Category: Lifestyle

Open Thread: Open Thread: This Week in Style News

“In a previous life, I wrote a sociology dissertation about the institutionalization of performance art. Many artists themselves were very wary of their work becoming institutionalized but over 40 years or so, performance art became well established in the art world. It was a two-way street: The institution of art has taken it in, but the form itself also changed the institution of art.

So Supreme will likely continue to create quality items with interesting classic-post-retro-indie-nerdish style but marketing and producing the pieces with limited runs, tons of slick branding adverts, reaching more into the mass market.” — Britta, New York

“Why throw away a name that is recognized for consistent American quality, since 1941? Wouldn’t it be better/smarter to incorporate to a more inclusive but still recognizable name, like Coach Companies?” — Michelle, Miami

We’ll see, but for more fun conversation-starters, find out how Nike created the new N.B.A. kit; get an inside look at what people wear in North Korea; consider the relationship between Dries Van Noten’s garden and his garments; and mull over how Sebastian Kurz, the new 31-year-old Austrian about-to-be-chancellor, used style as a political strategy. Have a good weekend!

Your Style Questions, Answered

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: Three months ago I had a double mastectomy and am recovering quickly. I do not miss my size 32DD breasts on my 5-foot-2, 110-pound frame. I readily adjusted to my flat front and can now dress in quick time without the bra consideration. Along with the casual look of leggings, sweaters and dresses, can you suggest something to add to or distract from my appearance up top? — Carol, Kelowna, British Columbia

A: I am sorry to hear of what must have been a difficult time, but glad you are recovering quickly, and discovering a fashion upside. I have a very stylish friend who recently went through a similar ordeal and changed her wardrobe accordingly, so I asked her how she now thinks about dressing and she had some very useful tips:

1. Great role models are Audrey Hepburn, because of her slight frame, and Jane Birkin and her daughter Lou Doillon, because of how they use men’s wear and tailoring.

2. Enjoy wearing everything you couldn’t wear when you had to worry about bras and support: backless dresses, halter tops and sheer shirts with small vests underneath (which can look tacky with big cleavage).

3. Explore the world of new romantic men’s wear via velvet or embroidered jackets. (Dries Van Noten is great for this.) Or try teenage boys’ blazers, which may fit better and tend to be less expensive. Wear them over T-shirts or button-down shirts and slick trousers.

4. Blouses or shirt-dresses that can be belted to create the illusion of volume are also a good trompe l’oeil trick, especially if they have pretty or dramatic details on the sleeve or the collar that pull the eye up or out to shift focus away from the chest. — VANESSA FRIEDMAN

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Party Coverage: Scene City: Feeding the Needy

Benefits were held last week for God’s Love We Deliver, Hudson River Park Friends, the Lunchbox Fund and LSA Family Health Service.

Vows: A Rabbi Finds Love on Tinder

Ms. Zipper thought the message was a little weird, but was also intrigued. The following day she wrote back.

Male guests gathered in a separate room for prayer and read from their smartphones. Credit Danny Kim for The New York Times

“He was 29 when we met and my settings started at 30, so I never would have seen his profile,” Ms. Zipper said. “We never would have met if he didn’t send me a message request. I could see we had mutual friends. I thought, Why not? Tinder, JSwipe, Facebook, what’s the difference? I had no idea he was a rabbi.”

Here’s where the bar comes in. When they decided to meet the same night that she had replied to his query, they also found out that they lived only a few blocks from each other.

When Rabbi Scheer entered Taproom No. 307 at 8 p.m., Ms. Zipper was seated on a stool waiting for him. By 2 a.m., they were the last people to leave. During those six hours his vocation came up.

Rabbi Avi Weiss officiated at the ceremony. Credit Danny Kim for The New York Times

“I grew up religious, but he didn’t look like the rabbis I grew up with,” she said. “When he told me what he did, it was unexpected, but it didn’t freak me out. He’s not that random banker or millennial worker who’s doing his own thing.”

Ms. Zipper was also impressed by his kindness. “I was really raw about my father, who passed away three months before we met. He was a veteran, and Andrew worked in the V.A. and the day before was Veterans Day,” she said. “He was so compassionate. That really struck me. I felt understood.”

