Re: Journalism

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Denton had asked me to write a post blaming journalists for the financial crisis. This idea bordered on lunacy, and I refused, even when he explained the foundation of his argument

I dunno; to say it "bordered on lunacy" really depends on the definition of "blame." I certainly hold journalists partially responsible for the crisis, especially given the industry's love for patting itself on the back about how valuable its investigative role is. (And to be clear, I think it is valuable -- when it's actually carried out, and done with integrity.)

Even at the time I was exasperated by the cheerleading in articles about real estate and finance, and I'm just a yahoo who knows absolutely nothing of substance about the industry. (And I also thought adjustable-rate mortgages were a disaster waiting to happen, but I can hardly credit myself with any special insight on that front.) But it would be ridiculous to say that journalists were the prime actors in the financial crisis.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:12 PM
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Indeed, the piece continues: "And he was right; about derivatives but also maybe about journalists, many of whom I had also seen over the years apply their well-honed skepticism to just about everything but the age-old imperative to "follow the money," …".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:14 PM
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OK, now that I went and took the time to read the whole article, neb has pwnd me.

Well, I though this part was interesting too:

The stranger thing about phone sex, though, was that the training program was more rigorous and extensive than any I'd encountered in journalism. There was a day and a half in a classroom learning such phone-sex fundamentals as the "hot statement" and the "ego stroke," daily feedback sessions with supervisors who listened in on calls, a mandatory creative-writing contest for the best Halloween-themed fantasy scenario, refresher courses.... When my supervisor's boss learned I was writing a story, he unfurled all the usual legal threats, but when it was published, the company ordered hundreds of reprints to dispense to new hires at orientation. They did not expect you to be some innate phone-sex genius, but they had full faith that you could get immeasurably better, especially if you wanted to, and they genuinely seemed to take it as a given that people wanted to become better at things they did.
For me, an enduring frustration of traditional journalism is that what training you do get centers on the imperative to discount and dismiss your own experiences in pursuit of some objective ideal, even as journalism simultaneously exposes you to an unusually large variety of experiences. The idea that it might be a good thing to attempt to apply insights gleaned from those experiences to future stories--let alone synthesize it all into any sort of coherent narrative--rarely comes up, unless you're a columnist.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:30 PM
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The quote in 3 is making me think I am missing out on something by calling phone sex lines.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:35 PM
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4: Because you're looking for enthusiastic but unskilled and untrained amateurs?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:48 PM
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I find dialing at random and making with the heavy breathing works fairly well along those lines.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:51 PM
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Shhhh, everybody. LB doesn't know about caller ID.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 8:54 PM
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I strongly recommend reading the whole thing. It's a great read, and Moe makes a strong case for a highly personal take on journalism. It's more than just another case against "objectivity", although it strengthens that case; its also an apologia for what in its superficial form has been derided as "oversharing". Really good article.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:02 PM
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I first learned of the article via The Awl and the pull-out quote they used:

Of all the resentments I had accumulated before coming to Jezebel, I had never much dwelled on the misfortune of being born a woman. But women, who so disproportionately bear the nothing-based economy's unrelenting fusillade of invented insecurities and predatory sales pitches, were ideally positioned to share my list of grievances. It makes sense, in retrospect, that a readership so universally practiced in the faking of things--orgasms, hair color, age, disinterest in men one was actually interested in, etc.--would humor the intolerance for fakery that helped define the "Moe Tkacik brand," which was basically an angrier, more recklessly confessional, and more contemptuous version of myself.

made me pretty unsympathetic! But then I read the whole thing and more or less liked it.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:05 PM
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Is it really a surprise that something essentially repetitive - there's variation, but its variation all around the same general theme - and contained in a world you invent for yourself and the caller lends itself to more rigorous - rigor here apparently means codified - training than something that depends a lot of being responsive to a changing and open world?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:27 PM
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Someone needs to get rewrite on 11. What, they fired all the rewrite people? I blame blog commenters for that one.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:28 PM
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being responsive to a changing and open world

Assumes facts not in evidence. Boom!


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:28 PM
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Uh, 11 in 11 should be 10. I'll stop commenting now.

(Overall, I think it's a good piece.)


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:29 PM
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If 10 is meant to be an argument that journalists don't need much more and much, much better training, I don't agree. Otherwise, it's unobjectionable.


(Overall, I think it's a good piece.)

Me too. Except for the (unintentionally, I hope) hilarious line about how "one's humanity is inescapable if one commits to blogging all day long," or some such. That sort of undercuts the whole I'm-not-22-any-more theme.

Luckily she makes up for it:

But a sense of humanity is also a kind of authority. And maybe the best policy for our beaten-down population of journalists just naturally involves letting down the old guard of objectivity and letting go of illusions of unimpeachability. Rather than train journalists to dismiss their own experiences, what if we trained them to use those experiences to help them explain the news to their audience? Allow their humanity to shape their journalism? This isn't some radically profound notion--it only seems that way in the context of the ridiculous zero-sum debate over the relative merits of "straight" news versus the self-absorbed nature of blogs.
If journalism's more vital traditions of investigating corruption and synthesizing complex topics are going to be restored, it will never be at the expense of the personal, the sexual, the venal, or the sensational, but rather through mastering the kind of storytelling that understands that none of those things exists in a vacuum.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:38 PM
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I liked this piece, too. Unlike that awful Weezer takedown.


Posted by: Bave Dee | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:41 PM
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a world you invent for yourself and the caller

The caller? I haven't finished reading the article. The caller?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:42 PM
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I liked this piece and the awful Weezer takedown, but I will admit that this one is much better written.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:42 PM
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Of course they need training, but a lot of it is more specific to the type of story, and some of it might not come up as necessary until the story leads your there. Personally, I think journalists need to understand paperwork* better - making records requests, understanding what you get, dealing with organizations' document releases, etc.

*Including electronic equivalents so popular with kids organizations these days.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:43 PM
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I took her point to be less about formal training per se and more about the need for journalists to incorporate the knowledge they've gained in the past into their work in the future, which they apparently don't do. (Everything I know about journalism comes from blogs and other internet sources, so I have no idea if that's actually true, but it surprises me.)


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:46 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:47 PM
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16: She gets a gig as a phone sex operator.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:48 PM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:49 PM
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Of course they need training, but a lot of it is more specific to the type of story, and some of it might not come up as necessary until the story leads your there.

I dunno, maybe we're quibbling over percentages, but if I had to ballpark it I'd say they need 15% training in logistical skills, 30% training in interpersonal communications, 10% (but a very serious 10%) in robust and broadly-defined ethics, 5% in math, 10% pro-active untraining of crap they've been fed about journalism (e.g. reframing the competitive instinct), 20% civics and basic background in the infrastructure of their locale (court system, municipal structure, etc.), and MAYBE 20% training in a specific industry or beat.

Not that I have strong and well-developed opinions on this issue.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:50 PM
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Also training in percentages. Or are they supposed to give 110%?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:51 PM
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Bah, typo. 10% in industry/beat-specific.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:53 PM
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5% in math sounds very low.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:54 PM
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Although I'm not sure what those are supposed to be percentages of.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:54 PM
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19: I think the way newspapers/news sources are generally structured has a lot to do with the lack of developing narratives she's talking about. It's not just training, really, that sends journalists from story to story as if each one is new (which, I gather, journalists are supposed to assume each one is to each potential new reader).

One of the real breakthroughs that reporting blogs have made is that they can hammer stories again and again while assuming more prior knowledge on the part of the reader. Don't get something? Follow the links, including sometimes links to reference material (bios of key figures, that sort of thing). I realize I'm idealizing that somewhat. News outlets could do more of that sort of thing, but there's probably not a lot of money in it.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:55 PM
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That's just because you haven't been trained, teo.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:55 PM
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23 is a little goofy. Maybe like 40%. Or maybe more. Maybe 70% goofy.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:56 PM
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I think Witt is talking about education and I'm talking about training.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:56 PM
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27: Time spent in training. If someone gave me a newborn journalist and said "Here, give them 100 hours of basic training," that's how I'd divide it up.

Ha, actually, I'm realizing that I have an intern this summer for the first time in forever, and my "training" for her is not too far off from the above, except that a lot of it consists of "Please strategically overhear this phone conversation I'm having." Which is actually quite purposeful. And then we do reflection afterwards!

So maybe it's not so much a list of preferences for journalists as for anyone doing knowledge-based work.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 9:58 PM
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One of the real breakthroughs that reporting blogs have made is that they can hammer stories again and again while assuming more prior knowledge on the part of the reader. Don't get something? Follow the links, including sometimes links to reference material (bios of key figures, that sort of thing). I realize I'm idealizing that somewhat. News outlets could do more of that sort of thing, but there's probably not a lot of money in it.

This makes sense, and it's definitely something I've noticed in, say, the contrast between the NYT's blogs and their regular coverage. Linking makes a huge difference. And there may not be much money in that sort of bloggy reporting, but it also has very low (marginal) costs, and how much money is there in traditional reporting these days?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:02 PM
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I was thinking of the lack of money in terms of the reference material stuff in particular. Bloggy reporting seems to be doing ok, and is even expanding.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:06 PM
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Moe Tkacik is maybe more a personal essayist than a journalist, at least that's how it always feels when I read her. That Ambercrombie and Fitch story sounded good, though.

Journalism is dying, but what's going to replace it? In general the solution to the "nothing-based economy" she talks about is a professional ethic and some (but not complete) insulation from the market, but it's hard to see what institutions will create that for journalists. Maybe a few prestige papers will generate the surplus to do that.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:17 PM
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Bloggy reporting seems to be doing ok, and is even expanding.

right -- it's actually a golden age of coverage, never before has so much information been so easily accessible to those who care to look.

The coverage of health reform and financial reform this year has been stunningly good -- it almost put you in the back rooms. The blogs were great, and the stuff from the papers with a specialized Capitol Hill beat, like CongressDaily or even Politico (although they annoy me) was so universally accessible that people could track developments in almost real time.

So the death of journalism stuff is maybe overblown -- its the death of journalism's economic model, or institutional shell, but there's never been a better time for access to information.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:22 PM
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In general the solution to the "nothing-based economy" she talks about is a professional ethic and some (but not complete) insulation from the market, but it's hard to see what institutions will create that for journalists.

Universities and nonprofits come to mind.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:22 PM
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So the death of journalism stuff is maybe overblown -- its the death of journalism's economic model, or institutional shell, but there's never been a better time for access to information.

