Ruminations on V-Neck Sweaters

It is 2:00 in Astoria on a late August afternoon. It is also 61 degrees and overcast. I am wearing a gray Eddie Bauer V-Neck sweater over a Western shirt to keep warm. I have owned this sweater for over 15 years, taught in it, hacked blackberries in it, written thousands of words in it, rambled thousands of miles with dogs in it, drank whiskey around a burn barrel in it, and…I believe, gigged in it.

This sweater is torn and frayed and falling apart, as is my only other V-Neck sweater, a blue J-Crew argyle straight from the Archies. I bought the Eddie Bauer at a thrift store somewhere on the Oregon Coast, possibly Coos Bay. The J-Crew was a surprise back-to-school gift in 2004, from my then girlfriend, Rose. She wanted to “class” me up for my new teaching job at Taft High School. That was her word, “class.” At the time, it was the only new article of clothing I owned. And indeed, the argyle did somewhat “class” me up (a little) and I’ve cherished it ever since.

I am writing this from my back yard, looking at Youngs Bay, and ruminating on these two great veteran sweaters. In recent years, it has been impossible for me to find V-Necks in my size at thrift stores. Here and there, I discover one, but a corporate logo, mauve color, or weird frill dissuades me from buying; I just can’t see myself wearing it or dying in it.

Do V-Necks reek too much of old man? So be it. Old is the new Debonair.

I used to wear white t-shirts under V-Neck sweaters all the time. In fact, I employed this look all the time. Where did it go?

I’ve always wanted to own a Shetland rag wool V-neck but they only seem to come in crew neck.

Crew necks just aren’t the same to me. They choke me.

I wonder if everyone else has a specific type of clothing choice that defines a particular part of their lives. I certainly do. I remember when I wore vests all the time while teaching in the Portland area. They didn’t survive the immigration to the ocean.

As I write this, I feel quite certain I am only the writer in the world writing about V-Neck sweaters in such an assaying or memoir-like fashion and I am doing this while wearing a V-Neck that is 63-percent lamb’s wool and stained with mustard and blackberries.

The sun just came out! I’m going to take off the V-Neck, fling it on the deck, and start reading a Ross Macdonald Lew Archer novel.

There are no characters that wear V-Necks in the book. Has any detective in popular culture worn V-Necks? This is something to explore.

I almost forgot: both sweaters have Sonny the husky’s fur embedded within the fabric. I’ve washed these sweaters dozens of times. The fur never comes out.

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