A Necessary Evil: Summer Sweaters

It’s mid-May and I am sitting in my home office, sipping hot tea, wearing fuzzy house slippers and a summer sweater over a button up shirt.

That’s right: a summer sweater.

This girl is freezing. You can tell by her body language.

Growing up in West Texas, I never understood the concept of a summer sweater. Sure, I’d see them all the time in catalogs like Spiegel, Chadwick’s and Alloy or in magazines like Glamour or Lucky. These loose knit, cotton sweaters paired with white linen pants or worn over bikinis.

I never understood why if it was warm enough for beach wear, it was still chilly enough to necessitate a sweater. (I felt similarly about sweaters with three-quarter length sleeves: what, your wrists are unbearably warm but the rest of your torso is cold? And do not get me started on open-toed booties.)

I did not grow up with seasonal confusion. In Texas, you have two seasons hot as hell and slightly less so. No need for too many sweaters and certainly not a year-round entire sweater wardrobe.

Then I moved north, or more accurately, the greater D.C. area.

Now, I get it. I understand the need for summer sweaters.


Get your summer on, my chilly cohort.

A summer sweater is what you wear when the calendar (and all the catalogs and magazines and your clearly lying eyes) tell you that the weather should be sunny and the temperatures should be in the high 60s or even 70s and yet, it’s cold and rainy and not even remotely spring/summer like.

Here in the real world, it’s currently 50 degrees out. Granted, it’s still early in the day but the high is only supposed to be 58 degrees.

Enter, the summer sweater. A hole-y, loose knit sweater that bridges the gap between your winter bulky sweaters and the sweet summer uniform of t-shirts and flip flops. A summer sweater says, “Hey, I like/respect/embrace the concept of a seasonal calendar, but I know better than to trust it and I’m not going to just go skipping outside without some sort of warming layer just in case.” (See also: vests)

Apparently, this girl’s shoulders are very warm.

Luckily, I have three loose knit summer sweaters to get me through D.C.’s godforsaken “early summer.” They’re stacked in a small corner of my closet next to my heavy winter sweaters and my slightly-less-heavy fall sweaters. Right next to my even-less-heavy, more pastel-toned spring cardigans. Sometimes I grab a winter sweater instead of a summer sweater and have to go through the whole exercise of refolding and reorganizing the stacks.

By the way, I just saw on Twitter that the outdoor pool season in my neighborhood begins on May 25. I’ll be there, with a bathing suit and my head-to-toe, loose knit summer sweater onesie.

Staring off into the distance, wondering where the back of her sweater (and summer) is.
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