When I think of style, I think of women who look like they both care and don’t care at the same time. That may sound confusing, but I know it when I see it. A woman who can wear something that she thinks looks amazing… but doesn’t need you to agree with her. If someone gets it, great, but if not, who cares? Having been in this business for so long, it is news to no one that I find major inspiration in women with that kind of style. Often it is not the groundbreaking outfits that get me going… more often it is combinations of simple things that may not be that special but for some reason they just look cool.
This week I am writing about something that might seem that way to you — not that special at first glance — but I will tell you the exact reason that it makes me feel cool. Lately, I cannot get enough of a half-sleeve sweater. Not a short sleeve, a half sleeve. My mind goes first to the rich, beautiful girls in Slim Aarons photos wearing sweaters with just about anything. (Including a bathing suit in Palm Beach.) They stare confidently into the camera… like they care, but they don't care.
Georgina + some extra sparkle
But the bigger sweater inspiration for me is Miuccia Prada. Talk about confidence. Queen of cool. I have never been a big customer of her runway looks. Amazing fantasy, but most of it too high-fashion for me. I did have one of the nylon bags in the 90s that Sid brought back from a work trip to Italy – the smallest one they made, of course. I used it for lipsticks in my purse. The power of a fashion brand, right? Back to the queen: Miuccia. She has a very distinct uniform and if you have seen photos of her, you can probably conjure it up in your head right now: cashmere sweater (prim, sometimes almost dowdy) + tea-length skirt (often fanciful.) A perfect high-low combination that reads as comfortable, not dressed to impress… but dressed to impress herself for sure. Oh, and the earrings. Years ago, there was a picture of her in some magazine that I will never forget. She was in a plain grey cashmere sweater with big, beautiful earrings that looked like they came out of some ancient Italian lady's jewelry box. It got me so bad. I was dying to be her. That sparkly jewel in her ear… maybe a family heirloom or bought in Florence on the Ponte Vecchio… with the elevated simplicity of that sweater… it was perfect. Perfetto, rather.
So we’ve leaned into the half-sleeve this spring – specifically the Georgina, but the Natasha also belongs to the group. It is the polo I wrote about this time last year and the high-twist knit is so extra-great that we categorize it as a sweater. (You can go back to read what Lan, our brilliant bossy designer had to say about this.) To me, a warm-weather sweater like this just reeks of a woman who both cares and doesn’t care.
What makes them sweaters — not just polos — is both the knit and the fit. And the sleeve length is kind of magic. You can push it up to show more skin or just leave it just above the elbow, which looks so sophisticated. Many women have complicated feelings about their arms, but I can tell you that nearly everyone looks great in this style. And while you can simply push up the sleeves of a normal sweater year-round (very Slim Aarons), this one feels like spring. Even summer! The material is this amazing cotton and silk jersey that feels luxurious but light. So chic I can’t stand it. There’s a ribbed version that feels a little 70s with a knit that just glides over your skin and smooths you out in the most beautiful way. And then of course there is the Natasha polo sweater in that high-twist cotton knit with a sportier buttoned placket.
I’ve had a lot of fun trying it on with loads of things in my closet. Jeans of course, Faye pants (very Laura Petrie/wholesomely sexy), a chic little pencil skirt like my mother would have worn. If you are younger than me, you need to try it with our track shorts – we styled it that way for our spring catalog with Slim Aarons in mind. But my favorite combination came when I grabbed a tulle skirt from our line several years ago. I put on some heels and my favorite Marie-Hélène de Taillac earrings… and I FINALLY felt like I looked like Miuccia. 20-some years later. Me… uccia.