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The greatest in-practice compliment I could give a piece of clothing happened last month. The Thursday before a long weekend, I get back to my apartment, wearing my favorite sweater, and decide to work from home the next day. Over the next four days, I see a lot of friends — lunches, dinners, daytime hangs, drinks, a trip to the movies — carefully ensuring I never see the same person twice. It’s not because I don’t love and value my friends or that I don’t want to see them as much as possible; it’s because I don’t want to take the sweater off.
I wore it for five days in a row.
Back in the heady, December days of shopping for other people, I took myself to Article& and bought said sweater; it’s from a brand called Lumiere and I got it in navy. As of now they only have it in oatmeal, which is clearly not as good, as oatmeal could never beat the navy at anything except breakfast, but it is still a great length (long!) and material (apparently mostly polyester but I was surprised when I learned that!) and, mostly importantly, vibe — like someone who is trying just the right amount. With its multi-colored speckles and subdued navy background, it says “fun but responsible adult.”
I generally refer to my personal style as “Madewell slob.” The first time I walked into J.Crew’s vaguely French little sister sometime in the late aughts, I was delighted by how much the clothing mirrored my own. And over the last few years, my style has evolved with the store’s. Madewell and I outgrew fit-and-flare dresses together. We abandoned Peter Pan collars at the same time, and we (pretty much) stopped trying to make cardigans happen as one. Our style changed, becoming more and more casual sweater, oversized shirt dress, slouchy bag-oriented. You look at a Madewell model and you think “effortless.” The clothing, which I own a lot of, also looks effortless on me — like I have put in no effort.
Because the truth is, I have no energy to give to getting dressed these days. Between my Trump-induced weight gain and my Trump-induced money hoarding and my Trump-induced desire to lie on the floor and weep constantly, I don’t have the inclination to replace my sloppy-but-overpriced wardrobe or think about where else to shop or who the heck to be.
But I have this sweater. And somehow this oversized speckled sweater, with the simple addition of any old kind-of-long necklace, gets me closer to looking like a trying-but-not-trying-too-hard person than anything the mall store has been able to give me. And I will not be forced to socialize with people I love and care about if I can’t wear it.