Clothes Are in the Top 5 Most Important Things of My Life, Maybe Top 3

by Logan Sachon and Lauren Rodrigue

Lauren Rodrigue likes clothes. We talked about that.

Logan Sachon: I would like to talk about shopping. Starting with: Online shopping when you have no money.

Lauren Rodrigue: I do it every day. What about it.

LS: Yes I know. And you do these hilarious roundups on your blog of things you want to buy, and I love reading them. I get delight out of reading them. But: I feel like you are getting delight out of looking through these websites, and I’d like you to explain it to me. Why is it fun to shop and not buy?

LR: It’s like therapy. IRL sometimes I go into stores and try on like 10–15 things. I only get real pleasure out of experiencing the clothes in that way, trying them on. I put them all back 95% of the time — there’s something wrong with the fit, or they don’t seem worth it to me to buy them. I think online shopping without buying is the same. And when I write about them it gets things out of my system. It is about seeing the clothes and experiencing them in some way, not owning them. (Although I’d like to own them.)

LS: What does it take for you to buy something?

LR: I hardly EVER buy online, because you pay shipping and I can’t justify spending money on something I haven’t tried on and moved around in. ESPECIALLY paying shipping. ESPECIALLY from stores I could just go to IRL.

LS: But I’ve noticed a lot of the things you put on your roundups are from the sale section, which makes it seem like maybe you are actually shopping? Why look at the sale section if you have no intention to buy?

LR: Online sales are a realizable fantasy. I’ll be like, today’s the day I get something from nastygal dot com, on sale, $30 top. I get all psyched up, put things in my “cart.” And then I chicken out. It seems not worth it to pay shipping. It might not fit. It might not be nice in person. I think it through and back out. But I always browse sales because theres a thrill in POSSIBLY being able to buy things. Almost every website I commonly look at has things in the cart. In real life for me to buy something I need to have an allotment of spare $. I set myself a max spend ($25 on regular days when I just feel like treating myself, $60-$80 on Shopping Days, which are once every 2–4 months), and then I go to all my favorite stores, try on probably like 40 things, and buy maybe 1 or two. Hardly ever 2 things because nothing lives up to my expectations or fantasy. I almost always just buy 1 cheap thing for the sake of buying it. It’s like I need to scratch that itch even if I don’t really care for anything.

LS: Do you save up for specific things?

LR: Hardly ever. In fact, no, not at all. I try but then fail. If I want to treat myself to something BIG like leather boots or a coat, I prep myself for it emotionally but not financially. I’ll dip into my savings and pay myself back. But I don’t save for a specific item, thats impossible. I wish I could but I’ve never been able to. I’m too obsessed with instant gratification.

LS: How easy is it for you to get to your savings?

LR: Too easy. It’s attached to my checking so I can just transfer. But when I do the big things like boots or coats or bags, there are stipulations I make. I have to have a large sum of money coming somehow, something coming in that I know will replace what I’m spending. Like I bought Topshop boots in November because my birthday was coming. I haven’t bought a big thing in a long time actually because I haven’t had any sudden JOLT OF CASH. It’s not a perfect system though because I am always wanting things. It’s a cycle that repeats itself every 12–24 hours. I’ll leave H&M absolved from trying on 10 things that all sucked and buying nothing, and then walk by Zara and see a dress and start over.

LS: Do you feel like you have an addiction?

LR: Yes actually haha. Well I feel like it’s a burden to always want new things and it’s beyond my control. I can’t just be like “oh can’t afford that top, oh well.” It sticks with me. Which is why I’m always e-shopping when I’m not actually shopping.

LS: Have you ever tried to stop? Or do it less?

LR: Well I have done it less. It’s not a full blown addiction I guess because I’m reasonably responsible about it. When I had a side gig giving me 200 extra bucks a week I shopped a lot more. Now I have less money so I “hardly” shop (less than I ever have, that is).

LS: What does it feel like to go into Zara, or to type Nastygal in the url?

LR: Anxiety. Like really anxious and kinda sad? Because I know I will be disappointed. I know I will want a TON of things. I shop with outfits in mind, so even if I get 1 thing, it still feels like a failure because I want 5 things to go with it. The anxiety is this huge world I build with all these clothes and knowing it will NOT be reality.

LS: When did clothes start being important to you?

