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Subverting a Preppy Classic



When Gracie Wiener ordered a canvas Boat and Tote bag through the L.L. Bean website in July 2021, she filled out the “add monogram” field with the word “psycho” instead of her initials. “I think it’s funny to wear your best, or worst, qualities on your sleeve,” she said.

Ms. Wiener, 26, who lives in Manhattan and is the social media manager for Air Mail, was inspired by a picture of a similar bag that Juliana Salazar, a stylist, had posted on Instagram. In February Ms. Wiener created an Instagram account, @ironicboatandtote, to circulate pictures of the bags among her friends, who ordered “EGOMANIAC” and “emotional baggage” totes of their own.

Ms. Wiener’s Instagram account, which has 26,000 followers, documents the young millennials and members of Gen Z who are stitching a contemporary sense of humor onto an enduring symbol of American prep.

The trend took off in June, when Ms. Wiener posted a TikTok video about the bags that was viewed more than 470,000 times. The #boatandtote hashtag has racked up 1.5 million views on the app, where users collaborate to embellish the understated bags with words and phrases that are anything but.

Within L.L. Bean’s 10-character maximum, there are cheeky directives (“scam him,” “bite me”) and self-deprecation (“moody,” “narcissist”), as well as nods to astrology (“august leo”) and Taco Bell (“LIVE MAS”).

The trend may have translated to increased sales of the Boat and Tote, especially among younger customers, Amanda Hannah, an L.L. Bean spokeswoman, wrote in an email. “Boat and Tote sales are up 30 percent over last year and have been one of the top drivers of new buyers this spring and summer,” she said. “It’s been really fun seeing a new generation of customers taking our classic tote and making it their own.”

Sarah Thompson, a 26-year-old social media manager in Boston, crowdsourced ideas on Instagram before ordering a Boat and Tote that says “dump him” in pink cursive.

“My mom doesn’t get it, which I think is funny,” said Ms. Thompson, whose mother owns one of the bags monogrammed with her initials. “She’s like, ‘What do you mean, dump him? You don’t have a him to dump.’”

Introduced in 1944 as an ice carrier, the Boat and Tote is as much a staple of preppy fashion as polo shirts, chinos or penny loafers, said Chris Black, a host of the podcast “How Long Gone.” He said the bag’s customizability and relatively low price — $30 to $55, plus $8 for the monogram — make it a democratic entry point into the preppy aesthetic, which is mounting a comeback.

Novin Abdi, 23, made her first L.L. Bean purchase in July: a “thanks, i hate it” Boat and Tote.

Ms. Abdi, who is Iranian and grew up in Texas, used to think of L.L. Bean as “the traditionally white, straight, WASP-y” brand that was only targeted toward people on the East Coast. Adding one of her favorite phrases made the bag feel more like her own.

“The more we complicate what ‘preppy’ looks like or what ‘classic’ style looks like, the better,” said Jesica Wagstaff, 40, a style content creator in Virginia whose TikTok video featuring her monogrammed Boat and Tote has been viewed more than 550,000 times.

“It’s a little badge of your personality,” said Austin Riggle, 28, who works in marketing in Cleveland, and whose boss was amused when Mx. Riggle showed up to work with an extra-large Boat and Tote that said: “GAY PANIC.”

Others have used their canvas totes to poke fun at luxury handbags.

Garrett Gottesman, 29, ordered a “Balenciaga” Boat and Tote in June. L.L. Bean would not embroider the bag with a trademarked brand name, so Mr. Gottesman, who works in social media in New York City, brought the blank bag to an embroidery shop in the garment district that carried out his vision for $30. “Well worth it,” he said. (L.L. Bean will also not embroider any profanity on its totes, though some abbreviations have sneaked through.)

Not everyone is sold on the trend’s sustainability. Sara Morano, 30, an executive assistant who lives in Greenwich, Conn., said she worries that adding an of-the-moment phrase like “flop era” to a durable bag might make people discard it more quickly.

But there are ways to participate without buying any new bags, said Ysabel Morales, a 22-year-old student at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. She bought a Boat and Tote secondhand that says “not my circus,” and on July 13 she got a tattoo of a “psycho” tote on her right arm.

Ms. Morales said the bag was an obvious addition to her collection of body art, which includes line drawings of a LaCroix seltzer can and a Marcel Breuer Wassily Chair. “I just thought it was iconic.”

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Love Letter: A Mysterious Delivery



After Charlotte Maya lost her husband to suicide, she and her young sons were used to unexpected visitors. But when her doorbell rang one mid-December evening, nobody was there.

Instead, on her doormat was a kit to make a gingerbread house with a note that only said, “On the First Day of Christmas. … ”

In this week’s Modern Love essay, “When a Doorbell’s Ring Means Hope,” Ms. Maya describes how a series of mysterious deliveries buoyed her family during their darkest days.

