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So You Need a Dress for That Family Thing...

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Club Monaco Isn’t Cool, And That’s Why I Love It

The other day, I went shopping for a modest dress for a family photo shoot.

I went downtown, popping into Barneys and Bloomingdale’s before deciding I didn’t want to spend all that much. I stopped by a few fast fashion chains like Zara and H&M, but of course walked out with nothing because not only are all the styles so trendy that they make me feel old (which I am not), they almost never sell anything that has sleeves or is knee-length — modesty guidelines I try to stick to as an Orthodox Jew.

Finally, after enough browsing to feel like I’d done my due diligence, I headed into my old standby: Club Monaco.

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Now, I know what you’re thinking. Club Monaco is definitely not a “cool” brand. Most of my coworkers wouldn’t be caught inside one — Tanisha and Tiffany definitely don’t shop there. There was even that line in The Devil Wears Prada where Anne Hathaway’s friend says she liked her better when she used to think “Club Monaco is couture.”

But I’ve been shopping at Club Monaco for years, and while it’s kind of an embarrassing destination to hit when Opening Ceremony, Steven Alan, Kith, and Dover Street Market are the cool destinations people in fashion are supposed to shop at, I’m here to admit that I really appreciate the brand. Plain and simple, Club Monaco is the best destination for modest fashion, with a constant assortment of long-sleeved dresses, A-line skirts, and trendy, loose blouses.

I don’t know if it’s necessarily on purpose, but I do think that its arsenal of modest options stems from the fact that while literally every other fashion brand out there is trying to court millennials, Club Monaco doesn’t seem to be, and what’s more, it seems perfectly okay with that. Plenty of stores have had identity crises over the years, flailing over who their customer is — like J.Crew, which now makes preposterously expensive pieces that price out most shoppers, or Banana Republic, which doesn’t have much of a fashion vision at all. But Club Monaco focuses on shoppers like me who actually want pretty, chic clothing. With its muted colors and sophisticated silhouettes, the brand isn’t afraid to be feminine — and not in that twee Anthropologie type of way.

When I do share my secret shopping destination with friends, they often complain about how overpriced Club Monaco is, with which I agree 100 percent. My suggestion is to constantly prowl the sale section, because almost everything gets marked down eventually. Plus, there’s the slight comfort in knowing that if you do invest in a dress that isn’t from, say, Zara, you know it won’t be worn by every other girl you know in synagogue.

So there you have it. My little shopping shame. If you need a nice skirt, dress, or blouse and are tired of buying cheap schmattas, head over to Club Monaco. Of course it’s where I found a white flow-y dress for that family photo shoot, and it was perfect (and on sale). Chavie Lieber, senior reporter

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Deal of the Day

Need a new dress for summer wedding season? Rebecca Taylor’s friends and family sale starts today, with 25% off a lot of cute stuff with the code APRIL17. This textured navy A-line dress is $180, this really pretty black piqué lace dress is $240, and this floral maxi is $318.

There are some full-price stunners on the first two pages of dresses, but we recommend clicking through to what’s already on sale on the third and fourth to get the best deal with that extra discount.

Send this deal to your friends! 

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In the News
When Was the Last Time You Shopped at Payless?

This year has been a real bloodbath for retailers, and Payless is the latest casualty. The affordable footwear chain filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday, and in the process said that it’s closing 400 of its 4,000 stores. Among the other mass-market names that have been savaged by 2017’s rough shopping environment — i.e. gone bankrupt or shuttered a significant number of doors — we’ve got: Bebe, BCBG, and J.C. Penney. Macy’s. Nasty Gal. Wet Seal. The Limited. Sears. American Apparel. Retail isn’t dead, but there’s for sure a purge happening among old school mall brands, because the mall as an institution is in crisis.

When was the last time you shopped at Payless? Or Bebe? Or Wet Seal? No, seriously, I want to know. Hit me up at eliza@racked.com and tell me about it. —Eliza Brooke, senior reporter

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Feature
The Whitewashing of Natural Hair Care Lines
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Raquel Savage, a Miami-based, board-certified sex therapist, was recently invited to be a hair model for Carol’s Daughter, a natural haircare, body, and skincare line. This event, an expo showcasing Carol’s Daughter and other products for CVS sales reps, took place on March 30th. From 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., Raquel was to model for the brand, which would test products on her hair but not cut or color her locks. All Raquel had to do was come to the Westin Fort Lauderdale on that day wearing all black with freshly washed hair. She was looking forward to the opportunity. It was another way to collect a check and promote herself.

At first, Savage knew that something was amiss from how messily her natural hair was handled. When she was reached out to for this opportunity, she assumed the stylist, who was also black, knew how to do her curly hair, which was to style while wet. But instead, her hair was styled while dry. After Dark & Lovely and Carol’s Daughter were used on Savage’s hair, she was prompted to go to one of the Westin’s ballrooms, where besides the aforementioned lines, Shea Moisture, NYX, Wet n Wild, Maybelline, and Coppertone, among many others, were present. Downstairs, that feeling of something being a bit off escalated, as the majority of people present, including CVS ambassadors, were white. Savage, along with another light-skinned, curly-haired woman, were a part of L'Oréal’s multicultural booth, which included Dark and Lovely, Dessange, and Carol’s Daughter.

However, according to Savage, the booth’s multiculturalism proved to be more of a dilution of blackness than anything else. Carol’s Daughter, a popular haircare line for natural-haired black women, showcased an ad with a racially ambiguous, fair-skinned woman. Aside from the colorism aspect of its advertisement, Savage was struck by the obfuscating language that stylists used to describe Carol’s Daughter products: “The two stylists marketed the products, specifically Carol’s Daughter and Dark and Lovely, saying all textures of hair can use these products. They said the textures that work the best for these hairs are curly to wavy to very curly, as opposed to saying it’s for ethnic and women of color. Sometimes he would say ‘coily’ or ‘textured’ hair to try to imply that it’s for women of color. A couple of times, he would say that it’s not about race. He said he doesn’t like to look at the racial and ethnic backgrounds of someone, but rather what the hair needs.”

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Just one Thing
The Jeans I Wore in High School Are Still the Best
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AEO Denim X Hi Rise Slim Flares, $49.50

Like most high school kids, I didn’t love in half-measures. My fickle teenage feelings were ardent but ultimately fleeting. I reserved my unwavering devotion for a small number of things: Teen Vogue, catching a new episode of The O.C. every Tuesday, and American Eagle jeans.

Besides the fact that they happened to fit me really well, the jeans’ emblematic stripe across the butt pocket were the epitome of cool. But our relationship ended mid-college, when I got rid of them to make room for new brands I imagined grown-ass women wore.

More than a decade later, I’ve come full circle. Channeling my 16-year-old self, I picked up a pair of AEO Denim X Hi Rise Slim Flares earlier this year and have been wearing them at least twice a week since.

They don’t bag out and manage to hold their shape even after a few wears. They fit as if they’ve been tailored, nipping in at the waist with no gapping in the back. The thick denim makes them look more expensive than they are, but they’re still forgivingly stretchy and soft. And since the flare isn't out of control and the waist is just high enough, they've got a nice ‘70s vibe that doesn’t look cheesy.

I’m a firm believer that few things from high school are worth revisiting (cafeteria food, lackluster first kisses, Uggs), but American Eagle jeans are an exception to that rule. I feel like a rom-com heroine who’s been around the block only to discover that her high school sweetheart was the one all along. —Erin Dunlop, contributing writer

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