setting up a straw man."  You see, it's the Friday before Christmas break (otherwise known in the adult world as...Friday) and I sort of have this tradition of wearing this over sized red pseudo-fisherman knit sweater from Ann Taylor from (way) back in the day on this special Friday...and I just couldn't bear to spend the day in some mediocre turtleneck from American Eagle.  If I get to the 80th day of this blog and I have no more sweaters left from American Eagle, Aeropostale, and, while I'm at it, New York and Company, I'll consider this experiment a great success.

So, I present to you the straw man...a navy turtleneck (bored already, aren't you) from Abercrombie that is pilling like _______ (insert your own celebrity joke there).  I recall that I bought it, even though it was a small, because it was marked down so many times. Even in my early 2K Abercrombie spending sprees, I knew that this sweater was a dud. But because the store still had a modicum of cache, it hung around.  I predict that it will make it through my 7:00 am lesson, but not as far as my 9:30 tots classes.
Pills, pills, pills...

Despite the odd lighting in these photos, this sweater, were it in a J.Crew catalogue, would be called "Morgue Navy."

Living in (relative...meaning amongst my relatives) infamy on the Internet is definitely more than this sweater deserves.  It accomplished the first hat trick of the season: it was too short, it itched me, and it pilled when you looked at it crosswise.  While everyone else was having fun in their 80s ugly Christmas sweaters (high schoolers, that is.  Any mom at the rink was probably not wearing them in an ironic fashion), I was stuck in a drab navy turtleneck.  Which goes to show you that just because something is from Abercrombie, it doesn't mean you'll end up dating that model from the shopping bags when you wear it. Gone in 60 seconds.

My rating: Nicolas Cage post 2002 (which is probably when I bought this sweater). Almost nothing redeemable to say about his career at this point...I'd rather wear an out of style sweater from the 80s than to sit through anything he's made in the last ten years. The cool guy from Valley Girl must have just been a figment of my teen aged imagination.

Day 10--Storm Warning

Not to be too literal, but I always feel a little bit strange wearing snowflake sweaters when there are none on the ground (snowflakes, that is. A ground covered with sweaters would be called "Heaven").  To me, it's the equivalent of a Christmas sweater in just seems out of place.  So when the forecasters were all in a tizzy about "thundersnow" and blizzard-like conditions, I knew it was time to bring out some of my snowflake day players.

Can you see the cat hair from there?  Of course you can (and while I usually where Ozzie's fur as a badge of honor, this sweater seemed to pick up any cat hair within wifi range).  I'm not opposed to wearing a black fact, I relish the opportunity to pair one with anything that I can't otherwise match.  But, despite those perky little snowflakes on the sleeve, this one seems awfully depressing.

I think I was trying to channel those old pictures from the 40s of celebrities at Sun Valley or Chamonix (or, at the very least, skiiers from the 70s on "Wide World of Sports")...but the combination of boiled wool, excessive pilling, and cat hair pretty much eliminated any hopes that I had of looking "sporty" in this little number.  My Mom said that it looked like something a 12-year old boy would wear...and I'm fairly certain that wasn't a compliment.

My rating: Kris Humphries.  Not sporty.  Not good looking.  Not worth writing in complete sentences (or correct grammar) for.  This sweater, however, made it longer than 72 days (The Limited, circa 2000?)...but it won't last one more.  If anyone is looking for a lint brush, let me know...I'll make you an offer.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Day 9...Swiss Miss

Nothing says "I'm wish I were in the Alps...or at least Lake Geneva" like a fair isle zip-up hoodie with a faux fur trim from the Gap.  And, if memory serves, his Christmas-red twin (with a darker breed of faux animal fur) was the first one this sweater must have been of the "Take an additional 30% off all sale items" variety.

