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.
13 thoughts on “A Most Unnatural Pair of Pants”
Actually, it’s currently thought that the sun will enter its red-giant phase in 5.4 billion years, give or take a week. But the Earth will have become uninhabitable long before then because the sun is slowly but steadily growing hotter (by 1% every 100 million years.)
Two things will survive: my cochlear implants, which are made of high-grade ceramic and titanium, and Tory’s pants.
The AlphaGo documentary is on YouTube, which can be watched on a smart TV once you’ve downloaded the YouTube app.
The yellow silk blossom has travelled a long way through time and space to end up with you but I can’t imagine a happier match than this one with your grey jumper.
You wear a lot of brooches – how do you deal with holes in your sweaters?
This will be the subject of a future post, Julie! But to answer quickly now: I consider the weight of the brooch and the gage of the pin (how thick is the actual pin) and the weight and weave of the fabric. Some brooches I only wear on wool or heavy cotton jackets. Knits can be very forgiving, provided they are heavy enough to hold the brooch in place. If I am concerned about holes, I test the brooch on a seam allowance, at the hem, or on a cuff first. A reader has previously recommended a product called Magnapin — a magnet that slides on to the pin. I need to buy this, test it, and report back.
You can also place a piece of foam rubber or heavier fabric on the underside of the garment you’re pinning it to. Helps to balance and bear weight. I used to use cut-up shoulder pads (remember those?) and they worked great.
I use those round cotton makeup applicators to support brooches!
Love the brooch! Your sesnse of humor and writing are fab! Today I shall order the “Go” book as gift for my husband who is difficult to find gifts for, as he is an avid Go player!
I have the same response to visiting H&M in person, as well as &Other Stories and all the other fast fashion spots.
I love the antique looking rhinestone brooch (or who knows, maybe you are the queen and those are diamonds) on the moving blanket top.
That was a weird sentence to write.
love the bright yellow and the perfect gray sweater. the j.crew pants are on big-time sale today — I just snapped them up for $24.00 (no joke!)
“In Michelle we trust…”
The downtown H&M store isn’t my favorite. They have a lot of stock but pre-pandemic the lines were always long and the two floor layout makes it hard to review the inventory. I like the store in Downtown Silver Spring better. Between that shop and the one in Wheaton if I’m looking for something it will usually turn up.
I do like the quilted blouse. We’ve been inside for several months now but I anticipate going back to outdoors activitites and I think the quilted top would be good for outdoor drinks or dining. If you don’t wear it much, then it’s out with no big loss.