In Defense of the Investment Coat

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In Defense of the Investment Coat
an essay by Trace Barnhill

You see it from across the street, hanging majestic in a window, a shadowy silhouette of buttery leather. Traffic blares and screeches as you dash across multiple lanes, unflinching and focused. You’re in the store and breathing that starchy air of newness and surprise. You see the coat at the other end of the room. You glide over. It’s perfect. It’s all the wonderful things you can think of: timeless, warm…sexy, even. You could wear it with everything. You could wear it right now, over your standard uniform of high-rise jeans and a silk blouse. You take a breath and turn over the price tag.

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Listen Up: Leslie Kirchhoff’s Playlist of New Artists You Need to Know

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Given Leslie Kirchhoff’s job titles—photographer and DJ—we weren’t entirely surprised that her playlist included a mix of marquee names and some new ones too. When you have a professional helming your headphones, you can bank on discovering some under-the-radar tunes. With Kirchhoff as our guide, we flipped through the shelves at Bleecker Street Records—an unofficial headquarters for those who take their music analog-style—and got a crash course in the new artists we’ll be playing on repeat.

1. “Almost Home (Washed Out Remix),” Moby

2. “You’re The Best,” Wet

3. “I Shot The Sheriff,” N.A.S.A featuring Karen O

4. “Elusive Youth,” Elephant

5. “Round the Moon,” Summer Camp

6. “Candy,” Wake Owl

7. “Everywhere (Fleetwood Mac cover),” Selebrities featuring Erika Spring and Lissy Trullie

8. “Edie’s Dream,” Suuns

9. “Air Conditioning,” Kisses

10. “Habits,” Tove Lo

11. “Name in Lights,” Little Daylight

12. “White Lies,” Max Frost

13. “Paper Trails,” Darkside

Stream this and all our playlists on rdio.

Listen Up: Songs To Get You Through The Workday

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Each and every pair of our amazing-fitting jeans is the product of major love and major work—one pair takes an average of three yards of fabric, 43 people and one whole month to produce. And while we’re hard-core perfectionists about our jeans, when it comes to what we listen to while working our denim magic, we’re pretty low-key. The playlist we’ve recently had coming through our headphones is an eclectic mix, with everything from classic rock to ambient synth-y disco stuff, and a few jazz standards thrown in too. At just over three hours, it’s guaranteed to at least get you from 9am to noon, but we’re pretty sure you’ll be doing the repeat thing. (Stream it here.)

1. “Blue Moon,” Beck

2. “Red Eyes,” The War On Drugs

3. “Be, I Do,” Nightmares on Wax

4. “Melt,” Chet Faker featuring Kilo Kish

5. “Punga,” Klingande

6. “Footprints,” Wayne Shorter

7. “Always (Classixx Remix),” Panama

8. “Darkness,” Du Tonc

9. “Water Me,” FKA twigs

10. “Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy),” David Bowie

11. “Graceland,” Paul Simon

12. “In Mind,” Brothertiger

13. “High Society,” Betty Who

14. “I’ll Be Around,” Empire Of The Sun

15. “Wings,” Haerts

16. “Fall Underneath,” Snakadaktal

17. “Another Love (Zwette Edit),” Tom Odell

18. “Everywhere,” Fleetwood Mac

19. “Everyday Is Like Sunday,” Morrissey

20. “To You,” Young Wonder

21. “Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love),” Ella Fitzgerald

22. “Heartbeat,” Islands

23. “Katie,” Luke Temple

24. “Hemiplegia,” Haerts

25. “Bleached,” Ride Your Heart

26. “Sandcastle Disco,” Solange

27. “Just One Look,” Eddie Lovette

28. “Black Magic,” Astrud Gilberto

29. “Sleepless,” Flume featuring Jezzabell Doran

30. “Open,” Rhye

31. “Lady Don’t Tek No,” Latyrx

32. “Tumbling Dice,” The Rolling Stones

33. “Instant Crush,” Daft Punk featuring Julian Casablancas

34. “Triangle Walks,” Fever Ray

35. “Cavalier,” James Vincent McMorrow

36. “Temptation,” New Order

37. “Cities In Dust,” Siouxsie and The Banshees

38. “Chloroform,” Phoenix

39. “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” Bob Dylan

Stream this and all our playlists here.

Weekly Roundup: What To Read This Weekend

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As the weekend approaches—and with it hours of splendid free time to catch up on your reading—we round up a few things we found and loved this week.

Art: A diagrammed infographic of 100 famous movie quotes? Be still, our beating hearts, via Flowing Data.

Tech (sort of): A little “what do you know?” for the weekend: Each frame of this German animation was hand-painted on glass, via Friendly Neighborhood Doctor.

Music: The War On Drugs’s single “Red Eyes” is roll-down-the-windows, pretend-it’s-summer music if we’ve ever heard it, via Spin.

Books: You don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to read, until Virginia Woolf feeds you these observations, via Brain Pickings.

Humanities: Glitter. Glossy nail polish. Gleaming new cars. There’s a pretty crazy reason we loooove shiny things, via Fast Company.

Curiosities: For those whose spirits need lifting (and everyone else too): inspiration in fearless goats, via Bored Panda.

