It was Jan 2018 when I found myself in the winter section of H&M. It was filled with knitwear and discounts, but for me the joy was in walking between the racks of knitted sweaters and cardigans. I enjoyed caressing my fingers against each and every one of them; I enjoyed feeling their intricate woven looms; I loved how soft the wool felt against my palms.
I had nothing particular in mind that I wanted to buy, but it’s funny how when you go without expecting anything that sometimes you find some of the best things ever. For me it came in the form of a white woolen ribbed sweater.
At the time I bought it, I didn’t have any specific outfit in mind that I could combine it with, but moving ahead little did I know just how instrumental this sweater would be, not just for its practicality, but also in how it made me feel warm and tender every time I wore it.
Considering it is winter, in the past few months I’ve worn this sweater over 4 times – if not more – in different combinations, in different situations.
Below, I’ve chronicled those situations, not just based on occasion and mood but also on how this one particular shopping choice has impacted those moments.
Sunday, Jan 6th, 2019 – Ice Cream & Lattes with an Old Friend
I can’t say I wasn’t skeptical about our plan to meet. I met her when she joined Jai Hind in the third year and we’ve been best friends since. Ever since we graduated though, we’ve gotten so busy – she with marriage and teaching; me with work and writing – that we’ve hardly had any real time to catch up.
Our plans have gotten cancelled so many times in the past, I was half expecting this one would get cancelled too. Naturally, I didn’t set an alarm and woke up at leisure. But when my phone beeped at 9:10 confirming our meet, I was ecstatic. But more so, very late.
I managed a quick shower and a hot breakfast, but I didn’t know what I was going to wear. From the corner of my eye I saw my white sweater hanging on my chair from the previous morning, and I remembered how warm and cosy it made me feel.
Without considering any other clothing options, I pulled it over my neck, tucked it into mini A-line skirt and paired it with beige ankle boots and a straw bag with white crochet detailing.
Fifteen minutes later I met her at the McDonalds, a mid point between both our homes. She sipped a latte, and I ordered an ice cream. We chatted about work, home-life, families, friends. She told me about the intricacies of her new married life; I told her about the stories I heard and the stories I wanted to tell.
After an hour she hugged me and left. I finished my ice-cream and checked my email. When I returned home, I was still reeling from the warm and fuzzy feeling I felt all morning. It was over two hours before I took off my white sweater and neatly stored it in my cupboard.
Saturday, Jan 5th, 2018 – At Home on a Lazy Saturday
I’m a little shivery, but that’s how I like it.
I brush my teeth and in the few minutes I have before I take my bath – I peek out of the window. The roads are mostly empty with the exception of a few silent cars and a couple of early morning joggers. I get a feeling it’s going to be a slow weekend.
I pull out my white sweater: the one I got from sale time H&M. I pull it over my head and the soft wool falls over my torso; the sleeves cling to my arms; before I know it, my body is engulfed in warmth. I pair it with loose fitting blue jeans.
I boil myself a hot coffee and I couple it with Raymond Carver’s ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About Love’ as my morning read and I settle back into bed.
I don’t know if it is because it’s winter, but something about the chilliness of this morning combined with my cozy sweater, some hot coffee and a wonderful book – makes me feel like my day is complete.
Wednesday, Nov 14th, 2018 – A Photo-Shoot with Bougainvillea Trees
I had been nagging my dad for days to let me shoot with them, but is was only on the last day of my two week stay that he finally drove me to the spot where the flowers bloomed. The decision was so instantaneous that I wasn’t really prepared with my photo shoot outfit.
My dad was already in the car and time was short. I was already wearing my H&M white sweater – and given the climatic conditions of hill stations in winter time, I wanted to somehow continue wearing it. I quickly paired it with a wine colored woolen skirt.
My black hat and bag were already in the car when we drove down. When we reached the spot, I took over 50 photos with the flowers to say the least – and though unwilling at the start, ultimately even my dad couldn’t resist posing with their exquisite beauty.
Later that day when I was organizing my photos on my laptop, I was happy to note that my sweater had a contrasting effect on the flowers – the white made their pinkish-orangey hues look more conspicuous; the plainness gave them depth.
Sept 13th, 2018 – A Transparent Vase of White Flowers
It was thirty minutes to sunset. The air outside was moist; it was drizzling, but instead of rain drops, the water molecules remained frozen in mid-air. Like the whole mountain was surrounded by a layer of condensed mist.
I longed to be outside, between the dew drops, between the trees; inhaling the sweet smell of earth.
At this point the closest thing I had to feeling like I was in nature was the transparent vase of white flowers Sunil had neatly assembled for me a couple of days ago. It sat on the stoop of the teak wood table opposite my bed.
Just as I saw those flowers, I knew what I had to do. I pulled out my favorite white sweater and paired it with a pair of faded blue jeans. I picked up the vase of white flowers and ran into the courtyard.
I stood by the door, the vase of flowers held tight in my arms, my sweater keeping me warm, and I soaked up every bit of this beautiful moment.
Fashion is a complex paradigm of choices; the clothes we buy and the way we dress form a key element in the way we skim through life’s fleeting moments. In many cases, such as that of my white sweater – clothes sometimes even play a defining role in influencing those moments.
I probably would have felt exactly what I did wearing something entirely different in those 4 moments of my life, but knowing that my white sweater would make me feel warm and reassured made me consciously choose it.
And in so many ways I’m so glad I did, because if not for fashion, it did inspire four stories for me to write.