But this is kind of the problem, isn't it? (To the extent that there's a problem at all, of course.) The situation is fantastic for consumers of information, but that only makes it more difficult to make a living from producing it. That is, the "death of journalism" is a problem mainly from the perspective of the supply side, and it's closely linked to developments that have been enormously beneficial from the perspective of the demand side.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:25 PM
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I'd really like someone to do an investigative piece, if it hasn't already been done, about ad pricing for news sources. As I understand it, advertisers haven't, perhaps until recently, been willing to pay nearly as much for online ads as for print ads, even when online "circulation" can be much higher.

There have been various claims for why this has been so - advertisers "know" who the print audiences are, everyone ignores online ads, no one ever clicks on online ads, etc. - but those don't seem to be intractable problems. It seems like a big part of the problem is that the structure of the advertising/marketing world has been slow to adapt, and they dug in with a "print ads are the only ones worth anything" attitude. But if the print vehicles are dying, those ads are going to have to go somewhere, right? So why not on online news sites?

I'm sure some marketing geniuses are already actively coming up with metrics showing how their "branded takeovers" of websites are responsible for a few percentage point increase in sales in Q-whatever. It's not like the evidence has to solid, or at least any more solid than it was in the past - it just needs to convince the higher ups. That should be easier when people are unable to conceive of alternatives. Or maybe no one will read news regardless of where it's hosted, and advertisers will flock to sites with cats playing pianos.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:34 PM
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There are lots of foundation-funded sites right now (for some understanding of "lots"). It's not clear how many are going to make it when it comes time to find another round of funding, but some of them seem to be doing well. Or at least were when I was still paying closer attention to this stuff last summer.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:37 PM
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Also relevant.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 10:43 PM
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And there may not be much money in that sort of bloggy reporting, but it also has very low (marginal) costs, and how much money is there in traditional reporting these days?

Especially low if you expect your reporters to also keep a blog, be on twitter and facebook and build an audience that way as well as do traditional reporting for the same money you paid them ten years ago for just the reporting.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 05-19-10 11:44 PM
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everyone ignores online ads, no one ever clicks on online ads, etc.

I'm sure this is true, but isn't it also true of print ads. I mean, I see a full page ad, I turn the page. Is that not typical, it's certainly typical in the circles I move in? Likewise, television advertising largely makes me angry at the advertisers for intruding into my life unasked.

At least if you click on an ad on line it'll probably take you to the company site, where you may find some useful information about their products; traditional advertising typically offers no information about the product advertised and much information about the creative delusions of the agency's subcontractors.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:26 AM
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The situation is fantastic for consumers of information, but that only makes it more difficult to make a living from producing it.

So journalists have to retrain and learn to do something productive. Not the worst tragedy for society, though journalists are understandably upset about it.

And heck, I'm sympathetic. I wish journalists could get the same kind of public support that, say, farmers get.



Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:54 AM
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Normally I would say something cynical like "My interest in the human struggles of journalists, even Seymour Hersh, is vanishingly small," or maybe "That's not writing; that's knocking your prescription-drug-addled forehead against a MacBook keyboard," and wrap up with an overbroad half-bromide like "Not all the strife in journalism can be Nick Denton's fault." However, if one considers the tales of Moe, Jezebel generally, Slate's astonishingly crappy DoubleX and poor old Emily Gould, the New New New Media story for women writers, especially, seems the same old raw deal: ambitions lured, advancement promised, credentials worshipped like the chryselephantine idols they are burnished, but the only thing that anyone wants to read is willing to pay for cares about wants to read is the same Sex and the Single Girl rubbish that was old when the Duke of Wellington's mistresses were publishing and being damned.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 7:08 AM
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...is the same Sex and the Single Girl rubbish that was old when the Duke of Wellington's mistresses were publishing...

Thanks to improvements in printing and photography, we now have a much better idea of what peoples' mistresses look like.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 7:13 AM
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46: Some people say that Romney squandered his talent on Lady Hamilton's PR.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 7:15 AM
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Based on a careful review of the art on his Wikipedia page, I think his non-Emma art sucks and his Emma art could have been improved by leaving a bit less to the imagination.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 7:22 AM
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we now have a much better idea of what peoples' mistresses look like.

There are plenty of perfectly recognisable pictures of Harriette Wilson. And she, or her ghost writer, could write the arse off any modern tabloid hack.


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 7:23 AM
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48: I like this one; I make a point of looking at it whenever I visit the Frick, but certainly the nearby Whistlers make Romney look a little juvenile.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 7:26 AM
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Pittsburgh has some Frick-amassed art, but he dumped all of the good art in New York and stuck us with the pollution and the Pinkertons. If he hadn't have also given us Frick Park, I'd have to go steal the art from New York.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 7:32 AM
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Slate's astonishingly crappy DoubleX

You'd think at some point, Slate's capacity for crappiness would cease to astonish, but no.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 7:59 AM
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At least they'll give a job to people who lost a job for having a really hot mistress.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:05 AM
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39: But online ad rates used to be a lot higher - they crashed in 2002 or something. Just having a higher circulation doesn't necessarily mean it's better value, and efficacy should be if anything more testable online than offline.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:09 AM
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52: Slate is crappy, and if one listens to one of their podcasts the crappiness is brought to life with chilling fidelity, but Double X is so vacant, void and paralyzed by credentialist status anxiety* as to undermine not only feminism, but humanism.

* Takes one to know one!


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:13 AM
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paralyzed by credentialist status anxiety

I'm going to steal that phrase.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:17 AM
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Dean Baker is, as usual, right.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:22 AM
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Huh... all this time I've had Dean Baker confused with Lou Dobbs.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:28 AM
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You thought Dean Baker was with the Velvet Underground?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:30 AM
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57: No, he's wrong. Creating an innovative approach to the production of vast quantities of bad art serves nobody's interests.

In addition, enough with the goddamn tax credit bullshit already! Eliminate all tax breaks for everything, and make the government actually cut paper checks for the stuff that's being subsidized. Tax breaks allow subsidies to be swept under the rug, making it harder to eliminate them.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:35 AM
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You thought Dean Baker was with the Velvet Underground?

I thought he made music with a woman named Britta.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 9:28 AM
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Thinking about the production of news as opposed to analytic/synthesizing blogging: I know several people who do key news blogging in Minnesota--people who attend hearings and produce important records of public events, and who are considered serious, real news sources, linked by mainstream publications. They all get by on a pittance from freelancing plus disability.

I don't know how to feel about this (other than to be glad that they're doing the work). They really do report in depth on things that do not get covered elsewhere, things that would normally be invisible to the public because most of the public has to work day jobs. It's fantastic that people without a formal journalism background can become real, effective journalists. At the same time, it's scary that our only reliable source of certain types of news depends on some people staying very poor and being dependent on state benefits.

I do a little bit of reporting for Indymedia, as perhaps I've mentioned here. (I also did a little freelance work a few years ago) Some of it is very basic--I go to a protest, take some pictures or shoot a little video, write it up and presto! another mediocre movement article. I also do some synthesizing/research pieces when I have time--I did one that detailed the immigration reform proposal and its possible effects; I just finished one about the paramilitary attacks on indigenous communities in Oaxaca.

These experiences have shown me how difficult it is to write a reasonable news story when it's not your primary job. It's not a question--at all--of deciding to put myself into my story; I write for left outlets with (let's be honest) low standards, am expected to write from a left standpoint and could certainly incorporate as much personal background understanding/information as I'd like. It's the fact that I rarely have time to conduct interviews or seek out the best sources. And the fact that I must rely on similarly vague or uncorroborated material. Writing the Oaxaca piece, I did a huge amount of online research and spoke to someone I know who works there. The online material from reliable sources was self-contradictory. The reliable sources themselves (Narco News for one) don't have the time or the money to write very many synthesizing editorial pieces, even though their staff would have the expertise to do this. As a result, the synthesizing editorial work is done by me, a non-expert, relying on contradictory translations posted in the heat of the moment by a very broad assortment of people.

Everyone in Indymedia circles cheers about the idea of people posting their own stories--this is supposed to guarantee (overall, not necessarily in the moment) more truthful, useful material. Even if we assume that people don't lie too much, what about when they're simply ill-informed, stupid or have awful politics? There are certainly cowboy left journalists who are pretty appalling.

I feel like unpaid/low-paid/bloggy journalism has to rely on some writers who are getting paid and can devote lots of time to finding and sorting information, or unpaid/low-paid/bloggy journalism just becomes more and more unreliable and loopy.

I don't think that the situation is fantastic for consumers of information. It has some interesting possibilities, but I'm not sure how to solve the problems that currently exist.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 10:03 AM
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That was very long. Sorry.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 10:03 AM
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62 was excellent!

63 was silly. You are encouraged to post long comments that are thoughtful and informative.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 10:18 AM
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Why thank you! Unfogged is my favorite blog precisely because there is so much discussion of blog norms, very helpful to socially-challenged me.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 10:31 AM
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I thought he made music with a woman named Britta.

The water filter heiress?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 10:34 AM
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No, Britta Spears, silly.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 10:49 AM
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The only pickle with activated charcoal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 10:51 AM
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Although 62 could have been improved by the provision of links to the mentioned articles. Oh, I guess that'd be anonymity destructive. Nevermind.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 10:54 AM
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My problem with the article linked in the OP was my problem with a lot of long-form journalism: it seemed like it was saying something interesting and important, but I couldn't figure out what the fucking point ultimately was.

She should totally do a book about American Apparel, though. I need to know whether or not to feel bad about my multiple and awesome T and Polo Shirts from there.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 10:58 AM
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I need to know whether or not to feel bad about my multiple and awesome T and Polo Shirts from there.

I wrestle with this myself. I like their underwear, and their T-shirts are about the only ones I like. I need new T-shirts, and probably underwear, too. Most evil things are unattractive to me, so this doesn't come up.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:00 AM
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I'm a hardcore local booster, so the "made in Downtown LA" tugs at my heartstrings more than "boss is taking skeevy pictures and is sleeping with many thousands of employees." But I'm perfectly willing to concede that my moral calculus may be way off.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:02 AM
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I used to have opinions about American Apparel. IIRC they're no-sweatshop, but also a serious culture of sexual harassment, and porny ads. And the bit I've forgotten is whether they're anti-union -- I remember thinking 'union' about them, but can't quite get if the issue's salient because they're good or bad. (Just googled. Anti-union.)