Word: serein (n., French): light rain that falls from a clear sky at dusk; evening calm. The word comes from both the French serein, meaning “serene, unclouded” and from the Old French serain, meaning “evening.”

To keep up with us on Twitter, click here.

Five Unexpected Icons from Tomboy Style’s Lizzie Garrett Mettler

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Lizzie Garrett Mettler is basically an expert in all things tomboy. Obsessed with vintage cars, Airstream camping and digging up just the right duffel bag, the Los Angeles-based author of Tomboy Style (which shares its name with her utterly addictive blog) is the ultimate source of boy-meets-girl inspiration.  We picked her brain for tomboy icons of the not-so-obvious variety (who knew Ginger Rogers spent her weekends in waders?). Here, her top five choices.

The Sailor: Florence Arthaud

“She combines minimal French style with a nautical bent (like rolled-up chinos and Sperry Top-Siders) and always seems to have a determined look on her face—which you’d need for going solo across the Atlantic.”

The Writer: Françoise Sagan

“Sagan is mostly known for her existential essays and plays, but I found her wonderful carefree style to be as illuminating as her writing. Cropped jeans and a rollneck sweater with short, shaggy hair seems to have been her trademark, which she usually paired with a Jaguar or Aston Martin.”

The First Daughter: Susan Ford

“It’s hard for presidential families to compete with the Kennedys when it comes to style, but a dark horse in that arena would definitely be the hyper-athletic Ford family. When they weren’t on official business, they favored a sporty, rustic American look and the youngest of the group, Susan, had great tomboy style.”

The Actress/Dancer: Ginger Rogers

“I love when I find a woman who has two sides to her. Ginger Rogers is a perfect example—she was a super-feminine, glittered-up Hollywood dancer who couldn’t wait to wrap a movie and head north to her ranch in Oregon, where she fly-fished in waders and tended to her pigs.”

The Royal: Princess Caroline of Monaco

“Members of a royal family are always congratulated for elegance and dazzle, but it wasn’t Princess Caroline’s ball gowns or jewels that attracted me to her. She has an inherently sporty and minimal style that allows her to look really at home in a Barbour jacket and fisherman sweater, or barefoot on a boat with a pair of Ray-Bans.”

Tomboy Style is for sale here and at Madewell stores.

Weekly Roundup: What To Read This Weekend

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As the long weekend approaches—and with it hours of splendid free time to catch up on your reading—we round up a few things we found and loved this week.

Art: Public art installations for hearing, not seeing. We’re all ears, via Atlas Obscura.

Tech: Even pen-and-paper gals sometimes use apps to keep busy lives in check. Here are some worth a download, via Into the Gloss.

Travel: What happens to a hotel without any guests? It’s grim, grungy and somehow beautiful, via Gothamist.

Curiosities: Among things making a comeback (fleece, sherry, ’70s-style running shorts)…accordions? via The Atlantic.

Word: Soigné (adj., French): possessing an aura of sophistication in dress or manner; elegant.

To keep up with us on Twitter, click here.

10 Questions for Somsack Sikhounmuong, Madewell’s New Head of Design

We’ve been making incredible denim for a very long time. And as you might’ve noticed, our jeans just keep getting better (OK, so do our leather jackets, go-anywhere boots, and fuss-free dresses…). One of the people who’s making all this happen? Somsack Sikhounmuong, our new head of design. We picked his (very stylish) brain on what inspires him and got a sneak peek at his spring 2014 debut collection.

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Hometown?
New York by way of Toronto and before that, Thailand.

What’s your earliest design-related memory?
I’ve loved drawing and art ever since I can remember. I used to get upset at my kindergarten classmates for not coloring inside the lines—and for drawing people without necks. I still like things to be simple and straightforward.

How did that interest become a career in fashion?
I loved design. The idea of creative “art” on a practical level always interested me. I collected (or as I liked to say, “rescued”) old issues of Vogue from doctors’ offices and recycling piles from a very young age. My apartment to this day is a safe haven for old fashion magazines.

So what drew you to Madewell?
I love old movies, magazines, music, things that feel lived-in and familiar—and that feels very Madewell.

Your first collection hits stores this spring—what kind of changes will we see?
The clothes will be effortless, cool, creative and unfussy—the same words I’d use to describe the Madewell girl.

Tell us a little bit about who that woman is.
Whether she’s 16 or 61, she prefers authenticity over trends. She wants clothing and accessories that add to her already well-rounded wardrobe, not trendy clothes that make her easy to label.

What will we be coming to Madewell for?
What you won’t see in the stores is just as important as what you will. It’s all about the edit. There’ll be amazing jeans, leather jackets and easy dresses. Details are very important, so the finish of a button or the under-collar of a jacket are just as important as the overall design.

How do you set the tone for a new season of clothes?
I ask myself, “What feels new, what looks good and is it Madewell?” Pictures, thoughts and visions get thrown together to produce an overall mood. And I could spend days people watching. I love everyday cool girls on the street, which New York has no shortage of.

What music are you listening to?
Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac and LCD Soundsystem.

What do you do to unwind?
I love actually going to a movie theater and getting popcorn. No Netflix for me.