Ruminations on Cashmere Sweaters

Poor pitiful me. I’ve never had a cashmere sweater. I think the closest I came was a tangerine-colored J-Crew cashmere shell bought at a sample sale more than 10 years ago. I wore it as a tank on cooler summer nights a few times, but mostly it lived under jackets and cardigans.

But a proper cable-knit crewneck? Dare I say, a cashmere sweater set? I’ve only ever been worthy of blends, it seems

But my life is poised for a change this week with the White+Warren sample sale at Clothingline in the Garment District this Tuesday–Thursday, October 16–18. I’m a huge fan of knits by W+W, a New York-based company that makes simple, classic basics, mostly in neutral hues.

Cashmere Goat

Hello, handsome. A cashmere goat.

Cashmere is never cheap, since it takes the soft, fine undercoat of two cashmere goats to produce one two-ply sweater, according to the Cashmere and Camel Hair Manufacturers Institute. (Who knew such an organization existed?) Cashmere pieces by White and Warren, a staple among celebrities, are definitely never cheap.

Meantime, we all know sample sales are hit or miss, so if I don’t score a cashmere piece this week, apparently you can breed and raise your own herds of cashmere goats, the way some people practice beekeeping as a pastime. I’m not kidding. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) Though it may not go over well in my 84-unit New York apartment, I’m thinking. So here’s hoping for success at the sample sale this week.

O Black Sweater at Marshalls, Where Art Thou

The other day, Nurse V mentioned that she needed clothes for an upcoming vacation, and asked if I would help her shop. She really had to twist my arm, as you can imagine, and we wound up at Marshalls in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Center.

Now, when it comes to brand-name discount stores, shopping at that Marshalls means seriously kicking it old school. It makes browsing at the Upper West Side Loehmann’s that I know and love looks like amateur hour. At Marshalls, there are only a few racks organized by designer, and almost no neat endcaps displaying merchandise in that spare, boutique style that makes you want to buy something.

No, this Marshall’s offers up endless racks of clothes divided into the most basic categories. Shirts. Sweaters. Pants. Small. Medium. Large.  Not for the faint of heart, was this Marshall’s. Luckily, Nurse V and I were up to the challenge. We patiently went through each rack in Nurse V’s size, evaluating every piece of clothing.

Once my friend had a decently sized “definitely coming home with me” pile as well as a a reasonable “maybe” one (many items successfully found by me, I’m just saying), I went in search of a little something-something for myself.

Gold buttons like the ones on the sweater I left at Marshalls.

I am bad at taking camera-phone pics in dressing rooms, so I don’t have a picture of the Magaschoni sweater from Marshalls. Just picture a very plain, long-sleeved black sweater, crew-neck. The gold-button detailing at the shoulder was made from buttons that looked like these. It’s the best I could do.

Which was when I happened upon a black crew-neck Magaschoni sweater. Simple and elegant, it was plain except for a row of gold disk-shaped buttons running from the chest to the shoulder. It looked fabulous on. It had been almost $200 and was now a reasonable $50.

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O Canada! I Shop on Guard for Thee

Is there anything grander than going on vacation to a beautiful city and going to said city’s most raddest shopping district, and coming home with not one but two crisp new shopping bags with one store having been so cool the lovely saleswoman gave you a tote bag instead of a shopping bag; and by the way you would have had three crisp new shopping bags except you were trying to be all kind to the earth and save a bag so you put your last purchase in one of the bags you already had?

Lucky for me I had one such grand weekend over Thanksgiving, when I went to Toronto for my cousin Miles’s Bar Mitzvah. I know, Bar Mitzvah, you’re thinking, BOH-riiiing. Well, I for one haven’t had this much fun at a Bar Mitzvah since I was ACTUALLY 13 and I could get amped enough on Shirley Temples to flirt with the boys from Hebrew class.

The weekend was great from beginning to end. And it got off to an especially great start Friday morning with a walk along the Queen Street West shopping area, which is the perfect blend of pretty and gritty.

The day started with a stop at Joe Fresh. It’s a Canadian company so I felt like I was soaking in some local color. I didn’t find anything but Mom did, so we left happy. Then, a stop for fuel at Arepa Cafe gave us enough energy for Shopping Day Phase 2.

This person looks nothing like me. I’m not that cheerful. I do like the idea of red shoes or accessories, though. Photo courtesy of Fresh Collective.

Among the places we stopped was Comrags, which Cousin S swears by. I did better at Fresh Collective a couple doors down, where I got the most super black and white A-Line cotton dress for work.

Some stores were doing Black Friday sales which I thought was darling since Black Friday is really an American thing. Meg, which also has a store in my home borough, was doing 30% off for black items, so I bought a perfectly-draped basic black top since, can you really have too many black tops? Continue reading