I will start by saying that I never really had the money to justify buying Armani anything, let alone a $60 bottle of foundation. Actually, I bought two at once, lured into the prospect of becoming dewy and flawless. Oh, and I bought a ridiculously priced foundation brush (tools are VERY important) and a compact of pressed powder which was lost within a week.
What I DID have was store and other major cards with ridiculously high credit limits. As a nice Jewish girl from Long Island, I was lured to the only Bloomingdale’s in Massachusetts where I convinced myself that I was among my people when I walked through the automatic doors and into the world of top-of-the-line cosmetic and fragrance brands. This was not Macy’s or Sephora. This was the real fucking deal.
I don’t care about labels in other things–I have no need for an endless amount of Louis Vuitton logos repeating on a bag (I kind of think they’re hideous unless on turn-of-the century steamer trunks) and the only Coach bag I’ve ever owned was the most unlike Coach bag ever where most of the proceeds went to charity, not a logo in sight. I understand that it’s probably true that a $150 dollar pair of jeans is most-likely better quality than a $25 pair at Target, but I’d much rather spend my money on fabulous high-quality bedding than a $100 tee-shirt.
I grew up not wanting for much. I was never materialistic like a lot of the girls who surrounded me. I didn’t feel peer-pressured into having diamond studs (usually secured as Bat Mitzvah gifts) or Candie’s espadrilles. I was a bit too heavy to wear Sasson or Jordache jeans, but I did balk a bit when I got rather cheesy imitation Frye boots, which I incidentally charged on my aforementioned Bloomingdale’s charge card about 10 years ago when they had not yet made their comeback. The $125 investment was well-worth it.
It is entirely possible that I am the only woman, who after reading a 15 (maybe 17?) page article in The New Yorker about the “nose” of Hermes who spent years replicating a certain smell along the Nile, who ran out and bought a bottle. To this day, it is my one and only signature scent and I admit to enjoying adding the intellectual New Yorker part when I tell people what I’m wearing. Because I haven’t had the money to replace it ($90 a bottle) I pump the spray bottle to at least get the whiff of air that still has the scent. I’m tempted to throw it against a wall so I can rub the glass shards on my pulse points.
I’ve closed store credit cards more times than I can count, but I know that I can walk to a counter, show my id, and within seconds, it is reopened again. I have gone on “one last binge” before cutting up cards, which last time did indeed include a $125 pair of jeans (worth every penny). My husband and I are still paying off the suit and shoes we charged for our wedding over two years ago.
I’ve talked about my new (forced) austerity in this blog before. Long gone are the days where I walk into any store with reckless abandon. I applauded myself when I recently bought a huge bottle of Suave shampoo (a pretty good Aveda imitation) for $1.84. $1.84!!!!!! The best tupperware-type things I’ve ever used I get at the dollar store. I buy my underwear by the 5-pack at Target and get a three-pack of faux gold hoops for $7.99 until they turn black, and then replace them.
All this being said, I felt slightly ashamed when I found myself in the Cover Girl aisle at CVS ultimately purchasing an “age defying” concealer. I have it in my bathroom with the label side down (not that my husband or daughter would understand the implications of what I consider to be rather rock-bottom). I KNOW people will respond by saying that it’s all the same, repackaged by one or two manufactures who pump it all out in giant factories, but, I still feel as if I want to climb back up and be able to buy a $20 of shampoo every once in a while. I was HORRIFIED to discover that a faux-cashmere sweater I’ve been wearing all winter is from VALERIE BERTINELLI’S CLOTHING LINE. OMG. I have sunk so low…