OTOH, everyplace you can buy clothes from, almost, is awful. Unless you're not carefully sourcing everything from some guaranteed decent source, I don't think AA's much worse than anyone else.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:05 AM
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I have to admit that I find the sketchily-lit people in oddly revealing clothes thing to be kinda hot, too, and much more so than the Abercrombie catalogs my old roommate used to get. Those are all rich-looking white dudes who forgot their pants somewhere. Yawn. Give me chicks wearing nothing but thigh-high socks and glasses! Give me dudes with too much chest hair wearing low V-necks!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:06 AM
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I don't wear AA clothes, but our son has probably spent 50% of his non-pajama'ed life in them. They were much higher quality that anything we found in the same price range.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:07 AM
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its also an apologia for what in its superficial form has been derided as "oversharing"

Eh, I definitely find that she overshares for my taste. In the 'lost tampon' post on Jezebel, for example. Reading that post again, I'm not particularly grossed out by the lost tampon, but the rest of the details of her week overshadow what (I think is supposed to be the point.



Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:08 AM
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Give me dudes with too much chest hair wearing low V-necks!

Hello, AWB. Whatcha drinkin'?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:09 AM
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The anti-union thing bothers me more than the porn thing. I like porn, and the company has made the porn thing quite clear. It's not like most jobs, where you think you're being hired to do something serious but really you're there to gratify someone's sexual curiosities, anxieties, ego, etc. (e.g. my job i hate it).


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:10 AM
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62 is very good. Death-of-journalism discussions tend to gloss over journalists' need to make a living wage and difficulty in doing so. The paper I write for, for example, has reduced its newsroom by over half through buyouts and layoffs in the last couple of years (from ~450 to under 200); the people left have had to take pay cuts while taking on more work, and they're the lucky ones. The unemployed can join the ranks of freelancers working for pathetic (and declining) pay, or find something else to do.

As ever, one takes solace in Tolstoy, who wrote that "All journalism is a brothel from which there is no exit."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:10 AM
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78: It does bother me too, but I don't think it's a reason not to buy AA unless you're successfully looking for the union label generally (which I doubt you are because it's really really hard, IME).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:15 AM
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Yeah, fuck them for being anti-union, but I think it's safe to say that their production workers are being paid more and treated better than the people who make just about any other kinds of clothes you want to buy.

Googling for a second, I found this company but honestly I'm just not principled enough to wear those clothes.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:20 AM
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About AA: the women's size xl shirts (which is as large as they go) did not fit me when I was just coming off of several years of eating disorder and one year in Shanghai--I have wide shoulders and a large chest even on those infrequent occasions when I'm thin. It's unpleasant to hear them spun as some kind of gappish source of basics when they're really a gappish source of basics for women who are a size 12 or smaller with narrow shoulders and shallow ribcages. I would have less trouble with the size-limits thing, perversely, if AA wasn't so porny--it's very clear that the size limits are about the "only hot people wear our clothes" marketing narrative.

Also, the men's largest size fits a proportionally larger size than the largest women's size. Additionally, AA makes a larger-sizes-for-men line under a variant name, but not for women.

Gah. AA is so gross. It really bothers me that they openly espouse this vicious, ugly ideology about gender and bodies--the porn ads aren't just "hey look, porn! It's a fantasy about sex!"; they're really a statement that the world is supposed to be like AA porn.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:29 AM
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I'm saddened to see that No Sweat is closing online operations. They made decent clothing at a fair price, but I assume the recession has made that unprofitable.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:29 AM
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Nancy Bauer's Pornutopia is one of the few things N+1 has published that I recommend.

It helps that Bauer wrote an article about Austin that I liked a lot.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:35 AM
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82: I find it varies from item to item, and maybe even from year to year. I have several L-sized women's T's, which fit perfectly. But a friend of mine, who is typically an XL, bequeathed me an older model of T-shirt that she complained was comically too small for herself. It fits me just barely, and is far more snug than their usual L T's. I think that T is older, so maybe the sizes have gotten substantially bigger in recent years?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:37 AM
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unless you're successfully looking for the union label generally (which I doubt you are because it's really really hard, IME)

Wow, even Carhartt has caved.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:37 AM
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There are a lot of etsy sellers that make nice women's clothes (and a lot of etsy sellers that make demoralizing, unpleasant women's clothes too of course). They're relatively pricey but you do get quality and a custom fit, and there are a number of...er...trendy makers around.

Everyone recommends Jibri for tailored plus-size clothes, for example.

There's a very wide selection of knits, skirts, dresses and semi-tailored blouses in all sizes on etsy. I've gotten a few things (including a very nice shirt from a seller whose name I can't remember; sigh) and had very good luck with it. I'd imagine that unless you have to wear a tailored suit every day you could easily find work-appropriate things--and I know you can find tailored work-appropriate dresses. Many sellers will make variants--ie, if you needed a suit, someone who specializes in tailored clothes could make a skirt and a simple jacket.

Also, check out independent tailors in your home town! My housemate does tailoring work from our house (need a Minneapolis tailor?) and her rates are quite reasonable.

Obviously, sometimes you just need a tee shirt. But it's perfectly possible to find at least some nice things that are neither sweatshop nor AA.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:41 AM
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I don't wear AA clothes, but our son has probably spent 50% of his non-pajama'ed life in them. They were much higher quality that anything we found in the same price range.

I confess that I just ordered three onesies from them. Nice dark colors, sturdy construction, and not made in China -- I was swayed.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:44 AM
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85: Even if I discover that I fit into an AA xl, I must resist the temptation for ideological reasons, so I had better not even seek to know. I've already forced myself away from some of their skirts even though I know that women a size or two larger than I am fit into them.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:45 AM
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Tangentially to the OP, stay classy, CNN.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:45 AM
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I also have T-shirts from Express, but they're even more expensive than AA, tissue-thin, way too low-cut, and not color-fast. Probably the best T-shirt I have is from J Crew, and though it was ridiculously expensive, I've probably worn it more than anything else in my wardrobe. I bought it over four years ago and it's still bright green and a nice shape.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:46 AM
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Also, the men's largest size fits a proportionally larger size than the largest women's size.

Yes, this drives me mad! Sifu can wear a size L there, while last time I tried them, lots of their women's shirts don't have a chance of fitting me.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:48 AM
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Can I bitch about flimsy knit fabrics? My basic work uniform is a stretchy knit top over pants. This looks perfectly decent if the fabric is heavy enough to stretch/hang smoothly. A lot of the stuff I'm finding in the last couple of years, though, the fabric is so light that it fits like a wet tshirt -- like, let alone my body, every detail of my bra straps, down to the little slidy length-adjustment thing, is clearly visible. Some tops in a nice heavy jersey, please?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:49 AM
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I don't think I've ever even tried on anything from AA, come to think. Maybe they have the tops I'm looking for.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:50 AM
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Probably the best T-shirt I have is from J Crew, and though it was ridiculously expensive, I've probably worn it more than anything else in my wardrobe.

I'm still wearing several J Crew shirts from around that time as well. But there stuff now is much less substantial - everything is 'tissue' or 'slub' - and the current cuts are all too straight for me, anyway.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:51 AM
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I must now also convince myself that I do not need this skirt. It's not at all my style, the cut would be terrible on me and I never wear bright prints, but it's so amazing-looking.

Curiously, the best t-shirts I have are from Target a couple of years ago--a smooth, sturdy true jersey knit (instead of a super-fine rib, which is what most places give you) in a long-enough cut with a not-super-deep scoop neck. They were probably made by slave labor.

But today I'm wearing a second-hand striped Gap tee that I redyed to be dark stripes on a pale blue ground. It's zeitgeisty and socially responsible!


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:51 AM
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LB, have you tried Talbots? They're hit or miss when it comes to cut, but their knitwear fabric is nice and thick.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:53 AM
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AFAICT, AA t-shirts are not nearly as substantial or well made now as they were when I bought the two I own and still wear five years ago.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:54 AM
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the current cuts are all too straight for me

They got the internippular spacing wrong?


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:56 AM
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I have recently found that Boden has some fairly good looking tees in more substantial cotton knits.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 11:59 AM
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88: The elastic waist pants for the bigger kids are the best thing we've found for regular clothes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:00 PM
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99: As if I could wear anything that requires that kind of tailoring! No, I've finally come to terms with the fact that I need to wear knits pretty much all the time.

When I complain about my clothing-finding woes, people will always say, 'But you could dress like Joan Holloway!' This drives me crazy. As if someone with that shape could just buy those clothes off the rack in real life? A not-small portion of the things that actor wears on the show are made for her, if not sewn directly on to her body on set.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:02 PM
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Hm, rfts. I'll look. I'm really picky about weight and cut, and haven't bought new shirts in way too long because I haven't found any I like. Once summer teaching starts I won't have time to sleep or breathe, much less do laundry or shop.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:04 PM
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102: Come the first pregnancy, all those difficulties will disappear. Or at least seem laughable by comparison.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:07 PM
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if not sewn directly on to her body on set

In other words, on the rack rather than off the rack.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:08 PM
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102: Since I'm not particularly thin, people occasionally try to tell me that I should wear retro-ish, fifties-ish clothing--there's some kind of sense that if you're fat, you can still be attractive but only if you corral yourself into tightly-corseted high-maintenance clothes.

I find this hilarious because my clothes and general style are pretty much on the soft-butch/genderqueer end of the spectrum. There are two models of fat lady visible to straight cis-gender people -- high-maintenance sexy-retro femmey ones and frumpy ones. Because I am not the former, I must be the latter, no matter how many dapper shirts and natty summer brogues I own.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:09 PM
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97: Huh. I have a bit of a mental block with Talbots -- when I was younger I filed them under "Depressing middleaged preppy women with no taste." On the other hand (a) that means I haven't looked in there for twenty years, and (b) thinking about that, it's a fairly good description of me. So I might take a look.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:10 PM
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104: The fact that you somehow managed is, I'm certain, a source of strength for the pregnant in our age.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:10 PM
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102: Come the first pregnancy, all those difficulties will disappear. Or at least seem laughable by comparison.

Pregnancy does end, you know. And then one spends some time being even more pneumatic than before.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:10 PM
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Wait, I don't understand. Why couldn't you wear something that requires a lot of tailoring? Isn't tailoring the sort of thing that is, you know, tailored to fit the person wearing it?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:10 PM
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My question is addressed to Blume, in case that isn't obvious.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:11 PM
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108 was me being lazy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:12 PM
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107: I like Talbots a lot for shirts and suits. The quality is extremely high and their women's/misses/petite/women's petite ranges mean that I always have several different cuts of the same design available. Their sweaters seem hit-and-miss--a bit shapeless , especially the ones with a large stitch. Their tees are a little blah sometimes, but they usually have a reliable boatneck or similar. And their return policy is very generous.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:17 PM
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104, 108: On the occasions that I presumed to comment on the difficulties of pregnancy around my wife when she was pregnant, she displayed amazing strength. Also, speed and accuracy.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:18 PM
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'But you could dress like Joan Holloway!' This drives me crazy. As if someone with that shape could just buy those clothes off the rack in real life?

