I’ve had chunky knits on the brain ever since they appeared on the scene in the fall. In my book, the chunky knit — a close relative of the poncho, with which I’m completely obsessed — totally has it going on: it’s warm, it’s woolly, and it’s comforting, while still managing to be utterly chic, especially when you throw a serious boot or bootie (I’m thinking buttery black or brown suede) into the mix. What’s more, the chunky knit is sexy, especially when worn with something barely there underneath, and what makes the look fun is the unexpectedness of that sex appeal. It’s like pairing a delicate dress (let’s say something silk by Tibi) with a heavy, kick-ass shoe. The incongruity of the combination is interesting and striking, and so we keep coming back to it again and again.
The movie Orphan, starring Vera Farmiga and Peters Sarsgaard is not only twisted and weird and scary (in a good way), it’s an excellent study in how how cozy and pretty and sexy all come together in a carefully curated sweater/corduroy pant/T-shirt combo. In that movie, Vera Farmiga is impeccably dressed in every scene (her corduroy pants fit like a freaking glove, and all of her sweater sleeves are the perfect length, reaching to just below the base of the thumb), even though her character is supposed to be a recovering alcoholic and composer in the midst of a nervous breakdown. Knitwear rules!
The sweater that started the madness for me this year was by Bay Area knitwear designer Margaret O’Leary, whose upper Fillmore store I can’t enter without going blind with desire. Monica, who works there, is one of the most amazing salespeople I’ve ever met. She has infinite patience. I met Monica in February 2010 when my mother was in town. With Monica’s encouragement, my mother and I bought matching bottle-green ruffled Susanna Monaco dresses (who doesn’t love post-holiday markdowns?). I also managed to score a pair of Calleen Cordero knee-high brown boots with gold detailing for half off.
In October I stopped by the boutique just to see (and drool over) what was on the shelves. On this particular day Monica was wearing a ridiculously gorgeous black poncho-like sweater, with a thick, loose knit and fringe at the bottom. Oh. My. God. I immediately went home and put on the big Vince charcoal cardigan that I bought at the Saks Fifth Avenue outlet store in Wrentham, Massachusetts in 2006, but it wasn’t the same. That black sweater lives on in my dreams — the perfectly dressed version of myself that exists in my mind wore it on my three-week trip to New York at the end of the year, and she looked fabulous.