Saturday, October 07, 2017

The Red Sweater(s)

It was a big-news week. So many huge, important stories tweeted out as must-reads, which I would notice here and there in between teaching, and which I am catching up on, one by one.

I do not have the bandwidth, though, for follow-through on any of the stories of the moment. What I will tell you about instead is sweater-shopping.

It all started - as these things not infrequently do - with a photo of Emily Weiss. More specifically: of the Into The Gloss / Glossier founder in a red sweater that was just so great. Céline, evidently, and discounted to a price at the high end of what I'd consider plausible for a sweater to cost full-price, and at any rate, that was over a year ago, so for this whole host of reasons, that specific sweater wasn't going to happen. But something like it, why not? I loved the idea of a bright red sweater - an everyday item not in a fade-into-the-background navy, gray, or black, like my other sweaters. A pop of confident, grown-woman color.

If I speak of a quest, it sounds as if I was devoting every moment from whenever I saw that photo until the moment of locating a sweater along those lines in an attempt at finding one. That would not be an accurate way of describing the last year or so, to put it mildly. But it would be fair to say The Sweater was always on some level in the back of my mind. It inspired the purchase of a rayon, long-sleeve, bright-red shirt from Uniqlo in New York. But upon return to Toronto, the moment had come. I was going to find this sweater.

Uniqlo did not come through in that regard. It had numerous variations, each not quite right: v-neck rather than crewneck, short-sleeve rather than long, dark crimson rather than the perfect bright red. They clearly have the right fabric, but use it only for this one $150 turtleneck dress, which is definitely not the thing I was looking for.

I don't know what came over me, as this is not my normal way of shopping, but I decided to look on eBay. Sure enough, there it was. The great advantage to being ancient is that I can tell, from a photo, if something is likely to fit me, and indeed, this did. Even with all manner of I-live-in-Canada fees, it was something like $80 (CAD) - not cheap but not outrageous. I was thrilled.

I became a notch less thrilled about it when the Everlane pop-up appeared in Nordstrom, and... there it was. The Sweater. In the right color, at least. Too expensive ($140ish), but still. I had to know. Did The Sweater exist, even if I wasn't about to buy it? The eBay one is a true, bright red, but more like cherry-red, a bit darker than the neon, almost orange red (think Nars Heat Wave) I had been imagining. (On Pinterest they look identical, which tells you something about the level of color difference we're talking about here.) Had I foolishly bought a sweater online, in some confusing and effectively non-returnable way, only to see The Sweater in person?

Was it foolish, though, given that I would not spend that much on a sweater, even if it were The Sweater?

I am pleased to report that the sweater I already bought is the superior entity, at least for my subjective purposes. The Everlane one fit me all wrong (too long and generally odd-fitting), and the material was flimsier. As for the color itself, while it's for sure the color of The Sweater, I can now see that the shade is - like all permutations of orange - not great with my coloring, whereas the slightly darker red seems to work.

If there's a moral to this story, it could well be that it's sometimes worth it to look for clothing in places other than Dundas and Yonge, with all due respect to that most relied-upon of intersections.

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