Okay, okay, I’ll start.
I have this pair of blue Isabel Marant sandals from the Spring 2013 runway collection, which I pre-ordered from Moda Operandi shortly after the site had launched. I paid for them in two installments; one was a deposit, and the subsequent payment would get charged when the collection shipped six months later. Now that I think about it, I remember that whole collection pretty acutely. I got to see it from a third-row runway show seat in the 6th arrondissement of Paris that September—I couldn’t really see the shoes from my seat but remember thinking, “Elvis on holiday in Hawaii?” “Elvis on holiday in Hawaii.”
Emily Weiss was at the show too. We were staying together that season—it was maybe the second or third time I’d been to Paris after my semester abroad—at a really small hotel not far from the show venue. She was shooting backstage for Into the Gloss and told me to “brace myself,” so maybe I had this preconceived idea that I was going to love the show.
When I got back to New York like a week later, I ordered them. I was sure I wouldn’t be a good candidate for the concept of Moda Operandi—I’d known myself to be such an emotional shopper, the kind of person who had to answer YES to the question, “Do I want to wear this out of the store right now?” in order to actually pull the trigger. Having to wait six months for something to ship felt like a commitment I probably didn’t have to make. Now that I think about it, though, emotional purchases like that have so rarely produced what I consider “the bones” of my wardrobe.
But I was also still new to fashion and financial independence—so much so that I literally think I used to shop not always because I thought I needed or even genuinely wanted something but as a sort of proof that I could have it, a reminder that I was doing a damn good job building what I’d always said I wanted: to not have to get permission from anyone to do anything that cost money. Which I guess is a wordy way of saying freedom, huh.
They came six months later, and I was still pumped—pun intended. I wore the hell out of them that summer, and into the fall and even the next summer. And the one after that. I was sure I still loved them to the degree that I wanted to keep wearing them even though now that I think about it, I haven’t worn them in almost four years. In that time, I’ve executed at least 15 closet cleanups and produced tons of donation bags but have never, not once, even considered that my time with the Isabel Marant sandals could be over. I try not to be precious about anything that I own—stuff, after all, is just stuff—but now that I know I probably won’t wear them again, I’m still not sure I’ll get rid of them.
I was so proud I’d been right that I would like them as much as I did even six months after I bought them; I wanted to be more sure of my longterm decision-making skills and these were, perhaps, a fitting and figurative step toward that, but even more, they represent this one moment in time when I was a kid and I thought I knew everything because I had freedom and had reached the apex of how great my life would be because I had it.
How wrong I was! How many tosses and turns and tumbles and tears waited for me—stood between then and now. If they do nothing else, these shoes remind me that even after getting exactly what you want, even if it’s not taken away and you get to keep having it, your life never stays the same. That what goes up must come down but even more that if you care enough, if you try hard enough, if you can cling to hope and promise to believe and be who you are and to do it with resilience, you get to build something else back up that is just…
Soooooooo… what’s a thing in your closet that you never wear but just can’t throw out? Look it in the face, try it on, upload a photo to the party nation comments station and tell me a story. I’m listening.