I think I’ve outgrown hoodies.
I don’t mean that I’ve gotten too big for the sweatshirts filling a shelf in my closet — though there are a few of them that I “fill out” in a way that isn’t what it used to be.
What I mean is that I’ve reached a point in my life where, when I’m thinking casual wardrobe, a hooded sweatshirt isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m not going to stop wearing hoodies any time soon. It might not be possible. At last count, I have at least 10 of them, for every occasion. I’ve got hoodies with logos from work; hoodies for various sports teams; and hoodies from educational institutions I or a family member have attended. My favorite hoodie, with a logo that matches my truck, might be on its last legs as the fabric is starting to lose its elasticity. Then again, I’m starting to lose my elasticity, too.
In any case, there’s still plenty of occasions in Kenai, Alaska, where a hoodie is perfectly appropriate, especially when paired with my fanciest Carhartts.
Maybe I’m just showing my age. The hoodie is now a staple of the teen wardrobe, and I feel like I’m dressing too young. In fact, when I was in high school, crew neck sweatshirts were all the rage, and we actually cut the hoods off of sweatshirts. I can’t tell you why we did that, but I can tell you that my parents were not thrilled about cutting up brand-new clothes. (This was back when, if you wanted ripped jeans, you did it yourself. Like I said, I might be showing my age.)
As I said, it will be a while before I’m able to rotate all those hoodies out of my wardrobe. Right now, I’m starting to look for a replacement. Initially, I thought a nice fleece quarter-zip pullover would be a good substitute. They’re nice and comfy, and maybe a little more chic than a hoodie — especially if you get one of the fancy brands.
However, the fact that I have two Labrador retrievers who regularly ride in my truck (and jump on the couch) needs to be taken into consideration. I can’t make it out of the house without getting dog hair on whatever I’m wearing, and the truck is a lost cause. I have a fleece vest at work that I’ve never taken out of the office, and it’s somehow attracted dog hair. So fleece is out.
They also make quarter-zip pullovers using “tech” fabrics, which don’t seem to attract as much dog hair. The problem there, though, is that the way those tech fabrics drape, they tend to accentuate those areas that were causing my hoodies to fill out. So no tech fabrics either.
Instead, I think I’m going to draw my inspiration from Hollywood. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” starring Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers, hit the big screen a couple months ago. And with his closet full of cardigan sweaters, I think Fred Rogers was on to something.
As it turns out, the cardigan sweater originated in the mid-1800s, when the Earl of Cardigan led his troops in a knitted wool jacket — and the cardigan was born. Lord Cardigan’s reputation did not age as well as the garment; he led the disastrous charge of the light brigade at the battle of Balaclava (which also lends its name to a knit garment).
In fact, early on, cardigans were marketed as rugged and outdoorsy — the perfect replacement for a hoodie. And as a knit garment, they’re already made of animal hair, so if it attracts some dog hair, does it even matter? Besides, I’m sure I can find one to match a yellow Lab.
I’m not sure what the cardigan’s current fashion status is, but a quick google search says I can wear one with jeans and a T-shirt, or with a dress shirt for a more formal outfit. It even says I can wear one without looking like my grandfather.
Outerwear for all occasions? No wonder Mr. Rogers was always so upbeat!
I bet I can even find one that will go with Carhartts. I have just one question: which hoodie do I wear while shopping for sweaters?
Will Morrow lives in Kenai. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• By WILL MORROW, For the Peninsula Clarion