“Cheap Sunglasses, Expensive Lingerie”
I don’t believe in “rules,” because like, what am I, your mom? We’re all Grown Woman™! We can do whatever we want! I have a particular distaste for fashion rules (don’t mix patterns, don’t wear white after Labor Day, don’t don’t don’t), because they only exist to force people into these totally arbitrary categories of completely meaningless concepts like “taste” and “class” and “beauty,” all of which are based in subjective and constantly shifting priorities that have more to do with enforcing a status quo than actually encouraging people to look and dress in a way that feels best for them. Oof. I just tried reading that sentence out loud and ran out of breath. But you know what I mean.
HOWEVER. On Saturday I spent a good six hours by myself, wandering around Toronto and completing various errands I had been putting off; I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sit in front of my computer all day because I could feel a very real burnout coming on, but I also couldn’t do nothing, like oh my god perish the thought, so I went to Toronto’s fanciest department store to pick up some skincare stuff I “needed” to replace, and while I was there I was like, fuck it, I’m going to the floor with all the Agent Provocateur bras and buying something ridiculous. Pictured, left: one of the bad decisions I made while I was there. It’s called the Alina Bra and I will probably never take it off. I also bought this bra because I was in a MOOD for making BAD DECISIONS.
Afterwards I kept waiting for the guilt or regret to creep in because, like, I don’t know if you clicked on those links, but those bras cost money. Money I’ve been saving (hoarding, really), for important life things. But you know what? The guilt didn’t happen. It STILL hasn’t happened. And that’s because of one of the only fashion rules I do follow, one that has many practical applications and iterations but I’m choosing to simplify it, is: “cheap sunglasses, expensive lingerie.”
I once bought a pair of really beautiful, very expensive Karen Walker sunglasses; this was back when I worked as a legal secretary and was just rolling in disposable income for the very first time in my adult life. I still have them! They’re great! But I almost never wear them. They feel a little too…heavy, maybe? Too much. Which is strange, because I almost always wear sunglasses when I’m outside, my eyes are extremely sensitive to light and even indirect sunlight makes me tear up almost immediately, plus they just make me look cool. I prefer the sunglasses I get from this cute store around the corner from my apartment. They have a whole wall of sunglasses for $10 each and I’ll buy one or two, wear them to death (you should’ve seen what happened to the sunglasses I brought with me to Cuba, R.I.P. those beautiful reflective aviators, they were too pure for this world), and then replace them as necessary.
Sunglasses bounce around in your pockets and bump up against your keys and get jammed into your purses. More than that, they’re right in front of your face all the time!! Everyone sees them! They’re not special. That’s my point. They’re common. Like, who cares about sunglasses.
Lingerie, on the other hand. I expected to feel guilty because, like, how could I spend so much money on something that I was going to show to so few people? I mean, I’m not some kind of lingerie purist who is like “this is for my husband’s eyes only” because like lol as if. You better believe I sent about a million texts and Instagram DMs of my tits in those bras when I was in the Agent Provocateur change room, I looked amazing and I knew it and I wanted all my friends and loved ones to simultaneously know it and share in my narcissism. But if you’re someone who wears bras and enjoys wearing bras, you know how it feels to find a really, truly great one. I once had a friend who described the way her tits looked when she held them in her hands guided into exactly the right height and shape and said her life’s mission was to find a bra that did exactly that, a comparison I loved because I knew what she was talking about but also because a really good bra should feel like someone is lovingly propping your breasts up to the height and shape you feel your best in. Sunglasses can’t do anything even remotely comparable to that kind of emotional and physically flattering support. I mean, apparently they make your face look more symmetrical? Who cares.
