I have a friend- let’s call her Kennifer Jimbel – who was browsing the racks in Nordstrom last week and pulled out a fantastic pair of jeans; perfectly cropped, ideal amount of distressing and just the right faded blue. She then did what she always did prior to deciding whether a piece of clothing was worth even trying on and checked the label for the designer of the denim. She didn’t recognize the name and back on the rack they went without a second thought. It wasn’t until she was back at home that evening (minus a new pair of jeans, sadly) that she gave some thought to her pattern of allowing the label on an article of clothing to determine whether an item was worth purchasing. She realized then that she suffered from a giant case of Label Lust.

Kennifer isn’t the only woman to succumb to this affliction. She has met many others who also become blinded when faced with face a top, coat or (of course!) shoes produced by a coveted designer. Her Label Lust is also reflected in her tendency to be less attracted to pieces from high street stores like Zara (who are widely known for their designer reproductions) when she is able to place the specific piece that is being knocked off.  While she shopped at Zara on the regular, she generally shied away from these obvious facsimiles even when the piece in question was amazing and reasonably priced. “If I can’t have the version Chloe sent down the runway I will have nothing at all” is the attitude she took. This realization made her question past purchases she had made and decide to take an inventory of her closet keeping one question in mind: Would she have bought this if it wasn’t by (insert designer name)?  The results were startling. She pulled out a fair number of pieces that probably would have remained at the store if it weren’t for the label and the feeling that came with owning it. Some honest introspection came next. What was the reason behind this? The sense of belonging to some exclusive club? Bragging rights? Perhaps a little of both, she decided.

But as she sorted through her closet lovingly, remembering where she had bought this and where she wore that she also realized that many of these pieces were truly beautiful, well-crafted items that she had had for years and would continue to wear for years to come. Take her favorite pair of Valentino Rockstud pumps for instance- fabulous two years ago when she bought them and still fabulous today and in regular rotation. Same for that Milly dress she bought last year to wear on her honeymoon. The key here, she decided, was to learn to walk into a store with her eyes open and with an awareness of the malady from which she suffered. She decided that from here on out she would shop keeping two themes in mind: 1) Would she wear this if it wasn’t by 3.1 Phillip Lim? and 2) What is the cost per wear? (The cost of an item divided by the number of times you will wear it)

Ultimately, Kennifer knew that she couldn’t say she wouldn’t ever make an impulse purchase again where the designer label contributed considerably to the decision to hand over her credit card. But she would at the very least be more aware and focused in her shopping as she added to her ever growing collection of clothes and shoes. Progress not perfection.

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