LR: I feel like I’m in therapy. I guess like as soon as I was old enough to be conscious of it. Very early. There was never a time I can consciously think of when I wasn’t interested in clothes. My mom and I went shopping all the time.

LS: Is your mom really into clothes?

LR: Yes. So very much. She taught me how to want things / how to shop / what to spend on and what to go cheap on

LS: Did your shopping trips with her also end up with few purchases? Was it mostly about the Experience?

LR: Both. Purchases were part of the experience if that makes sense. We bonded really nicely on our shopping trips, and it was always really meaningful when she’d buy me something, or tell me I looked nice in something. Or when I got to help her pick out shoes. It wasn’t shallow or sad. It was really nice. And it was her money (and eventually mine, once I started working in high school), it wasn’t credit cards. She was really smart about it, if a little indulgent. So I learned a lot about money. And fit. All this silly stuff, but important to me. Seriously 100% the best part of my upbringing was shopping with my mom.

LS: What kind of things did you learn?

LR: Never buy fake leather shoes. Always keep your receipts. A jacket fits if 1) the shoulder seam is level with the edge of your shoulder and 2) the wrist opening is a little below that round bone in your wrist. Don’t use a credit card. Untack the back slits of a blazer or sheath dress or pencil skirt!!!!!!!! This is a fun convo and makes me wanna cry. I just love my mom. She’s a fashion/mom angel.

LS: I know you do it’s v sweet. How did she learn about fashion, do you know?

LR: No not really. All of the women on my mom’s side are fashionable women. My mom said her grandmother used to make their clothes. Maybe that was part of it, being able to tell your grandma what you want your dress to look like, knowing it was impeccably made to fit you?

LS: Yes, wow.

LR: I know right, fuckin dollsville. It was definitely cheaper than new clothes though.

LS: Do you like the things you own? Or is shopping way more about shopping than about the stuff? Does wearing things you own give you any pleasure?

LR: Yes I get pleasure from the things I own. The experience of shopping is important to me and also really devastating to me. But also owning things I love is a whole other big thing. There are some things I feel totally amazing in and I’ve actually had serious moments of thanks that some items I own were made. But I’d say 40% of my wardrobe I don’t wear and is junk.

LS: Are the memories of buying those items why you keep them?

LR: Sort of. And guilt.

LS: Do you get rid of things?

LR: Yes, like once a year. It’s really painful and it makes me feel so depressed because it’s wasteful, and the things cost money that I never needed to spend. There are things I donate that I’ve never even worn. And I always donate. I could sell at Buffalo Exchange, but those people are judgey and too picky and also I’m always in the wrong season.

LS: Do you buy and return?

LR: I do buy and return a lot. Not buy wear return. Just buy, hold on to, look at, feel bad about, have a bill due, return. It makes me feel better.

LS: Do you keep it in the bag, or will you put it in the closet?

LR: Depends. Usually I keep it out, try it on a few times. You know after a few days of being unsure about something that it’s not worth keeping. Whereas sometimes I’ll buy stuff and put it on the moment I get home and wear it all day and love it forever (for 3–6 months).

LS: What are you currently in love with?

LR: These leopard-print neon high-waisted tap shorts with a gold zipper on the side. Dark skinny jeans from Joe Fresh, best fitting jeans of all time. I only wear the 2 pair of Joe Fresh jeans I own. I have like 12 pairs of jeans all together but I haven’t worn the 10 other pairs since I bought these Joe Fresh ones in January.

LS: How did you make this discovery?

LR: They have a flagship store near my office and I go like 1–2 times/month during a lunch break to browse. I tried them on on a whim because I wanted new jeans, and they fit better than any other pair ever and were only $40. So I bought 1 pair and went back for a 2nd 2 weeks later. Other favorite things: 1) Calvin Klein nylon circle skirt from Goodwill in my hometown like 7 years ago 2) leather jacket parents bought me for birthday from Express freshman year of college 3) Topshop boots I bought in November.

LS: Do your parents buy you things?

LR: My dad doesn’t really do this, he just gives my mom half the money she spends on my presents. My mom used to buy surprises and be so so so good at it. She knows very well what I want and what I like. More recently she’s had me ask for things specifically, though are still a few surprises here and there during xmas and birthdays.

LS: Do you ever wish you didn’t like stuff?

