Life is Messy. Keep Fashion Fun!

Those new shoes you just got? Don’t save them. Wear them.


I watched the tragedy unfold in slow motion: our waitress smiling as she perched the overflowing pitcher of beer on our table, my friend’s hand reaching over to pour some into a plastic cup, a menacing wave of foam creeping toward the edge, and finally, a generous slosh of liquid landing squarely on my left foot.

Normally I don’t cry over spilt beverages (beer, milk, or otherwise), but it just so happened that I was wearing my new pair of olive green suede platform sandals that night. I had recently acquired them at Bergdorf Goodman’s shoe sale to the sweet tune of 50% off. Even with the discount, they were still an investment. I justified it by convincing myself that I would wear them all the time because they were a unicorn combination of beautiful and comfortable.

And now — beer-stained.

I frantically glanced around for a paper towel or spare bottle of suede cleaner or time travel device that I could use to rewind the past 30 seconds. But then I remembered that I was in the basement of a sketchy karaoke bar, not Hogwarts.

Wiping away excess liquid with my hand, I cursed myself for thinking I could get away with wearing nice shoes in the presence of alcohol. Had college taught me nothing?

The next morning, armed with a slightly stale bagel for sustenance, I contemplated the tricky quandary of fashion’s intersection with real life.

It struck me that while other expressions of creativity are relegated to museums or safely admired from behind velvet ropes, fashion is not limited to the removed voyeurism of its runway shows and glossy magazine spreads. On the contrary, our relationship to fashion is often distinctly up-close-and-personal because we literally live inside of our clothing, whether we’re swaddling our necks in an oversized scarf or zipping ourselves into the fashionable confines of a denim romper.

In the past, I’ve been tempted to hoard prized belongings on the top shelf of my closet, reserving them for mess-free special occasions like Election Day or Winter solstice. But even extreme caution is not immune to risk. I learned that the hard way in sixth grade when I saved a new blue-and-yellow striped polo shirt to debut the weekend my middle school crush was visiting with his family. After finally wearing it for the first time, I discovered the shirt had been tos sed into my sister’s mildew-ridden sleep-away camp laundry bag, leaving its blue-and-yellow striping covered in tiny dots of mold. Basically, it resembled a preppy incarnation of the Bubonic plague. My mom took one look and handed me the garbage bin.

No matter what we do, our tangible relationship with what we wear can result in a bit of messiness. Beer spills on suede shoes, lipstick smears on shirt collars, buttons pop off cherished cardigans, and eating a burrito for lunch makes you look slightly preggo in your high waist jeans. But dammit, that burrito was probably delicious. That party was probably fun, that smooch was likely worth it. Joie de vivre exists whether dressed or not — so why not go all out?

Consider stains evidence of a life well-lived in clothes well-loved.

And maybe carry a Tide-to-go pen.

Protagonist shirt, Shourouk earrings, Yves Saint Laurent ring, Jennifer Fisher gold bow cuff, Sylvia Toledano gold pearl cuffNARS lipstick in “Dragon Girl;” Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.


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  • Liz

    My napa leather valentino tangos are destined for ruin. On the rare occasion I do wear them something horrible happens: the marcona almond incident of 2015, a slide down the subway steps, rain during a summer wedding! And that is just what happens when I’m being careful.

    • Leticia Kahn

      I am getting a salary of more than 4500 dollars each week , that is awesome. Over a year ago I was in a horrible condition , jobless and Bank account with only few bucks . Thanks to one of my friends who showed me a way where I was able to gather myself and making average of 68 d/h. So it can change your life as it has changed mine.


    • Katrina Lopez

      When I looked at the draft of 8965 dollars, I accept that my friend’s brother was like really creating cash in his free time with his PC. . His aunt’s neighbor has done this for only 10 months and by now repaid the loan on their home and bought a new Car . Look here for details.


  • alex

    i wear my coffee stains with pride.

  • vontman

    This is so good and valid. Recently bought a pair of Tibi boots in leather and nubuck and deemed them too nice to wear anywhere…maybe it’s time to reconsider, or else they’ll just continue collecting dust.

  • cupcake6

    Shout wipes are superior to Tide pens.I just moved and purged. Feeling the wear it now or don’t even buy it!

  • Also expensive clothing seems to be especially attached to its stains.

  • Well said! I had a moment of enlightenment/madness a few years ago when, after crying over a scuff on the little toe side of my new cream leather pumps (I was about 15; cream leather pumps was as good as it got back then), I devised the Life-Cycle of Clothes Theory: 1. Newness, shininess and feelings of greatness and perfection. 2. Stainedness/rippedness/holedness and feelings of despair and loss. 3. Realisation of love, acceptance, and re-affirming of vows of commitment. Which means that now I kind of look like a bag lady half the time, but I don’t really mind because those bag lady clothes I am wearing are my faves and make me feel tres bon. That said, taking care of nice clothes etc is also good (for all of the things, including bank balance and the planet). Suede preserver yas!

  • Dale

    I love this. I have a pair of proenza shoes I got on sale last summer that I’ve been waiting to wear for the right occasion–grocery shopping it is.

  • Liz

    A sad pre-ownership addendum I’d make to this: when you find something fabulous that you love in a shop, take it into a fitting room, and then notice that it has someone’s base makeup smeared on it or white deodorant stains ’round the arms and middle of the garment. Curses!!

    • Yes!! And then it’s THE ONLY ONE left in your size and for a split second you think: “I’m sure I can remove it, right?” Always end up leaving empty-handed.

    • chouette

      Def prefer buying my white shirts from the men’s department for this reason.

      • Julia_S


  • Chelsey

    I am literally unable to wear white without drizzling coffee down my chest/sleeves/pants. I’m at the point where I refuse to buy any white pricy items and opt for cheap, reliable and easily replaceable for all my basics. These are my go-to

  • More than a stain, it’s a story about a wonderful memory you had the last time you saw it!


  • YES! or even worse, you save something and then when you finally decide the stars have aligned, you pull it out to wear and don’t even like it anymore! what a waste!

  • chouette

    Crushed my Building Block box bag in the subway turnstile like 2 days ago. Almost cried, got over it. It’s broken in now so I can stop freakin’ babying it!

  • And this is why at the ripe old age of 25 I still wear fabricate a paper napkin bib when dining out

  • I like this article so much! I tended to ‘save’ all my nice new shoes, jackets and so on for ‘a nice moment in the future’. I stopped doing that a long time ago. Even when I only visit the supermarket (in Holland that’s to say) with my 3 year old mini-me, I wear my beautiful Italian stiletto heels, a (sorry) low waist skinny jeans combined with a glitter jacket. Why? Because I can. And that in a rather calvinistic country 🙂

  • Ridhima

    Great article and so true!! Recently stained my Gucci bag while indulging in a frenzy of fried prawns eating, one of the too many just fell on the bag and the leather took no time to suck the oil from the limp creature. I sulked and panicked but after reading your article , me and my friend laughed about it a “lot”. I now have a bag strictly dedicated to such gluttony events !!!

  • “Consider stains evidence of a life well-lived in clothes well-loved.” Fantastic!

  • Lira Ferhati

    I am a sad owner of a pair of black suede Pierre Hardy booties that have seen the Leather Spa more than most. Every time they are worn something happens to them, the left shoe currently has candle wax all over.

  • Eve Oswald

    I lost my favourite white linen tee to a very green indian curry. Still mourning the loss.

    God I love you guys, I would give up my first born child to work for you.

    That is all