After a day of wearing this offering, I have to say that it's kind of the sweater equivalent of a Nilla Wafer. You enjoy it when it's there, but you won't be thinking about it the next day and you could go a long time without having another one.  It's a fine-looking garment, and does fit nicely, but I don't think I'd wear it out to anything cooler than going to a movie (then again, what do I do that's cooler than that?). It's a adequate sweater for a skating coach to wear while teaching, but I won't win any nods of approval from Stacy and/or Clinton.  It'll's inoffensive enough.  Not high praise, I realize, but it's still a lot better than some of the other contestants this past week.

My grade: that guy.  You know...that guy.  The one that was on that sitcom.  He's kind of cute.  Nice smile. He was in that movie where they all lived in New York...oh you know who I'm talking about.  Why can't I ever remember his name? That guy.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 8...Long Lost Cousins.

Do you remember when Bo and Luke Duke just suddenly left town...only to be replaced by their "cousins" Coy and Vance?  Yeah, neither (and I promise you that I knew those names without the use of  Wikipedia or any search engine).  Well, way back on Day Three (aka, "The Battle of the Yellow Turtlenecks: Day One"), I had a matched set of American Eagle chunky turtlenecks...and they both met their maker.

Imagine my surprise when Coy and Vance show up in my armoire (they were the same style number...I checked the tag). How did they get past security? Since their singular colored kin were eliminated, should they even be given a fighting chance?  Well...they are kind of fetching.

Look at this beautiful green yarn.  Is it any wonder that I can't quit this sweater?

Red mixed with chunks of kryptonite.
Maybe these sweaters weren't Coy and Vance, after all.  For cousins twice removed, these turtlenecks fared better than expected.  I hate to have a double standard (or, in this case, "quadruple standard") based solely on looks, but, in this case, it's kind of necessary.  I don't know what it is about that green's a little too short and isn't exactly a show-stopper, but I just can't bear to part with it.  That green color is so unique and people seem to compliment my eyes a lot when I wear it (okay. so it happened once...but I'm giving credit to the sweater. It's the least I can do after comparing him to the faux Dukes). I also sported the red/orange selection, which, for some reason, isn't as attractive to me.  I hate to eradicate an entire family, and, to be honest, the green sweater is a bit stretched out and kind of pilling (which wouldn't make it the most welcome of donations).  I opted to keep the green sweater that I never can say goodbye to, and donate the (lovely) red/orange cousin.My rating: Dylan McDermott and Dermot Mulroney.  Both (somewhat) attractive but also fairly interchangeable. While I find Dylan McDermott to be the more handsome of the two actors (got to love a blood orange sweater...even if I don't really like the words "blood orange), I chose Dermot Mulroney based on some of his recent self-deprecating routines on SNL, and also his appearances on The New Girl were pretty amusing. Sorry, Dylan...but The Practice hasn't been on in years (probably not since I actually purchased this sweater) and I'm not up for tuning into that American Horror Story show anytime soon.On the 8th day of sweaters, a total of 7 sweaters have gone to the great armoire in the sky. And I haven't even touched that stack on pastel chenille cowl necks from the entire week's worth, I fear. So much work to be done!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Day 7...The (American) Eagle has landed...

No one can say that I didn't do my level best to stimulate the economy in the early 2000s.   There was a time when I didn't get called "ma'am" when I walked into American Eagle, and that must have been when this one came into my life. Although I never gravitate towards it when I'm getting dressed, I must admit that it looks promising. At the very least, it's kind of a festive pattern. Could this high-on-the-shelf dweller earn a more desirable piece of real estate?

You know that ski lodge that everybody in the J.Crew catalog seems to own? The one with the sectional couch, roaring fireplace, and, of course, that silver-haired model that has been in every J. Crew catalog since the early days of the roll neck sweater?  Yeah, well, this sweater would be right at home there (complete with those over-sized wool--but not itchy--socks and a steaming mug of hot chocolate).

