Target’s Reclaiming Of “Tar-Jay” Title

As headlines often mention the “retail apocalypse” in today’s market, it is necessary to argue that retail is not dying—but it certainly is changing. Many factors—such as the increase in ecommerce retail, shift in consumer behavior and ever-changing trends—can all lead to transformation in the retail space. However, some retailers are adapting to this change better than others. One retailer that has successfully combated the pressures of today’s market has over 1,800 stores in 49 states—Target.

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Target realizes that they need to change, adapt and reinvent multiple facets of their company to stay relevant in the retail space. Often, people compare Target to Walmart, K-Mart or other big-box stores. However, Target set themselves apart in the 1990s and early 2000s with more refined, fashionable clothing brands. Now in 2017, Target recognizes that their exclusive brands need to be transformed. According to Kavita Kumar (2017a), Target “is saying goodbye to well-known brands such as Merona and Mossimo and introducing new labels in an effort to not only make the retailer more relevant in the face of newer competition but also to pick up market share from those chains that are struggling.” In addition to revamping their clothing selection, Target also has plans to expand their beauty products. According to Lauren Thomas (2017b), “the collection, called Glow Studio, will feature four-step routine kits that simplify a typical 10-step Korean beauty regimen, making it more accessible to users.” As another private label endeavor, Target aims to sees much value in “growing its beauty offerings at a time when players like Ulta and Sephora are expanding their physical footprints” (Thomas, 2017b). Therefore, Target realized the need to change their product selection and is actively taking action to do so.

Along with reinventing their clothing and beauty brands, Target will use this change in product to help streamline their position in omnichannel retailing. Kumar (2017a) adds that “over the next 18 months, Target will launch more than a dozen new brands, four of which begin hitting stores in coming weeks. They will be accompanied by a ‘More in Store’ marketing campaign that will feature TV and print ads, a big direct mail piece and an increased digital investment that includes tapping into social media.” By promoting these new clothing brands via TV, print, mail and various social sites, Target maximizes their potential to target a wide variety of consumers via the platform they prefer.

In addition to the store level, Target is also making changes at the corporate level. As of August 2017, Target hired Minsok Pak to fill the role of Chief Strategy and Innovation. Pak comes with experience such as “senior vice president of Lego’s stores and e-commerce sites around the world” (Kumar, 2017b). With the new leadership of Pak, Target hopes to hone their presence in the sphere of retail innovation and technology. For example, “innovation efforts are being embedded across all of the work Target does, such as current efforts to launch more than a dozen private-label brands in the next two years, remodel hundreds of stores with an eye toward integrating more digital elements, and remake its supply chain for the digital era,” says Kumar (2017b). Once again, Target plans to focus on digitalization to streamline the omnichannel experience.

Another connection to omnichannel retailing is Target’s plan to remodel over 600 outdated stores. By doing this, Target “will focus on creating more engaging guest experiences on the shop floor,” according to Pamela N. Danzinger (2017). This approach should see much success as many consumers now look for an aesthetically pleasing, fun shopping experience, rather than just a dull warehouse full of poorly-displayed merchandise. Along with the designed stores, “Target also plans to operate 130 small-format stores by the end of 2019 located in college communities and dense urban areas,” adds Danzinger (2107). By doing this, Target is making themselves physically available to more consumers, despite the limitations of location.

Potentially the most notable of the aspects, Target is bringing new, innovative thinkers into their retail space. With their Techstars Retail Accelerator program, “Target invites leaders from ten startups to work with and be mentored by Target executives for 13 weeks” (Danzinger, 2017). The opportunity allows Target to give real-world business advice to young, aspiring entrepreneurs, with the potential that those entrepreneurs could have their inventions sold across the nation at Target. The program is certainly mutually beneficial, and benefits Target in the sense that they are using young Millennials and members of Generation Z to then market specifically to those cohorts.

