Each week, the Open Thread newsletter will offer a look from across The New York Times at the forces that shape the dress codes we share, with Vanessa Friedman as your personal shopper. The latest newsletter appears here. To receive it in your inbox, register here.
Hello, and happy Black Friday. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and were fueled up for today. Though if you went shopping, you are a stronger person than I.
Crowded department stores give me option anxiety at the best of times (yes, Macy’s, I mean you), and at this particular time of year, I find them especially overwhelming. As far as I am concerned, the world can be divided into those with the fortitude to see such sale opportunities as an invigorating challenge, and those, like me, who quail in the face of competitive consumption.
Which category are you in?
Meanwhile, the alternative for us store-a-phobes, Cyber Monday, has morphed into a four-day “Cyber Weekend,” at least according to the folks at Yoox Net-a-Porter, which suggests to me that I am not alone in opting out of the in-person experience. Yoox says they are expecting the shopping frenzy to peak at one order every two seconds in the next few days.
You might not have known who he was, or much about him — he was a designer’s designer, and his clothes were beyond trend and impossible to copy, so they never filtered down through the high street — but he was, for me, a never-ending source of education about exactly what it meant to transform fabric into something that could make women feel invincible.
As the designer has become the creative director has become the chief creative officer in the modern fashion world, Alaïa was one of the few who still did everything himself. He’ll be part of the history books, and I am thankful that I knew him.
Every week on Open Thread, Vanessa will answer a reader’s fashion-related question, which you can send to her anytime via email or Twitter. Questions are edited and condensed.
Q: I love big chunky knits — sweaters, cardigans, fair isles, etc. — but find the need for an outer layer/shell to act as a proper coat. Most great outerwear is either too fitted or too heavy to make sense as an additional layer over a sweater, and doesn’t accommodate a bulky underlayer. Cloaks might be the answer, but seem impractical for a city commuter with bags to carry and subway poles to grab. What are some warm, well-designed options for an outer layer over bulky knits for the next few months? — Lena, Queens
A: I love a cape myself, but you are correct in saying they don’t really work for those who tote big shoulder bags, unless you carry said bag under the cape, in which case you look like you are on your way to play Quasimodo at the local theater. (Also, it’s easy for the wind to sneak underneath a cape and blow it open, and that sort of defeats the purpose.)
Some of the army-inspired duffles that have become ubiquitous thanks to the still-potent influence of Hedi Slimane during his YSL years are roomy enough to work without being bulky yet still have a no-nonsense chic — check out the Canadian brand Soia & Kyo. Meghan Markle is a fan and, though I don’t normally think of her as my style guru, so am I.
For more recommendations, Malina Joseph Gilchrist, T’s women’s style director, suggests you can go one of two ways: “A sophisticated option is a unlined thin wool or cashmere wool blend coat. The best brand for this is Harris Wharf London; the coats are classic, cut simply and thin enough, but warm as a layering jacket. A more sporty option is a longer down jacket. Go for the thinner down from either Moncler or Uniqlo.” — VANESSA FRIEDMAN
U.S. Diplomats, Pushed Out in Droves, Sound the Alarm
A State Department exodus marks a new stage in the broken and increasingly contentious relationship between Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson and much of his work force.
Mr. Tillerson has frozen most hiring and recently offered a buyout in hopes of pushing nearly 2,000 career diplomats and civil servants to leave by October 2018.
In a Mill Town That Turned to Trump, Trade Worries Persist
Neenah, in a Wisconsin county that flipped from blue to red, has lost factory jobs and its sense of prosperity. But local industries are concerned about a trade war.
Thomas L. Friedman
Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, at Last
The crown prince has big plans to bring back a level of tolerance to his society.
A bureaucratic standoff has left it unclear who will be in charge of a consumer watchdog agency.
President Trump named his budget director as the agency’s acting leader, moving to take control just hours after its departing leader had taken steps to install his own choice for acting chief.
Militants Kill at Least 305 During Mosque Attack in Egypt
The attackers sprayed gunfire and exploded bombs at a crowded mosque at which most of the worshippers were Sufi Muslims, a sect regarded by extremists as heretical.
Even by recent standards in Egypt, where militants have blown up Christian worshipers in church pews and gunned down pilgrims in buses, it was an unusually ruthless assault.
Who are Sufi Muslims, and why do some extremists hate them?
A terrorist attack in Egypt has focused attention on the mystical school of Islam, which emphasizes the inward search for divinity.