Join the 7-Day Happiness Challenge.

Research shows that the single most important driver of happiness is the strength of our relationships. Sign up for a week of exercises from the New York Times Well desk that will help set you up for a happier, more connected year.

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How One Japanese-American Designer Is Revitalizing Vintage Kimonos



In her Brooklyn studio, designer Sara Sakanaka keeps a small drawstring bag that her grandmother made for her decades ago. Sewn from textile scraps, the striped pouch is one of Sakanaka’s oldest keepsakes, an heirloom representing a generations-old philosophy. “My mom used to tell me this story. It was about how if we treat objects with love and care for one hundred years, they can obtain a soul,” she shares as pours each of us a cup of Mugicha, a Japanese Barley tea that she grew up drinking. We met at her studio on a gray Tuesday morning, where a collection of silk separates, each made from reclaimed Japanese kimonos, hangs neatly. On a shelf, folded piles of salvaged textiles wait for her to sew them into something new, just like her grandmother once did as a hobby. “There’s this whole idea that objects have lives,” she says. “I like to see every piece as a true considered object in that way.” 

Nick Krasznai / courtesy of Considered Objects 

It makes sense then that Sakanaka would name her own label Considered Objects. The 39-year-old launched her line—a collection of hand-sewn jackets, dresses, and shirtings that are made entirely from reclaimed Japanese kimonos and textiles—just two years ago. “I never had the dream of starting a business,” she shares. “I was happy working toward someone else’s vision. But at some point, there’s this part of you that wants to explore what you want to say. It took time for me to be able to discover that.” 

Sakanaka has a lot to say. With 20 years of experience under her belt, she has developed a design philosophy of her own. “I have no interest in buying new materials or producing with mills,” she says while showing me the intricate, hand-stitched panels of a vintage summer kimono. As she points out its cotton lining and hand-painted family crests (her own paternal and maternal family crests are tattooed on each of her arms), it becomes clear that she is not just making clothing; she’s stitching age-old stories into contemporary garments. “After years of working at different fashion brands, I found that you can get stuck on this hamster wheel. What has always grounded me was the question, ‘how can I not only find true meaning in these things, but how can I offer connection through these pieces?’”

Nick Krasznai / courtesy of Considered Objects 

Nick Krasznai / courtesy of Considered Objects 

An FIT graduate, the apparel designer previously worked for fashion label Imitation of Christ, luxury line Ports 1961, bespoke womenswear collection Honor, and the Japanese fashion house Foxey. In 2020, after spending nearly four years traveling back and forth between New York and Japan for work, she felt she was ready for something new. “I started to wonder how I would mentally, physically, and creatively sustain. I was burnt out.” she tells me. Around that time, her grandmother, the one who gave her the collaged drawstring bag and taught her how to sew, passed away. “This was during the pandemic, so I wasn’t able to attend her funeral in Japan. I had previously inherited her collection of kimonos and rediscovered them during that time. I had completely forgotten about them, but learning about them became part of my grieving process. Having those made me feel close to her,” Sakanaka reflects. 

It was then that she took a page from her grandmother’s book. “Studying these shambled garments and giving them new life through reconstruction was a way for me to heal while reconnecting with myself and my culture,” she says. Preserving the original rectangular panels and stitching style from each kimono, the designer began dismantling and reassembling each one. Her first design? A classic, collared, button-down shirt. Inside each shirt she constructed, Sakanaka sewed a layered patchwork flower made from leftover silk scraps. “That flower, that mark, it was sort of my way of memorializing the whole experience of my creation and of finding closure. It was a way of bestowing my honor upon each piece.” 

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Here’s How to Style 5 Luxurious Loungewear Sets This Winter



All products featured on Vogue are independently selected by our editors. However, we may earn affiliate revenue on this article and commission when you buy something.

Cozying up for the winter has never looked chicer courtesy of luxurious loungewear sets from The Row, Wardrobe.NYC, Éterne, and more. Crafted from ultra-soft cashmeres and sultry silks, these matching sets are as indulgent as it gets and can be worn in the comfort of your own home or out and about for casual coolness. As the newly appointed foundation of your winter wardrobe, styling a luxe loungewear set properly can offer both ease and elegance at the same time. 

For an elevated errand ensemble, The Row’s ‘Jaspar’ hoodie and matching ‘Anton’ wide-leg pants are knitted from the softest of cashmere. The chic combination is so comfortable that you won’t want to change once you get home. Enhance the look with stylish sneakers from Nike, plush cable-knit socks from Johnstons of Elgin, and Nothing Written’s minimalist bag. Loungewear sets, like this cashmere turtleneck and midi skirt pairing from Altuzarra, also have the power to be dressed up for festive evenings out, especially when adorned in jewels from Missoma and Laura Lombardi. A matching activewear set from Sporty & Rich ensures that you arrive at any workout in style. Sofa-ready outfits from Wardrobe.NYC and Olivia Von Halle help curate the perfect night in this holiday season and beyond. 

