Sweater Girl, or: “Rebecca Tells a Shopping Story”

posted in: Family, Fashion 26
Publicity photo of Patti Page, 1955. Image courtesy Wikipedia.
Publicity photo of Patti Page, 1955. Image courtesy Wikipedia.


Two quick items of business:

  1. Thanks to all of you, Mom procured the fabric she needs to finish her quilt. If this is the world’s first instance of crowdstashing, I am happy to report we are all batting 1000. It totally worked for Mom and me and it can work for you, too. (And yes, XX, there should be an app.) Thank you all for the tips, the bon courages, and to the lovely lady who is FedEx’ing the exact amount of the exactly-right fabric. Incredible. Everyone is magic.
  2. Today is my birthday. I’ve had one of the best birthdays of my life. The day involved, among many other things, a trombone serenade, a special delivery from Germany, and a power outage. Those things are all true, though they are not related.

But the birthday tale has to come later. Tonight, it’s time to post a monologue. I worked on it on and off all day and I think I’ve got it right.

You’re about to read a true story which has been carefully reconstituted from the copious notes I took down last night at dinner. Mom, Jack, and my sister Rebecca and I were eating grilled pizza and drinking wine and my sister was (hilariously) expounding on the reasoning behind a certain wardrobe item in her possession. I grabbed my laptop and got down everything, pretty much word for word. (In case you don’t know, Nordstrom Rack is the discount joint run by the people behind the fance-schmance Nordstrom’s department store. It’s a magical place.)



Two weeks ago, the “Clear The Rack” sale happened at Nordstrom Rack. “Clear The Rack” is a big deal for us ‘Rackies, a real affair to remember. You get 25 percent off the lowest ticketed price! It’s the best sale and it does not happen often. Maybe twice a year. So I go.

There I am, clicking through a rounder, and there’s this light gray, cropped cashmere sweater with a hood. This kind of garment — though it rarely looks like much on the hanger — is my jam. I see it, lift it up, admire it. But there was a problem. Even though it was hanging in the “M” section of the rounder, the tag said “XS/S”, though it was very roomy. It was a roomy Small. Still, I put it back and went off exploring.

By the time I was done wandering around, though, that gray sweater was still on my mind. What the heck, I thought, and I decided to try it on. Trying on clothes is a victimless crime. It’s like testing out a lipstick: No harm, no foul. That’s my advice: Whatever it is, try it on. Go to an expensive place! Try on a pretty gown! Do it! That’s what I say. I’m a modern woman.

Oh, and the sweater’s original price? It was something like 500 dollars, which was silly, but after a zillion markdowns, it was cha-eep. Cheap. Plus an extra 25 percent off?? I couldn’t afford not to try it on, in this economy.

So I take it back to the dressing room and pull it over my head, and as goes over my face, the most glorious, pleasant, feminine, like, parfumerie bouquet envelopes me. That sweater smelled so good — there just are no words. None. It was the smell that really good perfume takes in certain clothes, like sweaters, after a person wears it and then you put it on and it smells faintly in that perfect way. I was completely overtaken by this fragrance. I was like, “I’m buying this.”

It was so clear what happened. This girl, this woman, bought the sweater — full price — and took it home. She went for  a swim at The Club, played tennis, took a shower, used her fancy creams, spritzed her perfume and everything, but she didn’t blow dry her hair. That’s important. Then she put on the sweater on and — well, it wasn’t quite right.  It made her look hippy, maybe. So she pulled the sweater off over her hair, still wet and fragrant from her incredible hair care products. That’s important. She puts the sweater back in the Nordstrom bag and then, a couple days later, very much at at her leisure, she returns it. And it goes on the Rack.

I thought of this woman taking exotic journeys in foreign lands. She’s sitting in the airport and gets a chill, so she just casually dons her gray, cashmere hooded sweater. That’s the narrative I created.

All of this was instantly coming from the sweater. It smelled clean, and like new clothes, but it was more than that. This sweater smelled like…effortlessness. It smelled like someone who just…shows up. It smelled cool. The girl who had this sweater before just smells cool. If you went to dinner with her, you’d get a whiff of her at the bar or whatever and you be like, “This girl? This girl is cool.”

Look, I’m happy with who I am. I have my shampoo. I have my deodorant. But I always wonder how I smell and I wonder how I smell to others. You can’t ever know. Do I smell cool? That’s what you want to know.

Clearly, I bought it. And I’ll never clean it. I could spill a pizza on this sweater. A saucy pizza from the sky could fall on this sweater and I would not clean it.

[the end]

EDITOR’S NOTE: My sister brought this sweater up to the lake house this weekend and I can attest to the fact that no garment has ever smelled so good, ever, and we have been burying our faces in it intermittently for two days. That is, until Rebecca began to snatch it away, worried that we’d over-sniff it and the scent would be gone forever.

