The Most Beautiful Dress in the Room.

I’ve suffered from, and tried to perfectly phrase a way of thinking that also explains some of the questions brought up by Faustine Steinmetz. I haven’t found a better way of putting this- so watch the video below, only instead of “girl” think “dress.”


Faustine talked about her love of researching fashion before she buys it- she watches items on Ebay for months, looking for specific pieces from designers, and when she finally gets her piece it is sort of precious to her because of the hunt. She said she doesn’t understand why anyone would want to buy hundreds of meaningless items from a normal retailer when you could find one meaningful piece instead. Of course when you put it like that I, or just about anyone would agree. But I have meaningless pieces in my wardrobe. I’ve gone out and bought clothing, got it home, and thought “yuck.” So what is the psychology behind this? I’m calling it “The Most Beautiful Dress in the Room” psychology- to quote The Flight of the Conchords (Yes, the original version is purposely offensive, which is why I’ve changed it to dress.)

I do a lot of vintage shopping, and when I get a chance I even do some destination vintage shopping, (when I hear about a good shop in Hudson, or Portland, wherever.) I would argue that vintage shopping is actually similar to  fast fashion shopping: you sift through a lot of crap, a lot of stuff that just isn’t you, and maybe in the end you find something. The problem is, I often find myself settling for “The Most Beautiful dress in the Room.” After taking the time to go to the shop I feel somewhat invested. If I’m shopping, I want to buy something. So if I look at a shop full of stuff I’m not interested in, my brain picks out the closest thing to my style and tells me to buy it. Next to all the other garbage, this one item looks better than it actually is. I’ve just chosen “The Most Beautiful dress in the Room.” The problem is, often when I get home the shopping woo woo has worn off and I’m left wondering why I decided a plaid, wool librarian skirt was a good choice for me. This obviously applies to more than just vintage shopping.

Faustine talked about needing to educate people, and I agree.  I can personally say that I’m much better about shopping this way now that 1) I know more about fashion, and 2) I’ve obviously spent a lot of time thinking about this. The problem is, not everyone is in fashion school. A lot of people go for “good enough” because they don’t really want to think about fashion that much. So for the majority of people who don’t want to be educated, it seems we still need to offer good, easy choices.

2 responses to “The Most Beautiful Dress in the Room.

  1. I quite agree with you some point.
    I feel people do shopping sometimes it is a way to relax and to get fresh. Like ‘ I am tired of wearing a gorgeous piece everyday and I need to update my wardrobe’ . That some people think.
    And when you buy something really expensive, you have to think, consider many times and then buy it. But if they are not expensive, you just buy them and do not need to worry too much. That is an easy shopping, just for fun. If buy some shit then just leave them somewhere, cause you already enjoy the process of shopping and the way spending money. You do get happy, then it is worth.
    If every time, you buy clothes and research fashion, that is too tired. It is the same thing that totally different feeling between you love fashion as fashion clothes or you take fashion as your job. I feel after I study fashion, I am not too easy shopping as before. I really become much serious about each shopping.

  2. I agree with you about the “most beautiful dress in the room” syndrome. I used to be shop that way – not with vintage clothes, but with clothes from independent designers. In my early days in San Francisco there were a couple of shops in my neighborhood (the Mission) which sold things from an array of super indie designers. I would go into those stores, and wanting to support the cause, so to speak, feel pressure to buy something. Often shopping was a headache because the sizing was so vastly inconsistent. And even though I was willing to pay more for the craftsmanship, ethical production methods, etc, I had a hard time justifying those prices. So I guess instead of the “most beautiful” dress in the room, I ended up with the one that was in my size and mostly in my price range.

    One note about why people buy meaningless clothes/fast fashion. There are a lot of reasons for this. For one, not everyone cares about their clothes the way we ‘fashion people’ do. Nor is everyone as skilled or as confident, either. I would even venture to guess that some people wear lots of different clothes in an attempt to approximate personal style.

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