This winter, investing in a loungewear set has never looked better. Below, here are five ways to style luxe loungewear sets that are as comfortable as they are chic. (Plus, also find a few more statement sets to add to your winter wardrobe.) 

The Elegant Errand Runner

Nothing says chic errand runner like this matching cashmere hoodie and pant set from The Row. Knitted from the softest of cashmere, it’s a chic combination so comfortable that you won’t want to change once you get home. Enhance the look with stylish sneakers from Nike, plush cable-knit socks from Johnstons of Elgin, and Nothing Written’s minimalist bag. Jewels from Mejuri are welcome embellishments. 

The Row Jaspar cashmere hoodie

The Row Anton cashmere high-rise pants

Johnstons of Elgin cable-knit cashmere socks

Nothing Written Ferry bag

Mejuri bold Croissant dôme huggies

The Cozy, Yet Chic Evening Look 

A loungewear set doesn’t have to be confined to the comforts of your own home or even resemble a traditional sweatsuit, for that matter. Case in point: find this dazzling skirt set from Altuzarra that is crafted from pure cashmere. Complete the elegant evening ensemble with Saint Laurent’s croc-effect pumps and Anine Bing’s minimalist handbag. Drip in gold thanks to Missoma hoop earrings and Laura Lombardi’s cult-classic necklace. 

Saint Laurent Blade chain croc-effect leather slingback pumps

Anine Bing Colette shoulder bag

Missoma x Lucy Williams chunky entwine hoop earrings

Laura Lombardi Calle gold-plated necklace

The Statement Sporty Attire

When it comes to activewear, a matching set, like this one from Sporty & Rich, will ensure that you arrive at any workout in style. Go one step further and tie the brand’s ‘Wellness’ sweatshirt around your waist for extra comfort. New Balance ‘Core’ sneakers are a staple in any workout wardrobe, as are these Bala Bangles and Stanley’s tumbler to keep you nice and hydrated. 

Sporty & Rich appliquéd cotton-jersey sweatshirt

Sporty & Rich cropped printed stretch-jersey tank

Sporty & Rich printed stretch-jersey leggings

New Balance 574 Core sneakers

Stanley Quencher H2.O travel tumbler, 40oz

The Luxurious Loungewear Set

Wardrobe.NYC x Hailey Bieber’s simple grey sweatshirt and sweatpants are prime examples of luxurious loungewear. Wear with a coveted pair of Birkenstocks—or even heels for an elevated athleisure look. But because we’re sticking with loungewear, cozy up even more courtesy of cashmere socks from Raey and Brunello Cucinelli’s alpaca-blend blanket. Loewe’s scented candle is an immediate ambiance enhancer. 

Wardrobe.NYC x Hailey Bieber cotton sweatshirt

Wardrobe.NYC x Hailey Bieber wide-leg cotton sweatpants

Birkenstock Boston shearling clogs

Raey ribbed cashmere-blend socks

Brunello Cucinelli speckled-jacquard fringed alpaca-blend blanket

Loewe Home Scents Honeysuckle medium scented candle, 610g

The Perfect Pair of Pajamas 

Olivia Von Halle’s ‘Coco’ pajama set is crafted from the finest of satins to create a soft-to-the-touch feel you’ll never want to take off. Meanwhile, Ugg slippers are the perfect accoutrement. Continue to wind down with the help of scented bath salts from Maude and Augustinus Bader’s luxurious face cream. Reflect on your day with The Five Minute Journal and finally get some shut-eye thanks to Brooklinen’s silk eye mask. 

Olivia Von Halle Coco silk-satin pajama set

Ugg Scuffette II slippers

Brooklinen Mulberry silk eyemask

Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream with TFC8® face moisturizer

Maude Soak No. 2 nourishing mineral bath salts

Shop More: 

Leset Lauren cropped stretch-knit cardigan

Leset Lauren stretch-knit wide-leg pants

Éterne oversized crewneck sweatshirt

Éterne classic sweatpants

Lisa Yang Jonny cap-sleeved cashmere sweater

Lisa Yang Sierra wide-leg cashmere trousers

Zara basic hoodie sweatshirt

Girlfriend Collective ReSet cropped stretch recycled top

Girlfriend Collective compressive stretch recycled flared leggings

Le Kasha Etretat organic cashmere sweater

Le Kasha Sumbal cashmere wide-leg pants

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