Once I started thinking about this I realized I have so many other similar rules that I’d been secretly holding on to, guiding all my purchases and beauty priorities. This has been a very longwinded preamble to sharing those with you. They are, more or less in order, the following:
Cheap Jewelry, Expensive Shoes
Another realization after I bought these Acne oxfords for my wedding. I had wanted these shoes for years and couldn’t justify the price. That’s the great thing about weddings; everyone validates your completely absurd and shitty purchases because it’s “your special day.” Now I wear them as often as the weather will permit me. Looking at them beside my desk, I swear, makes me work harder. Seeing them beneath my dumb jeans as I walk around Toronto makes me walk with more purpose. They were worth every penny.
Jewelry, on the other hand, is something I’ve never really taken a lot of pride or pleasure in. I’ll go through phases with bracelets or whatever (I’m having a earrings phase right now), but it never lasts. I just find that as an object it’s often too small or easily forgotten to have much of an impact on me, either aesthetically or emotionally.
Cheap Moisturizer, Expensive Lipstick
This is going to be a *~*controversial opinion*~*, I can just tell. I mean, it’s hypocritical; I’m currently using and enjoying a fairly pricey moisturizer that I bought with a Sephora gift card. But I do think that most moisturizer, including your basic garden variety drugstore moisturizer, can get the job done. Like; it’s basically just Vaseline. Not really. But really. Most moisturizers are just a hybrid of glycerin and other ingredients that provide a temporary sense of moisture but will inevitably dissolve and leave your skin in need of more. So why spend a lot of money on it? Just get something that feels good and has some SPF and call it a day.
Lipstick, on the other hand, is a beauty item that I consider to be crucial and so often terrible. Cheap lipstick is repulsive. It smells bad and looks bad and feels bad. Why would you put something like that on your mouth? The smell of cheap lipstick, in particular, haunts me, because I am a petty person consumed by irrational hatreds. Expensive lipstick, on the other hand, is something that can turn around your entire face. Depending on the brand, it normally smells fine, and ideally there is no smell, but more than that, really, really good lipstick has the right balance of color density — intense and evenly distributed pigmentation is the goal — and a smooth, easy texture that feels like it’s part of your lips without bleeding or cracking. Spend money on good lipstick. That’s a real rule for me.
Cheap Mascara, Expensive Eyeliner
Another controversial opinion, maybe!! But, like, you should be throwing your mascara out every three months, and if you’re not don’t tell me because I don’t even want to think about the bacteria that’s breeding in that dark tube of creamy gunk. Also, like, sorry, but all mascaras are the same. I’ve used some truly wonderful mascara brushes and seen some really excellent mascara formulas, but at the end of the day, it’s all paint on a wand stick. Just get some Maybelline Great Lash or whatever is on sale at Duane Reade and call it a DAY.
Eyeliner, on the other hand, doesn’t breed bacteria because you sharpen away the formula that comes into contact with your skin (that is, if you’re using pencil, duh), and like lipstick, a really excellent eyeliner will have the kind of texture and color you just can’t get from cheaper versions. Bad eyeliner scratches and tugs at the most sensitive part of your face!! And the color goes on so dry and scratchy!! Why would you want that so close to your eyeball! Just go to MAC or Benefit or SOMETHING and treat yourself to a really nice eyeliner, you’ll thank me later, I promise.
I mean, I have a bunch more (cheap wallets/expensive purses, cheap notebooks/expensive pens), but I think you get the idea. These rules are based in the idea that, first, you spend way too much time shopping or thinking about shopping, which is a whole other article, but it’s also about spending money on things that can actually make a difference in your day or week or life. Part of not caring about fashion rules is not allowing material goods to hold too much power over you, but I know I’m someone who does care a lot about looking good. Wearing clothes and makeup and knowing that, secretly, I’m wearing the sexiest fucking bra in the entire world and no one at this dumb coffee shop has any idea, is something that provides a small amount of tangible happiness in my day, and that’s why I spend so much time thinking about it. I strongly recommend you do the same.
So, good morning, happy Monday!! How was your weekend? Did you buy anything dumb? Do you STRONGLY DISAGREE with any of my cheap/expensive recommendations? Do you want me to DM you a picture of these bras? That’s what comments sections are for, or so they keep telling me.