“That is so you.”
The sweater – maybe it was a wrap, or a poncho – was on a hanger on a rack inside of one of white canvas walled booths at Field & Supply, a high-end crafts fair that looked like it was curated by Ralph Lauren.
Ronnie was right. It was me. But you didn’t need to be one of my best and oldest friends to know that. Almost anyone who has seen me fully dressed would know that it was me. And I did love it. I had to. It wasn’t your typical sweater. It didn’t just slip over your head or button. Its sleeves were large, voluminous even, and were more like bat wings than actual sleeves. It didn’t button up all the way – they almost never did. Instead, you threw one side over the other and draped it dramatically in way that could be considered either fashionable or Dracula-like.
I probably have at least 15 garments in my closet that were similar in some way. Well maybe I’m underestimating. There are the practical solid-colored ones meant to keep me warm on a day or night when there is just a little chill. There are the larger more intricately woven ones that are striped or colored and can be worn in place of a coat when the autumn weather hits. Most of them are cashmere but there are a few wool ones, a few cotton ones, one in Irish linen and, the one I’ve had the longest, in the gray sweatshirt fabric that is coziest of all. There are a plethora of ponchos, a couple of capes, and a slew of oversized scarves. A few were bought at fairs just like Field & Supply, several on vacations overseas and some were simply spotted while walking around town.
What can I say? I love a wrap.
Sure I have a few of those dainty silk scarves in classic floral prints for those days when I want to look like a lady who lunches. But what I really love is a big thick intricately woven garment that wraps around my body in a soft and fluffy cocoon and gives even the most monotonous outfit a little extra flair. Or at least I think so. More often than not, I end up dragging it along as it picks up the detritus of the streets of Manhattan. Since I’m barely 5’ tall, I often imagine that people see nothing but a big wrap with a tiny head and small feet poking out, sort of like Cousin It if he was covered in cashmere instead of hair.
I’m not sure why or when I developed my love of wraps, ponchos, capes and the like. I don’t have a problem with sleeves. I wear them all the time. They’re both practical and purposeful, not only keeping me warm in cooler weather but also covering up the sunspots that speckle across my arms, like the extra drips from a Pollock painting. Sure, I did have my issue with sleeves during the peak of menopause, wanting to rip them off with every hot flash. But they’ve tended to grow on me, literally, progressively growing longer as my biceps melt into that underarm flab I mistakenly thought could be prevented by all those push-ups.
It may be the convenience. If I’m not sure of the weather, what better way to ensure my comfort than throwing a shawl in my bag that I can wrap around my shoulders if it gets chillier than expected. Often, it’s a fashion choice, adding a bit of flair to an otherwise unimpressive outfit.
But mostly I think it’s the coziness. The ability to wrap myself up in a big warm cashmere hug whenever I need it.
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