New York

High Costs of Womanhood

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Being a woman is, like, super expensive. This thought occurred to me as I was tallying my living expenses in an effort to budget for a potential move to the East Coast. $50 for mineral powder here, $25 for face cream there (by the way, that’s a significant compromise in and of itself)…all of a sudden, shampoo and the innocent planned frozen yogurt haul accumulate to a cost of living of over $20,000 (not including the most important and most expensive factor: rent). Obviously some concessions must be made when one considers a move to the Big Apple. But where do you draw the line? When does living and working in the fashion capital of the world become less of an exciting, compromise-laden adventure and more of a quality-of-life draining burden?

Working in the fashion industry is a double-edged sword. You’ve got to look good to survive. Self-presentation is essential to making a good impression in an aesthetics-driven industry, and one must make it clear that she has a sense of style and taste that is on par with the company she desires to be associated with. In layman’s terms, you’ve got to dress for the job you want. Unfortunately, maintaining a quality wardrobe on the salary of an entry-level employee is extremely difficult. Hence, my hesitation in shaving off a couple thousand big ones from my yearly allotted clothing budget. Where can I skimp and where must I uphold high (albeit, higher than average) standards for the products and merchandise that I bathe in and live in everyday?

Democratically, acclaimed brands have been trickling their designs down to suit the price points of affordable retailers (think: upcoming collections like Phillip Lim for Target and Isabel Marant for H&M). Yes, it’s a cool concept and it has seen its fair share of success (case in point: the wildly popular Missoni for Target line), but it’s getting old. Firstly, I am convinced, no matter what anyone says, that the designers have no hand in designing the final product. Yes, the cut of that Jason Wu for Target dress might have a silhouette with an ever-so-slight likeness to one from Wu’s RTW collection. Yes, those gigantic overstuffed Margiela for H&M coats might bear a small similarity to the avant-garde features of Maison Martin Margiela’s collections. Simply Vera by Vera Wang? Don’t even get me started. Secondly (and in any of these instances), the lower price points are achieved with distinctly lowered quality. And when the fabric isn’t right, the garment isn’t right. Cheap textiles = a cheap look. There is no compromising there. Zara is a glimmer of hope in my jaded view of the fast fashion sector. I am often impressed with the offerings and pleasantly surprised by the flattering cuts and decent fabrics Zara markets. However, even Zara has its share of missteps; and slinky, poorly finished garments are all too common.

Another conundrum: sulfate-riddled shampoos are bad for your health and bad for your hair. At the moment, upping the price tag seems to be the only defense against these harmful chemicals (sulfate-free shampoos can cost you upwards of $20 a pop). What’s a girl to do? My extra-full brows need cleaning up at least once every two months (and that’s pushing it). When you can’t tackle the task yourself, $450 per year is the price to pay. Beauty is pain, in more ways than one.

I love ‘things,’ as evidenced by many of my previous posts. I accept, with pride, the positive benefits that these indulgences have on my appearance; my home’s appearance; and, most importantly, my self-confidence. Continuing to consume is consistent with my ideal self and lifestyle (after all, this blog was created out of a love of beautiful things); but even considering my overwhelming passion for shopping and collecting and using, I am giving the concept a second look. What can I eliminate to make my life more manageable? How can I knock down my cost of living? I’ve been lucky enough to never be without – all through my formative years until now. I know that I’m fortunate and that these issues are small in the grand scheme of the world. But real talk: How do you make concessions? Where do you do without? I want to hear your story! Give me the magic answer!

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2 thoughts on “High Costs of Womanhood

  1. i heard andy spade speak a few months ago and he said – the best way to force yourself to figure it all out/become successful/make it/etc. is to live in a city that you can’t really afford to live in (aka new york). you’ll either make it work or you won’t, but at least you will have tried. it really stuck with me. we become more creative when faced with constraints. i’m old and can’t exactly up and move my entire life, but you can! your expenses and needs will only continue to expand, so you’ll never be able to afford the same lifestyle you have here in NYC. but when you are in NYC, you’ll have so many other amazing opportunities that you will probably want/need less than you do here. oh, and i definitely paid less in LONDON to get my brows done than i do in MSP. increased demand is incredibly helpful for beauty services!

  2. Val says:

    Hey, I read this post as it came up on my facebook feed. Why not try some DIY. You clearly love fashion, have good taste, and know how to dress yourself. You have invested in making a career of it and take it seriously. Why not try making some of your own stuff? I sew and it is surprising the fit and quality you can get from making stuff yourself. The best part is when people compliment you, you can say you designed it and made it. I would assume that would be respected in NYC. Start with simple dress silhouettes and tops and save your money for stuff that is actually difficult to make. You’ll start respecting clothes for a whole new reason and you won’t really feel like you are going without if you think you could do better. It is like cutting out the middle man and being more self sufficient I guess. If you think of clothes like art, just start making the art yourself and start being more picky about the art you buy. Maybe you could apply that to other things too?

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