Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Day 63 -- Itchy Business

Below is the original musings about this sweater...written exactly 8 months ago.  Apparently, I was overcome by the greatness of this Abercrombie crewneck and could no longer continue my evaluation.

Sunday, Feb. 24

It doesn't take Dionne Warwick or the Long Island Medium to see the writing on the wall: "This sweater, while somewhat high maintenance, is still perfect for those Sunday afternoon errands followed by hanging around the house pretending to care about football or watching a Dance Moms marathon. And it's such a great shade of orange to boot."  I guess I don't even have to bother wearing this today then, do I?  Or do I?  What if it is dramatically different than his oatmeal brother that I suffered through earlier this week?  What if the boxy shape is actually a plus, and makes my boring old corduroys suddenly seem straight off the (Old Navy) runway?

The day they perfect the technology to actually
feel something that you see online, I'm going to
submit this picture.  I'll call it itch-o-vision.

Did I really NOT caption this photo?  Was there nothing about this sweater that made me wax poetic?  How tragic!!

And that's all I wrote.  Was it so incredibly comfortable, flattering, warm, and cheery (no, NO, sort of, and not really) that I could find nothing of note about which to blog?

Well, not exactly...but [spoiler alert] it made it through the rigorous cut last year (and was neatly stowed in a sweater bag on my shelf), so there must be something that I liked about this sweater. At this point in the sweater blogging, I had begun to be (ever-so-slightly) more discerning about what made it through the process, so I'm a bit surprised that this one was taking up so much valuable real estate in my closet (not to mention that large size sweater bag from The Container Store that it inhabited with no space for a pouch-mate).

So, as a welcome back to the blog, I will wear this one again.  If I liked it enough to give this vintage (and by "vintage," I mean mid 90s...in the life of an Abercrombie sweater, that's practically a senior citizen) crewneck its very own sweater bag, I certainly can find it in my heart (and closet) to give it another whirl today. Because it is "in season" right now, I think this will be the perfect opportunity to put this sweater through the ringer (but not literally...I think that would be even more cruel than it's powerful itch fibers are being to me). As has been established, orange sweaters are my kryptonite (okay...pretty much any sweater is my kryptonite, but orange is the deadly kind that forces Superman into the Bizarro world--and that's based on my viewing of Smallville, so there might be some errors there).  And this is not just a plain orange...it's chunky, and laden with harvest colors.  So, while I know for a fact that this sweater (barely) survived the cut the first time around, I'm wondering if it will actually hold up to my standards this time.  

As soon as I pulled it over my head (wearing my usual brand of "first layer" shirts...not too thick as to disrupt the integrity of the sweater, but substantial enough to provide warmth), I wondered what kind of anti-biotics I might have been on last February...because this fella was one big orange ball of itch.  Constantly.  Sure, had I been frequenting Coldwater Creek or possibly the matronly section of L.L. Bean, I could have picked up a cotton turtleneck in a sensible color that might have protected me from the abrasions from this sweater...but there was no such armor today.  This brother scratched me like an S.O.S. pad all day (and, unfortunately, this was a day in which I started work at 6 a.m., so it got in a lot of extra itch-time).  Could I really justify keeping this sweater simply because it's got such a great autumnal color to it?  Perhaps it's time for one of those Pro/Con lists I read so much about in Readers' Digest (while wearing my   Carroll Reed cotton turtleneck, of course).

The pros: It's a really great color of orange--dare I say, "pumpkin spice?"
               It is nice and big, and doesn't cling to any part of my body.
               It is short, which enables a breeze to come up the sweater, which offers
               some temporary relief from the itchiness.
               It's warm (because it's a sweater and it's made out of wool and that's the job of    
               a sweater).
The cons: It is itchy.  Oh, how it itches.
               It has kind of a weird shape (or shapelessness) to it.  Not exactly flattering.
               It is short, which enables a breeze to come up the sweater.
               It is warm, but not very cozy...BECAUSE IT REALLY ITCHES!

In this case, I believe that the cons far outweigh the pros.  Until the day that the government shutdown affects sweater manufacturers (especially those that specialize in deliciously autumnal shades of orange), I don't feel that I need to hang onto every sweater in this color family.  Because, unlike how I might have felt before I started this blog, I am not actually saving any money by hanging onto this sweater.  It's not as if I'll walk into a store, see a beautiful orange crewneck and think, "Oh, this is lovely. But I already have a sweater in this color, so that's $60 that I won't have to spend.  I guess I'll just use this money to purchase some hydrocortisone cream to put on my skin to relieve the itching from my Abercrombie & Fitch orange sweater."

My rating:   Tom Cruise. I realize that it's almost impossible to talk about Mr. Cruise without bringing up his couch-jumping-Matt-Lauer-baiting-Brooke-Shields-hating behavior of late...and that's entirely my point.  There was a time when I would see a movie simply because Tom Cruise was in it (and, yes, that includes Cocktail).  Now, and I doubt I'm the only one who feels this way, I will avoid a movie for the very same reason (and when I slip and accidentally see a movie he's in, I get left with Rock of Ages.  Serves me right).  Sure, he still has his looks, talent, and his winning smile, but, underneath it all, there's a whole lot of itching.  Although I have trouble reconciling his work during The Outsiders through the Jerry Maguire era with what he's become lately, there isn't enough Aveeno or Gold Bond Medicated Cream in the world to get me to admit to being a fan of Tom Cruise anymore. While you might get a few compliments on the lovely nutmeg (or is it allspice?) color of this sweater (although I didn't get any), and some thought that Cruise's performance in Tropic Thunder stole the show (Wrong!  Robert Downey Jr. did...and was nominated for his work, so there!) does that outweigh the constant irritation by its woolen fibers and smugger-than-smug attitude? After surviving the original War of the Wools, this sweater has just become the next casualty.  It had me at "orange," but it left me at "seriously itchy."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Day 62 -- Zig Zagnut (i.e. the candy bar that one can only find at gas stations in the Midwest).

On a recent season of America's Next Top Model, Tyra Banks decided that it would be a good idea to give all of her would-be runway walkers the "gift" of a super power (or, in this case, super model power).  As she is well on her way to total and complete dictionary domination ("H to T modeling," "Booty tooch," and, how could I leave out, "Smize"), it was about time she unearthed yet another Tyraism...Intoxibella (which means, of course, "Super Model.")  On this very special episode, Tyra assigned one of the "beautiful young women I have standing before me," the Intoxibella power of "Zagalicious."  According to Madame Smize, this model "zagged" while the other models "zigged," (or was it the other way around?).  After every photo shoot, Tyra would either commend or scold this model for her use of this Intoxibella power.  In the end, Zagalicious did not see her photo, and, therefore, had to, "Immediately go home, pack her bags, and leave the competition forever."

All of this is to say that I feel that, were today's sweater a competitor in Model Land (the title of Tyra's Pulitzer prize-winning novel), it would have that same Intoxibella power.  Some grey cardigans just button up...this one is Zagalicous. Will I be able to handle this superpower, or will I send this sweater home to pack its bags and leave the Top Sweater house immediately.

To button or not to button: That is the question.

This ain't your grandmother's grey cardigan.

No, the moths didn't get this sweater--it's a whimsically placed buttonhole.
My Mom gave me this sweater, so you can all rest assured that it's of the finest quality (cashmere, of course), and was meant to be worn with something other than Adidas track pants (sorry, Gap turtlenecks...you never get that luxury).  I think that the only reason that I have not worn this sweater too much (or ever?) is because I was a little bit intimidated by those buttons.  What's the protocol here...do I button some of them...all of them...none of them?

After spending the day in this sweater, I'm still not sure that I can pull this much look off.  I did go out on a limb and belt my waist, so that I would at least appear that I knew what I was doing. I tried for that effortless, qui moi? look...as if I just finished my morning at the fresh flower market (or do they have those only in movies?) and am now headed to a gallery to see the latest installations by one of my favorite artists (neither of those activities, by the way, actually sound appealing to me). Instead, I had diagonal buttons, a belt just under my sternum, and a skirt that had Ray Bans printed all over it (hey, just because I still grant asylum to mock turtlenecks under my roof does not prohibit me from having any kind of stylish clothing).  I think that once I figure out how to wear it (right now it's wearing me), this sweater will become my choice to make a dull outfit just a wee bit more "zagalicious."

