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What People Are Actually Buying Today

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It’s finally here. Not Thanksgiving, which is old news, or Black Friday, which has stormed out of our lives as frantically as it stormed in, or even extended Black Friday weekend, that nebulous time when the mall isn’t quite as overwhelmed but the deals don’t stop. No, it’s Cyber Monday, the day when you sit at your desk and pretend that hey, maybe your important work task can be found 15 pages deep into a search for “navy cropped turtleneck sweater medium.”

In honor of this day of deals, we asked Racked readers to tell us about the purchases they’re most pumped about this Cyber Monday.

What Are You Excited About This Cyber Monday?
Woman shopping a sale.

I just spent $60 at the Body Shop online and got my two favorite masks, two things of honey melt bath stuff, shaving gear for my man, shampoo, conditioner, and a free giant honey soap. I felt that was a killer deal! Normally the masks alone are almost $20. I also took advantage of Glasses.com’s 30% off frames deal. — Linnea, Denver, CO

I've had my eyes on gray over-the-knee boots for a longggg time, and I love these. I wanted to get them on the Kate Spade site, since their promo was 30 percent (as opposed to the 25 percent Bloomies promo), but they only had them in black. I got the last gray size 9 Bloomies had, of course. Fate. I'm also obsessed with Stephanie Gottlieb's jewelry, and have referred many friends to her site over the years. I plan on using her 25 percent promo today (pretty great for diamonds) to get matching rings for my mom and I for the holidays. — Ariel, New York, NY

White2Tea is the tea world's flashiest and tastiest vendor. With tea titles referencing everything from their Chinese origin to Kendrick Lamar, just browsing their shop is a good way to spend time. The sale over the weekend included free shipping (from the usual $15) and a $10 discount on a set of four teas. A yummy intro to the landscape of tea's origin, Yunnan, is also beautifully packaged and very tempting in its chocolate bar form. There is also the Frank Ocean-inspired Channel Orange, which has orange peel in it and will keep me comfy and warm all winter long. — Zach, Berlin, Germany

I recently decided I need a permanent go-bag of cosmetics for air travel sans bag-checking. So I made good use of Stowaway's 50% off sale (code CYBERMONDAY16) to pair with the Mario Badescu The Regimen kit I bought on sale on Friday at Ulta (which, sadly, I can't find a good deal on to point you to anywhere today). Stowaway cosmetics are specially made to be travel friendly (and purse friendly) and it's all the basics you need on the road. — Amanda, Washington, DC

I usually spend the weekend after Thanksgiving focusing on getting back to inbox zero and ignoring all sales emails, but this year I bought a speaker I've had my eye on and more importantly, I caved and am ordering these truly amazing Very Hungry Caterpillar socks from — wait for it — The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst. The museum's mission is "to inspire a love of art and reading through picture books," and each pair of socks purchased also sends a book to a community in need, so it was hard to say no to throwing $8.76 toward the non-profit. The downside is that the shipping charge was more than 3/4 the cost of the socks, so I obviously have to round out my order with a few books. —Sonia, New York, NY

While window-shopping, I saw this super simple, hand-stitched leather wallet and needed it — a nice upgrade from my chunky, threadbare cloth one. Made of soft leather with a simple flap closure, it is slim, which will prevent me from hoarding receipts and ticket stubs. $35, Vallente Leather at local Chicagoan Wolfbait & B-Girls — and they were donating 20 percent of the weekend’s proceeds to a charity of our choosing. — Joseph, Chicago, IL

I bought some studs from Catbird; they're having a 15% off sale (their only sale of the year!): High time I got my jewelry game together, and I've been a long-time admirer of Catbird. The jewelry is delicate, yet high-quality. — Duretti, San Francisco, CA

I don’t normally get sucked into the rampant consumerism of Cyber Monday, but I needed some knitwear and I destroy my principles for some good knitwear — and boy, is this good knitwear. I picked myself up four jumpers from ASOS at 20% off: two turtlenecks, a chunky cable-knit pullover, and a nice oatmeal number, for about £30 under the selling price. And now I’ll be all wrapped up warm for the impending nuclear totally normal winter. — Ben, London, England

Just like over half of the country, I've been looking for as many ways to escape reality as possible in the last few weeks. Cyber Monday was an excellent chance for me to stock up on HOURS’ worth of video game franchises I've been meaning to get to, along with some book series that'll keep me away from the news cycle for as long as possible. Steam has 25%-75% off on a lot of titles right now. I went with the BioShock trilogy of video games, which Jonathan Nolan has said influenced Westworld. Also, while scouring Amazon for deals, I discovered the new Prime Reading read-for-free feature on Amazon. I checked out a Kindle version of What If?: Serious Scientific Answers To Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe and ended up grabbing the Audible version narrated by Wil Wheaton and the hardcover edition for the office using the promo code HOLIDAYBOOK. — Ryan, New York, NY

A cotton-blend blouse with a killer print from a female duo whose latest collection is inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe. And it's an extra 20% off. Now please someone stop me from buying a ticket to New Mexico. — Phoebe, Washington, DC

I guess on the whole this isn't that much of an exciting purchase, but I've been wearing the same H&M jeans for over a year and they're in pretty bad shape now. so I'm super excited about this J.Crew Factory jeans I just bought. I don't know if it was ever really on sale at its "valued at" price, but I ended up buying it for $17.99, which is a whole $7 cheaper than the less-than-ideal H&M jeans I have. I found it in the clearance section (which had an extra 40% off with the code) and I never expect to find anything good there so I'm really happy about this. —Dayana, Philadelphia, PA

