Hey! I recently became vegan, and I’m having trouble finding a pair of flat shoes that I can wear to school, work, and everything else! My low-top Dr. Martens are currently attached to my feet at all times, but I had to get a slightly obscure pair from eBay because it’s impossible to get their vegan shoes in my size (7½). I was wondering if you could possibly recommend another pair of black, lace-up, low shoes that look great?

It sucks when the shoe you lust for doesn’t come in your size! Luckily, there are a bunch of non-leather options out there for our hooves. Many shoes these days are made with a popular “fake leather” known as polyurethane, which means they’re cruelty free and also pretty inexpensive. Double bonus! Urbanog.com has a few cute Oxfords, like this lace-up pair and these studded ones. ASOS always has great shoes, many of them are made of leather: take a lurk at their black brogues. What’s cool about a pair like that is that they would look ABSOLUTELY PRECIOUS with bobby socks and a dress, OR you can wear them to work with black slacks, OR you can dress them up with a pair of glittery tights for a nighttime concert. So versatile, my babies! These guys, on the other hand, are more casual but pretty cool for everyday wear. And if you want to get really fun, how about these polka-dot creepers?


Top left to right: brogues, $58, Asos; creepers, $58, Asos. Bottom: flats, $33, Asos; Twinkle Wingtip Flats, $42, ModCloth

If none of these work for you, many websites have a specific section for vegan shoes and apparel, including Zappos and Lulu’s. Happy hunting! —Marie

Hi! I’m a pretty curvy girl, and I love to wear dresses and skirts, but when summer comes, I have no choice but to wear leggings, otherwise my thighs rub together and it hurts like hell. I’ve resigned myself to wearing shorts, but I wanna show my legs like Nadia! How can I prevent my thighs from getting irritated?

I FEEL YOU, GIRL. Chub rub is the worst. I suffered from thigh chafe for years before finally finding internet communities where women openly discussed it. It was really freeing to talk about something that had previously been embarrassing, and even better because everyone could share their tips on how to prevent/relieve it. Believe it or not, wiping deodorant between your thighs is one of the most common remedies, and it actually does work, but it’s temporary—it won’t last all day, but it’s fine if you just need to run out for a little while. Same with anti-chafing creams that they sell at drugstores, like this one by Monistat or this one by BodyGlide. My favorite find is from an independent Etsy seller—it’s called Secret Shield. Lots of us who suffer from chub rub swear by this stuff. It’s all natural and works WONDERS. It lasts a really long time—maybe not all day, but almost. But it’s small enough to carry in your purse, so you can run to the bathroom and reapply if you need it. In a pinch, you can try wearing spandex shorts under your dresses and skirts, that way you won’t change your look of the dress, like you would with leggings, and you’ll be super comfy! My fellow Rookie Krista wrote all about this. I’m not loyal to any particular brand, but I’ve heard these are good. —Gabi

I had really short hair—shaved on the sides and short on the top—for many years. I decided to grow it out, and right now it’s chin-length and looks like a little girl’s hairstyle. My short hair made me feel really powerful and strong, and more confident about not conforming to gender stereotypes. I don’t identify very strongly with being a woman, and I don’t like to present myself as feminine. I really like my hair, but I feel sort of like I’m selling out or weakening myself and like I should be dressing butch to balance it out. Do you have any thoughts about this? —Emma

First of all, the only thing that matters is that you feel happy with how you look and what you wear, so you’re definitely not selling out, whatever you choose. I had waist-long blonde hair for a long time, but as my style is rather tomboyish, I wanted to try something more edgy. Right now I have the same ’do as you, and I love it. It’s the real chameleon of hairstyles. Depending on how you wear it, you can go from preppy to rebellious with a few strokes of a comb and some products. Take Mia Wallace, the badass character from Pulp Fiction—her look is anything but childish, and her outfit (the oversize white shirt, slim black pants, and simple flats) is chic, but not especially feminine. For this sort of style, I recommend a visit to the hair salon. Short hair tends to grow back in a hopeless shape without any help, and a professional can give you some definition, especially if you want the ends to be blunt and bold. Alternately, you can save yourself the trip and go for the slicked-back look. Paired with thick, accented brows, it’s a strong, appealing, androgynous style that has been rocked by icons from Chloë Sevigny to David Bowie. Finally, the tousled bob is my daily favorite. I would call it bedhead or bad-hair day, but it’s misleading because people with either really straight or really curly hair have to put in a lot of effort for this seemingly effortless look, while Patti Smith probably always looks this amazing. To me, this is a timeless punk-rock style: pair it with ripped jeans, a band T-shirt, and a denim or leather jacket and you are eternally cool. (See also: adorable Ezra Miller and Agyness Deyn).