As for me, well, it was a fine companion for the day.  It never pestered me to pull it down, nor did it call too much attention to itself.  It's good looking enough to get the job done; nothing more, nothing less.  It's a keeper, but probably not a repeater (unless I get that lodge sometime soon...then I'll wear it for apres ski).  I hesitate to mention this, but this alpine delight has a pink/red turtlenecked cousin (surprise, surprise). I guess he'll stick around least until after Valentines Day.

My rating: Grant Show (not to be confused with Murphy Brown's "Grant Shaud").  While he was quite a looker on Melrose Place, his current status is more of the made-for-Lifetime variety.  This sweater is good enough for basic cable, but I certainly wouldn't wear it any higher on the channel spectrum than VH-1 (but I might wear it to Shooter's).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Day Six...more Abercrombie!

Okay, so this wire dress form kind of makes all of my sweaters look like they have enormous shoulders.  Which, of course, was all too true of my favorites during the 80s, but I'd like to think that I've progressed a little bit since then.  Or have I...

Another Abercrombie sweater...and, yes, it had relatives.  One was white, one was maroon, and I had the good sense to give both of those away long ago.  But this one survived, based only on his good coloring and the fact that, at one time, I thought Abercrombie was reason enough to keep a sweater.

I remembered that this sweater didn't exactly have the greatest fit to it, so I wisely opted to wear it on a Sunday (after church and Panera, of course. Wouldn't want any real people to see me in this one until or if I deemed it worthy).

The best that can be said about this sweater is that it has a great orangey-yellow color and a sporty neckline.  The knit, however, looks vaguely Muppet-like (and although I'm a huge Muppets fan, I don't exactly want to resemble one) and the fit is really boxy.  And thus, into the (donation) box it goes.

My rating: Luke Perry.  Yes, he was attractive at one point, and still has some good qualities (once you're Dylan McKay, you're always Dylan McKay in my book), but his leading man days (even on the Hallmark Channel) are long past him.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Night of the Living Yellow Turtleneck: The Final Chapter

Hey...wake up. This sweater isn't that dull, is it? Okay, maybe it is.  A Gap (Outlet, no less) ribbed cotton turtleneck doesn't exactly inspire, does it.  I found a tag near the label that gave its release date, September of 2001 (kind of spooky, no). I'm sure I've worn it a few times during its tenure (there's even what looks to be a pizza sauce stain on the front...did I actually wear this to a gathering?), but I can't say that I remember any of them. This does not bode well for this yella fella.


What can I say about this sweater, other than, "It was fine." It was long enough, didn't annoy me during the day, and, darn it, it was yellow.  If I need to wear something yellow to match a patterned skirt, I guess this is my go-to option.  But could I go through the next few years knowing that I did not have a yellow turtleneck in my wardrobe?  Would the shame be too great (or, some might argue, would wearing a ten-year old snooze of a sweater be far more shameful)?

So, I'm keeping it.  But it's on probation, and I will cut it no slack (wouldn't you know it, the stain came out in the wash.  There goes that excuse).

My rating: Taylor Hicks.  He may have won American Idol (mostly because Chris Daughtry had that surprise elimination in the final four), but he is certainly nobody's favorite.  This may be the best of the yellow turtlenecks, but it could never best Phillip Phillips or Carrie Underwood (or even Lee DeWyze, another lackluster Idol winner) in a sing-off.

The body count over the past 5 days: 5 sweaters. Maybe I'm not such a sweater hoarder after-all.

Day Four...Another Day, Another Yellow Turtleneck.

There was a time when Abercrombie offered something other than cutoff shorts and "ironic" statement tees. And whenever that short period of time was, I purchased a lot of sweaters there. In numbers.

So you can sort of understand why I might have given some of these sweaters a bit more leniency...just based on their heritage alone.

But no sooner had I pulled this yellow sweater over my head, than off it went and into the (ever growing) giveaway pile. There is not enough sentimental value for a sweater so short that you have to wear a shirt under it, but then so light in color, that said shirt must be extremely light in color.