These various efforts toward reinvention and innovation seem beneficial, but have they stimulated recent success for the retailer? According to Daniel Keyes (2017), Target’s efforts certainly have manifested in the retail space. Keyes (2017) adds that Target revealed “a 1.6% year-over-year (YoY) uptick in revenue to $16.4 billion for the period. The retailer also saw its same-store sales rise 1.3% YoY, marking the end of a three-quarter streak of declines in the metric.” Looking toward future success, Lauren Thomas (2017a) claims that “a focus on executing new merchandising, and on offering customers value through pricing and convenience, will differentiate Target from the competition.”

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Although Target has certainly seen recent success— a claim that is upheld by specific data—and experts in the retail industry predict continued growth for the retailer, how does the reinvention of Target affect the retail industry, as a whole? Because Target operates with over 1,800 locations, the retailer serves thousands, if not millions, of consumers. Since Target is able to deliver a charming shopping experience, with on-trend clothing products, unique home décor, high-quality groceries and other various household, beauty and electronic items, then their customers will be pleased, affecting consumer attitude and the overall retail industry. In addition, Target’s reinvention may spur its competition to reevaluate the state of their companies. Therefore, Target’s changes and adaptations not only benefit them, but could potentially positively affect other retailers who want to remain competitive. Additionally, because ecommerce retail will likely drive the majority of sales within the coming years, Target’s efforts to improve their online and mobile sites, as well as streamline their omnichannel experience, provides consumers with a platform—other than Amazon—to shop for a vast variety of products.

“Target is pulling out all the stops to bring back its “Tar-Jay” magic” (Danzinger, 2017). After making recent changes and with plans for even more transformation and growth, Target is on the fast track to reclaiming their former glory as a more prestigious, “one-stop-shop,” big box retailer. The retail environment has drastically changed recently, and Target recognized this reality and made the radically bold decision to adapt alongside the industry. Although many consumers already have difficulty walking out of Target empty-handed, the retailer just made that concept even more of a pervasive challenge.


References

Danzinger, P. N. (2017, August 29). Target’s Renaissance: New Blood, Not New Brands or Stores, Will Bring The Company New Life. Forbes. Retrieved from www.forbes.com.

Keyes, D. (2017, August 2017). Target sees in-store and online improvements. Business Insider. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com.

Kumar, K. (2017, August 16). Target refreshes brands to stay chic and relevant, phasing out Merona and Mossimo. StarTribune. Retrieved from http://www.startribune.com.

—–. (2017, August 23). Target taps Minsok Pak to be new chief strategy and innovation officer. StarTribune. Retrieved from http://www.startribune.com.

Thomas, L. (2017, August 16). Target shares jump as shoppers return to stores, boosting sales. CNBC. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com.

—–. (2017, September 6). Target to roll out exclusive K-beauty brand, growing its makeup offerings. CNBC. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com.

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Rockin’ & Rollin’ with Curtsy

Wednesday afternoons are more exciting when spent with the team from Curtsy UGA. Curtsy’s Instagram Manager, Kelly, and I had a rad time hanging out in downtown Athens and shooting at Wuxtry Records on Clayton Avenue.

In case you aren’t familiar with Curtsy, it’s an app that lets you rent dresses, rompers, and tops from women in your neighborhood. According to Kelly, this is Cursty’s second year on the University of Georgia’s campus and the app has expanded to over sixty college campuses! Be sure to download the app here.

The streets of downtown Athens, Georgia are filled with life and whimsy. From speciality boutiques, one-of-a-kind restaurants, numerous bars, and other random retailers—such as record stores, vintage shops and even a retro pharmacy—Athens provides such a fun atmosphere. As a UGA student, it is quite easy to fall in love with this little Georgia town. My past two years here have been incredible and part of me is starting to grow sad that I only have two years left in this unique place.

With the shift from August to September and the quickly dropping temperatures, I found it appropriate to fish out my brown suede skirt from the back of my closet. Paired with a simple black v-neck, black Steve Madden slip-on sneakers and, of course, some layered jewels, I am ready for any fall weekend.

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Kelly Griffin, 2017.

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Kelly Griffin, 2017.

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Kelly Griffin, 2017.

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Kelly Griffin, 2017.

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Kelly Griffin, 2017.

