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International Fashion For Women


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The Net is the New Neutral


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I used to think the Internet was magic. As I had with Harry Potter and would with dark chocolate, I encountered the World Wide Web at exactly the right moment. I was still in elementary school then and desperate for enchantment. The mere existence of PBSKids.org was all the evidence I needed. There had to be something larger and greater than our planetary system out there. I knew it.

And so, even in the dark ages of dial up, I marveled at the big plastic box in my living room, a portal to an invisible omnipotence I could never quite understand.

I’m older now, but no less awestruck. Despite my near congenital cynicism and the fact that I no longer yearn for the supernatural, the web is still a revelation to me. Google is a masterpiece. Netflix is a miracle. Facebook means that I will always be able to keep tabs on the boy I liked to kiss in high school. I am as convinced now as I ever was. This is modern sorcery.

It’s unsophisticated, maybe. I know now that the Internet is not some Never, Never Land; it’s made up of dollar signs and commerce and Facebook newsfeeds. But I believe in it still. For all of the noise and the tabs and the hours we have lost to Netflix, the World Wide Web has delivered. It has shrunk our universe to the size of a computer screen. It is more than a giant marketplace that Jeff Bezos owns.

But not everyone agrees with me. Internet providers like AT&T are pretty sure that the web is a media product and that they should be allowed to control how it is packaged and sold. My lone friend in the computer science department at school explained to me this means that until now, giant companies have had the ability to pay more money for faster connections, meaning smaller startups without such budget would have to endure slower service in comparison.

The FCC — or, the suits whose job it is to regulate just about every which way human beings make contact in America — announced yesterday that it intends to reclassify the Internet as a public utility. As in, the web is more like water than it is like cable television. Everyone deserves equal access to it.

The move is a big deal, and it’s making a lot of people very happy. Online titans like Facebook and Amazon have long been advocating for such a policy change. Over the summer, John Oliver clambered atop his hilarious soapbox to encourage people to write to the FCC in support of net neutrality. More than 4 million did, and the offensive crashed the agency’s servers. Others are less enthused. This is America, which means several gazillion big messy lawsuits are likely to come out of this.

I know I am not the only person who thinks Twitter is as essential as electricity. But here’s what I want to know: Why does it matter what we call the Internet? Is it a public good? Or is it just an unprecedented media on a massive scale? What does the prospect of an open and equal Internet mean to you?

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Shaving the Way to Equality


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Two genders, both alike in dignity, in fair CVS, where we lay our scene. One with razors pink, purple and tropical; the other, blades orange and green, with an undeniable Tonka truck motif. A razor is a razor, but that’s where the similarities end. Women’s razors cost more, and it’s a damn scam.

Let us look at the evidence: search for men’s razors on CVS.com, and the prices range from a lolin’ $1.00 to $12.99 — the big leagues, with most razor pack prices hovering around $6.00. Look at women’s, and all the prices are hiked up a few dollars: the lowest-priced pack costs $2.99, the median is around $8.00 and a top of the line disposable shave is $15.

But prayer hands emoji be that in the face of a blatant pink tax, there’s a comically easy solution: buy men’s razors.

The only setback: the reviews for men’s razors are mostly from men using them on their faces. Not the best legfeel judges, I think we can agree. And in a world where people deep research mouthwash before buying in (people = me, I’ve done it and would do it again), it makes a difference to the women who stray.

Strangers in a strange land stick to the known; well-informed consumers can confidently go forth and break gender norms. And so it was that I ventured into the orange, green and gray, looking for the for razors worth paying less for. My standard: Gillette’s Venus Disposable Razors Sensitive Skin, at $4.09 per razor. The contenders:

Bic Comfort 3 For Men Sensitive Skin ($1.25 per razor):

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The cheapest of the bunch, the Bic lacked the pivot head I’m used to. And yet, it was still able to remove hair from my body. The shave is a tiny bit less close because it isn’t all up on you at every tenth angle, but on the whole, good results, and it excelled at the high-tension kneecap area. Zero gashes; would use again.

Gillette Sensor 3 Blade ($2.49 per razor)

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These were the price in-betweeners, and I’ll be honest, my hopes may have been too high. It has “soft protective microfins” to protect from cuts, and I’ll be damned if that doesn’t sound like some Spy Kids-level technology. But I guess some people just toss around the word “microfins” these days, because all these guys had were draggy strips that didn’t do anything.