Clockwise from top left: Patti Smith, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, and unknown model

Clockwise from top left: Patti Smith, David Bowie, a model pictured in Flare magazine, Mick Jagger

Also, if you’re looking for some butch inspiration, I highly recommend the Girls in Suits Tumblr—I love every single ensemble here, and it will give you lots of ideas for dressing less feminine, no matter what your hairstyle. Check out this tuxedo-style pantsuit. Or this jacquard blazer. Or this oversize pinstripe one. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for in the women’s department, try the men’s. Accessorize with neckties and suspenders, like the always-dapper Janelle Monáe. There are so many options out there! Go find what makes you feel good about yourself. —Emma D.

My school is having a dress-up week in May. I’m considering wearing one of the kimonos that my mom gave me from when she lived in San Francisco (I think she had Japanese friends). I’m not sure of my views about cultural appropriation. I’m half Indian and half English, and I was born in America but brought up in England—I mostly identify as transnational with a dollop of English. Japanese people are not a significant ethnic minority in the UK, and therefore I’m not aware of any prevalent cultural prejudices/discrimination. Does that make it OK for me to wear a kimono? If it is, I’m not sure if I should properly dress up with geisha-style makeup, which could be seen as contributing to a stereotype, or if I should incorporate it into my normal style by wearing it over pants and a top, which could be seen as demeaning a culturally important garment. I don’t want to offend anyone, but at the same time, I want to be able to wear the beautiful kimonos that are sitting in my closet. Please help! —Lala, 18

Lala, my ally in this endlessly tangled, relentlessly messy sisterhood of TRYING TO DO THE RIGHT THING: Hello and thank you for asking this question! I have to admit it intimidates me, because there has been so much already said about cultural appropriation, and in particular, so much said about why it’s more than just “offensive” (a word that makes me cringe, because it trivializes our human capacity to be pained and degraded by the monstrous institution of racism). I’m not sure how to best summarize or include all of the amazing writing and thinking that already exists AND add my own voice to the noise, but I will try!

From the way you explained your dilemma, it’s obvious that you’ve thought about this a lot and want very much to be sensitive and thoughtful, so some of what I’m about to say might already be old news to you, but for anyone who is reading this and thinking, Just wear the kimono! What’s the big deal? I do want to say a few things. It’s not that only Japanese people who are 100% Japanese get to wear traditional Japanese clothing, or that certain races and ethnicities have exclusive ownership over certain styles of dress. The big deal is that there was a time when people with Asian features (a catchall term) had real fears of being identified as Japanese and, in America, faced internment during World War II. No, it is not 1942, and yes, you are talking about another country, but people who “read” (meaning are seen and identified by others) as Japanese or East Asian are STILL exoticized, mocked, stereotyped, hypersexualized and desexualized, and considered foreign in countries regardless of how many generations of their family have lived there.

The big deal is that privilege exists, in small, medium, and large ways. Privilege is how when white bodies are clothed in, let’s say, tribal-inspired clothes and accessories, it is considered fashion, but when brown and black bodies do it, it is not. And furthermore, sometimes those same black and brown bodies who choose to wear clothing that is culturally significant for them are punished and persecuted for doing so. Just think of how much shit Muslim women have endured for choosing to wear the hijab, including several attempts at passing legislation specifically designed to prevent them from doing so. Privilege is when bodies that read as white can wear a headscarf on the street without worrying about being attacked, either verbally or physically or both, but brown bodies do not have the luxury of not worrying, because they are wearing a turban or a headscarf in a world that systematically tells us these things are scary on brown people. Privilege is when someone like Gwen Stefani rips off the style of Japanese youth who hang out in the Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo and is praised for her daring and verve and creativity, and for discovering such a goldmine of fashion, which by the way, is similar to how Christopher Columbus “discovered” America, land that was already occupied by people. For centuries, white people have plundered and stolen the styles of the very same cultures they put down as being savage, uncivilized, undeveloped, and primitive. And none of this is “fun” for people of color who have long been relegated to the background of fashion editorials, whose voices have been silenced and erased, whose cultures have been caricatured and stereotyped on TV and in film and music videos, or trivialized as mascots, or fetishized for the purpose of dressing up!

Forgive me for taking so long to get to your original question, which is whether it’s OK for you to wear a kimono. Will it surprise you if I say sure, go ahead and do it? Because, in a way, that is my answer. Or at least part of it. Being sensitive about cultural appropriation, at least for me, has little to do with abiding by a set of rules (e.g., unless you are X ethnicity, you cannot wear Y item of clothing)—rules like that do little more than assign ownership to culture without engaging anyone in even the smallest amount of critical thinking. And without critical thinking, we cannot begin to subvert, overthrow, or revolt against the insidious nature of racism. Being sensitive about cultural appropriation is a lifelong process of being open to learning about what various signifiers (like clothes) have meant depending on who is wearing them. Being sensitive about cultural appropriation is about challenging yourself to really examine your own reasons for wanting to wear a certain garment, and challenging yourself to learn about the long and complicated and often depressing history of how certain groups of people have been criminalized, policed, and humiliated for what they wear. The only rule I can think of is that no one’s desire to wear an article of clothing is more important than someone else’s pain.

