Each holiday season for the past seven years I have asked my mother for the same gift: a private label department store cashmere sweater from Neiman Marcus. Yes, nondescript, quiet, quality two-ply cashmere. It’s not the sexiest or most thrilling gift by any means, but it’s my absolute favorite and one less thing for her to stress over during the holidays.
The origins of the gift are not memorable really. In 2009, I simply asked my mother for a navy cashmere crewneck sweater, and let her run free into the malls of Metro Detroit. She returned successfully from Neiman Marcus and that was it. The fact that she found something of her own choosing that I loved was the kicker.
It was such a successful gift that I ask for a new one each year. I like the way it fits me: It’s not too tight nor too big. There is nothing tricky in the stitching or trimming. It’s like wearing a favorite T-shirt — but one you have to dry-clean. And it pretty much works with any winter outfit of mine: a slimmer size layers nicely under a boxy blazer or complements a fancier skirt, while a size larger worn over a white tee is my exaggerated companion to jeans.
Timing is key, however. It’s nearly always on sale after Thanksgiving (in fact, 50 percent off right now), so my mom waits until December to start shopping. Two navy crewnecks later, along with a charcoal and a pale-gray V-neck (that I sadly left in Milan), a black version of each, and a surprising hunter-green sweater in 2013, I have amassed quite the collection and don’t see an end to it. This year, I went rogue and asked for ivory.
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