Rabbi Scheer felt similarly. “I was touched by how she spoke about her father,” he said. “When I told her I was a chaplain, she said she thought it was great. She didn’t make me feel bad about it. That’s not a feeling I’d felt with anyone prior. It felt like I found someone who got me.”

In honor of the bride’s father, the couple stood directly under his tallit, which was attached to the top of the huppah. Credit Danny Kim for The New York Times

A few weeks later he invited Ms. Zipper to a Hanukkah party at Rikers Island. To his surprise, she accepted.

“I couldn’t believe she was willing to go to a jail,” Rabbi Scheer said. “When we entered, she went right to the women inmates’ side and joined them and their families. She fell right into it like it was the most normal thing. She was dancing and talking to them. It was beautiful to behold.”

The couple became exclusive after that. Then a trip was planned to Indianapolis using points, miles and a Hyatt gift card previously bought on, a website geared toward Jewish communities.

The reception featured a dance-a-thon. Credit Danny Kim for The New York Times

“You don’t really know someone until you travel with them,” Rabbi Scheer said. “I got two rooms. I told her if things don’t work out, we can cancel last minute. It’s all refundable.”

The trip fell over Valentine’s Day. Rabbi Scheer had cheesecake and chocolate-covered strawberries in the room waiting for Ms. Zipper, two things she loves.

The weekend was a success. Then Ms. Zipper met Rabbi Scheer’s family. He went to Florida for her grandmother’s 95th birthday, followed by a jaunt to Denver, her hometown. While there, the couple visited her father’s grave.

The couple’s first dance was to “We Share Everything” from the Broadway musical “Side Show.” Credit Danny Kim for The New York Times

“We stood there and prayed,” he said. “One of the hardest parts was not going into the professional mode, and just being her boyfriend, not her chaplain.”

A year passed, and the couple grew inseparable. Then came the proposal.

On March 11, 2017, in 15-degree weather, under the Williamsburg Bridge, a favorite spot where the pair often biked or roller-bladed, Rabbi Scheer got down on one knee and presented an unsuspecting Ms. Zipper with his grandmother’s diamond ring.

“Looking back, I should have known he was up to something because he never offers to go running with me,” she said of the proposal. “I was caught off guard because we’d only talked about getting married in broad ways. But we’d both said each of us was the person we’d like to be with. He proposed two months after that conversation.”

Before he met his bride, the groom said that “being a rabbi really impeded my dating life.” Credit Danny Kim for The New York Times

Of course Ms. Zipper accepted.

They decided to have a short engagement. Modern Orthodox Judaism states that couples cannot live together until they are married. The couple moved quickly. Within the first week, a wedding dress was found at a local shop. A venue was picked. Rabbi Scheer’s grandmother’s ring was resized. A list containing the names of florists, bands and photographers was solidified.

In August, a small apartment with only one closet in the East Village of Manhattan, just blocks from their synagogue, was secured. Then came registering at Bed Bath & Beyond and the selling of many of their belongings on Craigslist. First went the love seat and couch, followed by the ottoman, chair, TV, desk and guitar, among other possessions. Unwanted clothing, pictures and other items went to Goodwill.

“Tali’s stuff is nicer than mine, so it sold faster, but I’ve been more proactive about selling it,” Rabbi Scheer said.

The couple’s shared religious background played an important role in their attraction to each other. Credit Danny Kim for The New York Times

Ms. Zipper was happy to let go of her stuff. “We’re minimalists,” she said. “We don’t have things we feel super-connected to. We’re liquidating our lives in order to start over. The new furnishings we’ll be ordering we’ll be owning together. New things, new life.”

On Sept. 10, Rabbi Avi Weiss, at Temple Beth El in Cedarhurst, N.Y., married the couple in front of 275 guests.

The bride’s side of the family, most of whom were from Florida, were either flown in early or rented cars and drove, missing Hurricane Irma’s wrath.

Sharon Chesler, 37, Ms. Zipper’s first cousin, with whom she lived for the last several years, remembers how the couple got together. “We were both working at home when she got Andrew’s message,” she said. “I asked her if it was creepy or interesting, and she said, ‘I’m intrigued,’ and wrote him back.”