LR: OMG every day, all the time. My boyfriend is so uninterested in clothes and it just seems so nice to not want stupid shit all the time especially when you already have so much of it thats perfectly good and wearable, and you don’t have lots of money. It’s a huge burden. It makes me a really jealous and intolerable person, too, sometimes, especially in New York when I see girls my age wearing really beautiful clothes. I mean there’s no winning. Even if I do get to someday afford nice things, I’ll never be satisfied. I’ll always want more clothes and better clothes and newer clothes.

LS: Does that make you sad?

LR: Literally so sad. Because I have such a nice life and I’ve never like, wanted for anything. I should be satisfied and happy, and instead I’m always like, actually DEPRESSED about clothes and shoes. Sad. And bitter. And it makes no sense!

LS: Have you thought about quitting? Not life. Not quitting life. Quitting clothes.

LR: I couldn’t probably. Because as much as they make me depressed they also make me really happy. It is such a nice feeling to go out in a new dress, or try on new shoes. I think I’m cutting back as much as I ever will, right now. I’ll never go into debt over shopping or anything, or take out credit cards to buy clothes, or steal, but I won’t ever not buy clothes regularly. I don’t go to a nice gym, I don’t have cable, but I got this dress from H&M and it was only $18 which is nothing, and it fits so well. It has these sexy cutouts on the side, and the top and bottom half knot at the center — it’s hard to explain. But I wore it out last weekend and just felt so wonderful. Which I DO NOT feel when I wear jeans + t-shirts.

LS: I wonder what it is.

LR: Me too. Why are some people clothes people and some people can’t care less about clothes people? Is it a self-esteem thing? Like, I want to wear beautiful clothes so people think I look beautiful and am stylish, whereas maybe people with more self-esteem care less about that?

LS: I don’t consider myself someone who cares much about clothes, but when I wear something lovely it makes such a difference in how I feel. I’ve been dressing up (“dressing up”) for work lately and it just is like a totally new wonderful feeling.

LR: And I actually have “worse days” when I’m wearing a boring outfit. Which is basically saying the same thing you just said but opposite. So maybe that feeling is just more pronounced in the brains of materialistic people.

LS: I think maybe you’re more aware of this way to easy happiness. “Easy happiness.”

LR: But it comes at such a priiiiceee. Because you need to always be feeding it. I could only list 4 things I “love” that I own. Which means there are 196 things I don’t care at all about.

LS: I’m wearing this dress right now that I bought for my birthday. My parents gave me money to buy a dress, and I bought this dress that looks like a nightgown basically, but I love it so much. It has a very pretty back and I just feel very pretty in it. I’ve been wearing it at least part of every day for a few weeks and I just love it and it makes me so happy. And I do think, god what if everything I owned made me feel like this. What if I never left the house without feeling like this.

LR: I know. I know. Do you also think, you almost want to thank god or The Fates or something for making that dress and bringing it into your life? Because I feel that way about things. It’s like oh man what if I didn’t own this? Would I ever be happy? Thank you so much thank you fates.

LS: I don’t know about that? Maybe thanks to the universe.

LR: At LEAST the brand that made it.

LS: Do you feel embarrassed writing about this? Talking about it? I feel like being into clothes is Looked Down On, kind of like Watching TV. Everyone loves to say they don’t care about clothes or TV.

LR: Haha I know. I don’t care. We all have our shit. Like, I don’t smoke pot. People spend their money on dumb shit all the time for dubious reasons. And I think it makes me more like my mother, which I like, because she is wonderful and taught me so much BEYOND things about clothes. But to me shopping and dressing up is a thing that makes me think of her. It’s nice to send her dorky outfit of the day pics and have her respond that she loves my top. I mean, lots of people love style blogs so there’s definitely SOME merit in caring about clothes on a pathological level.

LS: Does it pain you when your friends aren’t that stylish? Ahem.

LR: No not at all. I like being the clothes one anyway. I like being the fashion friend. Also I hate shopping with friends, I never do it. I much prefer shopping alone or with my mom. But anyway unless I’m COVETING something on someone else, I generally don’t care what other people are wearing. I mean my boyfriend wears Ron Jon surf shorts in like, landlocked urban areas, and I still adore him.

Lauren Rodrigue lives in New York.

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