7 “Designer” Items I Thought Would Change My Life — But Didn’t
When I shop for myself, I’m really shopping for ‘Future Me.’
Future Me has dewy skin, makes time for workouts, and looks like she’s “Made It” in life. Future Me is better, healthier, happier, and more effortlessly put together. She isn’t working on the couch in sweatpants, or going to Target with three-day unwashed hair in a bun — no way. When I buy things, I really buy into the idea that material goods will help me overhaul my lifestyle and create an optimized version of myself I’ve always aspired to.”If I buy this one thing, then everything in my life will change,” I justify to myself. Except that “one thing” often turns into three, five, ten things. And surprise, surprise: I am still the same person, wearing sweatpants and dirty hair in a bun at the store.
Something I’ve really worked on this year, after getting hit financially due to COVID, is changing that mindset by figuring out the underlying reason behind my aspirational shopping habits. I was depressed (I had gotten laid off, I felt like my peak career success was already behind me, and I started to really doubt my abilities as a writer and editor), I was burnt out (taking stressful media job after media job will do that), and my health had fallen to the wayside (sad and lethargic all the time, I just ate Flaming Hot Cheetos for lunch as I filed story after story). Plus, my personal life felt like it was in shambles, for various reasons. So, I shopped!
I haven’t completely overhauled my life, but I am gaining back control of the way I put myself back together, step by step. I spend less, cook healthier meals, make sure the dog goes on two long walks every day, and seriously just count my blessings that I have work during such a tumultuous time. And when I do feel upset, anxious, or stressed, I figure out ways to grapple with those feelings that don’t involve my debit card. I make tea and write in my journal, or I rearrange my nightstand, or I watch Fleabag (newest obsession, BTW).
And I also think back to all the things I purchased that I thought would make me happy, but didn’t, like mini cautionary tales. Check out a few of those things, below:
1. Quirky designer dresses I’ve only worn once — $195 – $295
I’ve been obsessed with Rachel Antonoff since I moved to Los Angeles. Her clothing features whimsical prints like shrimp and feminist-y uteruses. Most of her collections aren’t practical. The designs aren’t especially comfortable, and the prints are a little too loud for everyday wear. Since I haven’t worked in an office for a year and a half, there’s no real occasion for me to wear these outfits (RIP brunch and dressing up for friends). Plus, Rachel Antonoff is expensive AF. Her clothes are amazing in theory. In practice? Unless I become an influencer or celebrity overnight, or someone who dresses up in maximalist clothing to work from home (nope), I’m just not going to find an occasion to wear these dresses. When I do shop for clothing online, I always ask myself: Can I wear this at home and to the occasional trip to the store and a social-distance friendly meetup? Is this cute, practical, and will it provide me with multi-function use?
2. Christian Louboutins — $900
To be fair, I made this purchase back when I had a good job I didn’t think I’d lose, and I’d saved up for these so I could wear them to a fancy wedding. I also just wanted a pair of Louboutins so that I could know I owned a pair of Louboutins. I’m not even going to lie. And truthfully? They really are beautiful shoes. In photos, they look fantastic. When I wear them, I want to take pain killers. Will I own and prize these shoes as long as I live? Absolutely. Will I regret purchasing them when I could have purchased a much more comfortable, just as beautiful shoe? Also, yes.
3. An Apple watch — $250 – $500
I got myself an Apple watch for my 30th birthday, and it’s…not that great? It was an older generation, so it was slightly less expensive than the brand new version that was out, but it was still hella pricey. I appreciate it telling me my heart rate is much too high when I’m walking the dog (I get it, I’m out of shape), but get mildly annoyed when it nudges me to stand up or meditate. I truly did think having an Apple watch would motivate me to be more active and mindful of my movement, but I’m still not sure how it’s any different from my iPhone giving me my steps for the day.
4. A rowing machine — $400
Since all the gyms have closed down in my area of LA, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to spend over $400 on a rowing machine. I have used it maybe three times, even though I had big dreams of getting rower arms and a rower back. I spend more time going on walks with the dog (a free activity!) than I do rowing for ten minute intervals. I have two options: Either I make an effort to make the time to use the rowing machine, or I sell it. Because right now, every time I pass it, I become overcome with a wave of remorse. Stay tuned, readers.
5. New patio furniture — $300
In theory, this was actually a very lovely purchase, and the price was decent. Except that my 85-pound dog likes to chew on anything she can get her mouth around, so she whittled it down like a pencil sharpener in a couple weeks. And you know what? It’s my fault. I should have gotten steel patio furniture instead of opting for the cuter design.
6. Expensive running shoes — $120
Once upon a time (this past spring, right before I got laid off), I decided to replace my worn out Nikes with some more “ergonomic” sneakers just in case I decided to take up running or increase my time at the gym. I ended up spending around $120 for a pair of Adidas that look like a fashion statement from Zenon Girl of the 21st Century (not in a good way), I did not take up running, and al the gyms closed. I still wear these sneakers (they’re comfortable!), but I wish I opted for a much cheaper pair. You can get comfort and support for your feet without breaking the bank.
7. A hanging chair swing…. that broke — $100
During the summer, I decided it was a good idea to renovate the backyard (“It’ll feel like a vacation!”), so I took some savings and bought a couple of key pieces that would make me want to spend more time on my patio. I bought a hammock (I still love it and stand by this purchase), new wooden patio furniture on sale from Wayfair (I will get to this mistake in a second), and a swinging chair that hung from the pergola. The chair was a cute idea, except one day, I went to go sit it in to read a book and it freaking BROKE because the rope snapped. I ended up falling on my butt, and was much more angry about the fact that I spent at least $100 on a swinging chair than I was on the bruise it gave me on my bum (super cute).
Gina Vaynshteyn is an editor and writer who lives in LA. You can find more of her words on Refinery29, Apartment Therapy, HelloGiggles, Distractify, and others. If you wanna, you can follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
Image via Unsplash