Uh Oh: I Think I Buy Clothes Because I Like How They Look on Instagram

Blinded by social media

Blinded by Social media Man repeller feature

You’re walking in Soho and happen into a Prince street boutique where you are prompted to respond to a pair of sky blue Mary Janes with four skinny orange straps across the front. You love them. Or, think you love them. You absolutely need to have them. They will go so perfectly with your Instagram account.

Wait a second.


You stop short in your thinking. Will you ever actually wear them beyond the social media account?

When I started getting invited to attend fashion shows, this weird thing would happen two weeks before the bi-annual event wherein I’d render everything in my closet unfit to wear and quickly attempt to scramble together a brand new wardrobe for the festival of clothes. I’ve come out on multiple occasions about this embarrassing condition to otherwise members of the industry who have empathized with my plight, often citing specific garments or accessories on their persons as “fashion week impulse buys.” Subconsciously, I think, we all knew that with the escalating popularity of photographers outside shows, the likelihood of our being confronted with our vanity after the fact was higher than it had ever been. By creating new wardrobes, we accommodated the vanity. Even stroked it.

But all that is changing because it’s not cool to dress for photographers anymore. Quite the contrary — it indicates, in some way, that you’re unseasoned. Like you haven’t perfected the out-of-car-into-venue-no-pictures-please traipse inferred by a veteran of the ceremonious event. Frankly speaking, the photographers are just trying to do their jobs. They probably, nay, definitely don’t even care what we’re wearing.

But none of that matters.

A recent condition being unilaterally identified as Blinded by Social Media is far more detrimental to a woman’s personal style than the race to get it together for Fashion Week has ever been because social media has allowed all of us to be our own street style photographers.

We’ve touched upon a topic similar with the notion of blinded by the label — fooling yourself into thinking you like a piece by mere virtue of the fact that it was crafted by X designer. Take the tag out of the garment and do you even care about the thing in question? Take Instagram out of the equation, and similarly ask yourself if you still care.

I have found myself and a fair number of the items in my closet as victims to social media blindness on multiple occasions.

But the first step toward recovery is recognition of the psychological ailment, so I feel good about that. The thing I’m stuck on is where you draw the line. It’s okay to want social media things — they’re fun! Often bright and really poppy and they make us feel good, if only temporarily. (Sometimes rented happiness works.) But when the entirety of your wardrobe is dictated by a crop of shit you regret having purchased the minute the picture’s been published, don’t you lose your sense of personal style?

When you look back on old photos and stylistically regret what you see, you know you’ve evolved past a certain cue. I’ve personally had it with culottes — but it took me nearly two years to say that. When you’re feeling that remorse just two, three weeks — or worse, days — following the picture and you already want to cringe, that’s not evolution. That’s poor judgement. So where do we draw the line?

Daria Werbowy Photographed by Juergen Teller for Céline Fall/Winter 2014 via We Are So Droee. Collage by Emily Zirimis


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  • Beatrice

    I think the conversation MR has been cultivating about social media is very important. It’s compelling especially because, as a creative who makes a living off of creative work, social media offers me a wide latitude of marketing and visibility avenues. Personally I stick to Instagram and keep everything else (Facebook, Twitter) private and personal. My roommate and I used to laugh because we would only get out of our pajamas for the Instagram. Now that thought makes me feel sort of nauseous.

  • ReadER451

    I am blinded in a similar matter. I don’t buy something for the post, I buy items because I have seen someone else post and I think I NEED THAT. I don’t regret this as I have purchased items that I enjoy, but I sometimes feel that I am not browsing a store and finding unique items for myself.

    I too enjoy these conversations regarding social media’s impact, as well as fast shopping’s affect, on fashion. They are important topics that are relevant not just in fashion, but I think in other industries such as home decor.

    • Olivia AP

      Too real. Even when it’s something not expensive. Like a bodysuit I just bought and I will never wear because I will look like an exhibitionist, some things just don’t translate in our average life haha

  • Johanna

    I enjoy looking at what others are sharing on social media and online, but stick to remaining nearly invisible myself. For me, privacy trumps any other perceived benefit.

  • Luce

    As someone who shares a fair amount of her life on Instagram & Twitter (Facebook is the one I keep private), I have a daily battle with social media as I love and hate it. I get caught up in it, thinking about what would look good in a picture before stepping back and remembering that at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter.

    Also, the constant need to have 10 new outfits for fashion week was the reason I stopped going a few seasons ago here in London. I’ve been to about three shows since and it just reminded me of the stress of outfit picking, which I hate!

  • Great post!

