♥ It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about a low-high fashion collaboration, but the Giambattista Valli x H&M collection is looking very promising. Top of my list is the frothy “flared tulle dress” pictured above. The full collection will debut on November 7th.

Tech Jobs Lead to the Middle Class. Just Not for the Masses. (The New York Times): “Preparing people for tech jobs is hailed as the great employment hope of the future. Cities and states across the country are rushing to teach elementary and high school students to write software. ‘Learn to code’ is a career-advice mantra … There are bright spots, but those programs remain mostly small scale so far, and expanding quickly has many complications. Training, mentoring and counseling people … is not a mass-production process.”

Can J. Crew Find Itself—and Its Customers—Again? (Vanity Fair): “J. Crew has always been about context, and viewed in the bosom of casual privilege, simple roll-neck sweaters, weathered chinos, and rough-hewn barn jackets spoke to Ivy Leaguers and aspirants alike … Over the years, countless style tribes have adopted, deconstructed, and reconstituted whatever ‘preppy’ means, but at its core, J. Crew has always implied collegiate, polished, privileged. The narrowness of the world the company first opened a window to is now, thankfully, a thing of the past. There is no one way to look or dress ‘American.’ So how do you resuscitate a brand built on this definition? And is there still room for it? … Viewed from a purely financial point of view, it’s remarkable how long Drexler’s decline was allowed to drag on. On paper, the company certainly could not afford a wait-and-see approach: an enormous pile of debt makes ‘almost everything the company does at the front end—stores to products—a little bit immaterial’ … Under Drexler-successor Jim Brett, many long-serving members of the team abandoned ship. And while J. Crew made some social progress … it also spent millions launching smaller ‘sub-brands’ with the idea of having something for everyone. Brett also purposely swerved away from J. Crew’s prescriptive how-to style. Circa 2018, dictating how customers ‘should’ wear their clothes felt undemocratic. Preaching about provenance felt self-aggrandizing at best. In branding, as in life, telling everyone how great you are can feel … smug. So J. Crew swung the mirror around to the customer—instead of being self-referential, the tone became deferential: You, amazing individual, show us how you do it. But with the styling dialed down, and the marketing tactics curbed, the magic evaporated. J. Crew was selling what anybody could see were just crewnecks and anoraks.”

How Luxury Brands Are Courting the Ultrarich (The Business of Fashion): “… many leading luxury purveyors appear concerned that reaching out to everyone risks alienating the very few that have been their core customers. As a result, they are trying to have it both ways … In recent years, the theatrical, invite-only cruise and resort shows hosted by global fashion brands have become ever more extravagant and exotic in their locations.”

The Failed Promise of DNA Testing: Patients Seeking Answers Get Uncertainty (The Wall Street Journal): “DNA testing has created a wealth of information for patients and doctors. Because it generates so much new data, the medical world is still trying to understand what it all means, bringing uncertainty and anxiety for many families … As more people have their DNA tested, and rely on the results as gospel, the potential for reinterpretations is having far-reaching consequences.”

Why Working Till Whenever Is a Risky Retirement Strategy (The New York Times): “But counting on working longer to make a retirement plan work is fraught with risk — even during times when the labor market is healthy. The unemployment rate for workers 55 and older in April was just 2.6 percent, according to the Department of Labor — a full percentage point lower than the overall unemployment rate. But long-term unemployment is higher for older workers: 26.6 percent had been out of work 27 weeks or more … compared with 22.2 percent of all workers … Planning to work longer still makes sense, experts say; if anything, too many workers retire at less-than-optimal ages … the most popular planned retirement ages are 62 and 65.”

The Curse of Genius (The Economist): “We have long known that some individuals have extraordinarily high intelligence. Only more recently have psychologists started to look at whether and how this affects other areas of these individuals’ lives. Gifted children often experience what psychologists call ‘asynchronous development’: exceptional abilities in some areas may be associated with, or come at the cost of other aspects of maturity … A gifted child may have an advanced ability to master something like maths, but more limited capacity to deal with their social environment which is another important part of growing up and fitting in over the course of their lives.”

Inclusive Sizing Is Revolutionizing Fashion. Just Don’t Call It Plus-Size (The Wall Street Journal) “Only 7% of womenswear stocked at multibrand retailers is a size 14 or above, according to retail analytics firm Edited, suggesting a deep disconnect between women’s actual sizes and the clothing available to them. This failure to acknowledge the reality of women’s bodies is one of fashion’s weirdest, most stubborn blind spots.”

The Rage of the Incels (The New Yorker): “It is a horrible thing to feel unwanted—invisible, inadequate, ineligible for the things that any person might hope for. It is also entirely possible to process a difficult social position with generosity and grace … If what incels wanted was sex, they might, for instance, value sex workers and wish to legalize sex work. But incels, being violent misogynists, often express extreme disgust at the idea … incels, in any case, are not actually interested in sexual redistribution; they don’t want sex to be distributed to anyone other than themselves. They don’t care about the sexual marginalization of trans people, or women who fall outside the boundaries of conventional attractiveness.”

Where Should a Child Die? Hospice Homes Help Families With the Unimaginable (The New York Times): “Hospice care in the United States, envisioned and developed to meet the needs of dying adults, was first conceived as in-home services. Such support is not always available for children, and when it is, it is often inadequate. The federal government has been paying for and regulating end-of-life care for adults since the passage of the Medicare Hospice Benefit Act in 1986. Hospice organizations, thriving on Medicare’s payments, have proliferated to number more than 4,500, but only something like 10 percent of them will care for children.”