Ms. Chesler cited Rabbi Scheer’s shared religious background as part of the attraction. “It’s amazing she found someone when she wasn’t actively searching in the Orthodox community,” she said. “I also told her, ‘Your mother’s going to die when she finds out what he does for a living. There’s nothing that would make her happier.’ ”

Pamela Scheer, 65, however, was unaware of how her son met his new bride. “He’s always been very private,” she said. “He wouldn’t even make me his friend on Facebook, even though we are an extremely close family. In January he called and said he was bringing a friend to his father’s birthday dinner.”

She asked if it was a man or a woman.

“I wasn’t sure the girl he wanted existed,” Ms. Scheer said. “But she does. They just have this connection. He wasn’t complete before. But she completes him. She’s his meant-to-be.”

The wedding contained many highlights, including the signing of the ketubah, the Jewish marriage contract, and the bedeken, a traditional veiling ritual in which the groom confirms the bride’s identity. There was also an hourlong heartfelt ceremony; speeches; a tribute song (“You’ll Be Back” from “Hamilton,” rewritten and performed by the bride’s four siblings); and a dance-a-thon.

Before the married couple sat at their table in the dining room, they took an opportunity to mentally embrace the room, and each other.

“I’d gotten advice from friends and our rabbi, who said to take a moment, and I felt like we needed to do that,” Ms. Zipper said. “We needed a breath to see what we put together, and all the people who came to celebrate with us, and a moment to see the love. I got to see all the love.”

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Modern Love: Single, Unemployed and Suddenly Myself

One afternoon in the elevator, I saw one of the guys from next door in jeans and a T-shirt, his dark hair slightly receding.

“Are you always around in the middle of the day?” he asked.

“For the last few months I have been,” I said. “I’m job searching.”

“I am too,” he said. “It’s my last year of law school.”

“Never leave a job without another,” I told him. People had warned me about this, but it was only after I’d done it that I realized how true it was. As we neared our doors, I said, “I’m moving out, so you guys can blast your music all night long. The mean old lady is leaving.”

“Why?” he asked.

“I can’t afford this any longer. I’m moving in with my mom in Brooklyn.”

“That sucks,” he said, then added: “It’s not me blasting music. It’s my roommates.”

Which made sense. He was always the kindest and most apologetic when I got angry. “How old are you guys?” I said. “Like, 23?”

“Yeah, well, I’m 23,” he said.

“I’m 37. So I hope you get a younger neighbor the next go-round.”

“I never would have guessed 37,” he said. “I thought you were, like, 26.”

Was he sweet-talking me? I looked the same age as my friends, but maybe the dormlike context had fooled him. That afternoon we ran into each other again; he was in a suit headed to an interview. I wished him luck.

Two weeks later, my friend Diana and I were sitting at a nearby bar, drinking vodka sodas and looking at her Tinder app, when my 23-year-old neighbor popped up.

“Swipe right!” I said. “Tell him you’re out with me.”

She swiped, they matched, and she told him I was with her. I followed up with a text, proud to be out on a Saturday night. Here was proof that I, too, was fun. We messaged back and forth; he was on his way home. When I asked if he wanted to join us back at my apartment, he said yes.

Twenty minutes later Diana and I arrived, and he showed up with a bottle of vodka and cans of Diet Coke.

Soon he was laughing, saying, “My roommates can’t stand you. And I was always so confused why a 26-year-old was upset about our parties. I thought you were just an old soul.”

Diana and I danced to “Jump” by the Pointer Sisters, a song he didn’t recognize. Before Diana left at 4 a.m., she whispered to me, “He likes you. Hook up.”

I offered a hushed protest, insisting he was too young. But apparently the neighborly tension had been building, because he and I started kissing right after she left.

When we woke up, hung over, a few hours later, I begged him not to tell his roommates. My transformation from puritanical noise warden to Mrs. Robinson embarrassed me; my dulled brain screamed, “What just happened?”

But I won’t lie: It was also an ego boost. I may not have had a job, a husband or a boyfriend, but at least I could attract an adorable 23-year-old.

Over the next few weeks, we texted constantly and kept getting together to talk about our dating and employment searches and to fool around. When I asked him if I seemed older, he said, “Not really. Mostly because you aren’t working and you’re around all of the time.”

I said: “When I graduated high school, you were 4.”

One Sunday at 5 a.m., he got to experience the pleasure of being woken up in my bed by his roommates’ drunken rendition of “Oops! … I Did It Again.”

