Baby, It's Cold Outside -or- The Sweater That Didn't

I braved some favorite clothing stores recently looking for what would amount to a decent, festive Christmas sweater.

Something without brown snowflakes, or gender-non-specific penguin families, or herds of puff-paint moose galloping with merry holiday abandon. And that's when I noticed...

What's with all the short-sleeved sweaters?

Now, I may be wrong, but it seems to me a sweater without anything to keep your arms warm is not, in fact, a sweater. Sweat doesn't enter into it, see? Frostbite, yes. Goosebumps, yes. Freezing to death on a sooty stoop selling matches for two-pence in the snow, yes. Sweat-- highly unlikely.

To paraphrase the character Edmund Blackadder, "What you have there, Percy, if anything, is an -Er."

And I am well-aware that Fashion-- the people that brought us fake eyeglasses for people with perfect vision, and jeans that only begin in the posterior under-awning region-- isn't exactly the industry of practicality. But this... this just seemed like the whole sweater rack is having some low self-esteem identity crisis.

"Oh, I'm sorry," the sweater says, slouching a little more on the hanger. "I just don't feel comfortable tackling the duties of being a sweater all by myself. My generation of sweaters was taught the importance of teamwork. It's all group projects these days. Achieving total sweater success by myself would just be arrogant... above myself... showing off. So, um, I'm gonna just need you to pick up my long-sleeved yet more lightweight thermal undershirt friend over here to go with me. That'll be an extra $20, please, 'kay, thanks."

"But... but I don't want to layer," I tell it. "I just want one single-tasking sweater."

"Well," continues the short-sleeved creation, fringe purposefully preventing it from meeting my gaze, "I'm afraid it's either the two of us, lady, or you freeze your pinecones off this holiday season. I never go anywhere without my BFF. Or," suggests the sweater with a new, flirty tone of hope, "you could always add my friend over here..."

"Another friend?" I ask hesitantly.

"Meet... the poncho!"

"Hiiii," says the poncho giggling. On closer inspection, it appears that this poncho was designed to only go around the neck and shoulders. It is not a poncho. It is, in truth, some sort of micro-poncho, a pon or perhaps a cho, a wooly dinner napkin with a hole cut through for the neck. If it were in white, it could be the collar of a Carmelite nun-- who also, coincidentally, does a lot of layering. In fleecy purple, however, it looks like Aunt Dottie's arthritis kicked up in the middle of a thoughtful Christmas gift which will be pushed back to next year.

"I'm leaving," I tell the garments. "That sweater I saw with the brown snowflakes perched on the yellow snowbank wasn't really so bad..."

"But wait!" the sweater shrieks. "You can't go. You-- you haven't even met our vests yet!"

"Heeeey!" greet the vests, flashing their linings, their buttons winking in the light.

"Oh... get knit!" I say, the only holiday bell jingling here being the one on the door marked Thank You, Come Again.


meleah rebeccah said...


"But... but I don't want to layer," I tell it. "I just want one single-tasking sweater."

I'm with you, Jenn. I want ONE sweater and I want it to cover my arms all the way!

Jenn Thorson said...

Meleah- I did finally find a couple. But if the sleeves weren't really short, then the front dipped all the way to the waist so you had to... yes... layer again.

I swear it's a ploy to make us have to buy twice the amount of garments.

ReformingGeek said...

A sweater that covers my entire arm is a novelty. The scooping and "V"ing all the way down is ridiculous. They need a new name. Sweater no longer cuts it.

Sweater - Covers all of your top and all the arm; may cause one to sweat

Freezer - Longs to be a sweater but is missing a crucial element of coverage; may cause one to freeze

Jenn Thorson said...

Reforming Geek- I think the Freezer is a very good name for it.

Personally, I just can't risk freezing in order to look cuter. Anyway, cute probably doesn't involve shivering and teeth rattling.

Michelle Hartz, Ph.Z. said...

I agree wholeheartedly. And I really miss the point of short sleeve or sleeveless sweater jackets. "Oh yes, the only thing that needs warmed up on my body is the tops of my shoulders, thank you."

Jenn Thorson said...

Michelle- Yeah, I never understood the short-sleeved suit jacket either. Especially when even in summer many offices are freezing.

meleah rebeccah said...

Totally. It's a conspiracy.

Melanie said...

It is a conspiracy. The only solution is to learn to knit. Jenn, I know you've got an awesome collection of vintage knitting patterns, let's all have a knit along!! :D

I am a fan of the sleeveless summer sweater, but in the winter, I want a SWEATER, not a Freezer!

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

But .. but ... SURELY you know that this is the season for buying summer wear? I mean, look - it's January!!! Time to break out the swimwear!

I agree with you, by the way, about the non-practicality of short sleeved sweaters. You are going to roast in those things at the beach - better buy a tee shirt! And maybe a pon.

Love the Blackadder quote! HAHAHAH!

Janene said...

Ha! This is so true, not just with sweaters but regular shirts as well, and it's driving me absolutely crazy. I don't know if it's part of this whole layering business but, dang, just give a long sleeve shirt.

BTW, a few years ago I bought a sleeveless turtelneck sweater that looked gorgeous on me in the store. Wore it once. Having a hot neck and cold arms wasn't so awesome. Lesson learned. Won't do it again.

Anonymous said...

It's all a conspiracy by the folk that brought us the sleeveless winter dress.
It could be worse, like dry clean only bathing suits (no lie -- this was an innovation in the early 80s).