Because there was no one nearby to talk me out of it, I walked into an Anthropologie last week. I’ve never once found an item of clothing there that suited me, but I have a lot of weddings to go to this summer, and anyway, it’s right across the street from our office.
I was in and out in fewer than 10 minutes, but not before being brutally taunted by at least half a dozen different dresses, all of which seemed chic and well-designed in passing, but when you pulled them off the rack, were covered in oversized decorative buttons, random bows, random ruffles, or some combination of all three. A week later, I’m still mad about it.
Anthropologie is a notably egregious offender, but it represents a larger issue: It’s close to impossible to find women’s clothes that haven’t been ruined, for no reason, by embarrassing frippery that no one asked for. Though the line was geared towards plus-sized clothing specifically, there’s a reason that Shrill’s observation about most women’s clothes being “some cutesy shit covered in Eiffel Tower postage stamps” reverberated across the internet.
There’s also a reason that, for all its problematic nonsense, branded clothing is as successful as it is. People want clothes that won’t look insane next season, when whatever stupid sleeve thing happening right now is ... no longer happening.
To wade through the endless racks full of dreck, you have to be ruthless and efficient. So when our Deputy Editor Alice DM’d me “Fashion Coward” from last week’s episode of SNL (“I felt seen. And attacked. Both these things”), I was mostly mad that this store doesn’t actually exist.
I was also vehemently in support of the shopping strategies at work here. Taking more than 30 seconds to decide if you want something is a sign that you should discard it immediately. Asking yourself “Am I this person?” when trying on something that doesn’t quite suit you should immediately make that clothing item burst into flames.
Your ideal item of clothing doesn’t have to be an oversized grey hoodie, but if you don’t immediately love and feel confident in something (or if it’s not the size that your body actually is right now), it should be discarded immediately, never to be seen again. And if it otherwise looks good but has a weird little tie of the shirtsleeves at the bottom (Why?! This is so easy to do yourself, if you want to), you shouldn’t have to talk yourself into why it “mostly” works on you.
Being a fashion coward will save you endless wasted hours — and hundreds, if not thousands of wasted dollars — on clothes you never actually liked in the first place. It’ll also dry up the market for “big, dumb-looking buttons and bows,” and the sooner that happens, the sooner I can shop without feeling like I’m losing my mind.