“This is really annoying,” he yelled, covering his head with my pillow.

“It’s payback,” I said. “Now you understand.”

With him, my usual romantic anxiety disappeared. Instead of projecting my insecurities onto him and wondering if I was enough, I just had fun because I knew our age gap made a future impossible. And I was moving out soon.

Not that my mind was entirely free of concerns. I worried people would think we were ridiculous. But when I told my coupled-up girlfriends, they said I was living a fantasy.

“At least you’re having fun,” a soon-to-be-divorced friend said. “None of us are. I didn’t even want to touch my husband at the end.”

Even so, the chasm between my new friend and me was no more glaring than when he said, “Dating is fun. I get to meet lots of people.”

Dating, for me, was about as fun as my job search. And that was because I approached both in almost exactly the same way: with a strategy, spreadsheets and a lot of anxiety about presenting my best self and hiding my weaknesses. With him, though, I worried about none of that.

When he admitted he had no idea what he was doing with women and made things up as he went along, I assured him this wouldn’t change — no one knew.

Our honest exchange was so refreshing. Dates my age disguised their fears with arrogance. Within an hour of meeting me, one had boasted about the amount of sex he’d had, and another, on our second date, gave me a heads-up that his large size had caused many of his relationships to end. How considerate of him to warn me!

With appropriate romantic prospects, I had been overly polished and protective. Just like the men, I spun stories broadcasting fake confidence. But I confided in my neighbor about how hard the year had been and how worried I was about finding a job and a man to love. With nothing at stake, I was charmingly vulnerable.

One evening as we cuddled in my apartment, with me droning on about my man troubles and career fears, he said, “We get so fixated on the job we want or the person we’re dating because we don’t think there will be another. But there’s always another.”

I thought that was so true. Even wise. But it’s easier to have that attitude, about jobs or love, at 23 than at 37.

Then one night I came home a little too drunk and encountered him in the hallway. He was the one who almost always decided when we would hang out, and I complained it wasn’t fair that everything seemed to be on his terms. I was pressuring him, reverting to my worst dating default behavior, and he fled into his apartment.

The next day he texted: “maybe we should chill with this. you’ve been a good friend … we complicated it a little though haha.”

I knew “haha” was just his millennial way of keeping it light, but here’s the thing: In our “light” relationship, I had let myself be fully known, revealing all of my imperfections, in a way I normally didn’t. With him I was my true self, and it was a revelation.

And a conundrum. Because I can’t seem to be my true self when I’m seriously looking for love, when all I’m thinking about is the future. To win the person (or the job, for that matter), we think we have to be the most perfect version of ourselves. When our hearts are on the line, vulnerability can feel impossible.

A year later, I finally managed to be just perfect enough to land a job. I’m still working on allowing myself to be imperfect enough to find love.

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Modern Love: Prenup Is a Four-Letter Word

On paper, I had approximately $3,500 in savings, no retirement account and a four-year-old Toyota Yaris with a Blue Book value of $8,000, on which I still owed $4,000. Humbled cannot begin to describe how I felt. More like demoralized, demolished and desperate.

My lawyer asked if I had read the document carefully and understood the terms.

I numbly nodded, but I was lying. I hadn’t read it. I didn’t understand the terms. I hated being forced to consider the implications of divorce before I was even married, no matter how much I loved and trusted Matt.

The agreement was essentially California law on paper if we ever left the state, which I understood to mean that if we were to divorce, we would leave the marriage with what we had brought into it and divide the rest. That seemed fair to me. We were in our 40s, not our 20s, and he was the one with assets to lose.

Money, Matt often said, was what people fought about most and what broke up relationships and marriages. True to form, we had been fighting about money since we started dating, our arguments complicated by the vastly different ways we had chosen to live our lives.

After a few post-college years working in marketing, I had quit the corporate world to wait tables and write, living paycheck to paycheck ever since. As a result, when Matt and I met, I had racked up $10,000 in credit card debt and my savings account was empty.

Matt had done the opposite, spending about 15 years at the same company, working in finance, no less. He had saved and saved, amassing an amount that he hadn’t disclosed to anyone.

However, Matt once told me that if he could have done anything with his life, he would have been a rock journalist, à la Lester Bangs. He wasn’t unhappy with his career, but his admission suggested he had traded passion for stability, whereas I had followed my passion at the expense of stability. Why should I be entitled to his money?

