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Jennifer Garner’s DGAF Style is an Act of Heroism

She’s the last person taking “off duty” seriously.

08.09.17
So What Month
So What Month

I thought Jennifer Garner’s greatest sartorial contribution to the universe was running around New York in that pink silk nightdress in 13 Going on 30, but I was sorely mistaken. Her opus had yet to unfurl itself like the plebeian-friendly red carpet I didn’t know I needed until it was staring me in the face inside a tattered copy of Us Weekly at my favorite nail salon.

The page in question featured a photograph of Garner running errands in L.A. She was wearing faded skinny jeans and mom sandals and a loose, striped t-shirt and unremarkable tortoiseshell sunglasses. Stars — They’re Just Like Us!

Or are they? While five years ago I would have deemed this assemblage of clothing a perfectly regular and expected outfit for someone, A-lister or otherwise, to wear on a quick jaunt to CVS to buy paper towels and Mentos or whatever, I would not say the same today. In fact, until that moment in the nail salon, I was pretty sure true, off-duty style no longer existed, which brings me to what I now consider to possibly be Jennifer Garner’s greatest sartorial contribution to the universe: She’s singlehandedly keeping off-duty style alive.

For the sake of clarity, when I say “true, off-duty style,” I’m talking about the comfy clothes you wear when you have nowhere important to be and you’re just hanging out and/or running errands, e.g. ill-fitting tank tops, black lounge pants, flip flops, baggy sweaters, jeans you bought five years ago and face-obscuring sunglasses that don’t adhere to any particular trend.

I’m going to go ahead and blame athleisure for the gradual extinction of true, off-duty style. With a proliferation of brands like Outdoor Voices and a general uptick in trendiness around comfortable sportswear like leggings and track pants (not to mention sweatshirts as bonafide luxury-wear), everyone’s off-duty style started looking…well…good. It no longer consisted of stuff you might “throw on” haphazardly as you were walking out the door. Instead, it became an opportunity for curated cool – a form of orchestrated nonchalance. There came a point where calling an errand outfit “off-duty,” despite very clear evidence of its carefully considered assembly, felt almost blasphemous.

I am someone who loves putting thought into how I dress when I feel like it, but I am also someone who loves turning off that part of my brain entirely and wearing ratty gym shorts and a t-shirt to get coffee on a Sunday morning. Needless to say, this movement hit me hard. I mourned the loss of the authentic, off-duty aesthetic, which wasn’t so much an aesthetic as it was the absence of one.

Enter Jennifer Garner: The hero we needed but don’t deserve.

I’ve been Googling her incessantly for the past week and my gratitude has blossomed into full-on worship. I want to write a sonnet about her mom sandals and faded jersey tops. I want to tell her that I, too, always seem to be schlepping at least two tote bags of stuff simultaneously, as much as I yearn to be one of those tiny purse people. I want to bury my face in her perpetually wet-in-public, fresh-of-the-shower hair and breathe in the smell of Garnier Fructis.

But that would be kind of creepy, so instead I’ll settle for thinking of her next time I don my ratty gym shorts.

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  • Anna Fiore

    I would say she’s one of the very few celebs left that look “down to earth”. She looks like how I actually dress, despite my yearning to dress more…. thoughtfully? Like, at a certain point I just need to be not naked. I like to think that’s her goal as well :p haha

    • Cristina

      omg i literally LOL’d at this

  • Cristina

    That’s it. In the name of off-duty fashion, I’m headed to ebay to buy the OG of off-duty, the VS PINK Sweats. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e0f2992dd2395ff318b259b2bc6d0e51863dd8890df0905aa9b9e26033f70a4c.jpg

    • Hayley

      Oh my god, I remember having a bright yellow pair in middle school. Bringing back some nostalgic memories here!

    • I worked at VS from ages 18-20 and I absolutely LIVED in these things. I still have a pair of VERY well-worn boyfriend sweats that I lounge around the house in. Lately I’ve been super tempted to go buy another pair of them!

  • Babs

    How many showers does one woman need?!