The Rise of Return Fraud and How Retailers Are Fighting Back (The Business of Fashion): “Return fraud is estimated to account for 8.2 percent of all returns … The problem has grown along with the rise of e-commerce, creating multiple channels for returns that can be difficult for a retailer to manage. Many brick-and-mortar retailers have also rolled out hassle-free returns to draw customers to stores, creating an enticing target for fraudsters … The complexity of omnichannel retail models and global franchising can create a blind spot in supply chains that is ripe for exploitation. However, supply chain alone is not entirely to blame for the narrowing margins caused by gratuitous customer returns. As an industry driven by sales as a primary metric of success and growth, retail models do little to account for the inevitably fickle nature of customer spending, not to mention the psychology of impulse purchases.”

Sale styles at Ann Taylor are an extra 60% off until the end of today. My picks: Floral Border Sleeveless Dress, Tweed Button Waist Pencil Skirt, Pochette Satchel, Tweed Cascade Jacket, Stripe Pleated Wide Leg Crop Pants, Gingham Pencil Skirt, Scalloped Shell, Scalloped Sweater Dress, Tie Waist Wrap Skirt, Checked Knot Front Top, and 3/4 Sleeve Wrap Top.

The New Rules of Conduct in a World Without Cash (The Wall Street Journal): “As more people swap funds via apps—over $21 billion was sent using Venmo in the first quarter of 2019, up 73% from the same time last year—cash is starting to burn a hole in people’s pockets … However, the quick ascension of payment apps has taxed the skills of etiquette and money experts; it’s clear that social norms around all these new ways of forking over your fair share are still being defined … If you choose to ‘Venmo’ someone … don’t nickel-and-dime your friend. Instead … be cool and round up at least to the nearest dollar.”

She Was Left in a Bag as a Newborn. DNA Testing Helped Her Understand Why. (The New York Times): “Through the genetic testing company 23andMe, which says it has sold 10 million kits and that 95 percent of buyers have connected with relatives who are in its database, Ms. Liff found her parents.”

Kate Hudson Was Destined For Hollywood Greatness. Then She Pivoted To Leggings. (Buzzfeed): “With Fabletics, Hudson has found a way to sell her own California confidence as a uniform … Fabletics’s business model relies on subscriptions, wherein customers pay a monthly fee in exchange for access to ‘member prices’ … for Hudson, the pivot to merchandising required flattening the core components of her star-making charisma into a simple, readily legible brand of cheery wellness. Like Paltrow and Witherspoon and Alba, Hudson has simply made the dynamics of desire, of emulation, of monetization that have always underpinned contemporary celebrity explicit … Instead of allowing another company to exploit their image, these celebrities are doing it themselves. They’ve essentially taken out the middleman … of the celebrity endorsement business and paved a profitable path forward as options in Hollywood became sparse.”

The ‘Underpaid Teachers’ Myth (The Wall Street Journal): “If public-school teachers were truly underpaid, we might expect teachers to reap much higher salaries when they switch to nonteaching jobs. They don’t. We also might expect to see public-school teachers paid less than those in private schools. In fact, public-school teacher salaries are roughly 16% higher than in nonreligious private schools. We might expect that teachers would receive lower salaries than people whose jobs had similar skill requirements. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Compensation Survey, which includes job-skill requirements, fails to show a teacher pay penalty. If any salary gap does exist, it is likely made up through teacher pensions, which are far more generous than private sector 401(k)s.”

In San Francisco, Tech Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness (The New Yorker): “… it’s telling that San Francisco has become a city in which many people find the idea of widespread for-profit arson plausible … People struggling with addiction and mental illness sleep on the streets outside unicorn startups and shoot up in front of City Hall. Some of the companies that the city has incubated are now seen to be invasive, rapacious, extractive, creepy; in the local economy and national imagination, they eclipse serious work being done elsewhere in the Valley, in industries such as biotech and robotics. Not all of this is new or unique to tech … but this is a small city. The effects of a dominant industry compound and are not easily absorbed. The city is being reshaped in the image of the tech industry—and by those who wish to sell that image.”

She Thought She’d Married a Rich Chinese Farmer. She Hadn’t. (The New York Times): “As the boys of the one-child policy era have begun to reach marriage age, the demand for foreign brides … has surged … Pakistani investigators said men in China paid the brokers to arrange marriages with local women, staying in rented houses in Pakistan until the weddings were performed. The men covered the costs of the ceremonies, and in some cases they paid the women’s families the equivalent of thousands of dollars … None of that is illegal in Pakistan. The human trafficking charges come from the allegations that women were forced into prostitution or brought to China under false pretenses. In some cases … the men were provided with forged documents indicating that they were Muslim.”

♥ Recently purchased: Harper Rose Tie Neck Dress, Sézane Sophia Dress, Sperry Walker Turf Boot, Bric’s 28-Inch Rolling Duffel Bag, Chloe Roy Mini Double-Zip Bag, J. Crew Button-Back Shift Dress, Gucci Double G Wool Coat, Max Mara Logo Cashmere Scarf, and Ann Taylor Jogger Pants.

Have a great week, everyone!

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