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The Sweater as Charity Case

Cosby sweater

Just in time for Father’s Day, Bill Cosby is auctioning off some of the hideous vibrant sweaters he wore as Dr. Cliff Huxtable on the Cosby Show.  The bidding, which starts at $5,000, commences on eBay on June 2nd, and the proceeds will go to the educational foundation he created in his son’s honor.

This would appear to be the perfect opportunity to support a charity while giving your dad an expensive gift that you can guilt-trip him to wear for many Christmases to come.  If he’s particulary unlucky, he might even be featured on the blog of Bad Sweater Guy.

Stay Pressed

J Press catalog

A Continuous Lean has kindly scanned in some pages from J. Press catalogs from the late 1950s and early 1960s.  Looking at the images, it’s amazing to see how little has changed at the ultra-preppy store, which still sells narrow ties and Shaggy Dog shetland sweaters.   Among the store’s current offerings, Izzy is keen on these bow ties made of raw silk, a shimmering material that prevents them from appearing stodgy.

J Press raw silk bow tieJ Press raw silk bow tie number 2

Sweet Scientist

Gene Tunney in shawl-collar cardigan sweater

Graced with Reagan-esque looks, Jeffersonian brains, and the fists of Teddy Roosevelt, Gene Tunney should be every thinking-man’s favorite boxer. It’s a shame that he’s largely been forgotten, even though he’s one of the most intriguing sports figures in American history. In contrast to Moe Berg, the Sorbonne-educated Major League catcher who was a spy during World War II, Tunney was not just an introspective intellectual but an athlete of the highest rank—he defeated Jack Dempsey twice, after all. (Tunney, to his credit, would say he found “no joy in knocking people unconscious.”) As one writer sums up the life of the polymathic pugilist:

If you were told that an Irish immigrant’s son growing up in turn of the century New York would serve in the Marines in World War I, go on to win the world heavyweight title while becoming a self-educated man of culture, live another half century in which he married a Carnegie heiress, befriended men like George Bernard Shaw and Thornton Wilder, lectured on Shakespeare at Yale, served in the Navy in World War II, attained directorship of numerous corporations, and fathered a U.S. senator, you would probably say that has the makings of a pretty good story.

And if that weren’t enough, the man was a snazzy dresser. For those who are inspired by his example, Brooks Brothers is currently offering its own shawl-collared cardigan sweater. Unlike the one worn by Tunney, though, it has epaulets, presumably to assist those who lack the shoulders of giants.

Brooks Brothers shawl-collar cardigan sweater

Boola Boola

Bill Cosby in Yale sweater

Bill Cosby flaunted his support of elite universities by donning an old-timey Yale sweater (though he himself is a proud graduate of Temple).  It’s harmonious simplicity is a refreshing change from the loud, explosively-colored Coogi sweaters he wore as Cliff Huxtable on the Cosby Show.

Check, Baby, Check, Baby 1-2-3

Jay Z in checks

Like the pro he is, Jay-Z managed to successfully combine checks with checks plus a third pattern on his sweater.  Certainly his monochrome color choice helped prevent the appearance of too much busyness.

Jumpers

The Times of London is reporting the sad demise of the cricket sweater:

The woollen V-necked jumper — baggy and bearing mysterious stains — has been a part of cricket at all levels since the early days but when adidas, the new England kit supplier, unveiled its 2008 collection at the home of cricket, cable-knit had been replaced by the figure-hugging ClimaCool, a man-made fibre said to push sweat away from cricketers’ skin.

“England will be cooler, drier and more comfortable than ever before,” Hugh Morris, the managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board, said. “With this kit, England will be the best-equipped team in the world.” The innovation was warmly greeted by Michael Vaughan, England’s Test captain. “The cricket sweater has been my bugbear for many a year,” he said. “This new fabric will give us a lighter feel. Even if it’s a little cold, I am delighted to see the end of the last woolly sweater.”

However, Bob Willis, the former England captain, said that the old sweater was “a very important piece of kit” for fast bowlers. “In cold weather, when you’d finished bowling ten overs and were dripping with perspiration it would keep you cool,” he said.

Willis is alluding to the fact that wool, unlike many other fabrics, maintains its warmth even when wet.

But perhaps the best argument for retaining the cricket sweater is its potential for off-field use, here demonstrated in Matthew Bourne’s dance piece “Play Without Words.”

Play Without Words cricket sweater

Mark of Polo Goes to China

Ralph Lauren Olympics outfitThe Wall Street Journal is reporting that Polo Ralph Lauren will be outfitting the U.S. Team at the upcoming Beijing Olympics:

“Norman Bellingham, chief operating officer of the [U.S. Olympic Committee] and a former Olympic kayaker, says that he wanted the athletes to be attired in a ‘classic and more formal manner.’”

[...]

“At a meeting at Polo’s headquarters on Madison Avenue in New York, Mr. Bellingham told Mr. Lauren that his inspiration was ‘Chariots of Fire,’ the 1981 movie about British athletes competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. Upon hearing that, [Ralph] Lauren smiled, Mr. Bellingham recalls. ‘He knew precisely what we were going for.’”

[...]

“At the Olympic Village and at the Closing Ceremonies, athletes’ wardrobes will include V-neck tennis sweaters and ties, classic Polo mesh shirts with ‘Beijing’ written in big Chinese characters across the front and cargo pants — all in a patriotic palette of red, white and blue. The Olympic logo featured on the new uniforms may include a replica of a crest with stars and stripes used by the 1932 U.S. Olympic team at the Los Angeles Games. Polo ponies of varying sizes will also make an appearance on the garments.”

Izzy thinks that the sketch offers some great white hope.

For the Supermarine, Spitfire

RAF, submarine turtleneck sweater

To Izzy’s mind, cream-colored wool turtleneck sweaters conjure up iconic images from World War II, of RAF flyboys in their sheepskin jackets and Spitfires, or of a submarine captain standing on the sail in the middle of the North Atlantic—pipe in mouth, binoculars in hand.  Izzy is clearly not alone in such fantasizing, given that at least three different vendors have attempted to reproduce the period sweater.

In Tatters, Y’All

TI in tattersall

Named after a British horse auctioneer from the 1700s, the tattersall pattern originated on horse blankets, something it is still used for.  It has long been the classic design for flannel shirts meant to be worn with tweeds in the countryside, but Izzy has noticed that a few hip-hop stars, such as TI above, have been donning the conservative pattern, in the same way that many have been borrowing from preppy attire (note TI’s sherbert sweater). With all due respect to 50 Cent, perhap this style should be called “In da Country Club.”

Parla Inglese?

Angelo IngleseAngelo Inglese detail

The Sartorialist today featured a certain Angelo Inglese, whose surname is too-good-to-be-true for those who enjoy British style all’italiana.  While his jacket sleeves and trousers might be too tight, his subtle combination of patterns should be an inspiration to us all.  Also, although his cardigan appears have been tucked in carelessly, it is more likely a messy example of sprezzatura.

Afro Halo

Cavailli with afro

…I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for an afro to fit through the opening in a turtleneck. Isidore 19:24.

Dumpy Old Men

Lieberman and McCain in suits and sweaters

On the same day that Joseph Lieberman endorsed John McCain for president, both politicians wore crew-neck sweaters under their suits.   To Izzy, this makes them look like emasculated fuddyduddy-ish professors and certainly nothing like a potential Commander-in-Chief.  Also, given that both men are height-challenged, itself a handicap in politics, the sweaters cover up their ties, which would have otherwise emphasized verticality.

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