Columns, Opinion

RODRIGUE: The fashion reflex

If I told you I was a fashion girl, I think you’d agree. But these days, it’s more of an affliction than a harmless hobby. No longer just a passion, nor an interest, but a full-blown psychological vice. I’ve developed this especially interesting new habit of finding one thing I really desire ‘-‘- here, ‘desire’ is used loosely as a term to describe my penchant for convincing myself I need some material object more than I need say, water or oxygen ‘-‘- and then thinking about that one thing constantly.
When you blink your eyes or digest your food, you’re accomplishing what biology textbooks refer to as involuntary processes. My obsessive game of wanting new things can be seen as an example of this phenomenon ‘-‘- the idea of the thing I want embeds itself in my mind so deeply that it replays and replays in my head perpetually without me even consciously instigating it, and it won’t stop till I’ve obtained the item in question. That’s how I got my over-the-knee leather boots, my cross-body fringed bag, my shiny black vinyl leggings. And that’s how I got my brand-new leather jacket.
I can’t even remember the first day I started wanting a leather jacket. It was probably a year or so ago, and it probably evolved from some really innocuous incident like me walking by a mannequin dressed in one in a shop window or seeing some perfect model wearing one in Vogue. That’s all it takes, you see: One flash of my pupils across a garment, a single passage of my fingertip over a swatch of fabric. Or, in the case of leather, one simple hint of the earthy smell of genuine dead cowhide. Smells like fashion victory.
And now every day for the past several hundred, I’ve had leather jackets on the brain. I’ve imagined the way it might sound when the leather arm swings against the leather torso during a brisk walk ‘-‘- a whispery swish, perhaps? And the purr of the zipper, and the moaning of the stressed seams around the shoulders and across the back when the arms are raised to hail a cab. And the pert snip of the wrist snaps.
I’ve always associated this effortless glamour to leather ‘- the way it sort of wears the wearer rather than letting her wear it. The way it drapes around shoulders and snakes around waists and wrists; the way it reflects light. It’s the same kind of glamour emanated by the chocolatey waves of Jewish girls’ hair or the piquant melody of a pair of high heels walking through a wooden-floored hallway. This kind of glamour enters rooms before you do and hangs in the air for a while after you leave. I had to have it.
And I got it when my parents visited Saturday and gave me my birthday gift a few weeks early since I won’t be home ’til Thanksgiving. Of course, I already knew what it was – but that didn’t detract from the sheer, unadulterated bliss I felt when I slipped my new black leather jacket on for the first time. The lack of surprise didn’t prevent that moment from being a seminal moment in Lauren Rodrigue fashion history. I actually blushed when I saw myself in the mirror with it on for the first time – I told you, I have a sickness.
And you’d think that finally owning the one thing I’ve desired for months and months would mitigate my fashion affliction for at least a little while. You’d think that once I was finally covered in a massively overpriced piece of cowhide, once I finally felt the satin lining enveloping my arms and finally smelled that distinct leathery smell radiating from the lapels resting on my clavicles, that I’d be satisfied. You’d think I’d give it a rest for a minute, you’d think I’d think I finally had all I needed.
But no. I am still not satisfied. And that’s how I know I’m insane.
Because that’s the crux of the fashion world: Just when you think you’re settled with your wardrobe and just when you think you need nothing more than perhaps a new pair of socks or two, you wake up one morning and sit bolt upright in bed, temporarily blinded by sudden waking, and you realize it’s all completely worthless without a great pair of loafers or a chiffon skirt. It’s kind of like how every time you buy an Apple product they launch a brand new edition of it two weeks later, without fail, for 100 bucks less.
You must wonder how my fashion-obsessed peers and I cope with this miserable, materialistic existence. But the truth is there is no coping. It’s not so much a mental state as it is a chronic syndrome or perhaps some big neurotransmitter mix-up that prevents us from being satisfied with what we have. But if the first step of curing an issue like this is admitting you have a problem, then I’m at least 800 words into recovery. But until I’m completely stable, I ask that you keep your eyes peeled for a good pair of leather gloves to accompany this new jacket of mine.

Lauren Rodrigue, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, is a weekly columnist for The Daily Free Press. She can be reached at

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