Thank you, Sweatshirt

November 05, 2014 BY STEVE DOOL


While some may be loath to admit it, there comes a point in the lives of many slaves to the fashion industry when shopping loses its appeal.

Maybe it’s because a steady diet of fashion blogs and Instagram feeds has worn you down, or because you devote twelve hours a day to rifling through fabric swatches, or you attend countless fashion shows all over the world. Or maybe you’ve spent the past five years elbowing your way through sample sales and fast fashion collaborations, and you’re just tired. Whatever the reason, when a quick trip to pick up a new pair of jeans feels like a fate worse than death, it’s safe to say you’ve hit a wall.

In my case, I didn’t so much hit a wall as gradually rolled into it. Make no mistake, I love fashion. I dutifully tithe a healthy percent of my income to keeping fashion print titles alive, and seek out new designers to follow with the kind of zeal typically reserved for people who just discovered CrossFit. But little by little over time, shopping for new things became a chore that devolved into wandering aimlessly around downtown boutiques and uptown department stores, always emerging empty handed.

So I just stopped. I wore the same suit to two weddings and a christening. I lived in two pairs of jeans and plain white tees all summer long. Fashion Week came and went, and I was – horrors! – street styled only once, the result of being in the proximity of some stylish friends, not due to my own sartorial prowess. I was dressing, as my boss put it, “post-fashion.”

Not normcore, which is a bit too self-conscious. Not the “new mediocre,” which seems to encompass a bit more resignation. I wasn’t sad about not acquiring new clothes and I wasn't trying to make a statement. I was just over it. I didn’t care.

It was then that I decided all autumn long, in the absence of a new fall wardrobe, I would wear exclusively crewneck sweatshirts. I took an inventory of the crewnecks in my closet. I had four that I liked, from the most basic American Apparel pullover to a Robert Geller raglan sleeve, mohair number. The rotation began.

Working in the fashion industry and not caring about shopping, and by extension not putting any effort into evolving your own sense of style, is liberating. I imagine this is what it would feel like for a cop to smoke weed or a professor of literature to subscribe to US Weekly. It was wrong, but oh so right. I dressed my sweatshirts up and dressed them down. I took them from day into night and indeed from the office to the club. I loved my sweatshirts and suddenly, I wanted more. I needed more.

I added in a textured Alexander Wang, and one with mesh overlay from the Copenhagen streetwear gurus at Rascals’. I acquired a trim fit style with a pocket from Noble Denim and bought three at COS in Paris.

Naturally, I then needed more pants to go with all of these new tops, and more shirts to layer underneath. And once those had been refreshed, I couldn’t just kick around in the same old sneakers. Could I pull off a bucket hat? I decided I should try.

It was about a month before I had stealthily amassed 1/3 of a new wardrobe. I re-entered the retail arena with a vengeance and a new Visa cash-back rewards card to boot. I was no longer feeling “post-fashion.” I was in a full body hug with fashion. I was a consumer once again.

So thank you, crewneck sweatshirt, for bringing me back from retail exile. You, the most basic of basics, gave me the inspiration I needed. You completed me and my closet.

And since most of my sweatshirts are strictly machine washable, I'm assuming my dry cleaner would like to thank you, too.