And indeed, even with (I assume) free clothes and a stylist, in real life Christina Hendricks often ends up in outfits that do not flatter her in the least.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:19 PM
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110: Oftentimes if a highly structured piece is tailored enough to look nice on a curvy body, it will be uncomfortable and/or high maintenance to wear. In my experience, anyway. I always have this idea in the back of my head that somehow other people manage it.

The solution is to find highly structured pieces made from nice heavy jersey, but those are few and far between in my price range.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:20 PM
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One hopes that Blume is intending to become pregnant at some point; otherwise the assumption that she will of course become so is presumptuous.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:20 PM
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It's a reasonable assumption: The Tweety Seed is just that powerful.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:22 PM
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PS re: 104: wtf?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:23 PM
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OK, now I feel embarassed by that comment. I don't actually know any of you people at all, and have no experience, to my knowledge, with Tweety's Seed.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:24 PM
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Ditto 113. They also have great sales. And I stalk their silk twill scarves until the prices get cut, and then snap them up. (They've always got one or not-ugly ones per season.) I used to do that with J.Crew scarves, but then they stopped being the kind of place that sold patterned silk scarves for reasonable prices.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:24 PM
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Halford's right. Just writing 118 was enough to get him impregnated by me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:26 PM
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they stopped being the kind of place that sold patterned silk scarves for reasonable prices.

Is that a recognized class of retailer or something?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:26 PM
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Halford, what are you going to WEAR?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:26 PM
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I don't actually know any of you people at all, and have no experience, to my knowledge, with Tweety's Seed.

Oh, LA's coated.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:27 PM
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Yeah, I don't have an informed anti-Talbots position. I took a dislike to them at sixteen or so and erased them from my world. I should check them out again.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:27 PM
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116: I've been concerned about this. I just bought a nice Donna Karan dress that I want to get tailored to fit closer around the lower chest and waist, so the shape won't be so boxy, but will that make me miserable? Will it make me more miserable than looking boxy does?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:28 PM
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"Depressing middleaged preppy women with no taste."

I get "middleaged preppy women with no taste", but "depressing" is throwing me off. What's depressing about them? Their lack of taste? Their lost youth? Their very existence?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:29 PM
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Is that a recognized class of retailer or something?

Well, it was around the time they shifted from selling high quality, classic basics to trendier stuff.* And Talbots still clearly thinks of themselves as a classic basics kind of place. So I guess maybe it is.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:30 PM
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I've only read either Jezebel or Gawker a handful of times, but the CJR article was interesting to me simply as an ex-reporter. I just left because I moved and the first job I happened to find in my new area wasn't in journalism, not because it's so vapid and there's no money in it, although, yeah, those are obviously problems.

This is far from the first "journalism from the inside" article or blog post I've read, and the thing that jumps out at me is how different what I was doing is from what other reporters make it sound like. A big part of that is just urban vs. rural and small publication vs. big, of course. And more of it might be confirmation bias; maybe they started out where I did or had days like I did sometimes but they don't talk about it because the run-of-the-mill stuff isn't as interesting to talk about. Still though, I actually did spend a lot of time at school board and town selectmen meetings like Frowner talked about, which would be relevant to all these journalists saying they should have been doing more of it. And a lot of time comparing budget numbers. But on the other hand, almost no time working on long, in-depth stories. Nothing that could have been torpedoed by the revelation that the police chief's daughter had a drug problem.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:31 PM
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Their very existence?

Pretty much. I remember Talbot's catalogs around the house when I was a teenager (this was in New England in the Preppy Handbook era) and feeling that they had something to do with a world I wanted to flee.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:32 PM
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Sort of what 131 says. I associated Talbot's with acquaintances who, while nice people, were sheltered and insular to a degree that made me filled with existential despair. Or pissy in a teenage kind of way. One or the other.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:37 PM
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Tweety's Seed

They're bulbs.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:38 PM
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131: I respond to Old Navy television ads this way now. You are trying to convince me that I want ... what?

I still associate Talbots with the projection of a kind of sedate, moneyed (at least in their minds), tailored looking, non-threatening, women-in-their-place gestalt. No idea if this is still accurate.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:39 PM
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132: I associate that feeling with Wrangler jeans and shirts with shiny buttons.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:40 PM
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will that make me miserable?

You could try pinning the dress at both side seams the approximate amount that you'd want the tailor to take in (probably easiest for this exercise to pin the extra fabric toward the outside, though) and then wearing it around the house to check out the comfort.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:40 PM
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Yeah, the thought of going to Talbot's always struck me as similar to going to JC Penney's "women's" section.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:40 PM
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Okay, I guess that makes sense. But I would hope, then, that 107(b) was something of a joke.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:41 PM
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I only shop at Chico's.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:41 PM
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Talbots still has a lot of all those things everyone is describing. I mean, no one is going to look at their catalog for the styling.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:42 PM
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136: That's a good idea. I think it needs to be taken in at the back darts, but I should figure this out before letting someone have at it. The bigger problem is that, day-to-day, my relative tolerances for being ugly and being uncomfortable are in constant competition for dominance. Of course, there are days when I cannot stand to be ugly or uncomfortable, and then I just stand in my apartment in a towel cursing.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:42 PM
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a kind of sedate, moneyed (at least in their minds), tailored looking, non-threatening, women-in-their-place gestalt

Yeah, that's the vibe I got.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:45 PM
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||
I just occurred to me that most likely not everyone interprets an exclamation mark as indicating that the preceding sentence should be read in the voice of an excited seven year old!
|>


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:47 PM
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there are days when I cannot stand to be ugly or uncomfortable, and then I just stand in my apartment in a towel cursing.

Due to the huge amount of shoulder hair, I don't think the towel strategy is what I'd go with for myself.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:47 PM
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||
This should have been completely obvious (and, in retrospect, totally is), but it only just now dawned on me that LG&M's Charli Carpenter is not only *not* our CharleyCarp using a cutesy spelling of Charley, but isn't even the same gender.

Now I'm concerned that LB isn't actually a lizard.
|>


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:50 PM
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Wrangler jeans and shirts with shiny buttons

I love that look when it is un-ironic. I still see it in smaller towns around the Valley. It gives me hope that the world is still large and differentiated. Besides, it is flattering on pretty farm bodies.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:50 PM
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137: They have a pencil skirt embroidered with bicycles! In two colors!

And say what you will, this is a very nowish striped shirt.

The thing with Talbots is that they always have some classicly WASP go-to-hell pieces like the embroidered skirt. Their winter cocktail skirts sometimes achieve delightful gilded leopard-print lunacy. And their suits are awfully nice for that type of thing.

And most of their clothes come in a wide range of sizes and fits--will I or never so, I can't walk into a cute little boutique and buy an adorable summer blouse, because even when I'm thin I'm big and strong and blocky and the cute little young women's places stop at about a size 10 anyway. And the plus-size places tend to run a bit big for me, use cheap materials and are overpriced because fat women don't have a lot of options.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:50 PM
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my relative tolerances for being ugly and being uncomfortable are in constant competition for dominance

This is why I aspire to have an entire wardrobe of black jersey skirts and well cut knit tops. Why can't I achieve this? The jersey skirt makers of the world are against me.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:51 PM
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143: Ha. Maybe not?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:53 PM
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146: Trust me. These people were not being ironic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:53 PM
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An image search tells me that a jersey skirt is many different kinds of skirts.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:54 PM
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I deduce that AWB is comfortable cursing in nothing but a towel, and looks beautiful doing so.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:54 PM
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145.2: Set your mind at ease. I'm basking on a hot rock right now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:55 PM
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Then I would have admired their look from my comfortable urban niche.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:56 PM
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classicly WASP go-to-hell pieces like the embroidered skirt.

Yeah, that's what sets off my fear/avoidance reaction. I'm not too many degrees of separation from the sort of WASP who really wouldn't be wearing that skirt as a put on, and I do not want to be them. But I could pass, easily.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:57 PM
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145: I was actually vaguely annoyed when she showed up on LGM, for name-related reasons. What, do you think you can just walk around the internet using somebody else's name?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:57 PM
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What, do you think you can just walk around the internet using somebody else's name?

Just put "OPINIONATED" in front of the name first.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 12:59 PM
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147.last and various upthread: Why are the only options shopping at cute boutiques or at name-brand outlets? There are tee-shirts at the goodwill, and they don't suck! I don't tend to go shopping for something specifically known as an 'adorable summer blouse', but if I were to do so, I wouldn't rule out the goodwill. It has to be goodwill super store, though, not one of the dinky ones.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:00 PM
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Speaking of fashion, it's dress-like-Greek-gods-and-goddesses day at my girls' school, so S wore a long tunic-y t-shirt belted at the waist, and I made little wings to turn her sneakers into talaria. It's a cute look—you ladies should try it!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:02 PM
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Shopping at Goodwill sucks, because you see the cute thing you like, and then they don't have it in any other sizes because that isn't what they are. So it is a long exercise in wanting and being denied, and I can get that from dating, thank you very much. If I'm clothing shopping, I prefer to want things, find them in the size I like and exchange money for them.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:03 PM
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To second 87, and sort of as a follow-on to 158, I don't really "shop" for clothes, and especially not for women's clothes, but I've known a number of women who've been thrilled with the clothes they've purchased on Etsy.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:05 PM
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158: Thrifting is already something that takes a lot of time and patience, and when one has a hard-to-fit body, it quickly becomes not worth it. I might look at a Goodwill now and again for fun, but I certainly wouldn't go there to try to buy my core basics.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:05 PM
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I know a guy who found three pairs of extreme Protestant pants* at a local charity resale store.

