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Sephora's Online Community Killed the Beauty 'Secret'

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Everything You’re Wearing Is Because Someone Hot Did It First

What I know about fashion can be boiled down to one irrefutable truth: Everything you’re wearing, everything you’ve ever worn, and everything you will ever wear again in your life, you are wearing because 10 years ago a professionally thin, professionally cool person wore that thing, and suddenly it became fashion.

Look back at any major fashion trend of the past six decades. “How did we ever think that looked good?” is a question asked by literally anyone who wore skintight bell-bottoms in the ‘60s, the Farrah Fawcett in the ‘70s, neon spandex in the ‘80s, JNCOs in the ‘90s, trucker hats in the 2000s, flower crowns in the early 2010s, and also anyone who has recently purchased a turtleneck sweater with giant holes in the shoulders.

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The most recent iteration of this may be our current silhouette of choice: oversized minimalist sacks in a rainbow of beige masquerading as flattering garments. Examples include this objectively atrocious Acne Studios ensemble that if you saw it walking down the street, you would immediately know the person wearing it held some nebulous title with both “creative” and “director” in it. But on a normal person, the effect would be more like “Canadian tuxedoed swamp monster.” Expensive? Yes. Comfortable? Sure, but that’s not why they’re cool. Flattering? Most certainly not, and that’s kind of the point.

And I’m aware that’s a problematic word, flattering. But for a moment let’s put aside the subjectivity of what “looking good” means and agree that models are models because they possess the human bodies most similar in size, shape, and unobtrusiveness to that of a clothes hanger.

Because after all, fashionable clothes aren’t made for the human body; they’re created because they represent ideas that reflect whatever’s cool at the moment. It’s only after we see enough hot, skinny, terrifyingly cool people wearing these clothes that it becomes acceptable for the rest of us with big, messy, lumpy bodies to follow suit and not look like very confused clowns.

Of course, giant ivory smocks are not the sole it-only-reads-if-you’re-hot trend plaguing fashion at the moment. Perv glasses — that’s eyewear on the Terry Richardson spectrum of creepiness — are strictly hot-person-only territory, as are deconstructed luxury shirts, the horrific genre of clothing that looks like what would happen if you gave a German Shepherd a $200 button-down. Also included: silver hair (you have to be pre-natural graying age), vintage-y rugby shirts (you can’t look like an actual rugby player), and that thing where you wear your fanny pack around your shoulder (self-evident).

But fellow normals, fear not. Our time for it to be socially acceptable to wear these extremely-ugly-yet-somehow-cool items is just a few short months away. You probably won’t even notice when it happens. You’ll just be wandering around Zara, and when you spot a pair of vaguely creepily-shaped sunglasses, you will buy them despite their inherent perviness. And in 20 years — or possibly next week — you’ll hate yourself for it. Rebecca Jennings, associate producer

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Deal of the Day

Modcloth is offering up to 25% off dresses on orders of $100 or more. There are two reasons not to sleep on this sale: The first is that it ends tomorrow, and the second is that the company has been acquired by Walmart, so who knows what the future holds.

As for right now, this black and white shirtdress will be $52, and this printed, pleated maxi dress will be $67.50. Need a chill wedding dress? This white gown will be $450, and this short white lace dress is just $131.

Send this deal to a friend!

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In the News
When Brands Smell Blood

I think it’s safe to say that we live in a shame culture, and this week, it’s been all about brands thirst-shaming each other in totally transparent efforts to sway shoppers’ affection in their favor. You know, like trash-talking someone behind their back to make yourself look better.

After United Airlines pissed off a bunch of people for not letting a little girl on her flight because she was wearing leggings — United employees’ family members (like her) can ride for free, but they have to adhere to certain dress codes, the airline later clarified in a not-super-tactful tweet — Puma jumped right in to offer 20 percent off leggings to shoppers who show their United tickets. Lol, but also so thirsty. And yesterday, Time ran a piece on how Lyft has capitalized on Uber’s many scandals and reports of its misogynistic company culture, in which the president of Lyft said: “We’re woke. Our community is woke, and the US population is woke,” and “We’re a better boyfriend.” First of all, uh, is the US population really that woke? Second, the boyfriend metaphor is icky. Also, so thirsty!

When United’s PR missteps result in discounted leggings, it’s pretty clear who the winner is: you, the shopper. But customers’ eagerness to shame brands is partly why they’re so giddy about shaming each other. I keep going back to a New Yorker piece called “The Trump-Era Corporate Boycott” about consumers taking companies to task for their “real or imagined” political values. “If we are indeed entering a Trump-fueled era of consumer activism, it’s bad news for companies. Boycotts are not just futile griping; they often work,” writes James Surowiecki. True. Which is why brands tear into each other when they smell blood, to prove that they’re one of us. —Eliza Brooke, senior reporter

In Other Brand News...
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Coach covertly put the first images of its Rodarte collaboration, dropping April 18th, on its website. There was no announcement, but you can search for “Rodarte” on the website and they’re there. We’re looking at some very embellished handbags and sweaters with pictures of purses on them that say “This is a Coach Bag.” Very “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” in reverse.

Read More about Coach x Rodarte here >>
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Feature
Sephora’s Online Community and the Myth of the Beauty Secret
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From row after row of brightly colored packages adorned with sickly sweet product names to its signature glossy striped shopping bags, Sephora is as close as most adults get to being kids in a candy store again. The stores smell of a thousand spritzes of perfume testers and smears of lightly scented skincare products while never succumbing to department store entryway levels of suffocation. There is a giddy, infectious energy in almost every Sephora that thrives between the clientele making beauty decisions, the staff helping them, and the benevolent strangers weighing in with reassuring compliments or personal testimonies on behalf of the products. It makes shopping for cosmetics feel as much — or more — like a communal ritual than a capitalistic compulsion.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the beauty superfans in Sephora’s online community, Beauty Talk, mirror a similar exuberance in their discussions on the platform. Beauty Talk is a network of mostly femme cosmetics enthusiasts who maintain a seemingly bottomless list of forum discussions on beauty, confidence, and self-image, along with stories and advice for navigating all three.

Keep reading >>
Just One Thing
The Pink Jeans That Will Change Your Mind About Colored Denim
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After purchasing almost every shade of Gap’s super skinny neon sherbet jeans in 2012, I swore I would never buy another pair of colored jeans. But fast-forward to this spring, when Madewell dropped a capsule collection with the vintage resale site Where I Was From. I needed the blush high-waisted cropped jeans. And it had been five years — at least two decades in trend years! Could I go back?

Yes. The jeans are rigid, which makes for a much better fit than the thin and stretchy colored denim of yore, but they feel perfectly worn in. The rise is high, the leg is straight, and the cropped ankle keeps you from drowning in the wide leg if you’re short. And they look just as cool with white sneakers as they do with sandals.

And sure, this exact shade of pink is everywhere, as is colored denim, but don’t you want to be pulled out of your winter funk? —Aimee Bidlack, contributing writer

What We're Talking About
  • A recent trip to London reignited my obsession with British royal style. The most underrated internet source for close-up royal outfit pics? The Twitter feed of photographer Chris Jackson of Getty Images, who’s been on the royal beat for years.
  • For all my fellow football fans (and Philadelphians!), the news that the Eagles are pushing to revive the kelly green uniform — a throwback to the old hue  — is a treat for vintage lovers among us. (Also, what the hell was “midnight green,” anyway?)
  • Much as my mother prefers that I wear clothes that “flatter my figure,” all I want are these drapey dresses from my neighborhood boutique, KES. Now, which one to choose… what do you think? Let me know
    Ellie Krupnick, managing editor

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