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.

Am I a Sartorial Psychic?

A couple months ago, Mom and I were spending an afternoon browsing in the Meatpacking District. As one is wont to do, we ambled into Anthropologie and made a beeline for the sale section.

Perhaps there’s still a trace of whimsy left in me after all. Not a bad find for $29, right? Image courtesy of Anthropologie.

Shopping at Anthropologie is, more or less, a habit from my more youthful past (of five years ago). With a bent toward the whimsical, most of Anthropologie’s offerings now seem too young for me. Life has pretty much beaten all the whimsy out of me. Nevertheless, I like to peek every now and then.

On that April day, I came across a colorful cardigan I had seen the last time I was in Anthropologie. It was marked $89, on sale from $118 or some preposterous price. But somehow I just knew that it was supposed to be cheaper than that.

“I’m just going to ask at the register,” I said. “It might have gone on sale even more and they forgot to mark it.”

“I don’t know. I suppose you can ask,” Mom said skeptically.

“I just have a feeling,” I continued. “Something inside me says it’s supposed to be much less.”

“Well, it can’t hurt to ask,” Mom, with no less skepticism.

At the register I handed the woman the sweater. “Is this priced as marked, or has it gone on sale more?”

She rang it up—for $29, which I happily forked over. “It’s good you asked. Occasionally we forget to mark something down when it goes on sale again.” Everyone—Mom, the saleswoman, especially me—was duly impressed with me.

“I just had this feeling,” I explained.

Now let’s face it. If I were a true psychic, I wouldn’t have to shop on things for sale because I’d have won the lottery a hundred times over, since I would know the winning numbers ahead of time. But I guess I’ll take whatever little powers I can get, and for now I suppose I’ll have to settle for being a sartorial psychic.


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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