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An elegant woman avoids a fruitless discussion about immigration by reading a book. Photograph by Francois Gragnon for Getty Images.

Thanksgiving Reads to Avoid Your Family with Style

Rachel Tashjian

Rachel Tashjian

If things get tricky at the dinner table and beyond, here are a few great fashion stories to keep you distracted.

An elegant woman avoids a fruitless discussion about immigration by reading a book. Photograph by Francois Gragnon for Getty Images.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!! Maybe you’re having the time of your life with your family or someone else’s, expressing beautifully harmonious political opinions, and praising each other for your professional stability and the way your lifestyles radiate calm and security! But probably, you’re not. And that means you need the impossible: a stationary escape plan.

Here, for your pleasurable distraction, is a selection of terrific recent fashion reads. Plunk yourself on the couch, crank up Bach’s Cantata No. 208, and check out for a few hours while improving your brain’s style cortex.

The Case for Luxury, The Washington Post Magazine, by the god Robin Givhan
“Yet amid all the legitimate concern surrounding wealth and inequality and unfettered capitalism, it can be easy to forget the other side of the argument: that luxury can be more than just a high price tag. That luxury products can be astonishing, glorious—even inspiring. That luxury items—some of them, the best of them—can be examples of human artistry at its finest. That they can offer enduring beauty. That their inherent creativity propels the world forward. That luxury, true luxury, can in fact be sustenance for a culture.”

Extra indulgence: if you really like luxury, check out Dana Thomas’s Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, from 2007.

How Hot Topic Became America’s Outsider Teen Haven, i-D, by Alice Newell-Hanson
“Hot Topic is a company that runs on fandom. Within months of opening, the chain became the first place to sell band T-shirts, which were otherwise only available at concert venue merch stands. When Levitt and Madden first realized the potential for selling tour tees, they licensed designs for Siouxsie and the Banshees, Depeche Mode, Bauhaus, and Metallica. That licensing model became essential to the store’s growth…. The demand for SpongeBob, [the store’s buyers] later discovered, was driven by the rise of rave culture, in which the cartoon sponge had become a cult figure.”

Online Ceramics Makes Wonderfully Tripped-Out T-Shirts for Deadheads and Fashion Freaks, GQStyle, by Samuel Hine
These are the t-shirt to get your boyfriend, your brother, your weirdest-hottest best friend, or yourself for the holidays.

Meryl Streep’s blurb on Tina Brown’s The Vanity Fair Diaries isn’t technically about fashion, but is written with tremendous style.

‘Gucci’ Lobbyists from ’86 Tax Revamp are Gone. Now They Use Gchat, The Wall Street Journal, by Kristina Peterson
The last time Congress passed a major tax reform, in 1986, lobbyists were “Gucci to Gucci in the hallway” of the Capitol, as Bob Dole memorably cracked. Now, they’re Gchatting and texting lawmakers (probably still in Gucci, but kangaroo fur slippers instead of suits).

Memorial T-Shirts Create a Little Justice, a Tiny Peace, The New York Times, by Jasmine Sanders
“Mr. Harris worries that his nephew, who will get a singular customized shirt, is too young to remember his father otherwise. Another sibling, born since his brother’s death seven years ago, will know him only through this memorializing. ‘It feels like I’m giving him a second life,’ Mr. Harris said. ‘Like he’ll never really be gone, as long as I can help it.’”

The Most Important Part of Thanksgiving: Elastic-Waist Pants, The Wall Street Journal, by Jacob Gallagher
Designers are pushing trousers that combine the stretchy waist of elastic pants with the formal look of dress pants.

Vintage bonus, for the moment when your weird uncle says something particularly unsavory: The Great Moment, The New Yorker, by Kennedy Fraser. Fraser’s 1983 classic on the new era of Japanese fashion designers—including Issey Miyake, Kansai, Hane Mori, Rei Kawakubo, and more—includes the most beautiful passage you’ll ever read about jetlag:
“I lay down in the dark. Beside my head, in a small blue glow, an electronic clock repeatedly gave birth to digits and instantly obliterated them. My own jet lag had taken unshakable hold. Sleep as I once knew it was gone—a piece of cozy, familiar luggage left behind in a land on the other side of the wardrobe and far, far away. I lay for years or minutes in a whirl of hallucinatory fragments where people with unfamiliar faces speaking meaningless words bowed and boarded endless trains. I sat bolt upright, read a page of my hotel-bookstore paperback about the Japanese Mind, lay down again. Some unseen hand in the hallway slid a folded copy of the Japan Times into the crack of yellow light under my door. I opened the curtains. On the roof of the Nippon Mining Company building, opposite, a red-and-white national flag hung limp against a blood-red dawn. I opened the newspaper and read about a police-corruption scandal in Osaka Prefecture; two high-ranking officers had already committed suicide. Inside a cagelike structure on the roof, a single athletic figure appeared, ran round and round and round, then all of a sudden sprang upside down on its hands. A fat brown bird on my windowsill tweeted and dipped up and down, as if out of gymnastic solidarity.”