Blogger's admission: I wore this one again (I may not adhere to the rules of of the food pyramid or even Draw Something, but I am very good about sticking to the doctrine of the knitwear).  I think that it works best with a skirt or a dress, and looked much better when I didn't button every button.  I always seem to have a problem with that...I feel like not buttoning something is an admission that it doesn't fit.  Apparently, that is not the case (which I should remember from Carson Kressley's "Sometimes, Always, Never," rule when it came to buttoning jackets...or is it the other way around?).

Re-admission: Since I still haven't caught up, I relegated myself to only wearing repeat sweaters, lest I get even more behind (not that anyone is watching me, but I would hate to skirt the rules, even if I did create them myself).  Hence, I'm giving this one its third go in a little over a month.  This time, I put this zagalicious cardigan with a pair of corduroys (let's pretend that these were the stylish kind...not the ones that are still in your closet because they're "so comfy"). Once I got over the whole buttoning dilemma (since the sweater comes up ever so slightly in the front, I decided to go Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and button. every. last. button.  And, hey, it wasn't even that bad (because, of course, I have six-pack abs, so cardigans always lie flat). "Lie" being the operative word there.  Or is it "lay?"

So, grey cardigan, congratulations.  You're still in the running towards becoming my next top cardigan.

My rating: Scott Caan. Just a bit off-center, but fairly conventional at heart. He's not the typical "heartthrob" type actor (I doubt that, even if it were age-appropriate, he would ever be featured in Bop or Teen Beat magazines), but there's something indisputably charming about him.  Sure, these buttons are a bit daunting and there are times that he walks a little bit too much like his father, but sometimes a little left of center works (hey, wasn't that a song in Pretty in Pink?). Usually, I am wary of any tweaking to a successful ensemble cast (Gossip Girl, my perfectly manicured hand is pointing squarely at you), but, surprisingly enough, Scott Caan actually blended in quite well with the cast of Entourage in its later seasons.  Although I am purely Team Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon, of course. I don't think I've ever forgiven Matt Dillon for some of the tough delinquents that he played to perfection in the early 80s), I have to give it to Mr. Caan--he manages to steal almost every scene that he's in (which, admittedly, is not hard to do if the scene involves Turtle or E).  I must confess that I am not a regular viewer of Hawaii 5-0 (and that even included the episode that Rick Springfield was in), but, from the clips that I see of it, it appears that Mr. Caan's charisma and cock-sure attitude are in full effect and really take command of that show. Sure, most of the time we want our cardigans to play by the rules, but every so often it's nice to find a maverick out there who is willing to buck convention and do things his own way.  Book this cardigan, Danno (yeah, I went there).

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Poncho That Brought Me Back.

Remember those early days of the Internet, where life was simple (except for making mix-tapes--that was still difficult ) and it was actually a novelty to "chat" with friends online (which usually equated to people saying, "Hi, where's everybody from?" right in the middle of the rest of the room's conversation about last night's episode of Suddenly Susan).  At some point during all of that, I recall finding it actually fun when a friend would unexpectedly perform the cyber-equivalent of tapping me on the shoulder...yes, the good old "Instant Message" of yore.  At first, we all enjoyed the "Hey, what are you doing" routine...especially since we were probably on AOL to get our email in a time in which Tasmanian diplomats hadn't figure out that email was a more efficient way to reach us than phone calls during the dinner hours.  A few bon mots exchanged with our long-lost person that we see every day at work, and we were back to trying to navigate AOL's still-chartered but ever-so-slow waters.

But oh how the tides turned (both for AOL and Instant Messages).  Now, I'd sooner log off Facebook and my sure-to-clear-all-the-jelly session of Candy Crush than to be spotted by anybody online.  Not that I don't want to "talk" to them...it's just that I have the social media attention span for a sum total of one Maru video, a George Takei pun, and whatever Sesame Street or Muppet meme is going around these days.  I'd rather not use social media to be, ahem, social.

Flash forward a few years (but the sweaters remain.  Oh how they remain). It might not be a tug on the sleeve or a virtual poke, but I have something just as intrusive now (and it's far more guilt-inducing).  Yes, it's called (in the spirit of the early 90s) "My So-Called 100 Days of Sweaters."  I realize that I don't actually have readers out there who are worried about my well-being and wonder what happened to me after the travesties of Day 61 (hey, that snowflake sweater really wasn't deadly.  I actually found it kind of sweet...even if I did wear it in meteorological spring)--if there are any of those people, I assure you that I'm fine and no worse for the (100 days of) wear.  

And, yes, I really did wear 100 sweaters last year...in fact, I wore 101 (the hidden bonus track that was so prevalent in 90s/2000s CDs).  I actually could have kept going, but forced myself to stop the experiment, even if the weather dictated otherwise.  I really was diligent about it...so much so that when it remained cold well into May, I did not allow myself to wear any sweater that I hadn't already written (or planned to write) about. Why waste a perfectly good entry for next year's extravaganza?

Except for one thing: as much as I adore sweaters, I find it really difficult to write about them once baseball season has started (and, yes, I did re-wear one of the former contestants on opening day...and found it lacking).  Even though that little "to do" icon on my computer showed a shameful crimson "39" every time I turned on my computer, I was able to block it out for a while.  Those 39 entries would get done sometime, just not when I had such important things to do like complain about those infernal "Back to School" ads in July or ponder that moral dilemma about whether it's okay to sit inside watching "Pretty Little Liars" if it's really hot outside and, if I were outside, I'd just be running the air conditioning in my car which is, of course, bad for the environment (plus, I left off on a really good episode and I seriously need to know who "A" is).  Eventually, that garish "39" became white noise and I could enjoy Grumpy Cat in peace.

That is, of course, until this little beauty popped up on the side of my Facebook page (and, yes, I'm sure there's a way to turn those off--but, sometimes, they provide lovely products such as this).

What's that you say, Facebook?  A Michael Kors poncho in my favorite color that also features a turtleneck (perhaps a cowl, but it didn't look like that in the pop-up that I saw)?  Where do I sign up?  It turns out that I had merely to click on the poncho, enter a few numbers (otherwise known as my credit card numbers) and then, voila, it was mine.  I mean, it has to be stylish...it's Michael Kors (and from his commentary on Project Runway, I know that he has no intention of making me look like "A Mother-of-the-bride on crack," or a "Schlumpy woman at a buffet on a cruise").

In my mind, a poncho (and one in harvest colors, no less) signifies fall activities like no other.  If I'm not playfully raking the leaves (taking time to undue my work by jumping in a leaf pile or two), then I'm most certainly in a corn maze at a pumpkin patch, smugly wearing my poncho while eating that ideal taffy apple (no nuts, just candy bits or cookie crumbs).  As the sun sets on that perfectly crisp autumn day, I hold my hot apple cider in one hand and fresh kettle korn in the other, and am so content that I could spend this day in my Michael Kors poncho (or any of the other ponchos that I have purchased over the years...all in the hopes of living this same moment).  All is right in my world and in this poncho.

So here's a word that you don't often see in my life (except when it applies to a certain genre of TV shows)--reality.  Yes, for a brief moment my sanguine moment in the apple orchard was interrupted by that little bugger. At first it was a small thought like: "But how will you reach up for that high apple if you don't have full range of motion in your arms?"  And to that I replied, "But this poncho is superior to those ones in the past because it has sleeves," (well, they're kind of abbreviated, but they are still sleeves).  And then it got louder, "But what if it's really cold at that football game you plan to wear this poncho to?  Can you wear a coat over it?"  Silly voice in my head, this is fall in the midwest.  Every day will be a sunny 65 degrees and then will dip down to 60 just in time for that bonfire.  But that voice remained, and it didn't give up.  Whatever whatever...I will find a way to carry a purse (that's why they created clutches), drive my car (both hands on the steering wheel is so last century) or swing that sledgehammer for that carnival game that they always have on TV shows at their Fall Fest where the bell rings and you win a really large and unattractive stuffed animal (my solution: I'll stick with the "Guess Your Weight" game because, in a poncho...who knows?).

