Hi, I’m Mary, and this is my column no one asked for about things I like!
I wouldn’t say (admit?) I have a shopping problem, but whenever I’m having a hard time, I get the sudden urge to shop until I drop (all my money on clothing). It’s natural human instinct to crave material goods, especially when other, more important things in your life are lacking. For example, whenever I have an office job, all I do is online shop because I need to fill the hole created by my miserable, desk-ridden existence (I’m really not good in an office) with STUFF. Whenever I’m feeling bad about myself, I want to buy something nice to remind myself that I actually am attractive, or worthy, or whatever it is I feel I’m not.
Last weekend, while wandering around Soho with my sister and my dear friend Gregory, I suggested we pop into the Rachel Comey store. The New York-based designer makes clothes, shoes, jewelry and accessories that are, to be blunt, cool as fuck, and even more important comfortable. Her aesthetic is minimalist and clean, featuring lots of loose pants, jumpsuits and high-necked tops. It’s exactly my style, and I often think if I ever made money (which I currently do not), I’d shop almost exclusively at Rachel Comey. Her brand aspirational in the truest sense – her clothes represent the woman I’d like to be one day: cool, casual, financially secure, confident enough to wear cropped, wide-leg jeans.
I own two items from Rachel Comey: a pair of her signature clogs, which I bought on sale from Garmentory, and a jumpsuit, which I splurged on two summers ago when I A) had a steady job and B) had to attend a lot of weddings. It’s the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought. Once I biked past a woman on the Manhattan Bridge who was wearing the same exact jumpsuit. It was a weekday morning and she was biking into Manhattan while wearing the nicest piece of clothing I’ve ever owned (even though my dry cleaner called it “fancy pajamas”). She was a Rachel Comey woman. I felt like am imposter, like I was playacting as a sophisticated woman. Meanwhile, I was so excited to be wearing the jumpsuit that I filmed a music video with Greg just to capture the moment (which is excellent, if I do say so myself. It’s also four parts but part two is my favorite).
I’m not currently at a point in my life where I could afford to buy another jumpsuit, and I’m certainly not at a point where I could afford to buy a $500 dress, especially when I have nowhere to wear it, but sometimes it’s nice to put on an expensive dress with no intention of buying it, just to see what it would look like, just to see how it feels, just to see who you would be if you were the kind of woman who could afford to buy an expensive dress and wear it while riding your bike to work.
I tried on two Rachel Comey dresses the other day – both of which originally cost about $550, both of which were 30% off. I wasn’t going to buy them, I just wanted to wear them each once, if only for a few minutes. Unfortunately, they both fit perfectly, and for half a second I thought, “Well, it’s such a good deal, and I have a credit card…” but that thought left my head as soon as it entered it. I learned that lesson the hard way years ago, when I drove up a bit of credit card debt after college – and I made more money then than I do now. To give you an idea of my current financial situation: I just got a freelance gig that pays $60-$100 a week and I. am. STOKED.
Even though I knew I couldn’t buy either dress, I looked at myself in the dressing room mirror. I showed my sister and Greg. They complimented me. I felt good. I looked good. It may be superficial, but I looked like the woman I want to be one day, the kind of woman I’ve tried to be in the past, unable to convince even myself that I was succeeding.
Sometimes I wish I could see myself 10 years in the future, just to see if I’m actually going to get all the things I’ve finally realized I want. I know, however, that wouldn’t help. If 10 years ago, I had gotten a glimpse of my life now I would have been so confused. Why am I walking dogs for a living? Why did I cut my hair again when I’m working so hard to grow it out? Why am I always wearing overalls? But I’m so much happier now than I was back then. It’s not perfect but I have, in some ways at least, created the life I want, am in the process of creating it every day.
It’s so cliché to say life is all about the journey, but if I did get a sneak peek at the future, I know it would not only make no sense, but take some of the fun out of getting there. If in my premonition I were wearing a Rachel Comey dress, for example, it would at least partially ruin the surprise and pleasure of becoming the kind of woman who can wear Rachel Comey casually. Instead I just have to trust that I’ll get there. I have to imagine it, along with much more important things like building my career, having a family and finally figuring out which products will make my hair air dry the way I want it to.
Life is full of challenges, big and small, but I think you can weather them if you can just remain hopeful. If you can be kind in the face of cruelty, trust even after a betrayal, stay open in the wake of heartbreak, if you can imagine that one day, you could be the kind of woman who walks into Rachel Comey on a random day and leaves with a beautiful dress, trusting she’ll have somewhere to wear it – if you can do these things, you’ll survive. Sure, money isn’t important, and clothes even less so, but believing in your own potential is. It’s hard to get what you want, harder if you don’t know what it is, but if you can figure out where you want to go, who you want to be, you’ll get there. It’s not about the stupid dresses I tried on (they weren’t stupid, they were beautiful) of course, but what they represent: the hope that things will change, that life will get better, that you have the power to create the life you want and that no one can take it away from you.
I left the store without a dress but my sister bought a skirt. She just started a new job at a big deal company, one she was recruited for. She’s the exact kind of cool career woman Rachel Comey designs for. She has no real occasion to wear the skirt, but knows she’ll have an opportunity – a meeting, an event, a workday when she just feels like dressing up. She’ll wear the skirt and it’ll look natural on her. She’ll look like she’s not even trying.
As I write this, I’m wearing my jumpsuit and clogs. Sure, I’m just sitting in my apartment all alone, but they’re my things and I can wear them whenever I want. It’s so easy to forget that, but it’s true. Right at this very moment, I’m wearing Rachel Comey and I don’t feel like an imposter.
As always, I’d like to clarify that this is NOT a sponsored post. I received nothing for it and am pretty sure no one cares about my eye makeup journey. Still, if anyone is reading and ever wants to give me literally anything for free, Rachel Comey or not, I WILL TAKE IT!!!!!!
Anyway, I hope this was helpful. I’ll be back with more unsolicited recommendations soon!