Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Baaahhhd News About Cotton "Sweaters"

Made from Plants
Thinking about a Father’s Day present for dear old dad? Allow me a word about cotton sweaters. Don’t.

A proper sweater is made from wool. For the last twenty years or so, my own preference has been for merino wool. Merino sheep understand what it takes to provide just enough warmth, elasticity, and breathability in an age of  global warming. They also provide us with an ability to wear lightweight wool in an office, at home, or in a restaurant during winter when the heat is on, without swelter.

In my youth, Shetland was the way to go, but these sweaters are too bulky to wear beneath the less generous cuts of contemporary tweed jackets, blazers and suits. Also, the same natural ability to retain body heat during late autumn tailgating with Penelope will roast us when we attempt to wear them indoors.

Cotton “sweaters”, and this means cotton-linen, cotton-silk, and cotton-wool as well, are really sweatshirts. Cotton sweaters lack elasticity; stretch them and they remain stretched, which means you must buy them a size smaller and practice a kind of sweater alchemy to get them to consistently fit right. They also do not hold their color as well as wool does. If you wash and spin dry them, they will fit more or less properly for a day or two, but, over time, they will fade. If you dry-clean them, you are what used to be called a ninny.

I have experimented mightily with cotton sweaters with all the best intentions. I’ve had two bulky cable-knits, which, not surprisingly, made me look bulky. I currently have four J.Crew sweaters made from various cotton blends – navy, black, taupe, and light grey(shown above). All of them are useless; they don’t even drape properly over the shoulders. They are limp, dull pretenders.

I wear a merino crew neck sweater nearly every day for eight or nine months of the year in cool/cold weather, with light wool charcoals and corduroys: in warmer months, with khakis and, on occasion, with shorts. My attempts to substitute cotton in warm months has failed and left me with the quandary of what to do with these shapeless, pathetic “things”. Why would I pass them on to the less fortunate through Goodwill or another like-minded institution, further adding to their misfortune?

By all means, wear cotton shirts, trousers, jeans, swimsuits, sneakers, TOMS, polos, socks, ties, and boxers, in oxford, sea island, pima, seersucker, madras, pinpoint, canvas, twill, poplin, and more. But, skip the sweaters.

Listen to your inner-sheep. "Sweaters made from plants are a baaahhhhd idea."

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