*I'm not sure what to call them, but golf pants from back in the day.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:06 PM
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I've sewn myself a passable tuxedo from hummus lids.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:06 PM
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If we had the funds, Roberta would already have spent Switzerland's GDP at Etsy.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:07 PM
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I don't really "shop" for clothes

You still have to decide which store you're going to rob at gunpoint.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:07 PM
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What young women's place stops at 10? Express goes to a generous 12, Gap to a 16, H&M to an XL. Some of the truly-kiddyish stores like Forever 21 have the problem that their larger sizes are hipless and shapeless, but the only 10-and-below problems I've run into have been at designer shops like Orla Kiely.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:08 PM
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166: Not really. I buy the same stuff over and over again. I'm just replacing, not shopping.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:08 PM
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Seriously, though, I have a sweet Versace suit I got at a thrift store for ten bucks. Why doesn't everybody just do that?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:09 PM
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147: I actually thrift shop regularly, but I'm a tricky fit in anything that needs to fit closely. I've found that I'm better off buying new pants and button-down shirts that are comfortable, sturdy, washable and Frownerish than buying a larger number of thrifted things that don't really fit right and never get worn. Skirts, winter coats, sweaters, anything oversized and the occasional knit shirt are all thifted. I do of course thrift the occasional pair of pants or button-down, but I never rely on finding those things.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:09 PM
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168 is basically me. If I'm trying something new, it's probably because my wife bought it for me.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:10 PM
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I could not believe how large the sizes ran at the Gap on a recent trip.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:10 PM
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172: Do they fit better at home?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:11 PM
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Yeah, I've seen them go up much higher, especially in the sale section, but I'd say 16 is as big as they tend to regularly put out on the floor.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:12 PM
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Has there been another jump in vanity sizes? I've seen people claiming there has been, but I've got a bunch of quite old clothes I still wear (there's a suit I love that I bought to be a summer associate in 1998), and sizes I'm shopping for now seem to be in sync with my old clothes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:13 PM
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167: Oh, I was thinking boutique-y places. There are several in Minneapolis that stock clothes made by local people (not designers, just hipsterish tailors). But they'd rather gnaw off their own forearms than make anything for fat chicks--and "fat" pretty much means "larger than ten". (Because of the width of my shoulders and my tendency to chestiness, H&M and Express never really fit me for shirts even when I was in that size range...honestly, the Gap and similar are very frustrating because their shirts will be too wide, too short and not big enough in the chest at the same time.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:13 PM
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160: If I'm clothing shopping, I prefer to want things, find them in the size I like and exchange money for them.

It's a different mindset: See, Want, Buy.

162: when one has a hard-to-fit body, it quickly becomes not worth it.

Yeah, true. It's easier to buy at thrifts if you're a more standard size.

I'm a little confused about the need for "core basics", since I don't seem to run out of those things very often. We're not talking socks and underwear. I don't really wear out skirts more often than every 4 or 5 years -- they're kind of on a rotating schedule. I suspect I'm deeply out of fashion.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:15 PM
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Not really. I buy the same stuff over and over again. I'm just replacing, not shopping.

I would love to do this, but every store's basic women's clothes are redesigned every year. "Perfect fit" v-neck cotton t-shirt from the Gap? Was awesome two years ago, was not so great but okay last year, is WTF-who-is-this-for this year.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:16 PM
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You're also self-employed, so you don't have much of a need to look tidy -- a frayed hem or a mended seam looks a little funky, rather than sloppy.

Hey, while we're talking about clothes, I want a heavy jersey wide-scoopneck/boatneck short-sleeved dress that's structured enough that I can plausibly wear it to work (that is, business casual, but not a beach coverup). I'm not having any luck. Talbots again, or anyone have any other advice?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:18 PM
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Lands' End vanity sizes went up! In fact, today I'm going to exchange the LE pants I thrifted last Saturday. Gap sizing is wildly inconsistent. But perversely, Target sizes seem to have gone down.

The pressure to vanity size seems to be increasing as the "war on obesity" trundles along--Old Navy, for example, no longer stocks plus sizes in store, but their regular sizes have gotten bigger. Everyone is torn between their desire to make money off fat ladies and their desire to seem "exclusive". Ie, J Crew will offer their frumpier pants styles in 14s and 16s, but their nicer ones stop at 12s, and nothing over a 12 is allowed in store.

For an anarchist, I am a clotheshorse.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:19 PM
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"Perfect fit" v-neck cotton t-shirt from the Gap? Was awesome two years ago, was not so great but okay last year, is WTF-who-is-this-for this year.

YES. HATE HATE HATE. I want model numbers on the clothes, so I can tell if they're really the same or not. Mostly this is for pants -- I find pants that fit, and then I wear them out or they get stained and the same size from the same place is somehow totally different when I try to replace them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:19 PM
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178 is surprisingly, and annoyingly, true for men's clothes as well. Even places like Brooks Brothers -- whose whole reason for existence, one would think, would be to consistently provide the same basic high quality business-wear item over and over again in exactly the same style for generations -- fail to do so.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:21 PM
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145, 153: She tried it once, and apparently she liked it.

156
What, do you think you can just walk around the internet using somebody else's name?

I've only met two other Cyruses in real life, but I actually think there is, or at least was, another one or two in same part of the blogosphere I frequent. I've seen someone calling himself TheOtherCyrus, and I've even seen one or two comments on blogs I read signed with my name that I don't remember writing, and it's not the kind of thing that looks like a spoof. I suppose staking out just the name Cyrus might be unfair to them. However, I still think it's unique enough to comply with LB's naming conventions around here.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:21 PM
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Gap is the worst for larger-sized shirts. I like the curves and generous shoulders and chests at Express, but anyone even slightly more shouldery than I am would be SOL. At the Gap, to get a shirt that fits my ribs and shoulders, I'd have to buy a shirt so big my waist would be swimming.

The main issue is what size the store patterns their clothes on. Express, despite having the most anorexic mannequins in the world, cuts from a larger pattern as the basis, like an 8, while the Gap seems to cut up from a 2 or 4. I don't know why everyone doesn't do it the Express way; even their tiny sizes have shape to them.

I go to the Gap for frumpy dress pants and men's sweaters. I love their men's sweaters, and they often have good sales on them.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:21 PM
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Further to 179: I just bought myself this and will wear it on weekends, but it's too clingy/not structured enough for work.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:22 PM
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179: Go to Macy's! I know it's annoying, but they've got a million different great dresses on sale right now. I got that Donna Karan for $50.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:23 PM
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183: I've known only 1 Cyrus in real life, and I didn't really know him, he just dated a friend of mine named Lydia. This is hilarious if you've read Herodotos (many sacking jokes to make!). If that's you, all I remember is that you're tall.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:24 PM
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179: You're also self-employed, so you don't have much of a need to look tidy -- a frayed hem or a mended seam looks a little funky, rather than sloppy.

This is correct. I will note that I've dressed fairly similarly when I've been other-employed. An office environment that can't abide a mended seam is a strict one, to my mind. It's not really the norm, in other words.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:24 PM
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182: If you get a blue Oxford shirt or khakis, they've been pretty much exactly the same since I've been buying.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:25 PM
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174 - Oh, I meant that the vanity sizing went up. I'm not generally a medium, but the Gap large was ridiculously too big and the medium was fine.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:26 PM
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179: Eileen Fisher, maybe? (another 75% demoralizing/25% intriguing/crazy/bizarre retailer.)

You really should see if you can find a dressmaker, though. For simple things like a jersey dress you'll just need someone competent and reliable; you can pick your own fabric; and you can have the same design made again next year if needed. Look in the classifieds or on Craigslist--that's where my housemate advertises. She just made a nice, standard sleeveless dress and little jacket in a light wool for a client.

I don't really wear out skirts more often than every 4 or 5 years

I wear out pants like crazy with the bicycling and walking. Also, office-appropriate, machine-washable summer weight shirts are a constant struggle. I look for them on ebay/in thrift stores year round, because they tend to tear irretrievably or wear through after a year or two. Several pairs of my socks are nine or ten years old, though-- J Crew sale rack on my pre-China shopping expedition, IIRC.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:26 PM
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185: That looks cute and useful, LB! How long is it?


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:27 PM
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Usage Police:

"Thrift" is a noun.
"Thrifting" isn't even a word.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:27 PM
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I've only met two other Cyruses in real life
I've known only 1 Cyrus in real life

You people are not from Los Angeles.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:27 PM
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That was me. And the reference is to Tehrangeles, if that's not obvious.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:28 PM
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190: Oh yeah. That's true, except for the chest-generosity issue. Most of my pants from there I can take off without unbuttoning. I sort of prefer my teaching clothes that way, as the last thing I need is to feel like I'm offering my ass-cleavage for inspection when I write on the board.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:30 PM
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194: True. But I have known a couple Dariuses! Or Dariushes, as it were. Oddly, not a single Cambyses.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:31 PM
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I'm basking on a hot rock right now.

Specifically, on my hot rocks.

Still waiting on the footnote from 129.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:32 PM
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Being thin and long limbed, my problem has always been to find shirts and sweaters that reach my wrists without making me look like I'm wearing a tent.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:33 PM
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193: Why ever not? It's useful, it doesn't sound particularly awkward or barbarous and it's been in common use in the midwest since at least 1995.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:33 PM
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I was actually almost named Cyrus, which my Dad thought was wildly old-fashioned and distinguished, a la Cyrus Vance. Then it turned out there were something like 10 Cyruses at elementary school.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:33 PM
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193: Above the knee on me, but not far above.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:33 PM
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199: You are Buck. Eddie Bauer's medium/tall size works pretty well for him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:34 PM
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187: Sorry, but I've never dated anyone named Lydia, and I'm not particularly tall, so I'm probably not the Cyrus you knew of.

195: No, I'm not, and I had never even heard of the phrase "Tehrangeles", but that's where ogged (pbuh) is from, right? So I'm not surprised that Persian names are common there.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:34 PM
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192 - I know! It is tempting me too, in sleeveless of course, because I don't do all those push-ups so I can hide my triceps. But I never actually wear dresses. Except maybe I should! Maybe this year will be different, for no reason I can see now. It can hang out with the other dresses I don't wear in my closet.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:35 PM
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202: That's the only length I can wear without looking like a ho or a religious zealot.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:36 PM
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Still waiting on the footnote from 129.

*Perhaps it was my own taste that changed, and not the orientation of the store. Though I don't think so.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:37 PM
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Dresses are nice in the summer. Cool, fewer different garments to manage, and if you pick them right they don't actually keep you from doing anything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:37 PM
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203: Thanks, will check it out.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:37 PM
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Even places like Brooks Brothers -- whose whole reason for existence, one would think, would be to consistently provide the same basic high quality business-wear item over and over again in exactly the same style for generations -- fail to do so.

Their shirts are very consistent, IME. (Not that that makes them worth buying.) And I haven't noticed any inconsistency in their slacks, although I've only bought a few pairs over the years. Are you referring to their suits? I don't own any suits from BB, so I'm not sure on that point.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:38 PM
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and if you pick them right they don't actually keep you from doing anything.

Just like my nose.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:38 PM
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Someone tell me whether I'm being unreasonable!

You see this, for example? Observe that (a) in the picture given of it actually being worn, it seems to look too big. But also observe that the sizes are "small", "medium", etc. Shirley for $425 one should expect actual numerical sizes?

