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October 9, 2007

Wardrobe Diaries: Style Swap

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girl in black turtleneck and glasses

Photo Credit: Perry Hagopian

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Michelle, Day 1
I bolt awake in my usual "what to wear?" panic, then I remember Julia has preselected today's black turtleneck and charcoal pencil skirt. (I call her style "ab drab.") I glance wistfully at my Chloé heels, wondering if (with Julia's glasses) I could make this into a sexy-librarian look. Alas, using anything of your own is against the rules.

Feeling like an actress playing the role of the town spinster, I headed off to my first fashion appointment. At the Hugo Boss showroom, I nearly die with envy when I see a Cosmo editor in a great Jean Paul Gaultier nautical ensemble. Blast this silly experiment! I feel like a self-conscious middle schooler destined to eat alone at the cafeteria. I have an inner battle with myself: Do I pretend to not know her, or say hello and reveal my fashion-swap secret? I choose the latter and she admits she hadn’t recognized me. Super! Maybe I can fly under the radar and avoid fashion humiliation for the rest of the week.

“Wow, you look ... different,” the PR manager says diplomatically. I tell her about the swap and she says, “I was wondering where you were going with this look.” Fashion translation: “Your outfit is inexplicably horrific.”

Back at work, I check my BlackBerry. A former MC colleague has sent me an e-mail subject line: “I saw you on the street today.” I open it: “What the hell were you wearing?” it says. At lunch, the fashion department shuns me. My nightmare has come true: I am the girl alone in the cafeteria!

I'm scheduled to meet up with a friend visiting from Japan. We head for drinks and dinner on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. I meet a cute graffiti artist but am so self-conscious, I overcompensate with sarcasm. Feeling out of place, I text my friends: “Someone stole my superpowers from me.” One replies, “It’s like kryptonite and Superman! Nylon tote + flats + knee-length hemline = your power eliminator.” Sadly, he’s right. Can I really be this shallow? Does my clothing control my self-esteem?


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