No matter where you are spending your weekend, be sure to get out and explore. Discover some new music in record shop (like I recently did), go apple picking, get tickets to a local concert or relax in an eclectic coffee shop— the possibilities are endless!

In the Classroom: Trend Analysis & Forecasting

Most college students struggle with getting out of bed each morning to attend class. However, going to class is quite fun when learning about the various types of trends on a daily basis. This semester, I am enrolled in TXMI 5230: Trend Analysis & Forecasting at the University of Georgia. According to the University, this course provides “an overview of forecasting in the apparel, textiles, and home interiors industries at the design and merchandising level. Students critically analyze color, fabric, and trend forecasting, and design and research concepts using multi-media and observational primary research.”

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Throughout the semester, I will be tasked with various homework that will help me analyze trends. For example, last week I looked at the Resort 2018 collections for Etro, Giambattista Valli and Hermes and came to conclusions about today’s zeitgeist—spirit of the times—based on the garments. Also, most recently, I created a trend board outlining my predictions for a trend this fall, based off a certain theme or motif. With the tendency to look toward nature for inspiration, I believe many consumers will look toward garments that reflect the characteristics of the bird, with a special focus on garments that incorporate feather detail.

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Other assignments this semester will involved “Group Forecasts,” where I will work with a group of my peers to outline a collection for a particular designer or fashion house, based on our predictions for trends in the coming seasons. Be on the look out to see what my group members and I create!

One of the coolest aspects of this course so far has been the virtual tour of Trend Council that my professor scheduled for our class. As a subscription-based trend tool, Trend Council delivers expert analysis and design inspiration within the industry. Dividing the industry into three categories, the service reports on Women & Juniors, Mens & Young Mens and Streetstyle for up to two years in advance. One anecdote I found particularly intriguing is the cross-over of industries, as the Trend Council representative explained how Porsche uses there service to stay abreast on trends for the interior of their cars— from types of leather to unique stitching.

Although I still have a little more than three months left of TXMI 5230, I am starting to think that trend forecasting may be a very viable career path for me. I love the notion of being “in-the-know” of what trends are around the corner, even if those predictions may end up inaccurate. As Alexander McQueen says, “you’ve always got to push yourself forward; you’ve always got to keep up with the trends or make your own trends.”

Trend Alert: Ruffles

Designers are often looking for unique details to diversify their garments, as a way to set them selves apart. One detail—ruffles—have become a staple on many pieces of clothing recently. From a tiered ruffle sleeve to a single row of ruffles edging a skirt, ruffles are a fun and flirty wear to add flare to an ensemble! In the outfit below, I adore the ruffle detail on the sleeves and the hem of the crop top, and they complement the slight ruffle on the edging of the shorts.

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Often, when people think of the word “ruffle” images of young girls, bright pink and overly “girly” styles flood their minds. However, ruffles have infiltrated the fashion industry and can be seen in multiple different styles of dressing, from classic to edgy. Take a look at some of my favorite ruffled garments to get inspiration for your next shopping trip!

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Where to Shop This Trend?

Forever 21

Tiered Ruffle Blouse

Ruffle Sleeve Mini Dress

Scuba Knit Ruffle-Hem Pants

Chambray Ruffle Wrap Dress

Boohoo

Aurora Wrap Ruffle Hem Mini Skirt (I own it in pink!)