But, in the interest of fairness, I decided to give his green brother a try. Lovely color, no pilling, no itch factor...but not really worth the tugging involved with a sweater this abbreviated. Next.

I must disclose that I'm a sucker for orange, and could very well have a month to this delicious color.  And this particular shade of orange was especially lovely, as it had flecks of yellow yarn mixed in with it.  So I was actually able to overlook the brevity of the length (maybe it'll be cool to tuck sweaters into a skirt this year), and declared this one a keeper.

My rating: The lesser Baldwin brothers (Alec is not included here).  They are (somewhat) attractive, and each have had their moment in the sun (Stephen had his Usual Suspects, Billy had Backdraft, and Daniel...well, he had Celebrity Rehab with the Silver Fox Dr. Drew). But, based on his recent work on Gossip Girl, I decided that Billy (the orange sweater), is pretty enough to stay in the sweater collection.

The Battle of the Yellow Turtlenecks is turning as competitive as that ill-fated celebrity skating show, "Skating With The Stars."

Here the brothers are, in happier times...

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Battle of the Yellow Turtlenecks: Day One

For the next three days, it will be a battle royale.  Three sweaters will enter...only one will survive (okay, maybe two--if there are two really great candidates).  Yes, it's the long-awaited, highly anticipated Battle of the Yellow Turtlenecks.  And to make this competition even more intense, two of the contestants have a fraternal twin, or triplet (this little beaut has a light-blue twin, and tomorrow's offering has a green AND an orange sibling.  And I'm sure they were $29.99.  There can be no other explanation).

What will happen if this sweater does not get chosen?  What does that do to his light blue brethren (if the yellow sweater is too short and has a saggy neck, won't the same fate befall him in blue)? And what of the triplets?  Oh, the potential for carnage will be great.

So much for sentimentality...I felt absolutely no emotion when I put this goldenrod turtleneck on in the, "Isn't this chunky knot cozy," or "This bright color really cheers up a cold December morning." No, all it evoked was the urge to keep pulling it down (chunky sweaters should be long and a bit over-sized...fine gauge turtlenecks, however, are allowed to be slightly cropped and fitted--the tribe has spoken), and an excitement to take it off when I went to play tennis. I contemplated putting it on again when I went back to the rink, but I decided that there would be no more second chances for this early 2000s American Eagle turtleneck. And, although I tried to make a case for his (really pretty) light blue sibling, ultimately, it suffered the same fate as his yellow doppelgänger.

So today had a double elimination, (which I usually dislike when it is on reality competitions, but it does make way for that sweater that I bought on Sunday). The grade for these dullards: William Hurt and John Heard. Virtually indistinguishable, inoffensive, but nothing you'd seek out.

Victims of the sweater blog so far: 3.

Tomorrow is day 2 of The Great Yellow Turtleneck Cage Match. And this one has 2 siblings to support!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Day Two

Here's what I get to wear today...lucky me! And, despite the deep fold marks to the contrary, I believe that I've actually worn this sometime during the Obama administration.  Something about that little blue tassel...

This early 2000s, Old Navy wool sweater barely evokes any kind of emotion from me.  Dull color, ho hum style, and a barely visible alpine stripe at the bottom of it.  Yawn!  Since it was that little tassel on the hood that prompted its stay of execution, I made it a point to wear that hood several times throughout the day. To which I heard, "That's a cool hat."  And it is.  But not a very exciting sweater.  In fact, without that little ball of yarn on the hood, it would be a downright depressing little sweater.  I hesitate to donate it to any charity, lest it give them the blues on a rainy November day.  But then there's that tassel to brighten things up.

My grade: Ashton Kutcher.  Other than a small note of whimsy, this sweater has very little going for it and has hung around far too long.  The fact that it is still working, while other, more worthy, sweaters languish in the back of the sweater stack is a real shame.  No longer.  The first victim of 100 Days of Sweaters has been decided.  And I won't be asking, "Dude, Where's My Tassel Sweater?"

