“Ringarde!” The word is a slap in the face, and one that I felt even while watching from a third person point of view. Yes, I am one of millions who devoured the Netflix Original Emily in Paris, and despite what the other half of the world may think, I, along with thousands of other fans–including my mother–, simply cannot get enough of the lust and lustre the show portrays. But one conflict that particularly held weight for me is the ever-present clashing of the old guard with the new guard, haute couture with everyday style, extravagance with practicality.
On one hand, I can’t imagine being so haute that I’m disgusted by the mere presence of someone wearing anything but designer, like my morality is directly measured by my ability to name drop every time someone compliments my style. Sure, it’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl to buy myself a pair of Louboutins, but I never failed to notice the irony of girls in my high school pairing their glistening Gucci belt with an American Eagle t-shirt and jeans. Does fashion really come down to a (sometimes very large) number on a piece of paper? I hope not, or else I am truly failing as the Director of Style for Marque Magazine where we source all of our clothes from our own closets, our models’ closets, and yes, Goodwill.
On the other hand, I can’t imagine being so hungry for a following that I’d intentionally purchase a work of art, for a painful price I might add, only to defame it in order to make a statement in support of the working class. Of course, I know the phrase “No pain, no gain,” but I’m pretty sure this doesn’t include pain inflicted on someone other than yourself. Last time I checked, the haughty are still human, and their work means just as much to them as our work means to us. Why is it our natural instinct to see something beautiful and destroy it, like two mutually beautiful things can’t live in this world simultaneously? Why do we feel like personal success is only possible at someone else’s expense?
I don’t know the answers to these metaphysical questions, but what I do know is, while I may never be able to afford or feel comfortable purchasing garments in the realm of haute couture, my style is anything but basic. In fact, when asked to describe my style, I can’t do it in any one way, because my style is ever changing, bending to my every, multi-dimensional whim. I won’t apologize for checking Pinterest every morning in search of radical new ideas to fuel my fashion. I won’t apologize for walking into a store and heading straight for the clearance section. And I won’t apologize for crafting both of my prom dresses from pieces I found at Goodwill and feeling the most expensive I’ve ever felt in my life. But I also refuse to reject the woman inside me who longs to attend Paris Fashion Week in favor of frugality. I champion having things out of my reach because it pushes me to expand my creativity and ask myself how I can achieve the same with less. So can we all just let our guards–old and new–down? Because the only thing truly ringarde about this is making someone feel lesser than in something they would otherwise feel confident wearing.