“How did you develop your observational skills?” I’m speaking on the phone with renowned culture writer Robin Givhan, fashion critic for The Washington Post, in late July. I’m so curious about her methods that I don’t realize I’ve presented a question that sounds rather like something a student in Journalism 101 might formulate. She doesn’t miss a beat though, and speculates that her skills were perhaps the natural result of a shy demeanor. After a pause, however, she adds that they were also first cultivated as a pleasure, by means of a wonderful, unusual tradition with her father. “He and I used to have this ritual of going to the mall on Christmas Eve day. It wasn’t to go shopping. We’d come up with a random excuse to go—‘We need more ribbon to wrap presents!’— but actually it was just to sit in the mall, have a cup of coffee and watch the chaos. My father is a great people-watcher.” Read more at Cultured.