The humble sweatshirt has been elevated from frumpy team-logo number to sophisticated separate, no longer relegated to last-minute errands (in the car, where our torsos are obscured) or private bursts of house-cleaning or inhaling Lucky Charms from the box.
Sweatshirts have become the new sweaters, and fleece the new cashmere, at least in terms of price.
Prepare to be fleeced by this trend if you aren’t careful. This frenzy was caused in part by the green Kenzo “Tiger” crew neck pictured above, designed by Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon and Carol Lim. The steep $280 price tag did not deter buyers as they sold-out immediately and now fetch up to $800 on ebay — for a god-damn sweatshirt. Net-A-Porter posted a grey version this week that sold-out within an hour, and Opening Ceremony just released the next evolution of the Kenzo sweatshirt, the “Big eye” for pre-order (through today) at a cool $315. Eye don’t think so.
This trend is clearly here to stay, at least through the fall. The latest 2013 fashion month collections exploded with swanky versions of sweatshirts in various colors, textures and prints. One of Jslow and my favorite up-and-coming brands, MSGM, featured vivid floral patterns, although they too are in Kenzo-price territory. Givenchy and Phillip Lim were just a few of many designers who featured them prominently as the anchor to skirts and trousers, imparting a relaxed, downtown vibe.
I personally love them. I can’t rationalize the price of these designer versions, but I can buy the casual, comfortable, cozy cool they impart to any look. And like jeans, they get softer and better with age. They also hold up a heck of lot better than knits.
Luckily, there is no need to fork over more than fifty bucks to work this trend into your wardrobe. I’ve found a few fantastic resources that sell awesome sweatshirts for a fraction of what the designers command: Kinshipgoods.com, a local duo from Louisville Kentucky who hand-print apparel and accessories that are, per their website, “inspired by starry nights, peeling paint, mountain air, reclaimed keepsakes, labors of love, and early mornings.” Their shirts are more subdued and classic, featuring spare prints on grey backgrounds. Another option is Tshirt99 on Etsy, featuring bright screen-printed saturated graphics of sky scenes and cats. There are loads of great sweatshirt options on Etsy: Type in “Sweatshirt” and go nuts.
Be warned: the sweatshirt-as-sweater trend, in the wrong hands, can court sartorial disaster if you aren’t careful. It really is one of those unfortunate garments that has the power to transform you into an older lady on a sightseeing tour of the Keys, or a Hello-Kitty kid on her way to a slumber party.
If you follow our simple list of do’s and don’ts, you won’t have to sweat your sweatshirt.
• Stick to crew or v-necks
• Look for interesting prints and colors
• Make sure the fit is either snug and shrunken or very slouchy (to do the casual front-tuck thing)
• Pair them in unexpected ways to contrast casual with dressy: skirts, trousers, tailored pants
• Layer them over button-downs and under blazers
• Scrunch up the sleeves to expose an interesting cuff or set of bangles
• Opt for grey as a fail-safe basic, like you would a camel cashmere sweater
• Don your college or favorite sports team, unless you are in a sports-bar, stadium, or staying in
• Go for glittery or girly embellishments
• Pair them with jeans and sneakers unless you have a locker and receive a report card
• Pair them with sweat pants, unless you want to look like a field hockey coach like your wearing a Forever Lazy
The best part of the sweatshirt? Not only does it take you from day to night, it also goes to bed. Good night!