Almost every one has one piece they wear all the time, unhappily. A sort of gremlin in the closet, always there, never welcome. Replacing it can have a big impact. Even casual or incidental clothing can make you feel as stylish as does a Prada dress, over the long term. But you’ve got to understand why you keep wearing your gremlins, as much as why you hate them.
What’s your closet gremlin? It could be the blouse that gaps, (but is the only one that works with the olive green jacket) those shoes that grate, (but they’re your only metallic heels) or an ugly Princeton sweatshirt that belongs to one of your kids (but it’s so comfortable!).
This is what I kept finding myself wearing to the grocery store, and for brisk walks through the neighborhood. People turned and looked, and I, having of course forgotten what I had on, thought “Oh you nice people noticing the middle-aged lady.” We are frequently invisible. Little known fact. However, my Whole Foods is in a college town, my neighborhood right next to said college town, and I am flaunting a great big orange Princeton right across my chest. As the kids would say, “Duh!”
Princeton apparently chose these colors in deference to William of Orange. The Prince of Orange. Get it? A) I doubt he cared B) Students, professors and alumni have been blessed with orange and black gear for all eternity. It’s really ugly. It’s in your face. And, having been through the knuckle-biting misery that America calls the College Admissions Process, twice, I feel it’s unnecessary to wear this out and about during acceptance high season. (We will save for another day any discussion of the complex web of talent and privilege that constitutes higher education in America, shall we?)
So I wanted to upgrade. To find something that suits me better.
Let’s deconstruct. I default to Ugly Sweatshirt because it’s comfortable. Any replacement would have to offer a 98% comfort equivalence, at minimum. (I calculated my tolerances with a protractor.) This constrained the replacement. Usually clothing suits you via either silhouette or color. Given the comfort requirements, I had no wiggle room in silhouette. Which left color.
And this sweater.
L.L. Bean’s Marled Cotton Sweater in Mid-Blue. Predictable? Yes. Trendy? No. Edgy? Not even close. But me and blue, what can I say? It does things for my eyes I can’t deny. Witness that old cashmere sweater. The Naracamicie shirt. At my age, when one’s hair and lips fade, you gotta celebrate any color you can find.
This sweater is not, in any absolute sense, the greatest in the universe. It’s cotton, which is good for California, but a little waxy, a little stiff. Hits just above my hip-bones, a little wider than I prefer. I’m long-waisted, this kind of fit is a body type hazard. But at $39.50, and in colors ranging from Amethyst to Foliage to Stone, it’s OK. Compared to the Ugly Sweatshirt, it’s a veritable ballgown. And does what it should.
Make the world more lovely, and less annoying, one step at a time. I’ve been surprised by the impact.