You’ve clearly thought quite a bit about how you want to wear this kimono, and it sounds like it may have been a gift given to your mom from some of her Japanese friends. Instead of seeking permission to wear it, seek knowledge and awareness, like you already are! Your eagerness and willingness to ask questions, to be critical, to be unafraid of being thoughtful is far more important than any set of guidelines I can give you. Keep asking questions and educating yourself. I’m not Japanese, and I don’t know what it would feel like for me to see someone wear a kimono to school. Maybe I wouldn’t care at all. Maybe it would irk me a little. Maybe it would be deeply upsetting. I can’t tell you if it’s better to dress it down with jeans or try to show up in full geisha makeup. I do know that I don’t want to be anyone’s costume. I know that there is so much more to Japanese culture than kimonos and geisha makeup, but that the dominant imagery of Japanese women and fashion that has been reproduced and disseminated in the West seems to focus on it. So my impulse is to say you might want to stay away from geisha drag. But most of all, I want to encourage you to come to your own ideas about what is right, and more important, be willing to make mistakes and be called out for it. People of color or mixed racial backgrounds do not get a pass for not wanting to critically engage in what cultural appropriation means, but we certainly do have more to navigate and think about. It might be overwhelming and exhausting, but the alternative—accepting and turning a blind eye to the way privilege and racism operates in our world—is far, far worse.

If you want to do some further reading, here are a few links, including a dialogue between some Rookie staff members, to get you started:

Good luck, Lala! —Jenny

I was genetically cursed with perpetually dark, puffy circles under my eyes. I can sleep for 12 hours and put on half a container of concealer and they’re still visible. People frequently ask me if I’m tired or sick or, occasionally, on drugs. Any advice?

Both my sister and I have the same bruise-grade circles, which, as you know, are often hereditary. We have endured questions (“Who hit you?”) and consolations (“I hope you get some rest”) our entire lives. We have different complexions—I have sallow olive skin, brown hair, and brown eyes, and my sister has Snow White skin, blue eyes, and long blond princess hair—and we deal differently, so we’re both going to answer your question.

Me first: I do not do, nor have I ever done, much to deal with them. I think I just accepted them early on. They were part of my look, they gave my face some character, and I would rather not have to spackle on concealer every day. There are some really beautiful, iconic women who have dark under-eye circles—Susan Sontag, PJ Harvey, Mila Kunis—and plenty of folks who find them beautiful. I know lots of people whose hotness is derived from a perceived flaw, like gap teeth or a manly chin or a mole or a walleye. So my flaw is that I look like I haven’t slept since the last Bush was in office, but I roll with it, confidently. It takes way less effort and expense than makeup. (But for times when I need to look a little more “done,” I use the same M.A.C. concealer that Lauren mentions below.) Also, I have noticed that the more green foods I have in my diet, the less pronounced the circles tend to be, so I take a Garden of Life Perfect Food Super Green supplement along with my normal multivitamin and fish oil. —Jessica


My “solution” involves makeup, every damn day. I’m certain that you don’t NEED under-eye tricks, just like my sis—who looks f’real beautiful without covering up her circles—but if you’d like some makeup tips, here we go.

I’ve tried potions and cucumbers and cold spoons and more, but my circles are genetic, and cucumbers aren’t magic. I’ve also tried color correctors (many people love these, but they didn’t look “natural” enough for my liking) and the YSL Touche Éclat concealer that all the beauty magazines praise (so lovely, but so many dollars), but I ended up loving this M.A.C. Moisturecover the most. It’s relatively affordable ($18), it’s available in lots of shades, and it lasts all day long. Otherwise, I recommend visiting a makeup counter or a Sephora store, where someone who understands undertones can recommend—and let you sample to your heart’s content—lots of options, until you find the perfect one for you. And if you need something in the drugstore price range, visit the fancy makeup counter, have a profesh select the right shade, and ask for a little sample to take home. Then you can find something elsewhere that most closely matches your fancy sample.

For me, these daily steps really help:

  • Start out with moisturizer and sunscreen (protect that skin!). I have combo (dry but with occasional breakouts) skin, and Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer doesn’t make my face freak out any further.
  • Sparingly apply and blend dots of concealer on only the darkest spots.
  • Curl lashes and add mascara.
  • Add a little bit of blush—Tarte’s cheek stain and 12-hour blush are my faves.
  • Finish with a sheer powder, like M.A.C.’s Skinfinish.

Also, stay hydrated—drinking water all the time helps a ton with puffiness, and a little bit with the darkness. Hope this helps, you dark-circled beauty. —Lauren R.

If you have a style/beauty question for Marie et al., please send it to [email protected].