Aside from the betrayal, they were a good deal: with a pivot head and lower price than the Venus, they’re a middle ground you can feel good about. Ideally while laughing on the beach with your friends, taking back what is yours from Venus commercials.

Gillette Body 3 Blade ($5.89 per razor)

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Whew, boy. The Body 3 blade is essentially the Venus, and after the others it felt just plain excessive. It works fine for shaving legs and elsewhere, but the three lubricating strips are overkill. No one needs that much glide. Despite its similarity to the Venus, it somehow costs a dollar per razor more, and thus the road runs both ways. Who knows. Men trying to get bare down there (“Body,” eh?) could be coming for our Soleils at this very moment.

All in all, go for the cheap beard blades. Razors with pivot heads give a slightly closer shave, but the bulky machinery adds time to cleaning them in between strokes. Unless you hate change, which is honorable and understandable, switching to non-pink razors has no downside. The upside? That hazy-edged pony/student loan-free/homeowner dream. Valhalla, is what I’m saying.

Regardless of how you plead, shaving should ultimately be a want, not a need. (I didn’t mean that to rhyme.) In order to better match potential couples, OKCupid will ask women if they believe they have an “obligation” to shave their legs, and that’s some bullshit. Fresh-shaven skin feels good on sheets, but in the words of First Wives Diane, Bette and Goldie, no one owns you. Sasquatch, hairless cat or human woman going into winter, do you.

Images via Esquire and David Burton for Elle Russia

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What Do You Secretly Hate?


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Replace the Atlantic Ocean’s water with champagne for just a theoretical moment and imagine their similarities: champagne would create giant waves and suck back during low tide, it would froth and foam and tickle your nose. Swimmers would declare it a hangover cure and parents would caution their children, reminding them not to swallow it. It would be equally wet.

Now replace the champagne in your glass with ocean water. Again: froth, foam, tickle your nose. Its presence alone would make everyone joyful. There would be preference over where it came from (Is this salt water from France, or is it New Jersey?) and after drinking too much, you’d no doubt get sick.

But what the ocean and champagne really have in common is that secretly, I hate them both.

Hate is a strong word and we’re told not to use it, so if it softens the blow (and we should get more specific anyway) I dislike going in oceans with rough waves. Put me on a beach with my feet in the sand, however, and I am elated. Put me in a sail boat on top of the ocean and you can’t get me off it. Put me directly in the shallow, still waters of the French Riviera or a Sandals Resort and I will stay submerged until you come for me. Give me a breathing tank, face goggles and flippers and I will scuba dive until my air tank threatens to fail me. Yes please to all of that. You get it.

Here’s the part I hate: being knocked over by giant waves, being submerged against my will and losing my top or bottom in the process, choking on brine, tangling my hair, losing contacts, touching seaweed and stabbing my food 100 times while everyone near me goes, “Isn’t this fun! Isn’t your hangover totally gone? Nature’s cure!”

And the champagne? It gives me a headache, every single time, and makes me puke.

But you can’t declare hate for either publicly without expecting people to throw water balloons at your perm in angry-mob response. They don’t give you enough time to say, “No, I actually love the ocean, just not when it very blatantly tries to kill me!” And they don’t care that champagne makes you puke. Suck it up!

So I had to say it here. Get it off my chest. Repression isn’t good for us, you know? Your turn: what thing (feel free to add a million qualifiers, as I did) do you secretly hate?

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The Enthusiastic Men of Fashion Week


If you have ever been to the H&M on 5th Ave at 48th street then you are aware of the scene of men that slump over like melting cashews on couches that are spread throughout the store. They are miserable and unengaged. They look as though they would rather have someone’s long, bony finger tap them on their shoulders while a tape recorder loops “Excuse me” into their ears as pronounced with an unnecessary and sibilant “S.”

Not the men of women’s fashion week, though. They are among the most enthusiastic attendees at nearly every show.

I’ve never sat next to man at a show who didn’t give in to a bit of chair dancing when a catchy soundtrack was playing. They are eager to see these clothes. They’re nonjudgemental in their public, post-runway comments. They clap loudly during designer bows, and they seem genuinely happy to be present at the events that don’t to have much at all to do with them.