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day One

Ah yes.  I seem to recall stopping at the Donna Karan outlet on the way to a skating competition around 2002.  And nothing says "skating coach" like a nordic print sweater.  Well, we will see how this one fares today.  I'm predicting those sleeves are going to annoy me, and I'm not so sure about that keyhole neckline.  There must be a reason that I cannot recall the last time I pulled this baby out.

I had high hopes for this sweater (and by that, I mean that I had hoped it would be so awful that I wouldn't even have to make a tough decision).  I thought it would itch, be too short, and have annoying bell sleeves--today would be simple.  Out it goes. So, when I walked into the rink this morning, immediately I heard, "I like your sweater."  I kid you not.  I rolled my eyes, and said, "Really?"  I got a second opinion.  My boss, a hockey coach said, "Predictable.  Very Dale of Norway," (hey, I couldn't expect him to guess that this was a DKNY offering).

As the day went on, I noticed that this sweater, while not necessarily my aesthetic, was quite soft, warm, and, dare I say it, cozy.  I feel like it cries out for a white turtleneck under it (and it can keep on crying, because Homey don't play that), but I can live with that. It looks like this sweater might be going back on the shelf...and maybe even one that I don't need a step stool to reach.

My grade: Chris O'Donnell.  Like the actor, this sweater is not flashy but it gets the job done and leaves the wearer warm and unbothered. Maybe it's not the height of fashion, but nobody will point fingers at it and mock.  While its Scent of a Woman moment is long in the past, there is still a future for this sweater, even if it is on network TV opposite LL Cool J.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

100 Days of Sweaters

100 Days of Sweaters.

So, I guess that would imply that I actually own 100 sweaters.  Ummm...yeah.  And, if you're being honest, you might come close to that number as well.  You see, sweaters aren't like the rest of their apparel brethren.  They don't seem to come and go out of style with every Taylor Swift boyfriend.  While that Gap turtleneck doesn't inspire anyone to stop you on the street and ask where you got it, it certainly won't invoke the ridicule of your co-workers like a pair of crocs or mom jeans would (I take that back...I've heard that mom jeans are now cool long as you're not actually of that age bracket).

At least that's what I thought.  How could a chunky knit sweater with a big cowl neck possibly go out of style?  And, while I'm at it, how could three identical (except in color, of course) chunky knit sweaters with big cowl necks ever be anything other than stylish and cozy? Multiples are a big reason why I need to do some serious sweater soul searching this winter.  Back in the Limited/Express heyday, who out there wasn't guilty of waiting until that seasonal favorite was marked down to $29.99, and then purchasing it in three different colors?  If the Gap is going to make that cardigan in twelve colors, who am I to stop at just one? Or two?

If my math is correct, and, for the sake of argument, I add three new sweaters to my collection each year (a very reasonable number, I might add), that make a sum total of 66 sweaters since 1990.  And, since I usually get a nice sweater for Christmas and my birthday as well (I buy acrylic...but my parents buy cashmere!), that number can easily surpass one hundred with very little effort on my part.  Am I a sweater hoarder, or is it just difficult for me to say goodbye to a friend who has committed no crime and stands by me during winter's coldest days?  Okay, maybe I am a bit of a sweater hoarder.

Part of the reason that some of my sweaters have been given a hall pass for the past couple of years (decades) is that I teach figure skating for a living, and spend most of my time in a cold ice rink.  I wear sweaters pretty much everyday, so, perhaps, that justifies my extensive sweater collection.  People who work in offices have over one hundred suits, right?

