I’m in a fashion slump and this is nothing new. For the last seven years, I’ve worked from home and subsisted on a wardrobe of leggings, yoga pants, camisoles, two pairs of jeans, four sweatshirts, and five plaid shirts. For three seasons of the year, I wear a jacket, even on date nights, over my outfit-less outfits, which help buffer the urgency to shop. On those occasions when I need a more proper outfit (usually overlaps with those times I want to avoid adult chit chat) I find myself in a full 6.5 on the Richter scale of Freak Out meltdown.
I exist at a conflicting crossroads of knowing I need to shop and dreading the act so intensely. Shopping has traumatic triggers for me as I came of age in the 1980s, 30 pounds overweight, living with the style motto of the times: “dress to look 20 pounds heavier.” I wore oversized t-shirts and sweatshirts from Aeropostale and Camp Beverly Hills as well as corduroy pants and Bill Cosby sweaters. Also, filling out my fashion wardrobe requires better finances than I’m working with right now (see: artist pursuing my dream, married to an artist, two kids who outgrow clothing quickly, organic food, etc.). The whole shopping experience isn’t fun unless you’re a millionaire supermodel. One day I hope to get a personal shopper.
I don’t love the Gap or Old Navy because it’s uniform and everyone looks like everyone else. Discount brand stores like Century 21 are great in concept but bad for anxiety because THOSE RACKS. When online shopping reared it’s addictive head back in 1998, I got jazzed and bought EVERYTHING from toilet paper to my wedding dress (true story) online. Nowadays there are too many choices and I’ve backed away. Living in the fashion capital, New York City features lovely, boutiques featuring unique fashion finds on the Lower East Side but those are way outside my affordability bracket.
If I wasn’t so picky (just because I hate to shop doesn’t mean I’m not picky), sometimes I think I can buy everything at L.L.Bean because they have a lifetime guarantee on everything. I can buy something once and wear it until it wears out or rips and then send it back and they’ll issue me another one. Unfortunately I would look like an urban lumberjack in varying shades of peat moss.
I thought I’d consult the latest issue of InStyle for fashion inspiration. After all, flipping through the magazine is like window shopping. Here is what I found:
Pajamas as outfits. I hate all shoes. Patchwork dresses are in style as are viscose blouses. Florals are exploding on handbags, pencil skirts, and fringed vests. Block-heel mules are a must this season, especially with a metallic heel. Silk twill bag for $1,795 is essential as is the mastery of the double cat eyeliner look. (Can I master the single first? Does that mean the smokey eye is out or just on hiatus for a decade?) Palazzo pants are back so yay for thunder thighs. I’m not sure what retinoids are but I’m a decade behind when I should have started their consistent use.
Swimsuit recommendations are equally unrealistic as if getting naked in a department store under unflattering lights isn’t torturous enough. The magazine shows off suits for all needs: minimize butt, disguise tummy, elongate legs, downplay broad shoulders, eliminate muffin top, create boobs, lift boobs, enhance butt.
Unfortunately, none offered to “make you feel happy wearing it” or “provide support, without chaffing, while jumping in the waves with your kids.”
Notably, pages filled with swimsuit recommendations are intersected by ads for frown line injections, botox (rethink crow’s feet and frown lines), ageless cream, and Regenerist luminous tone perfecting cream, “so your skin won’t show your age.”
What’s confusing to me is how it’s women who keep this kind of magazine industry alive. It’s a bit of a fashion porn tease rather than real life solutions to our fashion slump problems.
If I’m honest, I knew a fashion magazine wouldn’t have the answers just like Cosmopolitan never taught me 5 ways to a better orgasm. When I measure the stress level of having nothing to wear versus the agony of shopping, I’ll take my denim miniskirt, red lipstick, and cowboy boots and flounce my pink ombre hair into the sunset.