Sunday, February 14, 2016

L.L. Bean wool sweater puzzle

It's been feeling quite a lot like springtime in the Bay Area, but it's still winter in my future home of Boston, so this post about wool sweaters is reasonably justified.

Since about November, I have been consistently wearing the either a thin black or thin charcoal grey wool-blend sweater every day that dips below 65 deg F. Thoughts about a cold New England winter brought me to browse the website of one old faithful New England institution: L.L. Bean. Be still, my trad-wannabe heart.

It is not easy to find a middle/heavyweight wool sweater in the simple, conservative style that I want. I feel as if I've struck soft gold with these tried and true L.L. Bean pieces, but the above three sweaters are all men's sweaters. All the women's sweaters at the same wool composition are inexplicably far more expensive, and many are too flashy or colorful for boring me.

Beyond the gendering of clothing and unavailability of things that I want in my size and preferred color, what irks me most is that women's sweaters of similar composition (% wool) are more expensive than men's, and that as far as L.L. Bean is concerned, there are fewer options at that composition. I'm sure that there is enough demand for boring wool sweaters in solid colors that perhaps L.L. Bean could remove gender from the marketing and carry a wider range of sizes.

The men's S, at 34-36 inches across the chest and over 30 inches in length, would overwhelm my frame. Wool, however, does shrink in the dryer, but that solution seems more like an expensive gamble in my hands.

As for my sweater aesthetic:

Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, John F. Kennedy on the campaign trail, and Bush Sr. 


  1. I do like those sweaters! The gender difference for quality and price in clothing makes me so mad. I'm broad enough across the shoulders to be able to wear a men's XS or S (depending on the item) sometimes, so I do have some men's clothing in my wardrobe.

    1. It makes no sense to me that there are almost no <$50 majority wool composition sweaters designated "female" at L.L. Bean (and likely many other retailers). So many annoying feminism/consumerism/etc ideas to unpack here. However, I do think my solution will involve strategic shrinking of a men's size S sweater