You don’t want to read another fashion column. At least, I don’t want to read another fashion column. I’m tired of reading about the glamorous experience of walking among paper-thin models imported from exotic lands to Fashion Week. Nor can I stand another heartfelt love letter to the hipster gods after some girl’s “unique” style revelation at the local Salvation Army.
You and I have read these perspectives too many times before. Yes, living in one of the capital cities of fashion, it’s only natural that we gravitate toward discussions about high fashion and Anna Wintour’s latest prophecy. As members of a college campus dominated by secondhand threads, it is equally reasonable to expect conversations about fashion to drift to thrifting from time to time.
However, what about the people in between these two worlds, stuck between a Manolo and a hard place—people who recognize and appreciate style but approach it with pragmatism?
Perhaps they flip through the pages of Vogue over a latte at Hungarian Pastry Shop on Sunday mornings, yet they would never actually buy anything adorning those glossy pages—not because of anti-materialistic principles or because the clothes were made by children in a Sri Lankan sweat shop, but because the clothes are just too damn expensive. They aren’t necessarily looking to be resale chic either. In fact, they embrace mainstream chain stores and shop at them almost exclusively.
In a world of runway disciples and secondhand clothing empires, these casual readers are simply fashion realists. And I am one of them.
Unfortunately, I rarely read anything from the perspective of a practical fashion lover. The closest approximations to this view that I have ever seen are those in stories featuring runway looks “for less.” The almost complete absence of this view is pathetic, as most people are fashion realists in one sense or another.
I care about finding what looks good on me. I will spend an absurd amount of time to figure it out. However, whether it takes our entire adulthoods or exactly 25 seconds to find the perfect outfit, there will be a moment in each of our lives when we want to look good but have to be realistic. We will have to consider things that are usually obstacles to being fashionable, like being comfortable, thinking about the price, or—my least favorite—dressing weather-appropriate.
I shop at stores with clearance racks. While some people have the opportunity to go on a spree at Bloomingdale’s, most of us commoners are confined to the racks at the Gap, Forever 21, or H&M with the rest of the masses, and we are perfectly fine with that.
I notice trends, and I have no problem ignoring them. It doesn’t have to be ready-to-wear for me to be ready to wear it. The idea of flouting the trend is best illustrated by the shift in men’s apparel; with pants getting slimmer and slimmer, almost every fashion-conscious man has had to ask himself: Do I really want to wear pants that tight?
For those who have not yet encountered these scenarios, there will soon come a cloudy day when your eyes become frantic and your brow begins to sweat as you try to decide between sweatpants and skinny jeans.
Keep reading. When that day comes, you’ll be ready—at least more ready than if you had been reading about the hottest stilettos at Fashion Week.
Sarah Batchu is a Barnard College sophomore and a page design associate editor for Spectator. Fashion Realist runs alternate Fridays.