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Boom: A Frank Look at the Racked National 38

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked for over two years. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion even better with his column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.


Dear Racked National 38,

You're a tough list to compile.

Should you run the gamut or should you cater? Mainstream or bleeding edge? A reference for the one percent (the obsessed, the addicted, those who rattle off names like Kim Jones and Phoebe Philo over lunch)? Or a field guide for the other 99?

(Who I define as: People who enjoy looking nice and who shop regularly but live in reality and don't eat fashion like it's keeping them alive.)

((That said, anyone who thinks they have a clue needs to comprehend that those Beverly Hills Polo Club and the U.S. Polo Assn.-branded rags at the Burlington Coat Factory (aka Saddest Place on Earth) have nothing to do with Ralph Lauren—otherwise they should just hang it up—sayin'.))

Anyway, point is: You're a quandary. Don't get all down on yourself—seriously, everyone's a critic.

Including me, so here goes:

As is, you're pretty democratic. You can buy Ann Demeulemeester from that list. You can also buy those ditsy, dainty little dishwasher-safe slip-ons that everyone's just so taken with. You know, the ones invented by the John Mayer of the footwear industry? Gross.

No brainers like Amazon (which didn't make it) and eBay (which did), the sites that practically invented e-commerce, are fair game. And, frankly, whether it's cool or not to admit it, they're often an e-shoppers first stop.

I like it democratic. I might've liked it a little edgier, a little higher end—those fantastic little ventures like Gargyle and Creatures of Comfort: Focused, flawless, all about point-of-view and rife with hard-to-come-by product. They're the game changers; the spots for a truly trail-blazing fashion maven to find her or his next best thing. Along with Aloha Rag or Luisa Via Roma or Colette. Even if just for inspiration (read: Drooling).

But then, I'd have included Gap. Because, love the Gap, don't care, judge away. But, as a website: The fact that you can get Gap khakis and socks plus a birthday present scarf from Banana Republic, holiday gifts for a bunch of kids at Old Navy and a new pair of checkerboard Vans from Piperlime in one big, fat, convenient shopping cart/invoice/delivery is innovative and utterly convenient. Also: easy returns at any one of the Gap's nine million locations—chances are you're near one right now.

Speaking of Vans: Zappo's should absolutely be included. Where else can you buy Crocs and Vivienne Westwood at the same time before having them delivered, hating both and sending them back—no questions asked, free of charge. Speaking of free shipping: L.L.Bean—duh (plus, they'll monogram like anything). And, speaking of individual brands: Love the Jack Spade and Kate Spade sites; love the selection at Dr. Marten's and Converse; love the weird analog lay-out at Maison Martin Margiela; love the exuberance at Moschino ?

Back to shoes: Journeys is a surprisingly great resource; especially considering actually entering a Journeys store is not without risks. In terms of Zara and Topshop: Buy the stuff they're knocking off on sale at Bloomingdale's for the same price. In terms of department stores: Totally agreed on Barneys (essential) and Bloomie's (sensical). In terms of J.Crew and Urban Outfitters—sure, one can not live on Marc Jacobs alone. In terms of Marc Jacobs: Is Hello Kitty their web designer? Terrible. And in terms of web design: The internet was new the last time Original Penguin had an overhaul. Glad those two didn't make the cut.

Finally: Love Warby Parker; and still can't believe people are okay with renting dresses.

So, that's my two cents. No worries either way—you'll be updated sooner rather than later (and for everyone those updates might make happy, there will be two others shrieking over the fact that you don't include Northern Reflections or something).

· BOOM: Presenting the First Ever Racked National 38 [Racked]
· Love, Frank [Racked]