Photograph by James Brodribb
Lynn Yaeger makes it her mission to shop for something new every day—for a year!
A couple of years ago, my friend, let’s call him D—a guy who used to live for the newest Givenchy puffer, who would stand in line for hours for a pair of Gucci sneakers—declared that he was not going to buy any fashion items for the next 12 months. He would shop his closet! He would feel sane and pure!
It turns out that D was a canary in a boutique-less coal mine. Last winter, an eminent novelist shared in The New York Times that she had done pretty much the same thing, with buying books as her only exception. She proudly recounted the fuzzy lip glosses she fished out of coat pockets, the dubious pleasure of wearing an old dress to a special event instead of a spanking new frock.
When I discussed the above with my comrades, people I have spent decades hitting the stores with, their responses frankly shocked me. “Oh, what a cool idea! We all have too much stuff!” they crowed. To which I can only say: poppycock! May I modestly suggest an alternative to this self-imposed exile from main street stores, a strategy that makes me feel sane and pure: how about shopping every single day? Sure, it sounds like a lot, but think about it—even if you bought something each time, that would be only 365 purchases a year. To be clear, I am not talking about necessities here—toilet paper doesn’t count. I mean actual things of joy, even a trifle as simple as a lipstick with glitter. (Try it, you never know.) I dare these avowed minimalists lurking among us to offer an ephemeral pleasure that rivals the first day you wear those new fuzzy boots to play in the snow and realize smugly that yes, they are waterproof! Or the sheer elation that pours through you when you see that one of the 50 swim suits you have brought into the fitting makes you look, well, pretty okay!
Right about now, you might be thinking what a greedy materialistic little glutton this Lynn is! And of course, you might have a slight point. I am, after all, the woman who wakes up, boils the coffee and then hits the keyboard of her pink-gold laptop—now that was a brilliant acquisition—and commences “Adding to Cart.” (When F. Scott Fitzgerald mused, “In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o’clock in the morning,” you can’t help but think—if Scott could have spent those sleepless hours clicking on tweed motoring coat or black felt homburg, would life have seemed so bleak?)
But I don’t just shop online. The happiest day of my life (well maybe not the happiest, but happy) was when the antiquated Sunday Blue Laws were finally repealed, and stores were permitted to be open all weekend. How bitterly unfair it had seemed back then: one of the two measly days that I wasn’t forced to go to school, everything was closed! Little did that sad schoolgirl know that someday she would be cruising her favorite aisles seven days a week.
Before you dismiss me as a hopeless addict, let me ask you, do you criticize those gym bunnies whose idea of a good time is waking up every day at the crack of dawn and hopping on that torture devise, the stationary bicycle? Are you equally harsh about those smug gourmands who can pontificate endlessly on the virtues of winter versus summer truffles?
If a connoisseur can travel the globe twice over in search of a rare work of art, is that really so different from a lifetime spent sweeping through the corridors of commerce?
This content was originally published in Bergdorf Goodman’s Pre-Fall 2018 issue.