I feel even more strongly about this for shirts; it is possible to allow oneself to be charged over $200 for a shirt whose size is "medium". For that much money I would, perhaps naïvely, expect to get sizing along multiple different dimensions (especially since one can get custom-made shirts for less).


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:39 PM
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BB's suits have started cutting thinner, but I think they still offer the boxy type.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:39 PM
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I used to only ever wear dresses. For like most of the 90s. People took this for girliness and clotheshorsery, rather than the bone deep laziness it was. One thing to put on! Boom!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:39 PM
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Slacks and Suits have changed. A lot. Plus there's all kinds of new crappy stuff in there mixed in with the shirts that haven't changed.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:40 PM
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That's me in the summers. I have a couple of Brooks Brothers button-front shirtdresses that I wear to work all the time. Sadly, they're four or five years old now and starting to look ratty, and BB doesn't make them anymore in non-iron.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:41 PM
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Dresses are nice in the summer.

I endorse this.

Ladies, wear dresses in the summer!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:41 PM
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For that much money I would, perhaps naïvely, expect to get sizing along multiple different dimensions

It's a good thing you're not trying to buy women's clothing.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:42 PM
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215: I was under the impression that they'd just added a few new, more "modern" lines, but were still also selling the old lines. Have the old lines changed as well? That would be pretty surprising, and weird.

(I don't generally shop there, so this really could easily be wrong.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:43 PM
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There is also the BATSHIT INSANE BB Black Fleece line by Thom Browne. A friend saw him on the subway, wearing exactly what you'd think (super slim fit suit, pants hemmed to flood length).


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:44 PM
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It's a good thing you're not trying to buy women's clothing.

Well…


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:44 PM
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219: That was my impression also. Though, what with the recession and house repairs, I did my 2009 purchases at Land's End, so I don't think I've gotten anything from BB since 2008.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:44 PM
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Yes, the old lines have changed. I mean, not as "lines" but in how things are cut and shaped and what have you.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:44 PM
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And to be clear, I'm talking about change over like a 10 year timespan. The 2010 clothes could be identical to the 2008.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:45 PM
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And, I haven't bought a suit or wool pants since Clinton was president.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:45 PM
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Dresses and skirts, especially skirts, are just obvious in the summer, unless you need to be engaging in physical activities that would preclude them.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:46 PM
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Ladies, wear dresses in the summer!

Due to unseasonably cold weather, the annual blooming of the cleavage came late this year, but seemed to be in full swing today.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:46 PM
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And, I haven't bought a suit or wool pants since Clinton was president.

Your shoplifting technique has gotten that good, has it?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:47 PM
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224: I've bitched about it here before, but their basic women's clothes changed a lot a couple of years ago. 2006? 2005? They had a lot of nice boring stuff that fit me beautifully, and now no more.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:47 PM
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220! I'm not sure I can resist that suit.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:47 PM
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BB doesn't make them anymore in non-iron

I don't understand this. If I were them, I would make everything in that reasonably reliable non-iron they do. It's the only reason they have anywhere near as much of my money as they, in fact, do.

Well, that and the sort of background assumption that I can buy things there without knowing anything about clothes and look work-acceptable.


Posted by: widget | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:47 PM
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220: ! What is that for? Where would one wear that? I would say a yacht party, but that's way too garish and overly yachty even for a yacht party. (I don't know what a yacht party is.)


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:48 PM
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220: Batshit insane indeed. The title "Nautical Canvas" loaded first, and I did not expect it to look like what showed up in the picture.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:48 PM
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231: No iron shirts rule. Fuck you iron. Stay in the box.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:50 PM
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I mean, this is not even expensive for a dress shirt, and it offers sleeve length and neck size variation. If you're going to spend loads of money on non-dress shirts, presumably you care about how you look, because otherwise you wouldn't be spending all that money, right?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:50 PM
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223/224: interesting. Their basic dress shirts didn't change (in any way noticable to me) between roughly 2003 and 2008. That's the only claim I'll stand by.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:51 PM
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I just realized I don't own a single thing with a crotch anchor.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:52 PM
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(I don't know what a yacht party is.)

I believe it is a party on a yacht.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:53 PM
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237: Poor Eggplant!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:54 PM
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You could be the worst dressed guy at a party hosted by T-Pain. Otherwise, I have no idea what that suit is for. Plus, the whole point of Brooks Brothers is that it is a place that doesn't sell shit like this.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:54 PM
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Have I mentioned how much I hate BB's advertising? The incredibly self-conscious "heritage"-ness of it just seems vulgar to me. And the horrible almost campy heteronormativity--if it weren't a major commercial firm, I'd assume that their ads were a satire on WASP patriarchs and adorable blond children.

It's actually kind of an awesome exposure of how what capitalism declares to be unchanging authentic verity is always modern/recent/artificial. But it still gives me the creeps and I still wish I had a better source for pants.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:54 PM
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You people are crazy. That suit practically exudes confidence.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:55 PM
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Well, that and the sort of background assumption that I can buy things there without knowing anything about clothes and look work-acceptable.

Please don't let 220 challenge your assumptions.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:56 PM
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I knew that Charli Carpenter was not CharleyCarp and that LB was not really a lizard, but I had no idea that Frowner was a woman. Feel free to shift the tense around in the preceding sentence to suit your mood/reality.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:57 PM
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campy heteronormativity

Camp Heteronormativity is an Army base in Alabama.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:58 PM
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I had my students (outer-borough middle-class immigrants and children of immigrants, mostly) analyze some magazine ads obviously not for their own demographic. One was one of those high-end watch ads with the "You don't buy a [whatever] watch. You hold it in trust for the next generation"-type slogans. The picture is an impossibly gorgeous older white man with perfect hair and expensive clothes standing next to a gorgeous young white man with perfect hair and expensive clothes. My students took one look at it and said, "Why do these men look like women? Are they marketing to gay dudes? Their faces are all wrong. They're really unattractive." It was interesting. Then I found five dollars.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:58 PM
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Campy Heteronormativity is an Italian-made bicycle saddle that increases your virility.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 1:59 PM
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I hasten add: learning that LB was not a lizard was very disappointing.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:00 PM
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The women's version has much less moxy. (Naturally.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:00 PM
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but I had no idea that Frowner had been a woman


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:00 PM
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235: Please come visit me in NYC. We will take you to the men's dress shirt section of Century 21. Seriously -- best place to buy shirts. Then I will buy you a cocktail at Pegu. Voilà.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:01 PM
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200: It reeks of lifestyle magazine neologism, for one thing. For another, it's ambiguous as to whether it means "shopping at a thrift store," "Going to the thing that is like a bank but is technically a Thrift," or "being thrifty in some generic fashion." And, most importantly, despite being a regular thrift store shopper (and one-time employee of St. Vincent De Paul's) this is my first encounter with it.

I realize language evolves blah blah blah, but that just begs the question: how to we hone in on the golden goose?


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:01 PM
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249: That model looks miserable.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:02 PM
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The suit in 220 is great, but the poor 8-year-old in circa 1960 Truro has to be cold sleeping with no sheets on his bed.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:04 PM
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Let me once again take the opportunity to tout JC Penney's custom-fit shirts. If you're a guy with hard-to-fit proportions, or you simply detest the billowing shape of typical U.S. dress shirts, this is your place.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:04 PM
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And, most importantly, despite being a regular thrift store shopper (and one-time employee of St. Vincent De Paul's) this is my first encounter with it.

What, really? Do you thrift in a cave?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:04 PM
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It reeks of lifestyle magazine neologism, for one thing.

You have got to be kidding me. I can attest that this word has been around for at least 15 years. I thought your original comment was joking, for Firefox didn't recognize 'thrifting' as a word.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:05 PM
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I do love this vest, though. I have a similar one from the 1940's that I got in a clothing swap from a girl whose grandma had worn it in high school, but it shrank too short in the wash.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:05 PM
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For the well-dressed gamine/urchin bicyclist.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:05 PM
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244: "I had been a woman until..." Hm, trying to work in some kind of Deleuzian becoming-woman thing here while avoiding "I had been a girl before but..."

Curiously, "Frowner" is the translation of the nickname of an extremely girly character in my favorite Qing dynasty novel, The Story of the Stone. It seems girly to me.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:05 PM
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For the well-dressed gamine/urchin bicyclist.

Not very gamine, is it? More like "for the well-dressed hotel porter/bicyclist".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:07 PM
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And, ugh, the embroidering or whatever on the pants and jacket. So ugly. The pant could even be hot but for those stupid anchors.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:08 PM
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257: At least 25 years.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:08 PM
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"I had been a girl before but..."

...I was a woman soon.


Posted by: Neil Diamond is tense | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:10 PM
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It reeks of lifestyle magazine neologism

It's not! It's punk rock fanzine neologism from the early nineties! Al Hoff, Girl Reporter, writer of the her zine Thrift Score, would be dismayed.

And why would one assume that it meant going to a bankish thrift? I've only ever seen "thrift" used in this sense in the business section.

I suppose one could imagine a sentence like "I thrift now" that could be taken to mean "I seek bargains now". But "thrift" as it is currently...er...verbed takes an object. One thrifts something, which ought to clarify any confusion with banks and general bargain-seeking.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:10 PM
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"writer of the charming zine Thrift Score"


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:12 PM
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But "thrift" as it is currently...er...verbed takes an object. One thrifts something, which ought to clarify any confusion with banks and general bargain-seeking.

On the contrary! I would be confused by a transitive use of "thrift". I thrift econo! What does one thrift? Does one thrift … pants?

What of the familiar locution, going thrifting? These days I get all my clothes from thrifting?

?

Huh, question mark.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:12 PM
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265: Hm, have I been confused all my life about what "takes an object" means? Schools these days!

I mean, one does thrift pants. I recently thrifted books, summer shirts for work, a nice pair of cashmere blend socks, a super-duper KitchenAid saute pan and an Ermengildo Zegna turtleneck.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:16 PM
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Does one thrift ... pants?

Sure! "Where'd you get that sweater?" "I thrifted it."

Yes to the second question as well. Or, "These days I thrift all my clothes."


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:16 PM
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Yes to the second question as well. Or, "These days I thrift all my clothes."

This still sounds strange to me, to be honest, but even if it's acceptable (I will defer to you!) surely there's an acceptable intransitive use as well. Surely.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:18 PM
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242
You people are crazy. That suit practically exudes confidence.

Well, when you put it like that, sure, I can't argue. "Man walks down the street in that hat suit, people know he's not afraid of anything."


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:20 PM
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271: Icebergs, maybe.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:21 PM
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The proper usage is "I thrift-source all my clothes".