And then there was a whisper...it was so quiet at first, I assumed it was the sound of the wind as I rode on that hayride after a trip to the most sincere pumpkin patch in town.  But then it got louder and more forceful, and, finally, I could ignore it no longer: it was the cries of the turtle and cowl necks that had met their untimely demise on the blog.  They were speaking to me from their graves (or at least their new homes...and maybe in a new incarnation like re-purposed mittens or cat toys) and they had just one word for me "neck."  What were they talking about--this neck was great...it was orange and chunky and...oh, wait a minute.  It really isn't sitting right, now is it?  NBD (as the kids say)...the rest of the sweater is so cute that...hold on.  This isn't a sweater.  It's a poncho.  And a poncho with a dubious neck has an entirely greater set of problems than a regular proletariat sweater.  It's fine.  I think.

After fussing with the neck a few times, I did the mature thing and put the poncho back in the closet and decided to think about it later.  Then I also went to the Nordstrom website to read the comments section--oddly enough, nobody mentioned anything other than how large it was (something that I will almost never complain about).  I went to other websites, but found nothing--except that every time I saw that poncho, I fell in love with it all over again.  Such great colors, and did I mention that it's Michael Kors?  Oh, I did? Sorry!

A few weeks later, I decided that maybe I had better heed the words of my fore-sweaters. If the neck is bugging me now, imagine how I'll feel at that proverbial pep rally? Why would a poncho get a pass from the rules while so many other, perfectly fine, turtlenecks be branded with a scarlet C (for cowl)?  While I think that I could have lived with this neck being slightly thick and non-committal (Was it a cowl? Am I supposed to "slouch" it?), perhaps it was time for me to learn something from my past behaviors and this poncho became the innocent victim for my crimes of those 100 days.  So, hat in hand (don't get me started on my hat collection.  Another time, another blog), I brought this beautiful specimen back to his rightful home at Nordstrom.  And that's when I saw this mannequin...taunting me, daring me (and, let's be honest, looking far better in this poncho than I did).  And how come the neck looks normal on her?  Maybe I should give it another try...

If she had a real face, you would see it glowing.  I almost want to buy this poncho all over again!

I'm sure at this point, those of you who are betting folk would put money down that I turned around and kept my poncho.  Which I almost did.  Had I not been in a remarkably speedy line at the checkout desk, I probably would have done just that.  But I did it.  I learned from my past mistakes and decided that an angst-causing turtleneck (no matter what his pedigree is) will never bring me the happiness that I have come to expect in a sweater.  Congratulations, me.  I have finally turned over a new (albeit changing color) leaf.

And yet, even as I was leaving the store (for once, $150 richer), I was wistful.  Whatever will I wear when I go to the town's annual pumpkin carving contest?  Because I'm so the type to just grab a pumpkin spice latte (except I don't really drink coffee), throw this on over my (non-existent) skinny jeans and go.

Oh, but wait...I can totally justify this purchase when it goes on sale.  I mean, at the inevitable $69 price, this is practically a steal, right?

And that's when I knew that, despite spending well over 100 days wearing sweaters of questionable taste and quality levels, I still have a lot to learn.  Not the least of which is that waiting until, oh, say, January, to add this sweater (okay...let's face it...it's a damn poncho) to my collection will only ensure that it never gets worn. Because while I may not have changed my wicked woolen ways entirely, I do know that sweaters in harvest colors do not make the grade in January.  Not only can we not visit an operative pumpkin patch over MLK weekend, if we did, we would most certainly need to wear a coat...which this PONCHO does not allow.  So, while I might save a few dollars buying this on sale, I would almost certainly never get to wear it, rendering it practically useless (which, for a poncho, is, admittedly, redundant).  All of which makes me think that I should have kept it, and were it not for that meddling neck, I might have done just that.

The fact that I'm still kept up at nights going over this transaction in my head makes me realize that I will never get any peace if I don't at least finish last year's blog.  Or, at the very least, spend a week trying to act like a functioning human being, all the while wearing a poncho.  That ought to cure me of my affection for them (or at least the notion of them).  Either that, or I'll come up with a whole set of coping strategies for how to eat corn-on-the-cob, pump gas, and do the Gangham Style dance without the full range of motion that a poncho prohibits.

So I'm going back to the blog. It won't be fun.  It won't be pretty.  But it is necessary.  I have all of these sweaters, their school pictures at the ready and in draft format...all awaiting my wit (or, at the very least, my extensive use of parentheses and ellipses).  I did consider not allowing myself to wear any new (or unwritten about) sweater until I finished the entire blog...but, c'mon.  That would be seriously cruel..and I have such a great cinnamon (or was it allspice?) half-zip sweater from Boden that is just waiting for a day at the Fall Fest.  Or the football game.  Or the hayride...

Yeah, I need to do this.  Bear with me.  I'm still learning...

Blogger's note: I still haven't gone back to re-purchase that poncho.  But, let me tell you, just looking at these photos is similar to showing pictures of chocolate chip cookies to someone on a diet (also me).  So tempting!  But, as they say, those who does not learn from the past, is destined to wear a cowl neck...or a poncho...or a mock neck...or a funnel neck...or...

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 61 -- Fortunate (Great-Grand) Son

Right after your heart-shaped box of chocolates has nothing left in it but the odd ones filled with fruit and/or nuts but just before it becomes socially acceptable to eat a Cadbury Creme Egg, there comes a period of time formally known as "The Winter Blahs."  The sight of snow on the ground has lost its charm, and the prospect of Spring Break (or even MTV's annual coverage of it) seems so far off.  Worse yet, TV sweeps week is over so most of the best shows are reruns...or preempted by lackluster mid-season replacements.  This is also the time of year in which most people proclaim that they are sick of their wardrobe and they start pulling out the spring looks.

I, however, did not pull out my Ann Taylor Loft pastel collection, and was secretly (I guess not so secret anymore) quite happy with the ugly turn that Chicago's winter took...especially since I knew that I could never get away with today's sweater if the words "unseasonably warm" were ever uttered on our nightly forecasts. As I have no intentions of breaking out the short sleeved wool sweaters (Bad. Idea.), I need this lingering chill in the air to remain for at least 39 more days.  Oh, and a blizzard or two wouldn't hurt.  It doesn't need to be on the level of the storm that almost shut down Christmas in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer--it just has to be enough so that people actually take out those brushes from under their seats and dust off their windshields (I'm lazy...I usually just use my wipers and hope that the rest will just blow off.  Again. Bad. Idea.).

So, since the meteorologists have all been calling for "substantial snow" this afternoon, I decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to wear this lovely little cashmere snowflake turtleneck from the early-to-mid 2Ks. It's an adorable shade of, well, what exactly would one call this?  Lime? Spring green?  Help me, OPI (Wan Kenobi)...you're my only hope (they would probably call it "Tom Green" if it were from their "Mid 90s: Where are They Now?" collection. Hey, if they can come out with a Modern Family collection, nothing is out of the realm of possibility).

Although this is a lovely little turtleneck, I wonder if there is a reason that I don't wear it very much.  Either I'm intimidated by its cashmere lineage or, possibly, I folded it so neatly that I did not want to disturb its peaceful slumber in the armoire (sadly, that's actually the more likely of the explanations).

The message here is simple and uncluttered: snowflake.  That's it.

Nary a pill in sight.  Impressive.

"And the neck snaps back...wash after wash."

Even though I waited for a snowy day to wear this sweater, currently, I am blogging about it in the low 80s with the air conditioning on, and am wondering how I can possibly find nine more days to convincingly pull off wearing a sweater. Ah, procrastination...it's not just for college students anymore.

After wearing this all day, I am left with a sense of disillusionment at the sweater this might have been.  Sure, the color and the graphic are adorable, and the neck never once caused me a moment's unease...still, the fit was slightly too slim for a sweater of this nature, and I found myself "willing" the sweater to instantly grow just a few inches longer on more than one occasion during the course of the day. Perhaps if it covered just a little bit more surface area, this might be the optimistic little turtleneck that I would gravitate towards in the most Gothic of winter days.  As it is, I can't recall wearing this on more than a handful of instances (and even that might be a bit of an overstatement). In fact, were this sweater in a really ugly color (like, oh, "Shecky Greene"--can't believe I referenced him here) or featured any other winter symbol besides a snowflake (would anybody wear a sweater with a graphic of a plunging thermometer on it? How about a salt-covered car?), I might not be cutting it so many breaks.  

