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"You bought a 4.0 you better get your change. Ain't no platinum in those Cartiers, switch your frames. Ain't no manicurist on board, then switch your plane." - Jay Z
There's a special, even more painful form of buyer's remorse that comes along with copping not the best thing, but the next best thing. Even when it's just a less expensive version of something more expensive. Kanye talked about this when he said, "You can have on a Zara pant, right? And a girl walks in with the Celine version, and you feel like shit."
It's that hollow feeling that you've spent your money in an attempt to recreate what you actually wanted, but you know deep down in your core that you should have just gone for it, or not at all. You start to hate the version you got. You feel like the cheap shit version of yourself, despite everything that tells you it doesn't matter. You were raised better than to think that the Celine version is worth the exorbitant difference. You were raised to know that if the store-brand shampoo has the same active ingredients as its adjacent, name-brand predecessor, you're a sucker if you actually shell out for the premium option. Or at least I was raised that way, you fucking orphan.
But anyway, I'm saying this because after years of pretending not to care that I got the cheap version, along with being too broke for the real thing, I decided to make a change. My black jeans ripped and I needed new ones. So, I went to a store, the interior of which seemed to immediately slide my brokeness beneath a microscope to be magnified and displayed in surround vision for the sake of the staff's entertainment. I knew I was in the right place.
I forget what they're called, but one of those people who is paid in real dollar amounts to walk to and from you and the stockroom comes out and asks me if I need help. Actually, there was a multi-person exchange. The moment I express my desire for pants that weren't" distressed in an "unfortunate area" as was the case with my current pair, I was handed off to a second cloth broker with relay level efficiency. This must be the Pant God. This person must know exactly which leg is which.
I greet this person by saying, "Oh, you must be the pant expert I've heard so much about and traveled so far to consult. I would like one please." He smiled in a way that he must be paid to. But we both know that what he is really paid to do is stand there with a posture that broke shames me into spending my last dollar on an arrangement of cotton. I try to hold them back, but the rationalizations begin to flood.
So here I am, in a fitting room full of mirrors that are presumably there because that way I have three versions of myself looking back at me with guilt, shame and disgust, respectively.
"It's better quality" is the oldest rationalization in the book (that is, The Book of Rationalizations). People will tell you that such and such product will last longer than the other, but, at the end of the day, all of this shit falls apart easily enough. In fact, designer shit often breaks faster because their shit comes as part of seasonal collections that don't allow time for things like endurance testing. I had an A.P.C. backpack that was rendered useless when the excess material got caught in the zipper, three fucking days after I bought it. Literally the entire function of the bag was to be able to open and close and it could perform neither task. I had to recover the enclosed snacks surgically.
"The fit is better" is another classic way we deceive ourselves into spending unnecessarily. Motherfuckers have been making pants forever. There are other people who cut cloth like Saint Laurent does and it's been like that for a minute, Hedi Slimane.
The most hilarious part of the process is perhaps when you start doing math. You have this vague data plot representation of your finances in your mind, the value of which you stretch and contract at will, depending on the pressure you feel in the moment when you start to think you might be wasting the Pant God's time. Your clothing budget expands to thrice its size when you promise yourself in that very second that you'll write something about purchase anxiety for Four Pins. Good thing Lawrence pays me what 2 Chainz used to get for a feature in 2013.
So here I am, in a fitting room full of mirrors that are presumably there because that way I have three versions of myself looking back at me with guilt, shame and disgust, respectively. I just want to get it over with. The crushing ambivalence. The pants fit well and look great, but I still feel like I'm getting played. Capitalism is not that tight, if I recall correctly. Marx quotes begin to surface in my mind, but then I remember that I never really read any of that shit and he lived in a time when looks this fire could not have even been imagined.
I give in eventually, submitting myself to be knowingly swindled in the flyest way possible. I force the cashier to give me one of those bottled waters that they give to people who they think might actually buy something and I walk out the door in sweet relief. It was all worth it because now, when I cry into the bowls of cereal that I have to eat for every meal until my next paycheck, I know the tears are designer and will therefore enhance the flavor.
Alex Russell asked if he could return his dignity at the Saint Laurent store. Follow him on Twitter here.