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.