Five Perfect Pieces for this Fall’s Panic Attack

When approaching this season’s big social engagements and your resultant crippling social anxiety, it’s super important to dress the part you wish to play in the scene you have been imagining in your head for hours or possibly days. After all, this baby shower or extended family dinner will continue to haunt you well after the leaves have fallen and the air has snapped into winter. By then you’ll have a whole new set of horrifying social land mines to navigate — it’s been three years; you really gotta ask for a raise, already!

Let’s get started.

Whipping together these 5 fashion ingredients will let you tackle any drama that would otherwise require the quick consumption of a Xanax and two shots of vodka:

1. Hair. Slick, tight. This is the moment to remember the word “chignon.” Can hair be serene? Damn right it can.

2. High Heels. Incorporate some kind of spike or grommet.

3. All-black everything. You have no time for rainbows; you are your own spectrum.

4. Red lipstick. You know it.

5. Glasses. Down with the patriarchy and its tiny plastic eye-discs!

Who will you be today? You’ll be a woman who seemingly knows what’s she’s doing, that’s who!

You sparkle! There will be no bullshit over the calamari tonight, oh no. Your rapier wit cuts through tired conversational tropes and passive aggressive remarks.

You will NOT pass the olive oil, get your own damn olive oil.

But your eyes are gracious behind those glasses. After the table has been cleared of crumbs and remorse only a soft, flattering, humanistic glow lingers. Was the light from those wall sconces always so flattering — or is the way you’re wearing your hair?

You should really wear red lipstick more often, you minx.

Maybe like a little less red-red, though?

And. Hmm.

Are you sure about those shoes?

I mean, trust me, the hair is great. Maybe it could be bigger, though? Where’s that mousse you bought 6 months ago? Right, okay, use some of that. More. Slather it in there. Medusa-in-the-1980s. Now your hair is so big that perhaps you’re a little top-heavy on these 4-inch heels. What if you have to run from someone, or alternatively, charge them?

Let’s amend Item 2: Try boots instead, the clunkier the better. Are they are a little dirty still from last winter? Even better. What you want to look like is the hottest girl in the LL Bean catalogue, like after they’ve rebranded a little as hipsters age into practical winter wear. Maybe like J.Crew 15 years ago?

Awesome: You can start your own fire! Definitely a metaphorical one but probably also a literal one, if given enough time and also matches!

Okay but now with the boots the entirely black outfit is looking a little like you’re headed into an interrogation room, which in a sense you are but that’s not the powerful, no-shits-given look you’re trying to cultivate here.

Cultivate! That’s it. That’s better. Why are you getting so worked up? Do you have anything with a floral print? You are an Earth Mother, embracing the world to your bosom. Okay yes but it doesn’t go with those boots. (Also you need to change your bra.) The lipstick is wrong now. Also you should probably make your hair bigger.

Sandals, gauzy floral dress, single demure braid that encapsulates the self-care of meditating upon tiny, perfect things. Throw some rings on, too. Dangly earrings.

Maybe like 2 necklaces?

This would really be better if you had an anklet, or skinnier ankles.

Also why is this place always so cold? While earth mothers may be warmed from within by the heat of an eternal life-affirming compost pile, you have terrible circulation so maybe you should really wear pants?

Okay how about jeans and that shirt you got from the thrift store last week which if anyone asks will be evidence of your, um, thriftiness in the face of Western capitalism’s siren pull, perfect as you ask for a raise and 5 unpaid days off and/or consume 3 pounds of linguini with clams.

There are also those cuffed, slightly baggy pants which give you a real art-dealer vibe (in your head), but those you’d have to wear heels with, but not the ones from the first outfit because these pants really call for a chunkier heel. Oh, but if you’re doing the chunky shoes then probably you could get away with formal shorts, which would, yes, be cold but would also allow you to wear that sweater with the embroidered (tasteful!) unicorn on it, which is both whimsical and also a giant “F YOU” to the implication you feel you’re always getting that your clothing choices have, traditionally, not been quite as mature as your actual numerical age.

Purple lipstick goes great with those shorts. Also two rings. Tasteful. Subtle. Easy, easy. You got this. It’s coming together now. This is happening! You minx.

Pull that hair up on top of your head. This is your crown. You are a warrior princess in a unicorn sweater and fancy embroidered shorts that you got at 40% off and purple lipstick that you are probably not pulling off but that IS OKAY.

By now there is a large pile of discarded clothing on the floor. Your small dog or cat begins to build a nest. Let them — there is a beast inside you, too. And you will do laundry this weekend.

Put your contacts back in. Feminism means the choice to forgo glasses.

Your unicorn sweater is stained with the ketchup from the french fries you ate for lunch. How good were those french fries, though? So good.

Pour a drink.


You look great.