So while it is not as perfect as it purports to be, it's a really cute color, it's well-made and the neck stays in place.  I suppose it's not really hurting anything by hanging around the rest of my sweaters (maybe some of its good breeding will rub off on the acrylic factions), and there's always the hope that it will someday reach its true potential on my watch. And boy does it photograph well!  I wonder if it's been surgically enhanced...or, at the very least, airbrushed.

My rating: Armie Hammer.  And I can already hear the collective, "Who?" all over cyberspace (or at least the two non-computerized, not-my-Mom readers that might accidentally stumble across this blog when they are looking for something better to read).  You know him, even if you think that you don't.  He played the adorable-but-uptight Winklevoss twins in The Social Network, and will also be appearing as The Lone Ranger (with Johnny Depp as Tonto.  Will probably skip that one). He's also been in some other movies which I didn't see (c'mon...did anyone watch J. Edgar?  Didn't think so). What separates him from the other really really good looking actors is that his last name is Hammer, (No, not as in MC, but that would be amazing). He is the heir to the baking soda fortune (am I the only one who didn't know that Arm & Hammer was actually kind of a real name?), and is, like this turtleneck, a product of very good breeding. He's one of those performers that is so attractive that you tend to overlook certain things like, oh, juvenile snowflake graphics, short sweater length, and not a lot of range in his acting abilities. Mr. Hammer might not be this generation's Olivier (as in Lawrence, not as in Halle Berry's hot fiance/baby Daddy/future husband Olivier Martinez), but he comes from good stock (cashmere), is quite attractive, and there is not a pill or blemish in sight. I might sometimes get confused between baking powder and baking soda when I cook, but I will never forget Armie Hammer when the recipe (or weather) calls for him.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 60 -- How Now, Brown Cowl?

Since I am an avid viewer of Project Runway (yes, and even the spin-off, Project Runway All-Stars. What can I say...I can't get enough of that Loreal Paris Makeup Room and the Lord & Taylor Accessory Wall), I am fairly certain that Fashion Week for the Fall lines has just recently taken place.  All over the world, fashion editors are busy assembling their inspiration boards and attempting to find new and interesting ways to tell us to, once again, invest in military-inspired jackets and androgynous suiting.

My fear, however, is that the real fashion craze come September will be the triumphant return of the cowl. I can see the (cringe-inducing) headlines in the pun-loving In Style now..."Cowl-ing all Sweaters," "All about the Cowl," or, shudder, "Fall Cowl-ections." Maybe, if I just wait a few more months, I'll be fashion's new It-girl, my cowl-bedecked neck will be following in the high-stilettoed footsteps of Alexa Chung and Sienna Miller before her. My cowls might look, at best, out of place right now, but with the right media exposure and a few strategic re-tweets, who knows? The Lolitas in Japan might soon be abandoning their parasols, pacifiers, and pinafores in favor of some choice chenille cowlnecks. So I should probably hang onto all of my cowlneck sweaters, just in case...right?

This tan chenille cowl sweater hails from the early 2K Express sweater collection and, the savvy reader will notice its resemblance to the ill-fated sweaters of Days 50 and 54.  Yes, it is the third in this series (and there are two more waiting in the wings.  This is the knitwear equivalent of The Partridge Family...or, depending on your decade of preference, Party of Five). While his siblings met an unfortunate demise, every sweater is given a fair chance here (unless, of course, it has a mock neck.  Then I make no promises), and I will judge this cowlneck on its own merits (assuming, of course, that it has any).  And when cowls become all the rage and are more difficult to get than the latest It Bag from Balenciaga, you can all say that I was just extremely ahead of my time. Or maybe ten years behind...

Cowl neck? Check. Bell sleeves?
Discount double check.

You think you're tired of looking at cowlnecks?
Try wearing them day after day. After this experiment,
I'm going to go through cowl withdrowl (sorry...I had to).

What a difference a flash makes. This sad hue
is brought to you by the word "bland."

I've got to say this about the cowlneck--it makes accessorizing a snap.  No necklace, no scarf, no 80s-inspired broach needed...just drape that cowl and go. While it is, in many ways, liberating, it certainly does not allow for much creativity and forces the sweater to do all of the talking.  Which, in this case, was more like a whisper mixed with a mumble.  Not that this wasn't soft, long enough, and, okay, fine...warm, but that's about where the praise ends. In fact, I forced myself to wear it again because I had absolutely no lasting impression of this sweater at all.

Upon second wearing, I started to see the proverbial cracks.  The bell sleeves proved to be a bit cumbersome, and I didn't find the color to be any too inspiring (my Mom called it perfectly.  "It looks like you're wearing a sweater made from a ball of twine."  That's not exactly the words J. Peterman...or J. Crew, for that matter, would use to entice you to buy one of their sweaters, is it?). All in all, this was a fine, milquetoast sweater, but nothing more. While I might keep it on the roster, it is definitely benched, and is in danger of being sent down to Triple A.

My rating: Marlon Jackson (hey, it's better than Jimmy Osmond).  As one of The Jackson Five, Marlon's visage may have appeared on many a lunchbox, album cover, or cheap 70s iron-on decals, but I challenge anyone to try to identify exactly which one is Marlon.  Sure, everybody knows Michael, Jermaine, and, due mainly to the pure joy in saying his name, Tito...but how many people can point to Marlon and say, "Yep...that's Marlon.  He's my favorite Jackson brother." Similarly, while this sweater was fine (and actually met a far better fate than befell his brothers), I sure couldn't pick it out of a lineup (and certainly wouldn't pick it out of an armoire).  I am confident that he was a valuable asset to the Jackson 5, and while this was a warm and pleasant sweater for a random Tuesday afternoon, I feel like I've already given him more airtime than he really wants or deserves.

So, while I'm tempted to donate this sweater to charity, a certain song lyric keeps haunting me -- "Oh darlin' I was blind to let you go. But now since I see you in his arms
I want you back." Okay, fine...I'll hang on to this one (for Michael's sake), but since I've yet to review the two remaining Jackson sweaters (one is a chunky grey, the other a lovely light blue), here's hoping the remaining members of this quintet are fine with Marlon remaining a solo act.  Even the most fashionable of trendsetters would not wear a cowlneck every day.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 59 -- The 17 Year Itch

Gather 'round, kids, and I'll tell you a tale about a store called "Abercrombie & Fitch."  Now, back in my day, they used to have a little something called "clothing." You would purchase these items, put them on your body, and they would keep you warm and protect you from the elements.  I know that might seem like a tall tale, but it's the truth...ask anyone that hails from these parts.

Okay, now that I've got playing the part of Old Prospector out of my system, I can return to the business at hand.  Of course, there is some truth to his, ahem, yarns.  In fact, at one time, I applied for a job at Abercrombie (they were recruiting in the food court of my graduate school...I must have missed those Fortune 500 companies) and they told me that the dress code for their employees was, and I quote, "A flannel shirt, long shorts, and hiking boots."  And this was long after the whole Seattle look had swept (and quickly fled) middle America.  Although I haven't darkened their door for a long time (due to an unfortunate "ma'am" incident a few years back),  I can be fairly certain that their tags no longer bear the phrase that is on this sweater's label: "Reliable Outdoor Goods," and that the only thing that's long in the employees' dress code is their legs peaking out under those Daisy Dukes--and that applies to the girls AND the guys). I guess this sweater could be considered one of the last of its kind...although I can tell you in all honesty that I never put it to the "reliability" or "outdoor" test.  Maybe I will today (does walking through the parking lot to my car count?).

This Abercrombie sweater hearkens back to 1996 (although it is possible that I could have purchased it during the January of '97 after-Christmas sales..but, for the convenience of this title, let's assume that it was '96), and has siblings in orange (yeah!) and dark green (sigh of indifference).  I know this for a fact because I wore the dark green version in support of the Green Bay Packers when they played in Superbowl 31 (I spared you the Roman numerals.  You're welcome).  It's not face paint, but, then again, I'm not really that into football--a tribute sweater is about as far as I'll go for the NFL.  And it worked...the Packers won that Superbowl.  Perhaps I should have worn that sweater more this past season...maybe Aaron Rodgers would have come to thank me personally in recognition of my efforts for his team (hey, I only said that I wasn't that into football.  I never mentioned anything about my appreciation for cute quarterbacks).

