Stop the spree; put it back on the rack


Nikol Slatinska

You don’t. Need. This sweater.
But it looks like something Audrey Hepburn would wear.
No it doesn’t. It has pit stains, and the collar is ripped.
Those are fixable. Don’t you want to look like Audrey Hepburn?
After five unsuccessful minutes of trying to talk myself out of buying another unnecessary garment that would just be flung haphazardly into my closet, I exited the dressing room and got in line for the cash register.
This is what my life has become, I thought as I handed the sweater to the cashier. The scratchy white pullover wasn’t even cheap since I was buying it from one of those trendy Chicago thrift stores where people with nose rings and undercuts shop. In the end, I couldn’t keep convincing myself that I would eventually wear the sweater and gave it to Goodwill a month after buying it. Audrey Hepburn would laugh in my face.
Recently, almost all of my shopping experiences have been dictated by spontaneous tendencies brought on by the desire to look and live like someone else. These impulses all began about a year ago when I started watching old movies.
Films from France and Italy in particular are my biggest influencers, especially those directed by French New Wave screenwriter Eric Rohmer. Most of his screenplays consist of carefree Parisians having meaningless philosophical conversations and worrying about where they’ll go for their next vacation. They languidly stroll down empty streets and sip red wine in the July heat, all the while looking effortlessly chic in their breezy clothes.
After looking at these images for two hours, and envisioning myself spending a lazy summer in the French countryside, I’m ready to reinvent my entire life, beginning with my wardrobe. I only want to wear flowy sundresses, loose blouses and silky pajamas all year long, even though I live in Missouri where the climate is as consistent as my stylistic mood swings.
A more specific cinematic source of sartorial inspiration has been the movie “L’Enfer,” in which a man named Paul becomes paranoid about his wife Nelly’s infidelity. An iconic scene from the film depicts Nelly walking around town wearing hoop earrings, tortoise shell sunglasses, red lipstick and a gold cross necklace, as well as a sundress and scarf headband of mismatched floral patterns.
Nelly’s confidence and allure not only caused Paul to stalk her like a maniac all around town, but it also had me standing in line at Zara, contemplating whether or not to spend $36 on headscarves.
The 1960 thriller “Plein Soleil” and its remake, “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” had me so enamored with the characters’ posh way of life and preppy, Mediterranean-style apparel that I bought my own white button-down yachting shirt to fit in, even though I definitely will not be setting foot on a yacht anytime soon.
In fact, it’s been four months, and I still haven’t found an occasion to wear the shirt. I also blame other movies with that same “classy European tourist” vibe for my purchase of not one, not two, but three pairs of beige trousers. Why do I need three slightly different variations of the same pair of pants? You tell me.
To make matters worse, I end up wearing the same clothes almost every day. When I wake every morning at 6:30, I don’t feel like a glamorous socialite living it up in Saint-Tropez; I just want to put on comfy leggings and a sweatshirt that will get me through another day of sitting in cold classrooms.
Part of me wishes I could just commit to one fashionable aesthetic and carry it out consistently; however, the most practical solution would probably be to work on impulse control.
That includes thinking about how often I will wear a garment before buying it, setting a spending budget and asking myself questions like, “Where can I wear this that’s within a 50 mile radius?” No more yachting apparel for me. But until I change this impetuous aspect of my personality, I’m happy to live in my own reality, or someone else’s.