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:23 PM
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Perhaps I simply do not discuss my thrift store shopping with people prone to using 1990s lifestyle magazine neologisms, then. I did a quick check of a couple of online dictionaries before posting, and neither had "thrift" as a verb or "thrifting" at all, but that means only slightly more than nothing.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:27 PM
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274: It just so happens that this Wikpedia entry reveals a controversy and points out that "thrift" is, um, always-already a vexed and changeable term:

It is interesting that thrift, with roots as a verb, formally remains a noun by today's English standards. Though it is not a proper verb, thrifting or to thrift has found place in modern American language out of necessity. There seems to be no other verb that fits the term to shop for re-purposed/re-used products.

American lexicon has also morphed thrift to that of an adjective, thrifty.

If we ever meet, though, I will courteously refrain from using thrift as a verb.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:30 PM
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It reeks of lifestyle magazine neologism, for one thing.

No way. It reeks of punk/skater/anarchist culture.

And nobody uses the word "thrift" to mean "bank" in the USA, except people with MBA's. "Thrift store" is the most common way most people use the word.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:30 PM
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BTW, Frowner, your Renfrow situation resolved okay, I take it?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:32 PM
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I associate it with grunge culture. In 1993-5 I'd say 90% of my clothes were thrift-store acquisitions.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:33 PM
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people prone to using 1990s lifestyle magazine neologisms

This is coming out sounding like a put-down. Do you mean it that way?


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:34 PM
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277: I think so. My impression was that the sinister fellow with the threats realized that we had as much on him as he had on us and decided to fade away. Also, I couldn't bear starting over with a new identity. Thank you for asking!


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:35 PM
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Glad to hear it.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:37 PM
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Frowner should start something called "Minnesota Thrift." It could be a bank, a resale store, a folk bank, or a career as a pool shark.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:37 PM
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Perhaps I simply do not discuss my thrift store shopping with people prone to using 1990s lifestyle magazine neologisms, then.

Eh, it's these petty snobberies that make life interesting. After the revolution, petty snobbery will be all that remains to us for social distinctions. Locally sourced sandwich ingredients!


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:38 PM
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282: It can be attached to two other Unfogged businesses--my vegan candy emporium and the Sneaky Tiki, Natilo's imagined anarchist Polynesian-themed bar and restaurant. I can employ all my housemates!


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:41 PM
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Tell me more about the Sneaky Tiki. How does it combine anarchy and tiki bars?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:46 PM
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270 - No! This is what comes of deprecating emoticons - I actually had a smiley but deleted it. All I intended to do was to humorously move the "neologism" horizon back to the point where people report hearing the word.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:49 PM
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There is (was? their website is defunct) a Sneaky Tiki vintage/consignment shop in Long Beach.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:50 PM
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Natilo might need to speak to that. But I expect it's not as glamorous as one might hope--collectively run, non-hierarchical, etc etc. Patronized by anarchists! Supporting worthwhile local projects! Probably incorporating various references to pirates.

Another tack might be the whole 18th century sea-faring radicalism thing--some kind of theoretical underpinnings of the Moby Dick, Many-headed Hydra and Black Atlantic sort. And Cesare Casarino.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:50 PM
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It reeks of lifestyle magazine neologism, for one thing.

No way. It reeks of punk/skater/anarchist culture.

Are you saying Thrasher isn't a lifestyle magazine?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:51 PM
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If you can call that a lifestyle.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:52 PM
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286: Ah, good. I couldn't quite tell. I think 'lifestyle magazine' has something inherently sneering in it for me.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 2:54 PM
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From Frowner's 62: it's scary that our only reliable source of certain types of news depends on some people staying very poor and being dependent on state benefits.

Such people also seem overrepresented at Distributed Proofreaders. Sometimes this looks to me like a better social contract, "Everyone is guaranteed bare survival money, and everyone does what they can to be useful"; this view also makes me feel like the icky aspect of Mother Teresa.

However, your description of how it doesn't mesh with the moneymaking structure that feeds the rest of the news hierarchy was really useful.

---

The guys in the 'next generation' watch ads all look like date rapists to me. I worry that they're supposed to. He-llo, Sabines.

---

I agree that, if you know what clothes you want and can't buy them, you should look into having them made; especially if you're in New York or Los Angeles, where you have better choice of cloth than about anywhere else. My mother-out-law, who is not the target market for clothing designers but needs to look professional, switched to having almost everything made about a decade ago and it's so much easier. ("Two more of these, in this year's gray and blue.") Me, I like making my clothes (I like understanding things from scratch), but my finishing rate isn't very practical for a whole wardrobe.

Still, clothes that fit well don't look frumpy as fast, and I think they are more durable (less strain on the cloth??); or perhaps I just look after the things I've made more carefully.

Looking at the current project, which is hanging up before I hem it; maybe no-one makes tailored lightweight clothes because they look terrible on the hanger, wierd and rippled and bulgy.

One of my favorite things about thrift stores is that they often arrange the clothes by size, and I can get through much faster.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 3:10 PM
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Me, I like making my clothes (I like understanding things from scratch), but my finishing rate isn't very practical for a whole wardrobe.

I have fantasized about this for t-shirts. I have owned one t-shirt, ever, that fit me perfectly. If I could duplicate it, I would make dozens, but I'm sure that's trickier than it looks for someone with limited sewing-machine experience.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 3:23 PM
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I'm whining and lazy here, but going to a tailor for the first time just seems like such a huge investment. What if they suck? How would you know before you'd wasted a bunch of money? This is also why I will never get therapy.

Admittedly, if I found a tailor I liked, I would instantly have them make me the 1998 suit I still wear, except new and a half-size bigger. (It's wearable, but snug). I love that suit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 3:53 PM
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249: That skirt with the hideous nautical print appears to be made out of leather. That adds a certain...something.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 3:54 PM
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I used to work with a woman who made all of her own clothes for work. Impressive sewing, but seeing a suit with a 1970s cut and a 2000 fabric was always strange.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 4:02 PM
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295: Wipes clean.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 4:14 PM
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American lexicon has also morphed thrift to that of an adjective, thrifty.

Wait, does Wikipedia mean "thrifty" in some new sense other than frugal? "Thrifty" meaning frugal is age-old.

Also, the OED does have "thrift" as a verb, but meaning "to economize [on]". It is used transitively in both the citations.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 4:15 PM
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I don't know, Jesus McQueen, you have to start somewhere, and a T-shirt is a very modest investment of fabric. A lot of people on PatternReview make their own Ts.

LizardBreath, a heavy jersey summer dress shouldn't be very expensive even if custom. Try it. Also, copying suits is the sort of thing tailors do. (My father once took advantage of a round-the-world trip by having a suit made on Savile Row and forwarded to him in Hong Kong, where he had several copies made.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 4:23 PM
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I don't know, Jesus McQueen, you have to start somewhere, and a T-shirt is a very modest investment of fabric. A lot of people on PatternReview make their own Ts.

You do have to start somewhere, but... Stretchy fabric is harder to sew than not-so-stretchy fabric, and t-shirt seams are usually done with a serger rather than an ordinary sewing machine. It's not the place I'd start out with garment sewing.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 4:29 PM
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T-shirts are not the best place to start out if you haven't made clothes before, because stretchy fabric is hard to sew with a regular sewing machine, and a serger is a big investment. But perhaps clew has some tips.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 4:30 PM
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299: I know, I know. I just find the prospect of locating and evaluating a competent tailor intimidating. I'm sure there are a million on Craigslist, but how do I know anything about them?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 4:36 PM
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Perhaps they have their wares on display.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 4:40 PM
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Maybe they wear their wares.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 4:45 PM
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http://newyork.citysearch.com/bestof/winners/tailor ?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 4:48 PM
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Heh. I have a serger I bought years ago at a Super Bowl Sunday sale (pro tip: great day to buy sewing equipment). First step, already taken. But yeah, it's the stretchy fabric that's the challenge. Hard to maintain dimensional integrity.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 4:50 PM
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I bet even the second or third best tailor in New York would be fairly good.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 4:51 PM
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302: but how do I know anything about them?

Friend their friends on Facebook.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 5:04 PM
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The barrier for many, if not most, regarding tailored clothing would be expense, I'd think. If that's not an obstacle, I'd think it would be an obvious choice.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 5:05 PM
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Do they have the equivalent of the "Hong Kong custom suit" broker for women? There's a guy who shows up at my building once every six months to take measurements, which then get sent to some sweatshop in Hong Kong and, voila, tailored shirts and suits. It's expensive but not wildly more so than buying regular business clothes.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 5:08 PM
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310: Didn't this start as how to get clothes without supporting either sexual harassment or sweatshops?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 5:11 PM
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Because if the guy who takes the measurements makes some really inappropriate remarks, you'd get both right there.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 5:12 PM
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With regard to custom-made shirts, does anyone know about sizing charts?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 5:13 PM
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isn't the whole point of the custom made shirt that they do that for you?


Posted by: roberto halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 5:18 PM
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310: Not aware of the suit broker program, but I've had suits made by a tailor in LA, and they tend to be cheaper than equivalent suits bought in a shop.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 5:20 PM
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I can recommend a very good, bespoke-capable, albeit reasonably expensive, tailor in NYC. He's the kind who responds better the more specifically demanding the customer is - we've had some lovely conversations on the subject of the lousiness of other clothing makers.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 5:49 PM
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You do all realize how embarrassingly privileged this conversation is, right?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 5:56 PM
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No, we don't, but only because we couldn't care less about folks like you.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:01 PM
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Jesus McQueen: people I know who started sewing with knits find them easier than wovens. You have a serger! You can get cotton or cotton-lycra knit for $4 a yard! Look forward to making wierd wiggly tubes out of the first yard, and then go for it.

parsimon: I don't believe this is more privileged than having a computer in the first place. For one thing, it is *not* the richest women I know who make their own clothes; for another, one can still do it with needle and thread. 'Tailoring' to me is 'fitted to the wearer', not the whole horsehair-and-padstitching men's suiting thing. Of course it takes attention and practice, but again, neither more than a computer, nor anything I don't want everyone to have.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:06 PM
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More frivolously, I just tried on the dress waiting to be hemmed, and dayum. A, it fits! and I love this cloth! and B), if a garment fits in the first place, the hem doesn't swoop up and down in that telltale I-have-a-rump way.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:08 PM
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He's the kind who responds better the more specifically demanding the customer is

This makes sense -- it's only worthwhile to go to a tailor if you have a very specific idea of what you want.

I should clarify my earlier statement regarding the tailor I've used in LA by saying that the suits he's made for me have been relatively cheap, but he also has a longstanding relationship with people in my family and I think he gives us a special rate.