    I think you’ll love my latest blog post: 10 commandments of shoes:




  • Mia

    While I can’t say I am guilty of this particular offense (buying clothes or thinking of buying them for Instagram) I have contemplated what it would take to get Instagram famous. So many of the Instagram icons out there (with a few exceptions, you being one of them) fall into one of two categories. 1. The “I buy everything high end luxury name brand from the most current seasons” or 2. Mono tone. Black, white, grey, and MAAYBE some nude once in a while. While I can’t afford to constantly replenish my wardrobe with Chanel, Gucci, and Saint Laurent on a weekly basis I pride myself in being able to find timeless pieces, which I can style with the rest of my closet. Now, I’m not saying I wouldn’t if I could, but what is it about Instagram haunts even some of the most secure individuals? Maybe there is a little diva in all of us after all.

    Would love to know what you think.


  • Damnn

    All topics around social media are very compelling as it continues to shape and influence our world.

    I find the same can be said for calculatedly creating experiences to fulfill the need to lure followers with content on your page. Or worse off to garner the ultimate currency of our days ‘likes’.
    My timeline more than ever these holidays was flooded with holiday scenery/ beach/bikini posts.

  • Angel Mstyle
  • Yaaaas.

    The points raised here are so true that I also threw my twopence into the debate… (http://www.afiaandjay.com/digital-fashion/) when did our fashion choices become led by those little square boxes we love so much? *shrugs*


  • Sander

    Ye know – back in the day visited Manrepeller regularly, liked it, but over time decided it was not for me. Too much angst. I still dipped in occasionally but didn’t identify with it.

    Now I realise that you and your colleagues are an authentic voice. I think you are passionate about style and recognise its importance to our identity and expression. Reading your writing over the years has been an opportunity to share your journey, on ManRepeller and personally. It is really interesting and a lot honest than nearly anything else I’ve come across (I’m a big fan of P Sykes too!)

    Thank you! S

  • Sander

    I think it’s all evolution. Developing your identity and personal style is all about trying on different things. Eventually you come back to what you really dig and perfect that look. I re-read an article you wrote on Linda Rodin and style/function. Go there! It got me thinking.

    Previously, I tried to be really prescriptive about my style (lux minimalism) – it depressed me. I went crazy with trends and experimentation – it confused me. Then I saw what had been there all along – my personal style. The things and the way I wore them that had been there for years. My preferred silhouette (knee length, waist-ed), colours (blacks, navy, khaki, blues, pinks) and exposure areas (collar bone, wrists, calves). Now I do that really well and I’m happy and happy to evolve too!

  • I feel like I get caught up on social media and that it dictates what I purchase quite often, but not in that I am buying items to wear or show off on social media. I feel like I far too often shop because I SAW someone else wear something on social media and simply must have it. Or I run to social media to tweet out for help identifying something I saw. I do not like nor watch Kelly and Michael, yet every time I flip through a channel and see something Kelly Rippa is wearing I immediately need it. What is it with my obsession with her wardrobe? That is not a rhetorical question. I seriously have no idea. Stacy London, Aliza Licht and every single outfit Christina Tossi wears on masterchef are other prime examples. Id say half my shoe closet has come from copying those 4 women. And a dozen dresses in my wardrobe.

    It makes me wonder why I cant just walk in to a store and see a shoe or a dress and say “I love that, I want it!”. I am not sure if its an aspirational thing I have going on in that I look up to these women (minus Kelly Rippa) and therefor admire their wardrobes or what, but it has started to bother me in that I question why I cant come up with my own outfits. And what it says about me that I am constantly copying other people?

  • Liz

    I once half-drunkenly purchased a plaid vintage skirt from someone’s Etsy shop because I saw it on IG and thought, “Ooh! That would be SO ‘Audrey Horne in Twin Peaks!’ and because it was listed as having a 27” waist and I have a pair of jeans that says “27” in them. Turns out, I do NOT have a 27″ waist and I don’t actually want to dress like Audrey Horne.

    Lesson: don’t drink and Instagram.


  • Jessicaaaa

    But you look *so* good in those culottes and should wear them always!!!

  • natasha

    I just decided last night, i wanted a break off social media, hell who knows, maybe i will realise there is life beyond that and not go back, i needed a week off because it was causing me depression, questioning my life worth, and how no matter how hard i try, i will never be rich and beautiful like the billions of girls on my instagram feed. i know reality is, there walking billboards, there are paid to be a prop, and there probably depressed as hell and have a house clutter in useless junk, but its hard to see the truth past the very well thought out photo they just posted. Last night i started with deleting the people i didn’t know on Instagram, (because the real people , the people i know i normal and real) so i deleted all the vain girls, or the buy this crap girls, everything, and even the foodie ones, (hardest point :D) i have gone from 250 people that mostly i don’t even know, to now 95 which are people i do know from real life. then this morning i logged out of FB and decided thats it, i need to get off this too if i want to cleanse. i really hope, others will follow and try it. i miss the life we had before all this youtube fame and social madness, it was simple. the only way to get this back is everyone to log off!