You Need This... I Promise

The Striped Cydney Tee


My friend Margret recently shared a little TikTok video about making a lemon vinaigrette in a group text. She happens to be an excellent cook so, even though I had 50 things to do at my desk, I immediately tapped through and watched it. I have been making vinaigrette for almost 4 decades now — I KNOW how to do it. And in fact mine gets a lot of compliments, even from my own family who eats it all the time. It is one of the simplest things in the world to make – lemon, salt, pepper, oil – at its most basic. Garlic or herbs can be added if you want (I do). So then WHY did I tap this video so quickly to see about this other vinaigrette? Did Margaret think that perhaps her girlfriends didn’t know how to make one? No. She knows, like we all do, that some of the simplest and most perfect things can often be elusive. You think you have it mastered, only to search out yet another variation… some new trick that will make it BETTER.

A lot like a classic vinaigrette... a classic t-shirt is often one of the hardest things to get right. When I worked in magazines, we were constantly on the hunt. As soon as we found a great one, the store would stop making it within a year and a new variation would take its place… often one that wasn’t QUITE as great. Now that I am on the “supply side” as a design company – I know how hard it is to get it right. And actually, what constitutes perfect, anyway? Crew neck? V-neck? Trim, oversized? Long sleeves or short sleeves? Many out there are pretty perfect and there will always be opinionated people with their own favorites. In fact, I just saw adorable vixen Jenny Walton on Instagram sharing a few favorite white tees and the role each of them plays in her wardrobe. (It is in her saved Highlights under Basics/NotBasic.) She has fantastic taste and style and frankly would look good in any t-shirt on the planet. Attitude goes a long way. For me, a striped t-shirt is even more important and basic than a plain white one. Almost exactly two years ago, I wrote about our classic boatneck tee. Trim, long-sleeved, very French feeling. I had a lot to say about it! Ever since college, this style has been a huge staple in my wardrobe. Just ask my friends, who bailed me out this summer during my move and stuffed an astonishing number of striped t-shirts into blue IKEA bags. I happened to be wearing one of those tees for every single day of the move. So I am a bit of a broken record on stripes.

But details make the difference, and I PROMISE that this new striped t-shirt is different enough to write about. Just like that elusive perfect vinaigrette. It is named because it has the same boyfriend-ish, easy fit as our Cydney cashmere sweaters. Fuller in the body but still trim in the sleeves. Loose-ish but not sloppy. This shape is easier to wear, in my opinion, than the original boatneck tee if you have the good fortune of an ample bosom. The band at the neckline is perfectly refined. And each of the stripes in this particular batch is on the narrower side... easier to mix with other patterns if you are a little gun-shy that way. I just love everything about it. But the thing that really, really, really gets me is the Japanese fabric. So many of the pieces on our line are quite classic and do not immediately strike the viewer as especially different or groundbreaking. True “basics.” But so often the specialness comes back to the fabric and the quality of the make. The way the patterns are matched or the way the seams are finished on the inside. Or, as in this case, just the material itself might be really wonderful. It is cotton jersey, yes. Like a lot of t-shirts we all own. But like the vinaigrette, this one is BETTER.

I love Japan. I have never actually BEEN there, but I love it. It has been on my list since my college roommate Debbie went off there after we graduated and sent me dozens of postcards, each one more adorable than the next. She went on to serve as the art director of Spanish Vogue, so in addition to a sense of adventure she also has an amazing eye. (Her Instagram @smithmaya is proof of this.) I wrote last time about how sometimes being called CUTE can feel like an insult. But I guess I must like cuteness more than I thought... because Japan is the LAND of cute. Home of Hello Kitty and emoji and rice cookers that play little songs. In fact, I have spent my fair share time on Amazon buying cute things from Japan. Phone cases.. contact lens cases... pill cases... cable ties... even a little toy that sits in the refrigerator and greets you in Japanese when you open the door. Just charming, funny things that I can’t help wanting to own. If it is cute and plastic and from Japan, I am tempted.

But over and above cuteness, Japan is also known for having a very serious side. Detail oriented to the Nth degree... big on the beauty of simplicity, order, ceremony. Even just in the fashion world, the detail and care that they put into fabric is legendary. Japanese selvedge denim is famous for being the best of the best – it costs a fortune, but true denimheads appreciate how much work goes into it. The jersey of the Cydney Tee is made with compact cotton. It looks smooth, but not shiny, and has a dense, dry handfeel. The yarns are spun and twisted with MAJOR precision to get the compact construction that still feels light and soft to the touch. It is hard to explain but you can really feel the difference between this and a “normal” jersey. (We use another, incredibly dense compact cotton from Japan for our Boyfriend Shirt – different in a woven vs. knit construction but just as luxurious. We make this shirt in many different fabrics from many different places, but this one in particular I absolutely love. It is special.) When I asked Lindsay, who heads up our fabric department, to describe compact cotton in her own words… she said, “strong and delicate at the same time.” Wow. I wish I could be described the same way.

Details DO make a difference. They can make the world feel special even when you feel stuck in a rut, or like you have seen everything there is to see. Trying a new version of vinaigrette... moving the furniture around in the living room... taking a different route on your drive to work... wearing a special t-shirt with special fabric from Japan for everyday. You need this, I promise.

From Ann

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