    • Alison

      After being married to Ben? All the showers.

      • Babs

        lol chrU

      • NinjaMama

        You win the internet, today.

  • Emmie

    am i the only one who can’t run errands in brogues?

  • Bailey

    LOVE her wet hair. off duty look if there ever was one.

    • Kat

      I am team wet hair! I never dry my hair, and loving her repping this look!

  • Judas Priest

    Jennifer Garner is average looking at best. Her dress style is bland and boring. Why people care what she does or where she goes is beyond me. There’s nothing to see here about this average looking nothing.

    • Imaiya Ravichandran

      you okay ben?

      • ihaveacooch

        lmao!

    • The Fluffy Owl

      You cared enough to comment though, maybe ask yourself why that is?

    • Casey

      WOW!!!! Jen Garner is much, much better than average looking! She’s stunning, with or without make-up, in jeans and a T-shirt or dressed by a Designer and having her make-up professionally done. She’s beautiful at a major Hollywood Awards Show, or walking down the street to run errands in jeans and a T-shirt. She’s one of the few major actor’s left that are just normal people and not afraid to show it!

    • pamb

      Her image is “I’m too busy being a mom to care what I look like”. No lifestyle blog for her! Wondering what her next career path is…

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    does “good” fashion require a point of view? apologies if that sounds obtuse, but i guess what i mean is: does fashion require some sort of intentionality? or is it like writing–as in, you are a writer so long as you put words on a page. or a painter the moment your brush hits the canvas. can you be fashionable simply by virtue of the fact that you wear clothes?

    i ask because, to me, off-duty fashion is (more often than not) synonymous with not giving af. which is totally cool!! i love that. i totally respect that jgarner wakes up in the morning and may think to herself, hmm, there are more important things today than colourblocking. but typically, i wouldn’t associate that with being fashionable or “good” fashion. i would think she’s simply using clothes for their utilitarian purpose, full stop.

    BUT, isn’t the point of “good” fashion to provoke something? a reaction? and clearly jennifer garner did that– clearly, off-duty style in general does that– because so many people relate to it! so maybe its more “good fashion” than not.

    guyz, i WISH i was high. alas im not. i feel dumb cause obvs this article was light hearted and not meant to incite a baby existential crisis. but we are who we are!! pls chime in if u are so inclined.

    • Casey

      I think that you are over reacting just a little bit!!!!!!! It’s just a light hearted article that is rather humorous, yet true.

      • Imaiya Ravichandran

        yes, yes probs should have saved this for the notes app.

        • Mo

          I dare say: A thought provoked is a thought worth threading about.

        • Hil

          I’m glad you shared with us!

    • Mo

      Agreed – ish! I’m more inclined to argue against what we are describing as not giving AF. Because it isn’t just a t-shirt… we idolize the perfect tee. So we’re arguing that her tee and faded jeans aren’t caring in the same way that the oversaturated tee/jean combo is in this street-style reigning world. We’re arguing this because they don’t fit her in the ways that clothes usually do on bodies that are under constant daily scrutiny. We’re arguing that the wet hair look only counts as a look if it’s been combed back in a soggy bouffant and that a wet middle part means easy breezy no fucks given. Is that what we’re arguing?

      • Marta Millere

        Exactly, I think it’s about the fit. I’m sure that most of the garments she’s wearing in these pics are quite expensive. They haven’t been put together with any thought whatsoever so they look inexpensive. Makes me sad, but maybe I just have too much time on my hands and even the most off duty/potentially boring outfit that I wear, means/communicates something. Or at least I hope so 😐

        • Mo

          Never! I admire your time spent in the name of communicative clothing. Time is all we have and if you’re coining yours for a mobile form of self expression – I believe that’s well spent. There is something about a fit though… I’m not sure that it conveys caring versus not caring because I’d like to leave that more to tailored things, but I do think it conveys a sense of self: Dress your body like you know your body. Subjective to the max.

