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How to Start 2017 Off Right (and Clean!)

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And a Happy (Clean!) New Year

2016 has been, to put it bluntly, a mess of a year. But here at Racked, I've been keeping things in order the best way I know how: by solving your clothing care conundrums, one by one. This year, the format of my fashion- and beauty-obsessed cleaning advice column, Out, Damned Spot, evolved to include the very real questions that my fellow Racked staffers desperately needed answers to.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about how one editor is plagued by underpants that look like colanders. Did you understand completely when another asked "For laundering purposes, is a striped shirt a light or a dark?" I definitely know we blew the minds of some of our male colleagues when we gave tips on how to cope when your makeup has smeared all over someone else's VR headset.

Hopefully, in an otherwise murky year, Out, Damned Spot offered you a tiny, tidy oasis in which the solution to complex problems, like removing beer stains from a Gucci bag, is often a fairly simple one. So before we close the books on 2016, here are some of my best tips from the year that was.

Photo: LD Tuttle
  • Virtually no one is immune to the scourge of deodorant skidmarks, those horrible white chalky streaks that turn up on your clothes after you've slipped them over your head. The good news is that they're almost as easy to remove as they are irritating to discover. In fact, there are nine ways to remove deodorant streaks.
  • With the new year and all its attendant resolutions to get fit and healthy right around the corner, your gym gear is about to take a real beating. Come January, you may find yourself wondering how to clean a yoga mat. Well, wonder no more! And since we're all friends here, this is a safe space to admit that you're also wondering how to keep permastink from ruining your workout clothes.
  • We'll talk a lot more about this in January, but should you want to start off the new year by ridding yourself of last year's brow highlighter, a good place to start is with this explainer on makeup expiration dates. It even comes with a helpful five-step plan for executing a full makeup purge!
  • The holidays bring with them a lot of engagements, which in turn will bring you a lot of outdoor weddings come summer. As one Racked staffer learned the very, very hard way, these can do a number on a pair of fancy high heels, but literally no one ever needs to worry about what to do when you trash your heels on the lawn.
  • And guess what: There are still a few more days to party before we resolve not to party so hard in 2017. Until January 2nd comes a-knockin', this guide on how to handle a red wine stain may come in handy.

Do you have a question you'd like to see answered in my weekly cleaning advice column, Out, Damned Spot? Email me at! Jolie Kerr, contributing writer 


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Dressing the Women in Blue
A female police officer.

On a Friday afternoon in a small suburb of western Cleveland, Sergeant Tanya Sirl was finishing her shift when she spotted a burglary suspect on the run. Wearing her standard police uniform, she pursued the suspect on foot, leaping over a chain link fence in the process. She succeeded in detaining him, but not before ripping open the seam of her pants. “My pants got caught on the fence because the crotch was so low,” said Sgt. Sirl. “It ripped them from appetite to asshole. Everyone got to see my hot pink thong.” She made her way back to the station holding her pants together with one hand, and writing up her report with the other.

The year was 2007, but like many women in law enforcement, Sgt. Sirl was still wearing pants designed for men. With a seven inch long zipper and a waistline patterned for a man’s shape, Sgt. Sirl had grown accustomed to shimmying her pants down from her ribs to make them fit. Each time a new uniform pant arrived at Sirl’s local retailer, she got an excited call from the well-meaning store manager to come in and try them on. They never fit. Sirl says that over the years brands have developed better women’s "tactical" pants, a style which women wear hunting or in military service, but standard police uniform pants still don’t make the grade.

Bulletproof vests present another challenge. The first time she was measured, the tailor had her seated, and started from the high waistband of her pants. She says the finished vest fit her like a “sports bra”, leaving her abdomen fully exposed to potential gunfire. “I called all the uniform companies and everybody told me that they didn’t put much effort into uniform pants for police women because we weren’t a big enough market,” said Sgt. Sirl.

Women today make up about 13 percent of law enforcement officers. According to non-profit advocacy organization, Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE), the underrepresentation of women in law enforcement is a result of inadequate recruitment and retention efforts. It wasn’t until 1972 that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was expanded to prohibit police departments from discriminating against women in hiring, recruiting, promoting, and workplace conditions. Despite increased protection under the law, qualified women officers are still up against widespread discrimination.

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Just One Thing
The Jacket I Must Get My Cold Dead Hands On
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Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover, $119

All the dudes of 2016 want a Patagonia jacket, and now I want a Patagonia jacket. You can blame it on mob mentality. You could even blame it on this still-golden New Yorker feature on the brand from this year that makes me doubt my own ability as a writer/human.

But I think the real impetus is that just a few weeks ago I was taking my dog on leisurely walks through the park, noting how crisp the fall air was, like, every five seconds. Now, dressed in his own puffer jacket, my pup refuses to go down the stairs of my apartment with me. I carry him. Every. Time.

It's fucking cold, is what I'm trying to say! I care less about how I look now more than ever and this uber-popular Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover ($119) is the jacket I want to lazily throw on so people don't think I'm some unkempt lunatic out with his dog. Instead, they'll say — “Hey, look at that responsible and put-together dog owner.” “And he looks so warm! her power-walking partner will note. —Cam Wolf, menswear editor

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