You Never Forget Your First
... great sweater.
Ed note: Today’s send is brought to you by Alex Mill. Have you heard of Mickey Drexler? Of course you have. He was the grand pooh-bah at J.Crew for many years, most notably in the Jenna Lyons era. He also founded Old Navy and Madewell. These days, he helms Alex Mill with his son Alex Drexler, who founded the brand in 2012 from a tiny NYC storefront on Elizabeth Street.
Lead designer Somsack Sikhounmuong obsesses about creating enduring classics with the kind of attention to detail usually reserved for luxury price points. These are clothes meant to be lived in every day, not reserved for a special occasion; they are as much of a closet bellwether as your favorite pair of jeans. Alex Mill’s fisherman sweaters are the type I could see a 90s Carolyn Bessette Kennedy papped in — so timeless that the image lives on mood boards for eternity, as ageless as CBK herself.
You never forget your first great sweater.
I remember mine. I was in my early 20s, visiting my friend Ryan in New York. He’d warned me that the December temperatures would be unforgiving, but I packed naively, with more fashion in mind than function. It quickly became apparent that my flimsy blazer wasn’t going to cut it, and so, since I’d saved up some shopping money for the trip, I took my first grown-up trip to Bergdorf’s.
On 5F, I found a perfect wool sweater, a heather gray knit flecked with colored yarn in a cape-like silhouette, topped with a dramatic high turtleneck. Ryan gave me his sign of approval. I wore it out, burying my face deep into the neck of the thing as the icy wind whipped around the buildings.
For years, my Mom owned a yarn shop that hosted knitting classes. She built quite a community around the fiber arts, stocking beautiful skeins of hand-dyed cashmere from the kind of farms where people named the llamas. She persisted year after year that I leave that sweater with her for a bit so that she could create a pattern for it and make one of her own, but I couldn’t bear to part with it long enough for her to do so. I still wear it to this day.
The Downing sweater from Alex Mill reminds me of that sweater. Its thick, sturdy knit. The drape of the bodice. The little flecks of colored yarn ever so subtly peeking through the wool. Better, it serves double duty: given that it is technically a men’s sweater, Kevin gets some wear out of it, too.
I love the push of something sparkly with the pull of a casual knit. My uniform this winter has been easy crewnecks and jeans worn with a loafer, styled with a great sock and a statement earring. I love the special weave of these socks in an on-trend red. Smart with a glossy, rich-looking brown leather.
I pull out our Downing sweater for weekend greenmarket runs and business lunches, often tied around my shoulders like a scarf — it plays bass while my favorite fisherman sweater from the brand takes lead vocals. The contrasting knits make chic bandmates for running around the city, especially when I set them off with a tennis necklace. I’d like to see the Downing under the tree in a few more colorways.
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