My daily commute is a 30-minute walk, which, in a Northeast winter, is often through unplowed snow and ice. After testing all kinds of boots on this journey, La Canadienne winter boots are my forever go-to. They can handle snow, rain, and sleet, and keep your little toes warm af. The problem is, starting at around $300, they're an investment. But trust when I say they'll easily last you three years. Also, you won't need to haul a second pair of shoes to change into at the office, either — in the context of weatherproof boots, La Candienne boots are incredibly stylish. Seriously, go compare. Why do designers think weatherproof boots means we want to look like flat-footed snow monsters? La Canadienne boots are basically never on sale, and when they are, it's a mere 25%-30% off. BUT I'LL TAKE IT. Zappos has a pair on sale with free shipping, and, as it's time to replace my beloved boots, I'm pulling the trigger. — Chappell, Brooklyn, NY

Feature
What Do We Really Mean When We Say Something Is ‘Flattering’?
Photo illustration of different outfits.

Picture the last time someone told you an outfit was "flattering." Was it a sales associate? A mother or well-meaning aunt? A friend well-versed in glossy magazine wisdom and skilled at comparing torso shapes to pieces of fruit? Try to remember what, specifically, they pointed out. It may have been a cut that minimized your hips, a print that obscured your midsection, a tailored seam that made your waist appear smaller. Perhaps it hinged on negative space, making it appear that your body takes up less physical room than it does in reality.

Finding clothing that makes you feel good often has to do with calling attention to something you love about yourself. But clothing deemed "flattering" is often about hiding things, a Caravaggio-esque exercise in using shade, light, and strategically-placed seams to disguise our bodies as something they’re not. So often, it all comes down to making you less of yourself. Literally: Whether you’re trying to sneak a half-inch off of your thighs with vertical stripes or cinching your waist into submission with a carefully placed belt, the ultimate goal frequently comes down to minimizing the physical amount of mass that comprises our bodies.

It took a while for me to understand why I bristle when someone deems an outfit to be "flattering." Ultimately, no matter how benevolent that cooing sales associate’s intentions are, I hear code-speak for "that does a good job at hiding what’s wrong with you."

Sounds harsh and perhaps hypersensitive, but I don’t think I’m alone in this. I asked women I respect to tell me how they feel when someone drops the f-bomb on them. "It sounds innocent enough, but if somebody were to say it in a condescending fashion, I wouldn’t like it," says Sara Benincasa, a comedian and author who recently penned an eviscerating takedown of society’s obsession with weight. "A better thing to say is this: ‘That dress is lucky to have you in it.’" (Props for that.)

"I hate [the word] less coming from a friend who knows me and knows that I don't want to look like a maternity ad," my friend Natalie tells me. Natalie, who works as a producer for a news organization, is a stunning and super-fashionable woman who wears a size 16, rocks crop tops with the best of them, and, at one point in our chat, described herself as "a walking contradiction: A plus size woman who wears Spanx and crop tops simultaneously." 

We both agree that "flattering" is a nuanced word — and how it’s interpreted comes down to the person receiving it as much as the person saying it. "If it comes from someone who knows me, I know they understand that I want to look nice, and that's a gentle way of saying ‘I know you hate your tummy/thighs/butt, et cetera, and I want you to know you shouldn't worry about it in this garment,’" she tells me. "But a salesperson saying it… that comes with a tinge — or a load — of condescension. If someone who doesn't know me says it, they're probably saying ‘you're fat, but it's not as noticeable here.’"

The definition of "flattering," and how much significance we ascribe to it, is different for everyone. For myself, and probably for many women, the word comes implicitly attached to a scroll of dos and don’ts passed down from generation to generation, from mother to daughter in fluorescent dressing rooms, from teen magazines and girlfriends and personal stylists and season after season of What Not to Wear-style programming on television. Whether the offender in question is peplum, oversized tees, or horizontal stripes, my hunch is that many women know the exact styles and garments that ring mental alarm bells, even if you — gasp — kind of love the clothes.

Keep reading this story here >>
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Today's Non-Gift Guide Pick
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Who: Stephanie Danler
What they do: Author, Sweetbitter
What they want: Clare V. Passport Case, $115

My sister is a planner, a perfectionist, a Virgo, and a master gift-giver. Three years ago, she gave me a Clare V. passport cover with my initials (a camel-colored leather with a gold monogram), onto which I promptly spilled argan oil. I freaked out. But two things: one, spread baby powder on oil spills and let it rest; and two, that doesn't always work entirely.

The beauty of the case is that it's been all over the world with me: Cairo, Bangkok, Paris, Tokyo, Mexico City, the Andes. At this point it's covered with marks and smudges, and the leather has only deepened and wizened. I confess to having planned trips solely inspired by seeing the small leather book on my bedside table.

Check out the rest of our non-gift guide picks here. Want to make donations your gift of choice instead? We've got you covered on that front too.

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From around the web
A selection from the editors at Racked
Kylie Jenner
This Cyber Monday, Why Not Buy Some Weird Celebrity Merchandise?
Like socks designed by Rob Kardashian, or a Kylie Jenner Christmas stocking!
Read more

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