Of all my collections (and that includes a box full of rocks shaped like my home state of Connecticut), the one I truly can’t live without is my collection of vintage and vintage-inspired sweatshirts. I have long- and short-sleeved raglan crewnecks in at least seven different colors, sweatshirts from the ’80s bearing the iconic logos of brands like Benetton and the Broadway musical Cats, and a tie-dyed chore jacket made of sweatshirt material that I get compliments on every time I wear it. But until recently, one important style of sweatshirt has been missing: a boxy and lightweight quarter-zip.
I didn’t know how much I needed a quarter-zip sweatshirt until this past January, when I noticed Strategist senior editor Katy Schneider wearing an off-white version from Sincerely, Tommy in Brooklyn. Long beloved by outdoorsy dads, the quarter-zip sweatshirt has a high neck that gives a flattering frame to any face, and a little zipper that makes it both sporty and alluring. I loved the style and immediately got serious about finding a vintage one of my own. The usual places — Etsy, eBay, and Poshmark — turned up nothing, so I gave up on vintage and decided to look for something new.
I remembered a brand called Comfort Colors that a graphic-designer friend had suggested for its stylish and budget-friendly pocket tees. I knew the company made sweatshirts, too, and when I went to Amazon to check what styles were available, I found this perfectly simple, pre-worn-in quarter-zip sweatshirt. (When I did a little research into the company, I discovered that Comfort Colors was started in the ’70s by a man named Barry Chouinard. For any fellow Patagonia nerds to whom that last name might sound familiar, he is in fact the cousin of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard.)
The sweatshirt comes in ten different colors, all of which have the signature faded look of garment-dyed cotton. I chose pepper, a sort of dark washy gray, knowing it would go with nearly everything I own. From the moment I pulled it on a few days later, I had my new favorite sweatshirt. Everything about it is soft. It feels like the hoodie you’d steal from a college boyfriend and hope he forgets about when you inevitably break up, only without the slept-in smell and food stains. It’s the kind of thing you wear over your swimsuit on windy days at the beach and throw on with a denim miniskirt when the temperature drops at night. And there will be even more opportunities to wear it this fall, whether it’s a weekend hiking trip or yet another day working from home.
The only tiny issue is one I have dealt with a hundred times before — and one that might not matter to you. I bought a size small, which fits me almost exactly how I want it to. But because it’s a men’s sweatshirt, the body length is about four inches too long. So I cut it off, and sewed the waistband back on just above my natural waist, for a slightly cropped look. (If you don’t have a sewing machine and want to do this, you can simply cut the sweatshirt with a pair of fabric scissors and leave the hem raw. Don’t worry, it won’t fray.) Whether you alter yours or not, you end up with something that feels like pajamas but looks nice enough to wear to the office, whenever that might happen again.
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