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Pouring One Out for Jenna Lyons's J.Crew

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We Need to Talk About These Goddamn Shirts

For the past hundred years or so, a button-down shirt was just a button-down shirt. It had buttons, and it was a shirt. Pretty much everyone in the universe owned one. They weren’t, like, amazing, but they were fine, and particularly useful if you were a businessperson or went to Catholic school. For everybody else, they covered up the parts a shirt should cover up, and that was that. They were shirts.

That is, until about six months ago, when something very odd began happening to shirts. Brands you can’t afford — brands with names you probably don’t even know — started doing things to shirts that didn’t really need all that much improvement in the first place.

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Things like slashing out the middle part of the arm for no apparent reason. Or turning these on-the-shoulder shirts into off-the-shoulder shirts by pairing up the buttons wrong. Or adding so many ruffles that it stops being a shirt altogether and just becomes the bottom half of a flamenco dancer’s dress that’s made out of Brooks Brothers fabric and costs $650.

In short, what started as a good idea — well-tailored blouses in cool, architectural silhouettes — has morphed into a phenomenon so unwieldy that it’s almost impossible to find a regular shirt without 55 non-functioning knots attached to it anymore.

And as of a few weeks ago, I had just about had enough. It seemed as though ever since these shirts — The Shirts, as they will henceforth be called — came to be, society had only gotten worse, and if it wasn’t The Shirts’ fault, then maybe they were at least a symptom of something deeply sinister.

Because at this point, The Shirts are no longer confined to expensive department stores. Their derivatives have invaded our Zaras, our Ann Taylors, and even our Forever 21s, which means that for the next six months and possibly longer, you will be surrounded by Shirts as far as the eye can see.

But how do you know, when you’re scanning the crowds of that one cool flea market where everybody wears weird jeans and furry shoes, whether someone is wearing a shirt or a Shirt? Here are a few key elements they all must share in common:

  • The Shirt will be made of either 100 percent cotton or poplin (which is essentially thicc cotton).
  • The Shirt will be an unassuming color traditionally associated with business, such as white, light blue, or, if it’s an advanced Shirt, white and light blue pinstripes.
  • The Shirt will be asymmetrical.
  • The Shirt will be referred to by the brand as “shirting,” or perhaps more specifically, “luxury shirting.”
  • The Shirt will give the vague impression that somebody has wrapped you in a picnic blanket.
  • The Shirt would not look out of place on a lady pirate.

Of course, as Shirts are inherently extra, they often include even more bizarre qualities not included in the above list. Read on for a complete taxonomy of Shirts, and yes, more than one of them costs upwards of one thousand dollars! Rebecca Jennings, associate producer

See More Terrible Shirts Here >>
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Deal of the Day

Coats and leather jackets from The Arrivals rarely ever get marked down, so a two-day digital sample sale is a BFD. For the next 48 hours, select outerwear is marked down up to 70% off. This cool modular trench is just $100 (from $385), this unisex rain jacket is $250 (from $345), this tan leather moto jacket is $350 (from $685), and this black matte leather biker jacket is $450 (from $645). There’s a lot to shop (including men’s!), so head to the brand’s site for the full rundown.

Send this deal to your friends! 

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In the News
Everyone's Got Feelings About Jenna Lyons Leaving J.Crew

There aren’t many chain stores with identifiable creative forces behind them. Do you know who designs for Club Monaco? Zara? Gap? Probably not.

But people know Jenna Lyons. As the creative director and president of J.Crew, she pioneered a look that was preppy, quirky, and chic: daytime sequins, half-tucked shirts, big jewelry, dressed-up denim, and windswept hair with poppy red lips. It was fresh as hell, and Lyons, who once wore a denim jacket and hot pink satin skirt to the Met Gala, was her own best catalog model. When J.Crew announced yesterday that Lyons is stepping down — and waiting out the nine months left in her contract as a “creative advisor” to the brand — shoppers reacted with feeling on social media, even though the brand’s sales have been sinking lately. The look Lyons crafted at J.Crew may have overstayed its welcome, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t significant to a lot of people.

“Jenna Lyons’ style has had such an impact on my own personal style. Hopefully she’ll start her own beautiful brand,” tweeted one fan. “Jenna Lyons is the reason why I consider sequins to be a neutral,” one wrote. “Jenna Lyons dressed me for 15 years,” tweeted another. Lyons changed how people dress, and they know it.

Others gave props to Lyons’s accomplishments while calling out flaws in her direction: the need for a style refresh, worsening quality and fit, the inaccessibility of its more fashion-forward look, the mismatch between Lyons’s aesthetic and that of longtime J.Crew customers. Some were simply shocked to learn that Lyons had been at J.Crew for longer than they’d been alive: 26 years.

Of course Lyons’s departure would inspire so many people to take their feelings online. When J.Crew’s quality faltered a few years ago, customers got vocal — because, as the Wall Street Journal wrote at the time, “Few [brands] boast shoppers as emotionally involved as J.Crew’s.” They may not be thrilled about the current state of J.Crew, but they still care. —Eliza Brooke, senior reporter

What We're Talking About
  • It's Equal Pay Day, and our friends at Recode are breaking down what the pay gap looks like for women in tech. Writer Kelsey McKinney has a helpful way for men to celebrate: Share your salary with your female coworkers!  
  • It has been two days and I am still not emotionally over the Big Little Lies finale. Luckily, the real Chloe’s dad created a Spotify playlist called "Chloe’s iPod," in which you can get schooled in iconic 20th century music by someone who was born in, like, 2007. Full disclosure, I didn’t not do a subtle subway cry to Sufjan Stevens’s “Casimir Pulaski Day” last night.
  • ASOS just started its mid-season sale, and it is $30 Chunky Black Sandal Christmas over there. Please help, because I can’t decide between any of them!!!Rebecca Jennings, associate producer
Feature
Amazon Wants to Sell You Clothes
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Amazon already knows how to sell you underwear, but can it fill the rest of your closet? 

Keep reading >>
Shopping
Cute Sneakers to Buy If You’re Over Stan Smiths
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Keeping at least one pair of easy, casual sneakers in your arsenal is a good idea for obvious reasons. But finding a pair that won’t have you twinning with 10 people before you even step inside your office is even better. No offense to Stan Smiths, but we’re just ready to look at something else — and you probably are, too.

Here are 10 of our favorite sneakers out right now, from clean tennis shoes by Veja and Common Projects to classics from Nike and Vans.

See our 10 favorites here >>
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