Evie Ruffle Detail Wrap Over Blouse

Martha Striped Cold Shoulder Ruffle Top 

Nordstrom

Chelsea28 Ruffle Scuba Dress

Charles Hem Ruffle Shift Dress 

Topshop Ruffle Eyelet Lace Sweatshirt 

H&M

Jersey Top with Ruffles

Short Ruffles Top 

Ruffled Dress

Ruffle-Sleeved Cotton Blouse

Zara

Poplin Dress with Contrasting Ruffle

Jumpsuit Dress with Ruffled Sleeves

Ruffled Wrap Skirt

Revolve

Lovers + Friends Liv Dress

Endless Rose Asymmetrical Ruffle Mini Skirt

J.O.A Ruffle Neck Lace Mix Top

Cynthia Rowley Lace Cold Shoulder Mini Dress

Bloomingdale’s

Lucy Paris Stripe Cold-Shoulder Ruffle Top

Sandro Mystery Ruffle Trimmed Shorts

Rebecca Taylor Sleeveless Ruffle Dress

Check Out My Closet: Curtsy App

Having designer taste in clothing and being on a college budget can be a difficult combination. However, the Curtsy app has alleviated this dilemma and revolutionized the way that women can share clothing. Designed by Sara Kiparizoska and William Ault at the University of Mississippi in 2015, Curtsy allows you to rent dresses, rompers, tops and skirts from women in your neighborhood, for a fraction of the original cost of the garment. Think of it as a local version of Rent the Runway, with a particular focus on college towns- ranging from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Athens, Georgia.

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Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

The app allows you to post the clothing you have with photos, a description and pricing. Then, we can browse all the garments listed in your area, and refine the search based on sizing, color, style, occasion, etc. Also, you can “love” your favorite pieces to be able to go back later and find them easily. If you find the perfect dress for your next date night or for the upcoming football game, nav-logoyou can message the owner to try it on and then rent the garment for five days before dropping it back off in the original condition.

Recently, I have taken the time to list multiple of my favorite garments on the Curtsy app and am planning on potentially utilizing the rental service for any of my upcoming events this semester. If you are a local Athens girl and are interested in renting from me, check out my closet on Curtsy!

Fast Fashion: Cheap Prices & Steep Consequences

Do you consider yourself a fashionable individual or can you not even remember the last time you stepped foot in a department store? No matter the answer, clothing is essential to our lives. People are always wearing clothing. However, the production of clothing has created numerous environmental and societal issues in recent years, especially with the rapid growth of the fast fashion industry. Fast fashion, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.” As a Fashion Merchandising major, the sustainability, or lack-there-of, within the fashion industry is a personal concern of mine. By informing others about fast fashion’s harsh environmental impact, the use of cruel and punitive labor tactics in producing garments and the obstacles to consuming ethically, I hope to shed light on the fashion industry’s growing issue.

According to Michael Shank and Maxine Bedat, “There are few industries fickler than fashion, changing annually and swapping seasonally.” With the fashion industry focused on a disposable model, the mass amounts of textile waste have surfaced many concerns relating to our planet and sustainability. With new trends emerging constantly, fashion retailers are pressured to regularly turn over their products, resulting in leftover product. In fact, the United States generates an average of 25 billion pounds of textiles per year of which only 15% is donated or recycled, and the remaining 85% goes to landfills, according to the Council for Textile Recycling. Additionally, the issue of textile waste has become more and more disastrous in recent years. For example, between 1999 and 2009 the volume of post-consumer textile waste generated grew by 40%, as reported by the Council for Textile Recycling.

Clearly, the fast fashion industry causes issues for the environment, but problems also persist in the societal aspect of the industry, especially in the production stage of clothing. To keep up with the rapid pace of fast fashion, the industry is relying on cheap labor, which causes problems in many developing countries Because the apparel industry has shifted to offering affordable garments, laborers in the lowest end of the wage spectrum must produce these pieces. According to Michael Shank and Maxine Bedat of MSNBC, “The industry has created jobs and lifted some people out of poverty,” but “the hard truth remains that low wages, forced labor, unhealthy and dangerous working conditions, and child labor are now rampant throughout apparel supply chains.” Often poor working conditions are overlooked, but they pose a fatal threat to lives of many. Specifically, the 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza (a garment factory) in Bangladesh left hundreds injured or even dead. According to Julfikar Ali Manik and Jim Yardley of The New York Times, “An initial investigation found that the Rana Plaza building violated codes, with the four upper floors having been constructed illegally without permits.” Additionally, child labor is a rampant issue in many developing countries. Often, young girls are exploited in the production of cotton seed because of their agile fingers. Particularly, “In 2007, more than 400,000 children under the age of 18 were found to be employed in cotton seed farms” in India, as reported by The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO). Overall, there is a blatant disregard for the humanity and quality of life of many individuals in the production stage of fashion industry.