And, of course, they do. There are, after all, male editors and buyers at women’s magazines and shops. Attending shows is as much their job as it is yours. (Yours, right?) But it goes beyond that: Leandra wrote last week about gender ambiguity during men’s fashion week — a very clear declaration by way of sartorial demonstration that the times, they are a changing, and she who wears the pants would be happy to loan her skirt to him. Meanwhile, men who exist outside of the fashion industry — gay and straight — have become more enthusiastic about fashion across the board. The term “metrosexual” is a bygone past communication because now the “thing” is to be well-dressed. Man or woman.

Still, I am fascinated by the guys who showed up, dressed to the nines (whether their brand of nines meant a three-piece suit, or track pants and high tops) at September 2014’s fashion week. More so at the recent Couture Spring 15 shows. Are they doing it for each other? Is it for the women? Or are they doing it purely for the fashion?

Maybe it’s a little bit of everything.

September 2014 fashion week images by Krista Lewis; Spring Couture 15 images by Tommy Ton via Style.com.

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2 Songs to Get You Over the Wednesday Hump


LEON-BRIDGESNot to sound like a burnout dad stuck in a 26-year-old’s body, but remember when they made music? Like actual, heart-felt, soulful, so-catchy-it-hurts music that gave you no other option but to run and slide into a room the moment it came on because regardless of what you were doing you just had to dance?

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Of course pop stars today come up with great hits. I’m not impervious to the charm of Sam Smith or Taylor Swift. But Otis Redding, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke — I mean those guys were really something else. They were of a different time; authentic. It was a golden era of music with new sounds that shocked listeners and caused real waves.

But you can’t really shock us now, can you? We’re a been-there-heard-that generation. We’re essentially all hipsters who’ve bought the t-shirt and turned it into a tote bag on Etsy before the record label even knew their own signed artist existed.

There’s a new guy who might be able to change that. 25-year-old Leon Bridges. He’s not doing anything technically new, but he is reviving an old sound that hasn’t been touched by the young mainstream since the 60s, really. At least not this well. And he’s using vintage instruments and live recordings (read: no auto-tune) to do it.

NPR wrote: “‘Coming Home’ explores the reasons why gospel meeting soul worked so magically at the dawn of the 1960s: the swing, the intimate relationship between background and lead vocals, the way the descending organ line works a pirouette around the triplets Bridges sings. This kind of perfection is always relevant.”

Perfection is a little dramatic, but in my unwarranted nostalgia for the time I never personally experienced, I honestly can’t think of a better word.

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Above images via GorillavsBear.net; homepage image via Austin 360.

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What Your Coat Says About You


The Proper Puffer:

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She eats lunch like clockwork at 1 PM everyday because she once read that it was the best time to eat. She has rain boots and snow boots because you never know when you might need them — I mean, you do know, but most people ignore it and ruin their shoes. She likely also has a retractable umbrella in her purse. Mock her all you want for her practicality, though: the Proper Puffer is a winter warrior. In a block-to-block walking challenge, she could outlast a penguin.

Ned Stark:

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Often confused for a yeti, the Ned Stark wears a fur coat bigger than she is. It’s white. It has shoulders. It has an amusement park lodged somewhere in the sleeve. She got her fur from one of two places: her grandmother’s closet, or a flea market in Brooklyn. Together she and her coat are transitioning out of the manic pixie dream girl ripped tights/combat boots phase and into “Oh this old thing? It’s couture.” She straight owns it. She dodges PETA like a hockey team center and doesn’t care if you hum the Game of Thrones intro song at her — she’s warm, and she has a secret: naked as a baby under this bear skin rug.

The Peacoat Person:

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She who peas is a fan of the classics. Her wardrobe is a series of staples of the non-desk variety: they won’t join paper together via sharp metal hugs, but they will allow her to cruise through such slideshows as “The 10 Things Every Girl Needs in Her Closet” while going, “Check, check, check, check.” The peacoat is no exception. It begins its appearance in her daily rotation once fall’s trench is phased out due to weather, and it will remain on her body — steadfast and true — until her denim jacket taps out the navy wool tailoring come spring. The Peacoat Person is secretly always a little bit cold, but she’s not replacing this thing until an armpit rips.

The Camel Coater

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The CC is likely a model off-duty or has adopted the winter uniform of the Bowery cool-kids: oversized, ankle-length camel coat, leather pants, white sneakers, Acne knit and a Carhartt beanie. Or, the other alternative is that she’s a character on Seinfeld.