    • allison fargo

      no no no thank u for sharing! i think this sometimes. like is the frumpy lady down the block actually just ~off duty~

  • Calli

    TEAM WET HAIR

    • Harling Ross

      TEAM WET HAIR

  • aronnoco

    I am so interested in whatever is happening in the photo with the umbrella and the hat and the pointing??

    • Harling Ross

      ditto

    • CR

      looks like they are on the sidelines of a parade?

  • Larry david

    Yuck…No wonder Ben hit the road…

  • Aydan

    yes on the wet hair in public! I find myself leaving the house with wet hair at least two times a week!!

  • Liz

    I love jen and her roles – esp in Juno, honestly – and am glad she is getting well deserved chill af attention. a++++ jen

  • nelgracev

    The authentic just showered, undone, wet hair is the winning accessory. Also- these were way better than I expected them to be based my strategy of reading the article first before flipping thru them x

  • msdill

    She is just a slob..

    • Serena

      I disagree, she’s just comfortable! I dress like this when I don’t have to think about Fashion or making a statement, and I wouldn’t consider it dressing like a slob, it’s practical and boring, that’s all

      • msdill

        Ill fitting clothes and dirty, greasy hair screams slob. You can be practical, comfortable and boring without looking gross.

        • pamb

          I think the hair is wet, not dirty. But I agree, she aggressively chooses ill fitting clothes in dull colors. I’ll bet it’s an effort to make the pap photos worth less or something.

  • Serena

    JG’s off-duty style is 100% my all-the-time style. I’m probably MOST stylish at yoga…

  • Marta Millere

    Funny how this could be so normcore and cool on someone else, but on her, it translates to ‘I don’t give a fuck and I’m not even trying to hide it’.
    I think she should step it up, not sure how though… Maybe drop those horrendous sneakers and experiment with shapes (all maxi everything is not a shape, unless you’re one of the Olsen twins). Ok, rant over. <3

    • Rebecca

      just curious, why do you think she should step it up?

  • Michelle

    I have been a fan since “Alias” back in 2001! Cheers for her down to earth, no fuss style 👍👖👕👓👟

  • Emily M

    This needed to be said and honestly, I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I’m not the only person who noticed this and considered it saintly. IDGAF Jennifer Garner is my style icon as I make the stressful, comfort-food-and-clothes-are-necessary transition into my first real adult house and I thank her kindly for her service.

  • yassqueeeen

    I show up to work pretty much everyday with wet hair. But not because I’m trying to make a statement. I’m usually just too lazy and tired to wake up early and blow dry and style it. Thank goodness for dry shampoo too.

  • Laura

    This is an interesting article, because I have lately noticed Jennifer Garner’s style, and have to say, I’m confused about it. She is very pretty and keeps a nice trim figure, yet, everything she puts on looks out of sorts on her – boring even. Courtney Cox seems to have the same issue(s). I don’t know, I can’t put my finger on what it is. I think she is supposed to have some type of minimalist or normcore style, but it just misses. I find that Julia Roberts has a similar casual style, but somehow pulls it off better. The sad thing is, I don’t think she is necessarily trying to dress as if she is “off duty”. I say this because she seems to be making an effort when she dresses for church. I don’t know – I’m perplexed.

    • enC

      Some people have style, some don’t. Just because you are a celebrity doesn’t guarantee it. Hats off to her for not always relying on a stylist to fake it and appear what she’s not.

  • pamb

    I’ll admit that I’ve often seen J Gar’s pap photos and thought “why can’t she be more like Reese Witherspoon?” I almost feel like she is aggressively choosing the ugliest clothes she can find in an effort to avoid the paps, or make a statement about motherhood, or something.

    Shapeless, oversized, dull colors… it depresses me. I long to put J Gar in a pair of skinny jeans with stretch, a semi fitted tee in a cute print and slip on Vans. A vintage Coach tote or crossbody bag completes the look.

    And for the record, I’m a mom of two, so I know of what I speak.

  • B

    This is SO ON POINT. Love her, love this

  • Ciccollina

    Totes, she still looks good though. Testament to good hair and chic sunglasses.