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How to Build a Relationship Capsule Wardrobe

If you were to search the bag of any single-yet-dating young woman living in a major metropolitan area, you would be likely to encounter two things: someone extremely distraught to have her possessions pawed through by a stranger, and a pair of underwear.

Because dating means schlepping. It means attempting the careful calculus of “Is it too optimistic or deeply unchill to bring a change of clothes to a third date?” versus “Do I have enough stray things at my desk from which to piece together a halfway reasonable outfit?” It’s nomadic. It’s thrilling. It’s exhausting.

The schlepping doesn’t stop once you’ve found someone to hang out with regularly. In fact, it tends to increase — unless you move in together after the first few months (not unheard of, especially in cities whose rents require you to offload a couple gallons of platelets), or have an apartment with such a strong magnetic pull (usually in the form of a washing machine or proximity to work) that the two of you naturally gravitate toward your place, chances are you’re going to be spending more nights away from home. This means new math: knowing whose house you’ll be closer to at the end of a given night, figuring out who sacrifices more by being away, and deciding which of your things you’re willing to leave at theirs as a sort of relationship capsule wardrobe.

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Sometimes this collection is incidental, building up naturally as the relationship unfolds: an extra layer left behind because the following day is warmer, a handful of underwear bought in a moment of nothing-to-wear-tomorrow panic. Sometimes it’s deliberate: a pair of jeans that’s not your favorite but still reasonably serviceable, meant as filler for when you just don’t want to plan ahead. Sometimes you miscalculate, leaving a garment that you’ll miss too much when it’s not in your regular rotation, or one that doesn’t make sense outside the context of your other clothes. And their stuff will inevitably make it your way, too, whether it sneaks into your laundry basket or you swipe it for a cold walk home. Sometimes you’ll even co-opt it as your own. You mix, and you modulate, and you make room.

These adjustments can be surprisingly difficult, especially when you’ve been used to keeping your things close at hand (whether that means “arranged in rainbow order in your closet” or “stuffed at the bottom of your backpack”). Questions can arise that take up more space than a spare jacket: How much do I want to leave here, and what can I let in? Will they care for my stuff the way I do, or will I accidentally shrink theirs beyond recognition? What happens if it ends? The kind of brain that plots outfits days in advance is similarly susceptible to this sort of thinking, and under the right conditions it’s easy for something as benign as a pair of underwear to mutate into a symbol of caring too much, wanting too baldly, all of a sudden having a whole lot to lose.

But it’s just underwear. It really doesn’t require that much thought. Now put that back in her bag and leave that lady alone. Alanna Okun, senior editor

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In the News
Ivanka Trump's Long List of Conflicting Interests

The potential conflicts of interest surrounding Ivanka Trump, her role in her father’s administration, and her namesake brand got even messier this week. Yesterday, Politico reported that the first daughter now has her own office in the West Wing and is looking to get security clearance, despite not actually having an official government position, and the New York Times broke down how exactly Ivanka Trump has separated herself from her business: not fully (she still owns the company and gets regular reports on its progress) and only at her own discretion. In sum, it’s a hazy day on an uncharted, very slippery slope. Meanwhile, a San Francisco-based retailer has sued Ivanka Trump’s company for having an unfair business advantage because her dad is president. It’s such a big, abnormal claim that it’s almost funny... but also it’s really not. —Eliza Brooke, senior reporter

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Feature
Can Science Make a Wearable High Heel?
High heels

It's 2017 and high heels still feel like torture devices. But there are plenty of scientists working with new technologies to fix this dilemma. Thesis Couture CEO Dolly Singh, one of the entrepreneurs leading the charge, hates the old adage that “beauty is pain.”

“That’s bullshit,” Singh said. “We no longer need to accept the narrative that women should suffer to look good. I think that’s an outdated concept that in 15 years will hopefully sound archaic, like Chinese foot binding does now.”

Some women love the sex appeal of high heels, despite the discomfort, while others are pressured by their employers to don the footwear as part of their professional dress codes. Either way, frequent wear comes with a range of health risks including nerve damage in the foot and ankle, early arthritis, and long-term joint pain. So businesswomen like Singh and Dr. Joan Oloff, a podiatrist turned shoe designer in California, are now reinventing the style to prioritize women’s health.

Oloff is set to officially launch her ergonomic brand this year, after four years of beta testing while she sold shoes through her website and select boutiques across the United States. It’s been a long time coming. She grew up the daughter of a footwear shopkeeper in Brooklyn and moved out west to California, where she became a foot doctor and surgeon. “I saw so many women whose feet were ruined by shoes,” Oloff said. “We deserve to wear pretty shoes without hurting our bodies.”

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Just One Thing
If You Only Buy One Pair of Gym Sneakers, Make It These
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Nike Metcon 3 Sneakers, $130

When it comes to working out, I’m all about variety. From boxing and barre to powerlifting and Pilates, you name it, I've probably done it. But all that cross-training can cause serious dilemmas, especially in the footwear department.

Traditionally, you have running shoes for running, spinning shoes for spinning, lifting shoes for lifting, etc. If you tend to stick to one type of workout, this doesn’t present much of a problem. But if you’re a fitness chameleon like myself, lugging around multiple pairs of shoes to the gym is both impractical and inefficient. I need gear that will take me from the bike to the treadmill to the squat rack without a complete costume change.

Enter the Nike Metcon 3. I first heard about this shoe under somewhat mythical circumstances. Various athletes and Instagrammers known for their #fitspo kept talking about how the Metcon was “changing the game.” Billed as the essential all-purpose gym shoe, the Metcon enabled you to, allegedly, do it all: run a few miles, hit spin class, and then crush a couple rounds of burpees and box jumps. Could such a magical thing even exist? It seemed too good to be true.

After incessant hint-dropping and shoulder-nudging, my boyfriend gave me my first pair of Metcons for Valentine’s Day last year. And, in the words of fellow Nike loyalist Drake, nothing was the same. —Mekita Rivas, contributing writer

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