Some people like to start their day with oatmeal.  As for me,
I greet the morning in an oatmeal-colored sweater (and a Diet Coke).
Only one of the above gave me enjoyment...

They may look innocent here, but those little wool fibers sure pack a wallop!

As soon as I pulled this sweater over my head, I knew that I was in for a long and uncomfortable day.  Despite the fact that I wore it with my usual layering tee (don't worry...I have more than one), I had the instant sensation that I was on a hay ride.  The little fibers were busy itching me while I taught, and I found myself planning my day around when I could change out of this veritable hair shirt.

Since I have an older brother, I am well-versed in the ways of itching powder (it's not just for sleepovers anymore), and I can tell you that this sweater could hold its own against that vile substance any day.  I can't figure out how I ever wore this sweater without breaking out into hives...or, at the very least, soaking in a bath of calamine lotion afterwards.  The only reasonable explanations that I can come up with are that either wool fibers get itchier with age (unlikely), or that I wore this sweater with a thicker shirt underneath (perhaps even a mock-T, as was the style back then).  My Lycra long-sleeved T was no match for the diabolical powers of this yarn, and I soon succumbed to the itchiness and waved my oatmeal-colored crewneck in surrender.  Sure I was defeated in this battle, but I knew that the war is still waging on as there are two other family members out there, camped out in my closet and possibly infiltrating some of my cashmere sweaters' bunkers.  Although this sweater kept my reasonably warm, it was neither soft nor was it fun to wear.  I don't recall ever wishing that I had an oatmeal sweater to complete an outfit, and, if I did, I certainly wouldn't be coveting this particular boxy and unflattering over-sized crewneck.  The only thing "good" about this sweater is written on its tag.

My rating: Gilbert Gottfried.  I know, I know, his voice is his gimmick.  I get it.  But it doesn't mean I have to like it.  He's annoying.  Like this sweater, I can only take the irritation so long before I have to change (the channel, the DVD, or the sweater.  Take your pick).  I did enjoy his work in Aladdin...but that was in small doses and played to his strengths (read: He played an annoying bird.  Typecasting, anyone?).  I would no sooner watch a star vehicle featuring Mr. Gottfried than would I wear this sweater on an all-day field trip to some art museum in the city (complete with a long bus ride through rush hour traffic with screaming junior high students. Wow, that was vivid.  Let's hope I never have to experience that).  I can appreciate that he's still "reliable goods" and consistently finds voice-over work in various commercials and cartoons, but that's where I think it should stop.  I'm the adult here...if a sweater is itching me, then I am perfectly within my rights to get rid of it.  If a comedian is not funny and his voice grates on my very last nerve, then I am under no moral obligation to keep watching his stand-up routines.  Hey, Dane Cook has a perfectly normal voice, and I feel no remorse when I turn him off the millisecond I see his smug little face, so why should I feel bad for disliking Gilbert Gottfried (as a comedian, of course.  I'm sure he's a perfectly lovely person.  Dane Cook, however, not so much).  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Day 58 -- The Winter Warlock

I don't know if I have some deep-seeded Elizabethan propensity to want to cover my neck, or if I just admire the turtleneck stylings (albeit under a leather blazer, of course) of David Hasselhoff on Knight Rider, but, if you haven't yet noticed, I have a lot of turtlenecks.  And, for whatever reason, I seem to wear this one a lot.  Which either serves to explain the number of pills on the sweater, or might give one pause as to why I am attracted to a sweater so disheveled (amateur psychologists...have at it).  I think that I wear this sweater in the hopes that it will one day reach its potential...which is, of course, to be that sweater.  The sweater that might inspire an ad in L.L. Bean to proclaim, "This is the sweater that will take you from dog sledding at your cabin, to a cozy night at home by the fire. Golden Retriever not included."

Despite the appearance in these photos to the contrary, this sweater from the Gap's Holiday '01 collection (and nothing says "Holiday Party" quite like a dark chunky wool/acrylic turtleneck) is a fairly traditional black and white heavy knit blend.  There is a slight roll at the hem (but not the sleeves, thank goodness for that)...which, if you'll recall the classic maritime adage, "Rolled hem in the morning, wearer take warning."

You've seen this sweater before...you'll probably see it again.  The
much-desired, rarely-achieved thick chunky turtleneck.

No, I didn't add an Instagram sepia filter on this image.  That's
what happens when you take iPhone photos at 4:30 in the morning.

This reminds me of those horribly close-up photos of bugs that
they used to have in World magazine (although this is much scarier).

I kind of "get" why I have worn this sweater so much over the past twelve (!) years (and, if you're doing the math, that probably brings me down to about sixty cents per use)--it is bulky (in a good way), soft, warm enough, and pretty much matches anything just by virtue of it being so dark and nondescript.  However. It pills. It rolls up. And the neck kind of reminds me of that brace Mr. Duggins wore in that courtroom episode of The Brady Bunch (I can't believe that it took me until Day 58 to reference my favorite TV family).  I'd like to think that I had a durable black turtleneck to throw on when the weather (or a bad case of whiplash) dictates, but I think I could do better than this (Please tell me that there's a better chunky black turtleneck sweater out there for me.  Do they have a sweater version of match.com?).  So, Mr. Gap Holiday '01...it looks like the pill-popping partying is all over for you.  It's been a slice!

My rating: Charlie Sheen.  No, not for the obvious reasons (I'd like to think that I can judge a sweater and an actor by his or her merits, not by any pharmaceutical tendencies)...I'm focusing here on lost potential.  There was a time in which Charlie Sheen was (and not by his own decree either) a Master of the Universe (more in the sense of Thomas Wolfe than of the Mattel toy collection).  His powerful performances in Platoon, Wall Street, and Eight Men Out signified the arrival of talented young actor , but it was his work in Lucas and Ferris Bueller's Day Off that caused me (thank you, Teen Bop magazine) to plaster my locker with pictures of Mr. Sheen (and we're not talking Martin here).  Perhaps, I thought, he would be the one to pick up the mantle left off by his brother (no offense, Emilio....I just think that your marriage to Paula Abdul and your subsequent mediocre film roles and lackadaisical mustaches kind of killed my crush on you).  

But then Charlie Sheen, the actor, went from working with Oliver Stone, to, well, perpetually being stoned (I know I wasn't going to go there, but it was just too easy).
Soon, everyday, was like Holiday '01 for Mr. Sheen, and things kind of spiraled downward from there.  While I can still sort of see what attracted me to him in the first place (a good sense of humor, chunky blended yarn), there's too much baggage with him (the pills, the awkward neckline, that whole oft-referenced "winning" thing) to take the relationship any further.  I can't quite reconcile the baby-faced football player in Lucas with the venom spewing, Panama-shirt wearing Lothario...and I'm not sure that I want to.

I gave Charlie (and this sweater) so many chances that I really stopped counting after a while.  Even after the whole fiasco with Two and a Half Men, I wished him well (I guess a little bit of charm and 80s movie cache, can go a long way with me...and the public as well).  But I think that I'm done with this sweater.  It doesn't bring me the joy that I had hoped it would, and I am tired of making excuses for it. Pilling might be forgivable in a greater sweater (or actor), but, when stacked on top of everything else ("Tiger's blood," anyone?), it's pretty much the final straw on top of that poor camel's back.  Sorry, Charlie.

Editor's note: I actually threw this sweater on one more time (due to complexities of the sweater blog mandates).  It still, for lack of a better word, sucked.

Another note from the editor: I was really cold...and there it was.  The day was a typical gloomy, rainy, and chilly afternoon April.  While this sweater kept me warm, it brought no sunshine to my life (whither goest thou, Major League and Hot Shots?).  I guess this is my "Violent Torpedo of Truth."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Day 57 -- Oh Captain, My Gap-tain

I'm going to be honest here...I don't actually recall ever purchasing this sweater.  Which is not to say that it was a gift (or, for that matter, "pinched" from a store)--all it indicates is that this lovely pastel turtleneck fell victim to over-packed sweater shelf syndrome.  Had I not removed so many benign v-necks and ho-hum hoodies, this creme-de-menthe colored Gap turtleneck might never have seen the light of day again.  Come to think of it, I'm surprised that it didn't still have the tags on it...or, at the very least, that clear sticker that I often forget to remove from Gap clothing that proclaims to the entire world that, yes, I'm wearing an L, and I'm darn proud of it.  The tag indicates that it is from Holiday '05...which means that I probably purchased it in January in a feeble attempt to locate even more chenille turtlenecks from that collection (see: Days 24, 25, and 40). So I guess it has one thing going for it already...it's not chenille.

