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Life of Colleen: Wardrobe analysis, 2009: Sweaters

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Wardrobe analysis, 2009: Sweaters
posted by Colleen Shirazi on Thursday, January 1, 2009 at 12:01 AM (Pacific)

Happy New Year!


Sweaters are akin to lipsticks: tempting and facile to buy. You may easily end up with a ton load, and use only the same few, over and over it's well to analyze what you do end up wearing.

In retrospect, there were two cardigans I donned much of the time, before the weather turned and I switched to pullovers: an off-white cotton zip-front cardigan from Eddie Bauer, which I have no image's one of those generic Hong Kong style cotton sweaters...and this one, from Banana Republic:

banana republic grey cardigan

Neither strikes one as extraordinary, but that's not why I wear what I do. I want something that works.

Off-white, or any light color, cotton is the best material for our Bay Area summers, because it's chilly in the morning, morphs into sweating heat mid-afternoon, then dips back into chill in time for you to walk to your public transport. You're going to be screwed until you figure out layers...and at least some of it is psychological. I had to remove my light-colored cotton cardigan only a few times this entire summer. Yet it's high-necked and it zips, so you can adjust how warm you want it to be.

Plus, it washed well (precious little pilling, for all the washer abuse I gave it). The one thing it couldn't take was tumble drying, even on low heat. That knocked the cling out of the knit row at the bottom. I'm still recovering, coaxing it back into shape while damp.

The grey one is the perfect color--dark grey, not the crappy medium grey women seem to get stuck with. And the fabric is soft. I've also washed it many times (in a mesh bag; I'm terrified of it pilling) and weirdly, it seems to like the odd tumble dry I've had to give it.

Neither is useful in winter. Here I brought out old sweaters...pullovers I've had for more than ten years, some around twenty. Since they're not new, and I haven't photographed of them are men's sweaters. Men have better sweaters anyway, but particularly pullovers.

I integrated some new ones into the mix:

supima cotton sweaters

These are Supima cotton; I was curious if there were a substantial quality difference. The black and green ones have washed gratifyingly well, but the dark navy blue is edging toward wear at the neck and sleeves. To be fair, I bought it first, but I'm planning to mesh-bag all of them (you can find lovely mesh bags at a Japanese dollar shop, should you be lucky enough to have one).

What about wool? You still need wool, dreary as it is to take care of. I've found tightly-knit lambswool fares better than loosely-knit regular wool, but of course I'm slavering over the concept of machine washable wool and wool blends. This wool/acrylic black beauty, for example:

black wool acrylic blend sweater

Hm, looks like my off-white cardigan in construction, only with cabling. I'm hoping this will not only wash and wear better, wool-wise, but will also attract less in the way of clothes moths.

Which are actually not as indomitable as it would appear: there's a mass of information about clothes moths on the Net, and I've come to think washability of wool might be a factor in keeping them away. Apparently the moths are most attracted to wool which has been worn; the larvae consume your body oils, and any food residue, along with the wool itself.

So, questions for 2009 in Sweaters are--do clothes moths consume wool blends as heartily as pure wools? And are machine washable wools and blends less prone to moth attack? I'll write back here with my observations later on.

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