I am small. I have mostly not enjoyed it as much as my taller friends might imagine. When you are a kid, it is fun to be at the top of the cheerleading pyramid and all that – but once puberty hits, things get tricky. Your body starts storing fat for all the good stuff ahead (sex, motherhood, etc.) but there is less length to absorb it when you are only five-foot-two. I hated noticing this, and like a lot of girls, had a long relationship with comparing myself to anyone who wasn’t me. When I had daughters of my own, none of whom turned out very tall, some of them also noticed this change in themselves when they started to grow out and not up. Some remained happily oblivious. What a gift for them! On the other hand, there was no talking the noticers out of it… but I did try. (If I have learned anything from being a woman myself and then raising five more… it is that you cannot talk anyone into feeling beautiful. Horses and water and all that.)
When I got to college, I could always spot which boy would go for me. The shortest of the group every time. It was like he knew he had a smaller pool… which then made me feel like seconds. The long-legged blondes from California really did have, if not more fun, at least more dates. When I moved to New York and started spending all of my time trying my hardest not to screw up my job, I thinned out a little. Probably from sheer nervous energy. My brother Chris called it the “tuna fish sandwich miracle diet.” Every day, I ordered lunch for my boss and added a tuna sandwich for myself, which I ate in huge, hurried bites at my desk.
If other assistants kept snacks around, I certainly didn’t see them. And even though my body didn’t feel as full in my short frame, I still didn’t love being small. People tend to talk down to you… literally, of course since you are a few inches below eye level. But this very real measure of height difference can also make it feel like people talk down to you intellectually. It starts with pet names – Annie, not Ann. And sometimes even more on the nose. The most memorable was from my friend and fellow assistant Isabella Delves Broughton who worked for Andre Leon Talley in the office across from me. She was only a few inches taller and yet she called me Candy Floss. The English word for cotton candy. She was from London and I am sure thought this a term of endearment, but somehow I knew that I would not be a Candy Floss if I were, say, five foot six. Even years later, I would run into people who truly thought my name was Candy. It was a crazy time.
(And trust me – it was crazy in other ways. Lots to be said about Andre Leon Talley. He just passed away and there have been beautiful tributes all over the internet. My own memory of him was not as theatrical and flamboyant as those of others. He was lovely and Southern and gentle and often heads-down at his desk working away. It was Isabella who was the bona fide eccentric in that office. In the best way. Wherever she was going, I wanted to go. I was the sidekick Candy Floss tagging along while she burned through the petty cash in the most astonishing and brazen way, all in the name of discovering content. “Let’s go have dinner at the Odeon with Fred!”)
Anyway, all that to say - there are many tall women who yearn to be small and dream of being called cute. In fact, I have a group of girlfriends who are almost all 6-8 inches taller than me. They call me Tiny Ann and poke fun at themselves for feeling gigantic in comparison. We are all old enough by this point to own, and even enjoy, what we've been given physically. But this week I am talking about something that is small on purpose. If you can’t BE petite, you can at least wear a petite sweater. In the same way that I sometimes feel like a miniature version of my girlfriends… the Rosie Cardigan is kind of like a smaller, shrunken version of our Cydney Cardigan. The bikini of jewel-neck cardigans… there is just less of it. I have nothing to do with naming the silhouettes on our line, but I DO notice that this one just happens to end in an -ie. Annie, not Ann. Rosie, not Rose. Hmm. See what I mean?
little sweater, big hair
And I still love the slouchiness of the original Cydney – in fact, I have written about it. That one has its place in any closet. But the Rosie is perfect for when you need something a little smaller on top proportionally. Like…
Small on top with a sparkly skirt for evening.
Small on top of wide-leg jeans.
Small on top of trousers.
Small on top of track shorts or sweatpants at home.
Anything you could imagine wearing a turtleneck or t-shirt with… this is just another option that works year round. I have always needed and had sweaters like this in my wardrobe, but mostly purchased from Gap Kids or Uniqlo in size 12-14. But this one is the upgrade anyone can wear. Trim but not child-sized and with better proportions. (i.e. room for breasts.) And the material is much better, too… cotton with just a little cashmere knit in. Seasonless!
Anyway, the Rosie is my latest favorite thing. The 5-foot-2 friend to the 5-foot-10 Cydney. You need them both.