Anyone craving mint chocolate chip ice cream now?

This neck looks promising...but can it keep that promise?

After what feels like weeks of ill-fitting sweaters (funny how one bad sweater can spoil and entire shelf of knitwear), I was not expecting much. Surely I had some reason for not wearing this sweater...other than an apprehension about how to match this creme-de-menthe color with anything in my wardrobe.  So, much to my utter surprise, this little turtleneck restored my faith in the genre (at least temporarily...who knows what horrors await me over the next 43 days?).  Okay, sing along with me, "It was soft, was long enough, had a cheerful color, and the neck stayed in place,"...(those lyrics aren't exactly Bob Dylan, but at least you can all understand them).  The ice cream hue gave a hint of spring to an otherwise dreary February day, and at no point during the day did I fuss with the hem, neck, or sleeves.  I guess I owe this wallflower sweater a bit of an apology.

Blogger's admission: Yes, I did it again.  So as not to get even further behind on my entries, I re-wore this sweater--just to refresh myself on its reported merits.  And I have to say, I like it even more now.  Of course this could be because I wore it right before Easter...when the jelly bean hue actually looked appropriate.  Still, it was soft, had good give to it, and it definitely covered my own, ahem, jelly belly.

My rating: Robert Sean Leonard. As he comes from the early-90s tradition of the unnecessarily thrice-named actors (I get the whole hyphenated last name thing...but did we really need Penelope Ann Miller, Mary Kay Place, Tom Everett Scott, Mary Stuart Masterson, et al?), it is all too easy to overlook him, especially amongst the single monikered actors of today--Brad, Matt, Tom, Denzel, Yahoo (or am I the only one who still remembers his tour-de-force performance in Young Einstein?).  But any fan of House will tell you that the interaction between Robert Sean Leonard's Watson (even typing it is cumbersome.  Is he "Mr. Leonard?" Mr. Sean Leonard?  Robert Sean?) to Hugh Laurie's Holmes was really the heart and soul of the show (with apologies to all of the viruses and bacterium, of course).  

So why can't anybody name, with any confidence, any of the stars of Dead Poets Society--with the exception of Robin Williams (whose performance in Patch Adams, Bicentennial Man, and, honestly, most of his films from the past 10 years will earn him the not-so-highly coveted role as a really itchy, smug, and ill-fitting sweater rating if he's not careful) and the lovely autumnal colors?  Perhaps his career would have taken off like chenille had he lost one of this names (his costars Ethan Hawke and Josh Charles are still finding work)--of course that would also mean that, like chenille, his once thriving career would have also reached its peak somewhere around the early part of this century.  I'd like to think that Robert Sean Leonard prefers the slow and steady to the sprint...and is content to do quality television work or perk up a boring outfit when the opportunity arises. While he is often relegated to the back of the sweater shelf (or, even worse, the "I didn't know I owned this" pile), I'm sure he'd gladly accept that role over the high octane action films or insipid buddy comedies of his other three-named colleague, Seann William Scott (don't worry, Seann William, I am waiting for just the right sweater to name after you...and you'd better believe that it's got a cowl). This sweater might have taken a while to "Seize the day," but I certainly found it to be worth the wait.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day 56 -- That 90s Sweater

Feeling a little nostalgic for the days when Ricky Martin, Britney Spears, and the Backstreet Boys ruled the airwaves (so nice), cell phones still had antennas, and the thought of combining celebrity couples names (a la "Brangelina," "Bennifer," and, gag, "Kimye") had not yet been dreamt up? Although I probably haven't worn this sweater set since then, (remind me again when it was socially acceptable to wear a sweater set--let alone in chenille), I know that I have at least considered wearing it a few times over the past decade.  Yeah, it's that old...can't you tell by its many wrinkles (the same cannot be said for  Ricky...Senor Martin looks muy fant├ístico!).

Since I'll be spending the day in a cold ice rink, this sweater doesn't have too many demands on its plate--it merely has to compliment my cute skirt and stay out of the way.  That shouldn't be too difficult for a high quality Dana Buchman sweater set, should it?

And of course I steam-ironed this before wearing it...

The only positive thing that I can say about this sweater is
that it's really better looking in person.  It's actually
a nice rich black...not this odd shade of sludge.

When I started the day wearing this sweater set, things did not appear to be too grim.  It seemed soft (due to the fact that it was a higher quality than my usual mall-store chenille...thanks, Mom), hit at a nice part of my skirt (which means that it would be a halter if I were to pair it with anything less than fly-fishing waders), and I thought that maybe I had relegated this to the far corner of the sweater stack unjustly.  But then things took a turn for the worse. Several times I had to reach up the arms of my coat to retrieve the sleeves of the sweater.  And when I say, "Several," I mean, "A bazillion."  And is there any sensation quite so pleasant as when the individual parts of sweater set decides to go solo, and, in a tribute to the sometimes-feuding members of Fleetwood Mac, "Go Your Own Way." Actually, Chubby Checker might be the more appropriate analogy here, as both the sweater and the shell were doing "The Twist," (and not in unison, I might add).  If I had any lingering doubts about this sweater, they were erased when I went foraging around under my coat, in a futile attempt to try to locate this sweater's many hems, necklines, and cuffs.  Perhaps, unlike the erstwhile Hostess Twinkie (R.I.P., good friend), chenille actually "goes bad" and loses its elasticity (I'm guessing they didn't count on anybody hanging on to these sweaters for more than three presidential terms).  Bye bye, Dana Buchman. It's been nice ignoring you on the shelf--and now I know why.

My rating: Wilmer Valderrama. There was a time when it was practically a rite of passage for a young starlet in Hollywood to be in a "serious" relationship with this improbable Casanova. His work on That 70s Show notwithstanding, I can see no valid reason as to why this person's actions are still newsworthy.  Instead of checking IDs at clubs, perhaps they should check that person's imdb.com (I just made that up...look for that in a Jay Leno monologue any day now).  While I have no problem with an actor that has, to put it nicely, fallen on hard times and is having a hard time finding quality work, I do have a problem when an actor is more famous for hanging out at the clubs and dating the latest it-girl (or "canoodling" as the tabloids so often call it) than doing any actual acting or charitable work. He was quite funny on that show, and this chenille was very soft, but there were so many strikes against him that I could not, in clear conscience, keep this sweater around, lest it serve as a negative influence on my other sweaters.  Much like so many women must feel about their Louboutins after wearing their highest stilettos at one of those Valderrama-frequented Hollywood clubs, I couldn't wait to take this sweater off at the end of the day (or, in the clubbers' case, the night).  
This sweater set, like Mr. Valderrama's intense social life, is best left in the late 90s/early 2000s.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Day 55 -- The Most Dramatic Blog Entry Ever

Worn on February 16th...blogged, well, sometime when writing about sweaters seemed preferable to working on my taxes.

Although wearing a heart sweater two days after Valentine's Day might seem like an oversight on my part, make no mistake, it was all part of my master plan (do not insert a maniacal laugh...there is nothing devious going on here).  As I will be attending the Sweetheart Open with several of my skaters this weekend (I guess they were hoping that Valentine's Day would fall on a weekend this year.  As nobody says anymore, "Fail."), I figured that this would be an excellent opportunity for me to give this J. Crew newbie some airtime.  I'm sure that, by now, most of you are thinking, "Newbie?  Oh, that must mean that she purchased it sometime when Mad About You was still on the air." Ye of, well, I was going to say, "Little faith," but then I realized that I haven't given any of you any reason to assume that I actually own clothes that were constructed during the Obama administration.  I do.  I have plenty of sweaters from this year (oops!  I might have made a few, ahem, investments in my wardrobe in January) and this would be one of them.  It probably was slightly on sale when I ordered it, but not so much that I purchased it in a complimentary color or anything (I make no promises that it was the only sweater in the box, however).