And yes, I don't pretend to be anything other than extraordinarily privileged.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:09 PM
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319.2: clew, I wasn't referring to sewing your own clothes.

318: Robert -- I think I'll just let that one go.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:14 PM
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Someday I will feel that I merit a serger of my own.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:15 PM
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I mean, 318 was kidding, but yes, I'm very sure everyone here very much does understand and appreciate the privileges that they do have, and I'm not sure why we need to precede every discussion along these lines with "I know this is coming from a place of privilege, but . . . ." Prolier than thouness can be annoying. Although, I'm sure that if you all started talking about taking your megayachts to Capri, I'd be a put off.

Here's my thinking on this issue: if you're in the golden handcuffs of needing to spend a lot of money on business clothes anyway, it's not that dramatically more expensive to get tailored clothes, and maybe can be cheaper. To provide my own confession to the revolutionary tribunal, I have six shirts (two of which, incidentally, are falling apart) and one suit that I got made. Since I'm in the lame position of having to buy expensive suits anyway, it seemed OK to spend a few extra bucks (like, 20% more) to get the tailoring when I was a bit more flush, although I certainly can't afford to do that for all of my clothes and wouldn't do it now. Like eating in expensive restaurants sometimes, it really is a luxury, but one that's certainly available to folks who are not mega-rich, and may be more affordable than people might immediately think.

I would gladly support a revolution that provided custom tailoring for all.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:23 PM
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LB, a good way to evaluate a tailor is to ask him to do a relatively difficult alteration on something you already own. If he does a good job, you can probably rest assured that he'll make you a nice suit.

I'm also not sure that the variation in skill among professional tailors is all that significant. There are better and worse ones, no question, but it's very likely any of them would make something that fits better than you could buy off the rack in a store, and do it less expensively. About the only downside to having clothes tailored, rather than purchasing them in a store, is that you have to wait several weeks for your new clothes. If that's not a problem, IMO they're almost always the best way the way to go.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:25 PM
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The mother of one of my best friends is a custom seamstress. The clothes she makes are beautifully made, last a long time, and are surprisingly affordable -- and yet the income adds up to a comfortable living for her. If I lived near her, I'd be having her make things for me all the time. So humane!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:32 PM
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324: in my experience it's generally slightly cheaper to have clothes tailored, for comparable fabrics. I own four suits that were made by tailors, all of which were somewhat less than you'd pay in brooks brothers, nevermind in any higher end men's suiting store. They are more expensive than the ones at Men's Warehouse, but they wear a lot better and last a lot longer too. Same with shirts.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:34 PM
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324: the golden handcuffs

Hrm, fair enough, I think. I'd ask you to be a bit less rude in your reply next time. "People like you" goes nowhere but down.

I was thinking of the gentleman who approached me yesterday afternoon outside the bookshop who appeared to be in desperate straits, near tears (and not remotely appearing to be strung out or anything), who asked whether I knew if anyone, I myself perhaps, might need anyone to do some work -- "Even just pulling weeds! Anything? Do you ...?"

I'd just been out there checking the mailbox, and directed him to the next block where there were businesses open to the public, instead of just offices as there were here, because they might have something. He then went next door to the next person he saw outside, presumably to ask the same question.

Every once in a while the golden handcuffs make me ashamed, not that even sport them myself. And no, I don't expect an apology any time people want to discuss tailored clothing. I do reserve the right to grimace.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:36 PM
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Huh. My shirts and suit (bought from Hong Kong guy mentioned above) were somewhat more expensive, but, as I say, not dramatically so. Perhaps I should look into a new tailor, although I'm fond of the shirts and suit.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:37 PM
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329: well, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that yours are better suits than mine. It's definitely possible to spend more on a high-end tailored suit. (A lot more, if you want to.) But mine are a heck of a lot better than I could have gotten off the rack at the same price. (That probably wouldn't be true if I aggressively patrolled clearance sales, but it's definitely true for regular retail prices.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:42 PM
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Notice to any of you who have mega yachts and are heading to Capri: Me! Me! Me! Me! Me!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:42 PM
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[why am I doing this] The reason for my rude response was that your comment implied somewhat rudely that you, Parsimon, alone among the readers of Unfogged, was aware that a discussion of custom tailoring implied a certain amount of class privilege. Seriously, people get that.

And we should all be doing a lot more for people like the guy in your shop.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:43 PM
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(I should clarify 330 by saying that I'm a little hard to fit off the rack anyway, so something's either going to look like shit or I'm going to need to spend some money on alterations anyway, and I'm adding that to the cost of "off-the-rack". If off-the-rack fits you well, then having something made at a tailor maybe generally won't be less, although I'd bet it's generally comparable or only somewhat more. And it will still probably fit better than the off-the-rack thing that you thought fit well.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:48 PM
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My wife and I bought tailored suits in Chiang Mai on our honeymoon. I was out of my suit job so it was something of an extravagance, but it made a lot of sense for her work. But she'd lost weight before our wedding and had been sick on and off for two weeks before the fitting. Now she has a suit, two pairs of slacks and a pair of custom jeans that would be just lovely on someone nine-tenths her size.

Also my suit has a bright pink lining. Thailand and all.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 6:58 PM
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We can make a 1:48 train car, but not a 1:1.11 wife. Stupid science.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 7:05 PM
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I just got back from Capri and boy are my yachts tired!

Check these pants out, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 7:27 PM
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I got a suit made in Thailand. It rules. I like it very much. Thank goodness there were workers upon whose backs I could cavort.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 7:27 PM
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336: Seems you got some sun while you were there. Or spilled a juicebag all over yourself. One or the other.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 7:28 PM
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I had people stabbing me with sharp plastic straws left and right.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 7:40 PM
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On tailoring: first, a fancy tailor is going to be costly and may not be better than a less-fancy one, IME. Fancy tailors often either do very complex, specialized work (like men's suits) or coast on location/reputation.

My housemate, of whose work I have seen a great variety, is just a regular, fairly competent seamstress--more than good enough to make dresses, blouses, simple suits, etc. If I were looking for such a person in New York, I would ask myy theater/arts friends if they know someone who does custom sewing. I would also stop in at boutiques that stock clothes by local makers, even if the clothes did not seem like what I was looking for (I'd skip the shops that were mostly club wear, vinyl, etc, though). The shop owner will almost certainly have contact information; look for clothes that share some characteristics with what you're looking for--does the person work in wool? Does she make plain skirts?

And also, look for a DIY/crafty/sewing lessons kind of shop--they're often annoyingly twee and cutesy, but again, the staff can probably recommend folks.

These folks will be much cheaper than a fancy tailor and will almost certainly be less snobbish and more fun to work with. Also, most of them will be women and will have a stronger sense for dresses and skirt suits.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 7:41 PM
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Buncha fucking juicebags, those Capri sons.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 7:41 PM
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That was weird. I had to look up "serger". I saw the picture and thought, "Oh, 'serger' means Kettelnähmaschine." It happened to be one of the random obscure vocabulary words I know in German (I spent a day or so working with the operator of this specific piece of equipment at a factory).


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:23 PM
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Another possible approach on the tailor front: find an immigrant-owned dry cleaner that does alterations. Take one of your ill-fitting garments there and let the tailor have a go at fitting it to you. Get to know the person, ask if he/she sews her own clothes. Ask if they do a little bespoke tailoring on the side, or if the idea appeals to them. The advantage is that for such a person, doing a bespoke job for an impecunious customer would be an interesting diversion and a step up from their normal routine, as opposed to being a step down for a normal dressmaker/suitmaker.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:31 PM
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Shorter 343: take advantage someone's willingness to work for a lower wage!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:32 PM
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Shorter 344: Be like WalMart.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:36 PM
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344: Or maybe they'll do it for free just the one time.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:36 PM
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346: Wicked burn.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:38 PM
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Shorter 343: take advantage someone's willingness to work for a lower wage!

To the contrary. The idea is that you are helping Mr. poor immigrant dry cleaner/tailor "move up the value chain" (as the MBA's are wont to say). It's more interesting for him in part because it's potentially more lucrative than his day job.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:39 PM
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347: But done real friendly-like and all.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:42 PM
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348: That would seem to apply only if you knew people who buy tailored clothing and trust your recommendation.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 8:44 PM
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Someday I will feel that I merit a serger of my own.

But you already do, foxtail! Craigslist here shows several new and nearly new ones for under $200. Cleveland-area Craigslist, only a couple, but still.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 9:24 PM
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350: look around you, man.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 05-20-10 10:22 PM
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The leaves are brown and the sky is the hazy shade of winter.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 05-21-10 5:08 AM
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Halford--Can you e-mail me the name of your tailor guy? Some of them travel across the U.S.?

Brock--Did you get this stuff done before you moved. If so, where?

What kind of stuff can you get in the $600 range? I saw an okay-looking men's suit on Nordstrom's online for that price.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05-21-10 5:48 AM
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I'm still catching up on this thread, but I don't even have a favorite Qing dynasty novel. I feel so inadequate now. Thanks Frowner.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 05-21-10 7:08 AM
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355: Well, my favorite out of a handful that I've read in translation. But I've read it easily ten or twelve times--it's epic and tragic and has lots of descriptions of clothes and expensive Qing tchotchkes, plus magic and a sort of devil-may-care Buddhism, plus the main characters are all women, plus the author's history is fascinating, plus the novel itself has always been sort of a mystery--it was circulated in manuscript first among the author's family and then among poor scholars and wealthy dilettantes but never really achieved an authorized final form and has moved from acceptable to counterrevolutionary to a source of pride in post 1949-China.

If you haven't read it, you totally should! It's five volumes--don't get the abridged version--and you should get either the most recent translation with the beige and black covers or the charming eighties PRC translation that is actually published in China.

Also, hiring a cheap tailor need not be exploitative! Pick someone who works from home or in an inexpensive location; if you have connections in immigrant communities where people make more custom clothes, ask around; ask the person to set his/her own prices but offer a tip if the work merits it or the price seems ridiculous; let the person work to his/her own schedule. Go in expecting to pay at least what you would for a decent-quality chain store item, because you're getting a good-quality item that fits you exactly and is in your choice of color and fabric. If you think you're exploiting someone by paying him/her to do artisan work at his/her own pace, I don't really know where you get your clothes--believe me, the folks who make all that gross modal-rayon junk at Target are engaged in completely alienated labor.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 05-21-10 7:27 AM
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I sent Brock an e-mail.

RH, Would you mind e-mailing me at the linked address?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 05-21-10 8:07 AM
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BG: I replied to your email.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 05-24-10 9:20 AM
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