Although I do wear sweaters practically every day, most of them are not visible to the public as I also wear a big heavy coat for most of the day.  In the rare minutes that I am changing out of my rink coat, people might catch a glimpse of my old school Abercrombie turtleneck (back when they used to make clothes above a size zero), but that's usually just for a fleeting moment, and certainly nobody has time to register much about the stylishness (or lack thereof) of my sweater. That said, many of my sweaters are merely mediocre, and get worn simply because they're there.  They neither excite me nor annoy me.  They just are.  The woolen or angora equivalent of most of 90s pop groups.

It only dawned on me of late that, yes Virginia, sweaters do have styles, and maybe just maybe, a wool turtleneck isn't forever. One has only to go into Forever 21, H&M, or Charlotte Russe to realize that most of my American Eagle zip-up cardigans (from the era when they were the official clothiers to Dawson's Creek) would never be sold at that store today.  Just because something is classic, does not mean it is stylish.  If a high schooler has to ask you what chenille is, you might as well just resign yourself to shopping at Coldwater Creek (shudder) for the rest of your life.

It's time to put my sweaters to the task.  A different one every day.  And if it irritates me in any way during the day, or if I make excuses for it (like, "Oh, it'll fit better when higher waist pants come back," or "It'll make a great sweater for when I go sledding."), it'll be donated to a women's shelter (not that I want them to get irritated, but sweaters fit everyone a bit differently). This won't stop me from buying new sweaters (I just got an adorable one from Anthropologie today), but it will curb some of the guilt I feel when I look in my closet and see the sad faces of the forgotten sweaters.

And maybe giving some of these hard-working sweaters a bit of the limelight (albeit small) will ease the pain I'll feel when I have to put them down.  My first sweater debuts tomorrow...and I don't think he's come out of the closet (sweater-wise) in this decade.

100 Days of Sweaters

People use blogs for a multitude of purposes: to record travel experiences, to comment on fashion (and then win a judging role on "America's Next Top Model" or "Project Runway"), or even to discuss various issues relating to the care and feeding for exotic cyber pets (I'm suspecting that many of these were dreamed up during the boring parts of "Julie and Julia").

I have been told many times that I should have a blog (this is less a compliment to my writing ability and more a way to politely put a lid on my eclectic Facebook status posts).  For years I resisted this as strongly as I fought the urge to go on Twitter (the bird won...but I still refuse to "tweet," so there).  Who would want to read my daily musings on the career of Scott Baio, the merits of the various varieties of cookie dough, or, even a countdown to the return of heart turtlenecks (it's imminent...I assure you).  I'm hoping that the answer is "nobody," which will give me the freedom to analyze the very firmament upon which this country was built. Yes, I'm talking about sweaters.

Although the shoe gets more than its share of hype, (Carrie Bradshaw, my finger points squarely at you), I strongly believe that people get more comfort from a chunky-knit sweater on a Sunday afternoon than they would a pointy-toed stiletto. But then again, Victoria Beckham doesn't strike me as somebody who cares about that particular c-word (and if I were married to David Beckham, I would forgo happiness for my ten little piggies too). Sweaters provide warmth, style, and, on occasion, festivity.  But they are most often judged in terms of their degree of coziness.

Sweaters have one basic job: to keep their wearer warm.  When they do that successfully, they can expect to have a long and prosperous position in the October to April sweater rotation.  When they itch, pill, or fail to keep said owner toasty, then they often get relegated to the bottom of the pile (or worse...the storage bins in the attic).  Maybe they don't get tossed out onto the streets right away (hey, mid 90s turtlenecks from the Limited...when's the last time you've seen daylight?), but their days in "the show" may be far behind them.

I have a sneaking suspicion that some of my sweaters have been getting away with a great many of these crimes for a long time now. Without some form of record keeping, that acrylic cable knit turtleneck from the long-gone mall store could be taking up valuable real estate that could be filled by some lovely new offerings from Boden, Anthropologie, or, on a good day, Banana Republic.  So, Aeropostale, New York and Company, and even The Limited sweaters take notice--100 Days of Sweaters has begun. Be cozy...don't itch me...and, for goodness sake, be long enough.