Anyway, I have never worn this little lilac sweater, but am desperate to wear something that I don't have to make excuses for...except for explaining why I'm wearing what is clearly meant to be debuted during the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day.  But I'm guessing that a group of skaters dressed in sequined ensembles and their equally bedazzled coaches will be a fairly easy crowd, so I should be safe on that front (but if my skater doesn't have enough glittery mascara on? Off with her head!).

No, I didn't get this at Forever 21 (it only looks that way).

No pills, no cowls, no problems...

Because this Whitman's Sampler of a sweater was so innocuous (there weren't any nuts or weird jellies that you'd mistakenly bite into), I can't say that I actually even noticed it during the entire day (which was long.  So very long).  This must be what normal people feel like when they wear sweaters.  They aren't surprised when they fit (because, duh, they always try things on before they buy them), and they don't spend the entire day obsessing about the issues that irritate them about the sweater...because, again, they actually tried the sweater on before making the purchase. 

Blogger's guilty admission: I had to wear this again in mid-March...not because I ran out of sweaters, but because I honestly had very little recollection of any deeds (good, bad, or indifferent) that this sweater committed.  

It was soft, fit nicely, and would have brought cheer to everyone who looked at it had I not covered it up with a heavy coat (that rink was frigid!) Maybe this sweater won't be around in twenty years (it does seem to have a rather limited window of opportunity for wearing), so I should enjoy it while it's here.  I certainly wouldn't wear a heart sweater more than a few times a season, lest that become part of my costume should I ever need an avatar for a role-playing game (you sneer, but do you think Charlie Brown wanted to be remembered for his ill-fated choice to wear that zigzagged yellow t-shirt?).

My rating: Chris Harrison. He always seems to be enjoying himself (in the most gentlemanly way, of course), but when the occasion requires him to say, "Ladies, there is only one rose remaining" or "Coming up: the most dramatic rose ceremony ever, " he can do so without a trace of cynicism.  Even though he appears to appreciate the humor intrinsic in much of his job, it is clear that he takes the bachelor/ette's quest for love quite seriously (even if they themselves do not).  When it comes to romance, one needs only look to Chris Harrison (you thought I was going to say Fabio??) or this J. Crew sweater for a warm, loving, and classy (always classy) embrace.

Although he's been known to laugh at the hyperbolic nature of those "Most shocking elimination/revelation/graduation ever," voice-overs, he is somehow always able to maintain order in the cat fight that inevitably ensues on The Women Tell All episode and get everybody's claws retracted with a kind word and a knowing glance to the audience. He doesn't take himself too seriously (as it evident in the whimsical arrangement of these hearts...also in the entire three seasons of Bachelor Pad), but is always at the top of his game. While he may always be associated with roses, hot tubs, and "journeys," there is far more depth to Chris Harrison (and this sweater) than simply in matters of the heart. So, Chris, if you're offering, yes I will accept that rose.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Day 54 -- Lady Cowl-ey

(Worn on February 15th...if you detect some procrastination here, you would be correct).

While I had planned to wear shades of pink for the first 2 weeks of February, a little something called Downton Abbey happened. No spoilers here (I'll let the writers of the show do that for your mood), but, for some reason, I just didn't feel like wearing bright pink after that season finale.  Luckily for all of you, it's been almost 2 months since that season ended with a bang (or, more literally, a crash), so I doubt that I'm ruining anything for the Downtonians out there (Is that a thing?  I think I just made up a new term). Anyway, I replaced the festive pink sweater set I was planning to wear, and chose this one to match my mood (for shame, Julian Fellowes).

Since this sweater's twin went over like a lead balloon back on Day 50, I was fairly certain that this one would join his sibling in the ever-growing donation pile.  And, because I own this early 2K Express sweater in at least 3 other incarnations, I figured that it's about time I wiped my scowl off and got my cowl on.

This sweater looks like a celebrity trying to conceal her "bump." It would be better
off trying to hide those emerging pills...

I wonder if people have been calling me "Crazy Cowl Lady" behind my back...

I had all but made reservations in the give away bag for this sweater...until I actually wore it.  While its cuter sibling was ill-fitting and far too short, this dour version in black actually had an easy-going drape about it and was fairly "invisible" all day (and I mean that in a good way).  The semi-open knit requires that I wear a dark layer underneath (no problem...I went with my darkest "mourning" shirt today), but, otherwise, this was a surprisingly painless wear.  The bell-sleeves didn't seem to bother me, nor did I fuss with the cowl at all...which makes me wonder, of course, if it was the trip to the dry cleaners that sealed good old Day 50's fate.  One might also make the case that I do not treat my sweaters to "One Hour Martinizing" enough (and if anyone knows what that is, would you please enlighten me)...which, I'll admit, is probably true.  But, as you might have noticed, I do have plenty of knitwear options, so many of these have not been worn enough to merit Martinizing (I'm capitalizing it until I am certain that it is not a proper name). That is probably the case with this cowl-neck...although that should concern me as I do see some potential pills on the horizon (but, after what it has been through, what with Lady Sybil and Matthew, I guess I can cut it some slack).

Blogger's Note: (How many times do I have to hang my head and admit how far behind I am on my critiques?  I guess until I catch up...which, if my calculations are correct, will be right after the nation bands together and falls asleep watching the NBA playoffs on TNT). Anyway, I am one of those people who goes to Opening Day (yes, Virginia, there really is somebody who likes Downton AND baseball)...and, the forecast called for a strong wind and a high in the upper 30s.  Since I'm not allowed to wear an untested sweater (my rules), I had to pull this one out of the "keep" bin.  It was still nice and warm, and, like before, the cowl didn't get on my nerves.  It is, however, starting to show its age. The pills were more prominent and the sleeves had to be adjusted several times under my heavy down coat.  I guess two wearings in one year is starting to take its toll on this Dowager.

My rating: Chad Lowe.  Before he became more famous by omission (at the risk of repeating myself: for shame, Hilary Swank), Chad was known as Rob's less-talented and less-attractive brother (don't shoot the messenger...I'm merely reporting what was already in the pop culture ether).  Although, to be fair, it is pretty near impossible to be as good looking as Rob Lowe...so imagine having to live up to that in your own family?  It's a wonder he ever left the house, let alone put himself up to the public scrutiny required by an acting career.   So, while I was wearing that pink cowl-neck on my birthday or other festive occasions like going on pony rides and eating cotton candy, I had relegated the black version for working on taxes, getting car sick, and making made-for-TV movies.  Which is a shame, since a good looking sweater that is too short with bell sleeves is really the lesser brother in this equation.   Make no mistake, however: Day 50 was not Rob Lowe...it is only Rob Lowe to Day 54's Chad Lowe.  I would hate to get accused of rejecting Rob Lowe (even though he never did respond to my fan letter back in the day).  This sweater was not perfect (the sleeves were slightly "in your face," and his haircut is a bit dated) but it got the job done and did so without the aid of a ridiculously strong jawline and impossibly blue eyes). So, for today only, it is time to make things right: "I'd like to thank the Academy.  And Chad Lowe...".

Postmortem (for once, pun not intended).  My Mom took one look at the pictures of this sweater and declared that it looked like a shroud.  And she didn't stop there...she said that it looked like it had once been brown, but the body had been buried so long that the dirt caused it to be that glorious shade of black.  That was the death knell for this cowl-neck, I'm afraid--I can put up with cowls, chenille, and even the occasional funnel-neck...but a shroud?  Not so much. So, (this time, pun intended), another one bites the dust.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Day 53 -- You Look Marvel-ous

Before they changed the way that figure skating was to be judged (and, in the opinion of many skating coaches, ruined the sport for the majority of the viewing public), it was common knowledge that the first skater in each "flight" would not receive the highest marks.  While this was often seen as unfair to the first skater in the group, it was an accepted practice in the sport and created much drama for the television audience of ABC's Wide World of Sports. The theory was that since they did not know the performance level of the skaters to follow, they always wanted to "leave room at the top" for the rest of the group. Or, to put it in more modern terms, if you give Louie Anderson an "8" on the celebrity diving (train wreck) show Splash, you've got to be prepared to give all of the divers that follow scores in the double digits (and that's including any and all aging child stars).

