Many years ago, I had a pair of comfortable black pants — from Ann Taylor, I think — that I discovered were indestructible. Made of entirely synthetic fibers, the pants could not be stained, shrunken, faded, or stretched out. A colleague and I dubbed them “the plastic pants” and delighted in all the ways they could be mistreated but not injured.
I am not sure what happened to the plastic pants. I think at some point I determined that despite their comfort, resilience, and seeming immortality that they didn’t actually fit. I must have given them away or discarded them.
It’s possible that they are in a landfill, but we know they aren’t rotting! They’ll persist until the end of the time, leaving evidence that bipeds once walked and litigated upon this planet.
During the pandemic, I’ve been missing those pants. Thinking how handy they would be for pan-dressing. They were trousers dressy enough for work, but machine-washable — and could be worn for exercise, watching TV, taco eating, resting with cats.
Imagine my delight when I saw these “smooth stretch twill” pants on the JCrew website. The product details describe the fabric as “poly/polyurethane.”*
They don’t look like much in these photos. Indeed, they don’t look like much on me in-person. BUT they are: not leggings; not yoga pants; machine-washable; stretchy, but sort of dressy. They feel like a full body compression stocking, which is rather reassuring.
This sweater may be, of all my sweaters (and there are many), my favorite.
You may find that surprising, since it appears to be a rather nondescript turtleneck in a dead shade of grey.
The truth is even more shocking. This sweater is at least 15 years old. It sits in a closet filled with sweaters of more luxurious fibers, beautiful hues, and interesting designs. But this little merino wool turtleneck (with the smallest amount of stretch fiber) is a favorite, if not the favorite. I like the cut and the material has worn like iron. No pilling. Ever. No loss of shape, despite dozens of trips to the laundry room and the drycleaner over the years.
Now, on to the main event: the brooch.
I first saw Hattie Carnegie silk flower brooches on Carole Tanenbaum’s vintage jewelry website in the late 2000s. She had at least three, but I dithered and they disappeared — snapped up by a more decisive (or impetuous) shopper. And then one appeared on Michelle Obama a year or so later. Can you imagine a more direct sign from the cosmos, telling me to get with the program? Thusly, a search ensued over the next decade.**
I found this one on Ruby Lane, priced well under-market, last summer.
Keep your eyes peeled, Directorate. These brooches were manufactured in two sizes (mine is the small size) and a number of electric bright colors — fuschia, orange, purple, lime green — with contrasting, specked centers.+
Dress sneakers, for those who want to take a closer look.
If more proof were needed that the pandemic is making us strange, I bought a top (1) from H&M (2) that looks like those blankets professional movers use to wrap and protect case goods.
Over the last ten years, I’ve been into the H&M downtown several times. I always go in because I’ve seen something cute in an editorial feature on the Internet and I always leave empty-handed, peevish, and disoriented after a few minutes.
I saw this top in an editorial feature on WhoWhatWear and all I had to do to make it mine was click on a link.
So charming, no?
We could debate this until my plastic pants are engulfed by the Sun++ and never reach a final answer. Until then, I am charmed.
If you are looking for an entertaining documentary, I recommend AlphaGo, which tells the story behind the development of a computer programmed to play Go and the best-of-five match between the machine and the world champion. It offers some profound insights into human nature, intelligence, and the possibilities of AI — and I think you will love the Go match commentators.
Ludicrous pants: JCrew Hayden Kickout Crop pant; Ludicrous top: H&M Quilted Top; Sneakers: discussed in this post; Professional moving blankets: to the right
* The fabric tag says 93% polyester, 7% elastane.
** A desultory search ensured. Even though I could set up search notifications on various sites, I am an old-fashioned (and hapless) investigator. Every few months, I’ll remember that I had an idea and spend fifteen minutes poking around the Internet.
+ One observation. Mother, maybe you shouldn’t read the next sentence. The tip of the stem on this brooch is sharp. It’s not sharp enough to cut or puncture one during normal handling, but I wouldn’t wear it while driving. When the pandemic is over, I will bring it to a jeweler and see if we can bend or blunt that tip. I know that it is wrong to mess with antiques but safety first.
++ The sun is coming for us, but it won’t be here for at least 7 billion years.