My family moved to the United States from Mexico in 1989 when I was four years old and one of my earliest memories is of my Kindergarten teacher yelling at me to be quiet in English as I screamed at the top of my lungs for my Mami in Spanish. I was an outsider right from the start.
As I got older I noticed a few things that got people noticed and cool at school. Those things were largely intelligence, humor, and fashion. Want to have a better life? Befriend the nerds, be one of them, go to college. Want to be one of the cool girls that boys actually respect? Learn how to be funny, sharpen your competitive edge, and fake confidence even when your anxiety is crippling. Most importantly, do you want the cool kids to respect you? Buy the latest and greatest shoe, top, or whatever and boom, you're fucking in.
Those three things are a success trifecta for any person growing up, but it really seems mandatory for an outsider to this country. Luckily, two of the three qualities are free, but of course the one that is the most coveted is only acquired with cold hard cash. Cash that my family certainly did not have, and to an extent still does not have today. If I wanted to be fashionable growing up, I had to be crafty. So I learned a lot of about color, composition, and in a way how to make my hand-me-downs look cool. Hell, I knew the meaning of "high and low" early on when I learned how to pair my one cool thing (my Express polo button up from the mall) with my 90% hand-me-down outfit of uncool shaped jeans and Payless sneakers. I made it work because I had no other choice.
Enter adulthood. Enter actual paychecks, and with the substantial amount of hard work throughout the years, enter actual discretionary income to afford actual designer pieces. It feels like the American Dream buying what my heart desires, but it also feels like shit all at once: I can buy most of what I want at full price, but I still feel guilty as hell because my family cannot. So I don't — save for a few exceptions.
So what do I do instead? You're lookin' at it. I have a fashion blog so I can obsess over things and perhaps fan out the flames so I don't bury myself in debt chasing the endless pretty things fashion provides. In real life I also spend most of my year stalking my favorite pieces as soon as they hit shelves, annoying salespeople at snooty stores my mom is still uncomfortable to even set foot in by asking them cooly to allow me to try on the absurdly priced pieces, just so I can know my size come sale time. Of course, all this after weeks of of mood-boarding these pieces from runway or editorial looks, and internally plotting how I'd realistically wear the frilly tulle chiffon top with my daily combinations of tomboy goods.
So here we are: at the point of this post. I'm wearing an outfit of cool designer items I love in the photos above at Thanksgiving dinner with family. I feel great in this outfit, but the real cheese is in telling you that I feel great knowing I purchased each piece for anywhere from 40%-80% off from various outlets, sites, and channels, thus feeling a little more in line with my upbringing. I'm a huge proponent for spending time with family during the holidays, but I'm also a gigantic advocate for pulling the trigger on items that help you feel/be successful, even if that means shopping a little during this time.
Why? Because those same things that made you cool in school as a kid still apply in your adult life. But the silver lining as an adult is that you can choose how close you want to live your life to those circles of judgy materialism. I work in advertising: an entire industry built around showing how cool and confident you are so people can trust you with their money. I choose to live my life in this industry because I play the game and I'm successful at it. Another reason? Because it's a creative industry that embraces my style, obsession with fashion, and my materialism with open arms.
Look, there some people would say this story is proof I have a giant chip on my shoulder, that I'm justifying my shallowness, but I like to counter that and say it's proof I am constantly grounding myself to the floor, by remembering where I came from and from now on talking about it. Being a fashion blogger is about building a façade, a nice big fake-it-'til-you-make-it façade you wear and one that many of the big bloggers I once admired have done. But that can't be it for me. It's too simple, irresponsible even, to let the Internet fill the blanks when there is an opportunity to at least discuss how I feel. I know I'm not the only first generation girl to be successful and find some guilt in that, and I certainly know there are plenty of people regardless of where they came from who thoughtfully consider purchases for other reasons. There's plenty of places to click, like, buy and call it good, but maybe every now (when you're up for a long read) we can actually have a discussion about how lonely it can feel to get exactly what you want.
Isabel Marant top (on sale) over a target tank | simon miller spokane jeans (on sale)
Fun Fact: An alternate title for this post was, "In Which People Think You're Rich Because You Are A Smart Sale Shopper, But You Kind of Resent That Because It Does Not Encapsulate You Like 'Oliver Twist' Did Not Capture Good Will Hunting's Struggle," "Assimilate With The Cool Crowd This Sale Season!: The Musical," and "TL:DR."