In the spirit of the old 6.0 judging system for figure skating, I too have been saving room at the top for one of my favorite actors.  If he truly is the ultimate, then whatever sweater I name after him must be just as perfect.  Do I even own such an item? Can there even be a sweater worthy of his rating? Plato would say that there exists a "Form of Perfect Sweaterness" (or, for his purposes "Wool Toga-ness"), and that all sweaters are merely imitations of that perfect form. If that is the case, then no sweater can ever be perfect, but some are better reflections of that ideal form, (and, with that, I've now utilized my minor in Philosophy...finally!).  I would argue that while I might not have the true "Form of Sweaterness," I will probably come awfully close to it with my choice of knitwear today.

Keep your credit cards in your wallet.  This one is not for sale.

Doesn't this sweater just make you want to decorate an old shoe box, cut
a slot in the top, and then wait for those scratch-'n-sniff Valentines to arrive?

As The Most Interesting Man in the world might say, "I don't always wear this heart sweater, but, when I do, it's a thoroughly pleasurable experience." It "ticks" all the boxes (the more I blog, the more I appreciate British expressions)...it's soft, cute, just the right length, and, best of all, it is oh-so-cheerful. I don't have to wear this sweater on Valentines Day...I want to wear it on Valentines Day. In fact, I planned this month's selections out just so that I could wear it on February 14th (and, were it not for my lackadaisical attitude towards keeping up with these entries, my gentle readers would be scrolling through this blog with a chaser of Hawaiian Punch leftover from the classroom Valentines Day party --or maybe something stronger...although I'd be hard-pressed to find anything more "punchy," as it were).  I definitely "heart" this sweater. 

Blogger's Note: While I did wear this sweater on February 14th as planned, I am slightly behind and am writing about it on April 4th.  Apologies to any and all sweater purists out there in the blogosphere.

My rating: Robert Downey, Jr.  Need I say anymore?!  Well, even if I don't, I will because that is how much that I love and admire this exceptional actor.  His talent is undeniable, but it is his personality and wry sense of humor that attracts me all the more.  He has been through such extraordinary circumstances in his life, but has come through them as an even stronger, more beautiful, person. He is, dare I say it, a true Iron Man.  Like this whimsical pullover, he is charming, intelligent, and shows his heart in everything that he does (and, in an added bit of synergy, the heart on this sweater replicates the external heart of Iron Man--which is just about as deep into the non-Archie comic book genre that I can get). He has the super power of making a "Genius, billionaire, philanthropist, playboy," just as appealing as an eccentric detective with a penchant for tweed hats and an aversion to filing cabinets. And, just to make this rating even more of a mobius strip than it already is, today is actually Robert Downey, Jr's birthday.  His present to me? Years of entertainment.  Mine to him?  I named a sweater after him.  Sure, it's not quite the Oscar that he so richly deserved for Chaplin, but it's the closest thing that I've got to that in my closet. Happy Birthday, Robert!  You will always have my heart (sweater).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Day 52 -- Pretty in Pink

Back when Molly Ringwald ruled the earth (and what a glorious time that was), one couldn't wear anything vintage or pink without (consciously or subconsciously) invoking her royal redhead of the kingdom of the pouty lips. There was this notion that if Andie could take two perfectly lovely prom dresses and combine them to make something truly beautiful (actually, I think we all agreed that her dress was atrocious--if not derivative of Donna Karan), certainly we mere mortals could throw together a vintage look of our own (even if said vintage was from a mall store like Ups 'n Downs or Contempo Casuals) without too much trouble.  There was something so effortless in the way that Miss Ringwald threw together those broaches, fedoras, and handkerchief-hem dresses...yet it was practically impossible for any of us to emulate her aesthetic successfully.

In fact, at my high school at least, those that dressed the most like Miss Ringwald's best characters (the hat trick of Samantha, Claire, and Andie...out of respect for my teenage role model, I'll try not to mention anyone from Fresh Horses, For Keeps, or Betsy's Wedding), were not necessarily seen as the most stylish of our classmates. Since we were all usually sporting Beneton's latest and greatest (always featuring argyle in some incarnation), it was very difficult for us to carry off the vintage sweater look with any credibility.  I recall that someone in my English class had on a chartreuse beaded sweater which was clearly from the 50s, and I remember wondering if I could ever pull off that look (the answer...definitely not!).  It takes a certain type of person (i.e. Molly Ringwald) to achieve that "Oh, is this sweater vintage? I don't even know where I got it...I'm too busy working at the used record store to be bothered to shop for clothes" look--and that person was most decidedly not me.  But still I dream...

Of course, this sweater does not hail from thrift store (the Limited, yet again), but, its mid-90s heritage does almost qualify it as, if not "vintage," then definitely "retro". One has to wonder how many "Outback Red" or "Forenza" sweaters will be donned by future hipsters in search of "vintage" clothing.  I'm pretty sure that 80s acrylic sweaters will decompose just after diapers and D batteries in the landfills--ensuring that future generations will also know the glories of the Shaker-knit v-neck (a misnomer, if ever there was one...I'm fairly certain that no actual Shakers, nor any Amish, for that matter, were involved in the knitting of those sweaters).

A look so demure, even a "richie" like Blaine would be attracted to it...

I think I can pass this off as this season's collection.  According to all my
magazines, floral is definitely "on trend" for spring.  They didn't indicate which year.

Umm...definitely not.  This sweater was not on my body more than 30 seconds before I declared it to be far too short to be worn with my skating (or anything short of Eight is Enough-era waisted) pants, making it the record holder for shortest length of "wear-time" in sweater blog history.  Also...the matching sleeveless sweater that goes with it (I believe my Mom calls that a "shell") was a size larger than the cardigan itself, making for a very awkward fit when the two of them got together. An emphatic "no," despite the cheerful print of those lovely roses.

But, upon further reflection, I decided that it deserved a fair shake in this competition and thought that it might actually look nice with a dress.  But, since today I would not be teaching Lutz jumps dressed like Zoey Deschanel, I respectfully tabled this sweater for a future occasion.

What was I to do?  I couldn't start an entirely new sweater today (there is no precedent for such behavior), but I certainly did not want to be accused of wearing a midriff-baring sweater set all day long. So I did the next best thing--I re-wore a (pinkish) sweater from an earlier blog.  It was fine, but not exceptional.  But since it had already past the test back in December, I certainly wasn't going to break its heart, especially being this close to Valentine's Day.  This rosy sweater set would have to wait for a more appropriate test

Floral sweater--2nd attempt (almost 2 months later). 

I paired this sweater ("pairing" sounds so much more stylish than "wearing") with a gray dress and a cute belt from Anthropologie.  Although I didn't notice anybody rushing off to H&M or Charlotte Russe in an attempt to duplicate my outfit, I do think that I did a fairly convincing job of appearing current.  I've seen nothing but floral, floral, floral in all of the fashion layouts this season (although, unfortunately, most of them are on "skinnies"--as skinny jeans are now known) so there's a chance that this sweater might even receive the highly-coveted but rarely achieved, "I love your sweater; where did you get it?" I can even imagine the "clever" puns that In Style magazine would use in their fashion spread for this sweater--"A rose by any other name..." or "Smelling like a rose," (not that mine are much better, but at least I have the decency not to paraphrase the Bard).  

My rating: Robert Wagner. While he has numerous movies and TV shows to his credit (but let's not talk about those reverse mortgage loans commercials that he's been doing lately, m'okay?), most of us will forever remember him as dashing millionaire (and amateur sleuth) Jonathan Hart on Hart to Hart. And what befits a legendary detective/doting husband better than a well-tailored tuxedo?  I think that "Mr. H" even slept in some sort of dinner jacket--in fact, the only time he was allowed to remove his tie was when he was skiing down a mountain in hot pursuit of a jewel thief (looking suave the entire way down, naturally).  Certain people just look better dressed to the nines...such is the case with Robert Wagner (and, to a lesser degree, this sweater).  In his world, there is no casual Friday--there are only degrees to the level of formality in his attire (all of which are seen to by his trusty valet Max--and his dog Freeway, of course).  I would no sooner wish to see Robert Wagner wearing jeans (or would he refer to them as "dungarees?") then would I ever attempt to wear this sweater with anything other than a dress again.  If Jonathan Hart can wear a tuxedo while hang-gliding off a cliff (once again, in hot pursuit of a jewel thief) than I can certainly find a cute belt and a dress to give this cheery cardigan another chance at life. And maybe I'll even attempt to chase down a jewel thief (while on skates, of course), while I'm at it...