Locating Style in the Doldrums

When it comes to fashion, does excitement have to run parallel to feeling good?

11.20.14

Women tend to believe that when it comes to fashion, there is one saving grace — an article of clothing or pair of shoes or depending where you live, a decadent scarf — that changes the course of your wardrobes and its narrative forever. So we search. Aware that the pursuit can be long and tiring, we convince ourselves that this grace must exist to keep the wheels of exploration in motion.

And there are rules about this item: it never gets old and thus is worth of any (vaguely reasonable) dollar amount. It doesn’t go out of style or barricade your creativity. Like a good partner, it shines The Relationship Flashlight on you, making you feel like the best version of yourself in perpetuity. If you’ve never known companionship like this, it can be likened to your mother, or best friend — an individual you’ve never grown tired of knowing.

But the thing about the grace is this sense of impossibility. That many of us might go through life and never really find it. We may think we see variations of it but upon ownership, it is often determined that it’s never as magical as we thought it would be.

Once the novelty of proprietorship wears off, there is chance you will continue to wear the item in question but frequently what you’ll find is that you let impulse dictate the purchase. You confused your excitement-in-conjunction-with-a-relentless-pursuit-of-the-new for investment and what you’re left with is a hole in your wallet and possibly too, a closet full of stuff that you really, really don’t want to wear.

So I ask you to consider a point that runs counter to a tempting case Kayla made for impulse investing yesterday. If marrying the “right kind of man” is like investing in a bond rather than a stock with little risk but guaranteed reward, it might pay to apply a similar tenet to our shopping habits. Last year, I bought a pair of brown boots on sale. They are attractive in the predictable way that a pink rose is but similarly, too, fairly quiet. If you saw them immediately post purchase, I’m sure you wouldn’t notice they were new. If you saw them today, I don’t think you’d notice them at all. They didn’t excite me then and they don’t excite me now but they have both quelled several bouts of wardrobe anxiety and seen the best and worst of New York. Heretofore, they’ve made it out with great aplomb.

Around the same time, I bought another pair of shoes. They were black patent leather, 6-inch wedge boots that looked like a pair of mary-janes stuck in a white sock, which was actually a patch of white suede. I’d ordered them from overseas and waited eagerly for their arrival. It took three days and when they came, I congratulated my feet on the new comrade they had just achieved. I wore them out that evening. I haven’t worn them since. I still look at them admirably but in the grand scheme of feeling my best, they’ve provided little worth.

So maybe there’s value in waiting — for excitement to subside, rationality to set in and the sparkle of what’s familiar to prove itself worthwhile enough to make you comfortable with the fact that there is no saving grace. It’s just you and your clothes.

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