Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Random Thing I Like: Whimsical Sweaters

Even though I've been overthinking everything to do with my wardrobe and fashion purchases for six years now, I still don't really know how best to describe my personal style. I know my tastes and preferences well, what's practical for my lifestyle, and how to identify items I'll keep reaching for and wanting to wear. But there's a significant gulf between what I like - in principle or in theory; maybe we call this my "ideal" or "fantasy" personal style - and what actually works for my body shape, lifestyle, and budget. 

In practice, my style - as seen in all my shopping since January 2015; keeping in mind it's not a perfectly representative picture because I still wear a moderate number of things I bought before 2015; I don't report gifts, including from my mom, sister, or K, which usually adds something like three or four items to my wardrobe every year; and some of my documented purchases have since worn out, or been resold, donated, or given away - is heavy on neutrals and fairly classic, basic designs and silhouettes, but with many "pops of color," particularly in jewel tones. I'd also love to add more prints to my wardrobe, but in practice it's rare to find a print I like, in colors I think will suit me, and on an item I think will suit my body shape, so I've mostly only bought fairly subdued, more "neutral"-looking prints in recent years. 

One aspect of my "personal style in practice", though it doesn't pop up often, is that I'm fond of occasional, distinctly un-subtle touches of whimsy. Think the bright pink limited edition Longchamp "Miaou" tote and the llama decal Soludos slip-on sneakers. And actually, were it not for the constraints of my budget and practicality concerns, I'd love to bring in even more of these rather in-your-face touches of whimsy into my wardrobe. 

There's been one particular type of whimsical item or design element I really like, which hasn't been represented in my monthly shopping budget posts: The sweater with whimsical motifs, typically flowers or maybe something animal-related. 

As far as I'm concerned, the ne plus ultra of this genre, based on all my online window shopping ever, was the Mansur Gavriel flower sweater pictured above. (I believe it's from 2016 or 2017. They also did a similar oversized sky blue sweater with a white cloud motif around this time, which I also thought was adorable.) If I ever see one of these Mansur Gavriel flower sweaters in my size - in either the pink or navy blue colorway - on the secondhand market for a remotely reasonable price, I probably won't be able to resist. Though if I recall correctly, the fabric composition wasn't ideal, there was a fair bit of nylon in it, and also alpaca (which I've never tried on before and could be itchy for me). 

I once owned a sweater of this general type, the H&M sweater above from 2012 or 2013, though it definitely wasn't quite as cool or colorful as the Mansur Gavriel one. I enjoyed wearing it too, but as a 100% acrylic sweater in a moderately heavy knit, it stretched noticeably out of shape early on, even though I was careful about keeping it folded up in my dresser and not hanging it up. I ended up putting it in a ThredUp bag for resale or donation because it had gotten too stretched out to look good on me.

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Over the years, I haven't noticed too many sweaters in this genre on the market. (I particularly like designs that have a number of the motifs scattered somewhat irregularly over the sweater.) Some years, the only ones that seem to fit the general bill are some novelty animal sweaters from Ann Taylor Loft (this year's versions linked) or J.Crew Factory. One of the few sweaters of this type I've highlighted on this blog is a J.Crew leopard print sweater from 2019. I guess this sort of whimsical sweater has never really caught on as a trend! 

This year, Madewell has had a few floral motif sweaters that sort of fit the bill, see the widget below. In particular there is a pink sweater with red embroidered flowers that is maybe vaguely reminiscent of the Mansur Gavriel sweater, albeit without that same cool, oversized silhouette and the flowers aren't as loud and whimsical (though again, the fabric composition isn't ideal, and that's somewhat common with this type of item; this particular sweater contains polyamide, polyester, and alpaca):

Anyway, I'm not sure this whimsical sweater category is one I'm actually going to shop from anytime soon. After needing to do my first retailer return since the start of the COVID-19 shutdowns recently, I found it's a hassle. I'd definitely prefer to avoid needing to make further returns until the COVID situation gets better in the US - which may take several months, until the vaccine is more widely available - and outings, even just to drop off a package in the mail, aren't so stressful. Thus, if I'm going to buy any more clothing in the next few months, I need to stick to more "tried-and-true" designs and colors that I'm pretty sure will work on my body shape. No more style experiments for now!

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