My lawyer pulled out a yellow tablet on which he calculated the hypothetical divorce payout from a man I wasn’t yet married to from the sale of a house we didn’t yet own. He worried that a house-sale clause could be unfair to me.

The other lawyers I’d contacted had been overly familiar and aggressive simultaneously, saying, “How exciting! Well, let’s hope the document just goes into a drawer for the next 20 years, right? So, what exactly are your assets?”

I thanked them for their time and $5,000 retainer estimates. I chose this lawyer because he had been comparatively relaxed about the process and its cost. Now, I sort of hated him. As he rattled off figures, Jamie started to cry.

The lawyer looked up, winked and pushed the “No” button, filling his office with mechanized cries: “No way!” “I don’t think so!” “Nope!”

My son laughed, and I managed a grim smile. Then the lawyer continued to point out all the ways I was going to lose should the marriage fail.

I finally stopped him and said, eyes brimming, “Can you just tell me what it all means?”

Our relationship’s albatross — money — felt like it was rotting on a rope around my neck. Over the years, Matt had fixated on its importance to an annoying degree: How much was I saving for my move to California? Were my weekly happy hour outings with girlfriends really necessary? Was I ever going to find a job with benefits and a 401(k)?

I felt controlled, sometimes trapped.

My mother said, “He’s got to let you breathe or he’s going to lose you.”

It became such an issue that we spent a few months in couples therapy when Jamie was an infant. Those sessions helped us understand that his money issues stemmed from family dynamics and a string of former girlfriends who had betrayed him.

Understanding the situation, however, didn’t change how Matt felt about it. He still wanted the prenup. Big numbers in bank accounts made him feel protected from the chaos of the world in a way they didn’t for me. Just as this process felt humiliating for me in a way it didn’t for him. I had told only one friend about it, a stay-at-home mother who, coincidentally, is married to a lawyer.

“People get them all the time,” she said. “It’s not that big of a deal.”

When I left the lawyer’s office that day, I felt miserable and unmoored. As I walked to my Yaris with my still-fussing son balanced on one hip, I called Matt, sobbing. I told him what had happened and how surprisingly worthless it made me feel.

“What a mess,” he said. “I thought it would be simple. I forgot that nothing is simple when you get lawyers involved. Listen, I don’t know what he’s talking about, but let’s just sign it and finish the process. Let’s be done.”

That’s what I wanted, to be done. Done feeling like a failure. Done having lawyers involved in my relationship. Done feeling too much like the wife in “The Joy Luck Club” who has to split everything down the middle with her husband, including the strawberry ice cream, which she doesn’t eat and in fact despises.

I called my lawyer and told him Matt and I were getting married in a week and I wanted to sign the prenup. He advised against, citing the troublesome house-sale clause.

Finally, for several thousand more dollars in fees, he negotiated with Matt’s lawyer to change language that Matt had never asked to be included so that when we sold the house we didn’t yet own, I would get my fair share.

A few days later, Matt and I sat in a conference room and made the agreement official. Jamie was with us, spinning in the boardroom chairs and giggling, moving back and forth between Matt and me. The lawyers were chatty and friendly as we signed, pressed our thumbs into an ink pad and had everything notarized.

It was early, and we hadn’t eaten breakfast. After leaving, we walked to a nearby diner with faded wallpaper and chipped tabletops. We ordered, then sat in silence. Our wedding at the courthouse in San Francisco was 48 hours away.

“I’m so sorry,” Matt said, eyes down. “This was an awful thing I did to you, to us. And for all the fights we’ve had about money, this was a huge waste of it.”

“But there was no other way,” I said. “If I fought you on it, everything would have imploded.”

“I know,” he said.

I was grateful for his apology. But the truth is that we would both be better off from what we’d gone through, even if we didn’t realize it yet. Matt had a signed agreement that made him feel safer, and I didn’t have to fight for an acknowledgment of how unnecessary it was in the first place. What’s more, money no longer felt like a huge “No” in the middle of our relationship.

Two years later, I don’t even know where we put our prenuptial agreement, and I hope I never need to know. One thing is clear: Our fights about money have eased. The prenup was hell, but in the end it was almost as if that document became a repository for our anxieties, holding on to them so we didn’t have to.

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