After identifying the issues within the environmental and societal aspects of the fashion industry, it is important to recognize the consumer’s attitude toward fast fashion. One major conundrum that is often coupled with the fast fashion industry is the public’s perceived obstacles to consume sustainable garments. First of all, various people define “sustainability” very differently within the context of the fashion industry. Also, most consumers are not willing to consciously purchase a sustainable or ethical garment, unless it is convenient for them. Lisa McNeill and Rebecca Moore claim that “With regard to fashion purchasing, the majority of participants in the study tended to favor consumption options which meant they did not have to compromise their own desire for fashion.” Additionally, because fast fashion has overtaken the fashion industry, more ethical options are often limited. For example, on a local level, there are over two-dozen boutiques in downtown Athens. Of the numerous retailers, only a Community, Dynamite and Atomic offer sustainable options, either through the “up-cycling” of garments or the sale of vintage pieces. Therefore, purchasing sustainable clothing comes with a conscious effort; the consumer must be aware and passionate about these purchases. On the other hand, fast fashion purchases are often quick and affordable.

Clearly, the fast fashion industry puts strain on both the environment and society and makes it difficult for the consumer to make ethical purchases. First of all, the exponential growth of post-consumer textile waste poses a major threat to the environment, as billions of textiles are added to landfills each year. Also, the demand for cheap clothing requires cheap labor. This labor, often performed in terrible conditions and by children, creates threats the individual peoples involved in clothing production. Lastly, the ambiguity and limited amounts of sustainable clothing options make it difficult for consumers to easily purchase in an ethical manner. Although fast fashion may be cheap for the consumer, it comes at a steep price to the environment and society.


Works Cited

“The Facts About Textile Waste.” Council for Textile Recycling, 2017, http://www.weardonaterecycle.org. Accessed 12 Feb. 2017.

“Fact Sheet: Child labour in the textile & garment industry.” SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations), SOMO, Mar. 2014, www.somo.nl. Accessed 12 Feb. 2017.

“Fast Fashion.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, Inc., www.merriam-webster.com. Accessed 12 Feb. 2017.

Manik, Julfikar Ali, and Jim Yardley. “Building Collapse in Bangladesh Leaves Scores Dead.” The New York Times, The New York Times Company, 24 Apr. 2013, www.nytimes.com. Accessed 12 Feb. 2017.

McNeill, Lisa, and Rebecca Moore. “Sustainable fashion consumption and the fast fashion conundrum: fashionable consumers and attitudes to sustainability in clothing choice.” International Journal of Consumer Studies, vol. 39, 1 May 2015, pp. 212-22, eds.b.ebscohost.com. Accessed 12 Feb. 2017.

Shank, Michael, and Maxine Bedat. “Analysis: Fast fashion comes at a steep price for the environment.” MSNBC, NBCUniversal Media, LLC, 21 May 2016, www.msnbc.com. Accessed 12 Feb. 2017.

Intern Style

After spending the summer as the National Retail Federation‘s Communication Intern, I am now officially a retail advocate. I truly enjoyed my eight weeks with the NRF and gained so much insight into the retail industry and established great relationships with colleagues.

One of my favorite parts of heading to work each day was getting dressed in the morning! I loved utilizing the more conservative pieces in my closet and mixing different garments to create appropriate work outfits. Take a look at some of the ensembles I put together each day.

Trend Alert: Gingham

Although this pattern makes me feel somewhat like the tablecloth at a picnic in the park, I am loving summer’s hottest print— gingham. Most commonly found in black or navy, gingham has exploded throughout the racks at various stores. Because the pattern, itself, is quite loud, wearing one gingham garment can truly let your ensemble do all the talking. Therefore, it is wise to pair gingham with more understated pieces and solid colors, especially white.

I paired this black and white gingham top from T.J. Maxx with white jeans and pink statement earrings from Bauble Bar x Target. Aside from the fun earrings, I kept my outfit more simple and allowed the gingham top to be the focal point.

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.


Want to hop aboard the gingham express? Take a look below to get some inspiration and find out what retailers are stocking gingham. Each item is under $100, because who doesn’t love a deal!?