26 Responses

  1. Sarah Murray
    | Reply

    Happy Birthday! Delighted to hear your mom is getting her fabric.

  2. Denise Evans
    | Reply

    Run, don’t walk, to your nearest Ulta. Buy some Philosophy body lotion in the Falling in Love scent. Slather that on after your shower, do all the things Ms. Fance Schmance did in her gray cashmere. At the end of the day, toss your clothes over your chair, go to bed, get up, and take a whiff of yesterday’s clothes. Seriously,, day old Falling in Love lotion scent is …there are no words. In fact, I think Ms Fance might be a Philosophy girl. Get yourself a late birthday gift. You’re welcome!

    • Gayle
      | Reply

      Or Amazing Grace. Philosophy does clean and lovely like no one else.

  3. Debra
    | Reply

    Who is the lady in the picture,,

    • Christine
      | Reply

      The caption under the picture says Patty Page.

  4. Cindy mizer
    | Reply

    My mom had one luxury during our childhood and that was Este Lauder perfume. She wore it to work and on her nicer clothes. I remember a sweater she had. It was so very soft and she rarely got it out(we were tough on her stuff) and it smelled of Este Lauder, making it even nicer. Even now, if I smell that perfume, I think of mom.

    • Barbara
      | Reply

      My mom also used Estee Lauder perfume, and if I smell it today, I still think of her.

  5. Joan
    | Reply

    Happy birthday, Mary!!

  6. Anita Brayton
    | Reply

    Love a good bargain. Happy Birthday Mary!

  7. Linda
    | Reply

    I loved this post Mary. I too love the smell of expensive perfumes and products and I love sweaters. I have had a similar experience and when you put that sweater on your life is good. I have worn mine until it became a rainy day eating ice cream from the carton sweater day. Good job in buying that one .

  8. Deb P.
    | Reply

    Great story told by a cool lady. 🙂

  9. Shonni D
    | Reply

    Did you figure out the fragrance? Now I want to know! Happy Birthday!!

  10. Christine Houghton
    | Reply

    Happy Belated Birthday ! Glad you had a great day and dinner with family that gave you this great story about your sister. Loved it! Congrats to your mom in getting the fabric she needed. I needed more fabric no one seemed to have and then I went on the Etsy website and found all I needed. Made my day.

  11. Mary Ann
    | Reply

    Love this tale, and it just evokes so many memories of my Grandmother and Mother. Scent is such a powerful trigger!

  12. Carol
    | Reply

    Have a wonderful birthday!

  13. Linda Duff
    | Reply

    My Mom was only an Avon-scent wearer, and that only happened on Sundays for church, or when she and Dad had a special ‘thing’ to attend (very rare) or when Mom came to school for school conferences. Back in “the day,” conferences were held in the classroom while all students were present, but far enough away from all so that comments between teacher and parent couldn’t be overheard. I didn’t know what time my Mom was supposed to be at my 4th grade classroom to visit with the teacher, but I knew when she arrived because her “Avon-scented OCCUR! breeze” wafted over the classroom, and my head came up with a snap…Mom was here!! I still smile about that today. Mom now wears some other scent (I don’t even know the name of it) but when someone walks past and is wearing it, I automatically look around to see where Mom is .. HA ..
    Glad you found the fabric for your Mom’s quilt! Will wait to hear that story!!

  14. Kathryn Darnell
    | Reply

    Excited to hear he Fabric Stash SOS ws so effective. Quilters have have great hearts and great piles and piles of fabric. Laugh, giggle and winggle your toes. It’s your birthday. Put on sweater and STRUT your stuff.

  15. Pamela Keown
    | Reply

    Best post ever. Happy Birthday Mary.

  16. Lori Minch
    | Reply

    Happy birthday! Great story. Makes me wish I had a signature scent. And I’m so glad your mom found her fabric – that’s fabulous!

  17. Jeanann
    | Reply

    ♫Happy Birthday to You!♫ May your year be blessed. Fragrances bring me memories of mom and my grandmas.

  18. Tracy
    | Reply

    Great blog today! When I first opened it and saw the picture I thought it was going to be about the pointy bra! Patti Page was a pretty good jazz singer.

  19. Elizabeth A Benedict
    | Reply

    Late but Happy Birthday..

  20. Mary O.
    | Reply

    Happy Birthday! Awesome Editor’s Note, too funny. Enjoy a wonderful day!

  21. Barbara
    | Reply

    Ofcourse that’s Patti Page in picture. How Much Is That Doggie in the Window – ruff, ruff,, the one with the wag-gully tail!!

    Happy Birthday Mary xo.

  22. cindy
    | Reply

    Love this story!!!!! I want to bury my face in this sweater too!!!!

    Wishing you a most fabulous birthday!!!!!! Hope it was magical and full of love & laughter!!!!!

  23. Nicole Hannah
    | Reply

    Happy birthday sweet lady! I’m glad it’s a good one for you.

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