I credited Katherine Hepburn when I loosely paraphrased the practice of being miserly in one area of life so that extravagance may manifest in another. Someone then asked me to track down the source and after thumbing through Scott Berg’s biography of Hepburn as well as her autobiography I had to give up on verifying the attribution. Whatever. The wisdom or rationalization therein still stands-for me at least. Cashmere is an area where my inner miser is apparent. The above photo is an attempt by me to illustrate the lush delicacy of cashmere fibers. It is not an expose on albino pubes.
I remember my first cashmere sweater. Sophomore in college and certainly-even with my clothing store discount-unable to afford cashmere. It was a gift from Miss Effie-my surrogate grandmother (told you I’ve been rewarded with mentors and great surrogates) who lived in a house next door to where I was living with some fratty boys. Initially, we thought that she was going to be a real crotchety old lady who would complain about our debauchery and antics. Nothing could end up being further from the truth. She reveled in our shacking up-our late night antics and our appetite for her Sunday dinners. After all, her daughter married a KA from Chapel Hill in the early 1960’s so she knew our ilk.
I also got a bead pretty quickly on how she was wired when I picked up that little monthly HBO pamphlet on her sofa and saw that she had circled all of the movies with L,V,N. Remember L,V,N? Language-Violence-Nudity. She wanted to be sure not to miss them. What a cool 79 year old gal. So she gives me this brown heathery v neck cashmere sweater for Christmas. Really nice. She then declares that it must be monogrammed and I relent. Hell, she bought the sweater so I figure that she’ll know how to instruct the folks to adorn it with some discreet script of A.D.G.
Fast forward one week and she is beaming as she hands the sweater back to me. I felt a wave of cold nausea when she unfurled the sweater to reveal a freakin’ diagonal billboard beginning over the left chest-adjacent to the V of the neck-with the last of the three letters almost touching the waistband. And the letters were…D.A.G. My roomies who also received sweaters from Effie were howling. I was forever known as “DAG” and I did from time to time; wear the sweater over to her house. Shut up.
Ok, I’m sure I’ve lost you by now. I never bought a cashmere sweater during the ensuing twenty years and never received one as a gift. I admired the Polo cable knit cashmere crewnecks but the MSRP of over three hundred bucks a throw was always too strong for my blood. When you walk in the main entrance of the Ralph Mansion on Madison Avenue you see a wall of them-in every color. Usually with a stunning gal working that counter-willing to sell you as many as you want-for almost four bills.
Then along comes eBay. Now I’m not above buying vintage (used) clothing but I’ve limited it to a dwindling few shops in London. I’m not a thrifter like G-Man over at An Affordable Wardrobe. I don’t have the time or attention span to develop his knack.
But what I did discover many years ago was a cadre of sellers on eBay that handle brand new goods at a 70% discount. Are they defective? I don’t know-certainly they aren’t so flawed that I can find the problem. So at a 70% discount I’ve assembled a nice little stash of cashmere crewneck Ralphs over the past five years or so.
And I REALLY admired this baby a few years ago. Double breasted cashmere cardigan. I admired it from afar though-after pricing it at Polo Short Hills one afternoon. The sticker on this puppy was over a half grand. No thanks. I was on it like a duck on a junebug when I found it-courtesy of eBay for a Buy It Now price of around a hundred.
Fuzzy dice be damned-I did remove the big ole Polo bumper sticker crest off of the breast pocket.
Onward. In one hundred percent cashmere. One hundred percent eBay. One hundred percent DAG