Ear Candy: Mignonne Gavigan’s Mini Madeline Earrings

Want to make a statement with your jewelry? Look no further than the beautifully-handcrafted pieces at Mignonne Gavigan!

In 2014, designer Mignonne “Maggie” Gavigan saw a “void in the marketplace for eye-catching jewelry that incorporates elements of couture beading and artistry.” According to the brand’s website, Gavigan’s most notable piece is the Signature Scarf Necklace, which began by chance. After accidentally tearing a couture gown, Mignonne “tied it around her neck and wore it with a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers.” Soon after, the collection evolved to include earrings, bracelets and scarfs, all “define by ornate details, elevated craftsmanship and luxe materials.” Even Mignonne’s loft reflects the aesthetic of her brand, take a tour here.

One Kings Lane.

As someone who spends a good portion of the day on social media, I first discovered the brand through Instagram. After exploring the Mignonne Gavigan’s profile and stumbling upon retailers that stock the brand, I began to consider a purchase, for myself. When exploring the product line, I gravitated toward the earrings; partially because I love a good statement earring and partially because unique, colorful earrings are especially “in” right now. Aesthically, the Madeline Earrings spoke to me, but I ultimately turned my focus to the Mini Madeline Earrings, as they are more in my budget, as a college student.

After more time spent on Instagram, I came across a promotion for all Mignonne Gavigan pieces sold at Gena Chandler, a boutique in Raleigh, North Carolina. With a few Instagram direct messages about the colors and the discount and a quick phone call to the store, Gena Chandler sent a pair of Mignonne Gavigan Mini Madeline Earrings in White & Gold to my doorstep.

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Personally, I get quite excited when I receive an online order, as I truly do not do much of my shopping online (I prefer the brick-and-mortar shopping experience). Therefore, when I unwrapped my very own pair of handcrafted Mignonne Gavigan earrings, I resembled a five-year-old on Christmas morning. in fact, I received a notification from FedEx that my package had been delivered at 1:19pm, so I raced home from work to find the newest addition to my jewelry box.

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

With the discount I received from Gena Chandler and my choice of a neutral color, I feel as though these earrings are an investment that I will wear for years to come. After all, couture items rarely go out of style.

Honoring Elle Woods

Sixteen years ago on this very day, one of my greatest idols was born. She may technically be fictional, but we share a love of fashion (both Fashion Merchandising majors!), being a member of a sorority, female empowerment and- most importantly- the color pink! Believe it or not, Legally Blonde premiered sixteen years ago, which also means a four-year-old Mary Kate discovered her fascination with Elle Woods.

Mary Kate Donahue, 2017.

*Disclaimer: Legally Blonde was the only PG-13 movie I was allowed to watch at age 4. Thanks mom!

Despite our different hair colors, I idolized Elle Woods. On the surface, Elle can often be mistaken for a shallow sorority girl who only cares about clothing and her boyfriend, Warner. However, Elle certainly is a woman of much intellect and drive. After a harsh break-up with Warner, Elle is determined to win back his love. To do this, she studies hard, masters the LSAT and eventually follows Warner to Harvard Law School. Although her efforts may be propelled by a man, Elle eventually realizes that she has potential and self-worth as a single woman.

My favorite part of the iconic film occurs toward the end. Elle, given a chance to hold her own in the courtroom, uses both her training in law AND her background knowledge of hair care to win the case. Notably Elle states, “Because isn’t the first cardinal rule of perm maintenance that you’re forbidden to wet your hair for at least 24 hours after getting a perm at the risk of deactivating the immonium thygocolate?”Because Chutney Windham’s alibi involved her showering during the time her of her father’s murder, Elle was able to prove that Chutney was guilty. Her intact curls were visible proof that Chutney killed her father; after all, “the rules of hair care are simple and finite.” Certainly Warner would not have been able to win this case!

She taught us the “bend-and-snap,” imparted the importance of a good manicure, celebrated the vibrancy of the color pink, displayed the value in education and hard work, and most importantly- how to command the respect that a woman deserves (even when your law professor thinks differently).

I think y’all know what movie I’ll be watching this evening! Cheers to sixteen years of Elle Woods!