The Statement Maker

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The Statement-Maker can go one of two ways. Either she’s wearing the Katy Perry equivalent of purposely-faux fuzzwear, or, she is cold as fuck in a thin layer of pure fashion. Gold lamé trenches and cropped silk bombers look awesome but send grandparents into a state of panic when they catch wind that all their chic grandchild is catching is wind.

Laugh all you want at she-who-shivers, though, because the goosebumps and sneeze attacks are just an act to keep The Secret safe. What’s the secret? Only that Statement-Makers harbor a secret blood type that enables them to withstand even the most brutal of winters in cool coats plus bare legs.

The Did-You-Check-the-Weather-Girl:

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When it comes to looks, she looks great, but she also failed to look at the weather app very prominently blinking “FLASH BLIZZARD WARNING” on her phone. She didn’t look out her window, either. What this says about her is that she’s staunch in her decision-making — universe be damned! She’s a yeswoman to no one, except, of course, to the worst possible item in her closet for whatever’s happening outdoors. The best thing about her? She refuses to complain.

The Out-smarter

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The Out-Smarter doesn’t technically possess the same blood type as The Statement Makers, but unlike the above Weather Girl, she does know what’s up (or down) when it comes to temperature. Similar to both, she’s dedicated to her wardrobe. The outfit is priority, not being a human wood burning fireplace — but here, my dear friends, is where she prevails: she has figured out that so long as her head, neck, hands, legs and feet are warm, she can basically get away with a t-shirt.

The Seven-Layer-Cake:

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In practice, she’s the savviest of the bunch. She’s got her Uniqlo Heatteach on underneath a set of waffle-knit long johns, over which she’s wearing wool trousers, camp socks, a turtleneck, a button down, a vest, a sweater, three coats and two scarves. Not only is she a street style photographer’s dream — The layers! The textures! The print clashing and the mixed-media smashing! – but she herself is warmer than a toucan in a pile of spicy pepperoni. She’s clearly from a climate where cold isn’t a four letter word; it’s a way a life.

And yet, for her especially, there’s no escaping the sweaty mess of hot panic we’ve all experienced after realizing you just got on the wrong subway — which won’t be stopping again until Queens.

The Ski Lift Regular:

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To the Ski Lift Regular, the world is an Applebees, she is the waitress and the lift tags that hang off her multi-purpose athletic jacket are her mandatory, corporate-regulated flare. You’re annoyed that she’s ditched you every weekend since December 1st for fresh powder and an over-abundance of Snapchats captioned “après-beerskis,” but as you stand side-by-side with you in your flimsy leather jacket and she in her Nasa-quilt, you realize you’re jealous. You also realize that she probably has a surplus of HotHands hand warmers in her pocket, and yes — you can have a pack.

The Body Heat Huddler

66d1534940923dfb1e93b67bf7ff952bHonestly, does she even own a coat? No. Why would she? The Body Heat Huddler’s got you.

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The Manifold Ways to Wear Frayed Denim


When Marques’Almeida debuted their line for Topshop in October, hearts swooned over the prospect of owning a pair of the frayed designer denim so inspired by the 90s redux that they basically did it better than the original decade. The collection showcased silk taffeta wide leg pants alongside mini skirts of the same fabric and enough oversized denim to satiate the hungriest of appetites.

Many of the clothes were completed by a shredded hem — the brand’s signature — and a style that’s enjoying somewhat of a renaissance in general. Frayed denim populates the pages of Net-a-Porter and Asos alike, and if that’s not enough to get you to put down your “fabric” scissors, the Topshop X Almeida collection is now a solid 50% off.

I have the relaxed skinny jeans on at this very moment and can attest to the fact that not only is the denim thicker than blood, but the shredded hem is of John Wayne bootcut proportions. If you find skinny jeans intimidating — in which case, we understand each other — take a crop and flared approach to it. The shredded hem has also breathed new life into the tired chambray shirt, which is good news considering I retired my old once I began matching every trendy-restaurant waitstaff  in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

If winter would hurry the eff up already and step off, we might even begin to entertain the idea of frayed denim cutoffs again. Until then, enjoy other styles below. Or, if you feel so inclined, DIY your own hem and share the outcomes in the comments section.

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