I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d been loving neon nails lately. Well, what I didn’t mention at the time (because I had written an article on it and I was waiting for it to be published) was that I had a major internal debate over whether or not to wear neon nails. Long story short, I was obsessed with everyone’s else’s neon nails, but every time I’d think about wearing them myself, I’d get all, “No way. Me? Really? Neon nails?? BUT I’M A WOMAN, NOT A GIRL. I COULDN’T POSSIBLY.” (And judging from some of the comments on the blog post in which I showed off the neon nails, I’m not the only one who feels this way.) But, as you can see in the now-live Color Me Rouge article, I worked it out.
But the topic of looking appropriate and professional has been on my mind a lot lately and now it’s come up twice in the past few days.
Last Saturday, I was out shopping between my hair appointment and book club and I tried on a dress at Anthropologie that I subsequently fell in love with. Well, actually I had kind of been in love with it via the website and then really in love after seeing it in the store. The dress had short sleeves, which I like to see in the age of everything being sleeveless, it appeared that it would flatter my body type, it would work with heels or flats, and I just really loved the scalloped navy blue stripes.and so Saturday I decided to just let myself try it on. I thought I was in love with it but hey — it may have looked terrible on me, at which point I could just know and stop obsessing. Unfortunately, it looked awesome. Like, I put it on and knew this was a dress I will wear as much as possible (i.e. once a week and once a weekend, every single week, till October, and then starting up again in March). However, I could not get over the $128 price tag. That feels like a lot of money to spend on a dress, even one you’d venture to say you’d want to be buried in. But then I realized…I have no idea what a dress “should” cost.
Here’s what drives me crazy: whenever I’m reading a magazine, the “budget-friendly” option of something is approximately $200-$500. (Maybe it’s $40…if it’s nail polish.) How bad does that make you feel?! I see that $250 for a pair of wedges is a “great buy!” and I’m like…Wait, so these $25 sandals I kind of had to talk myself into at Target were…actually free according to “Glamour”? Well goddamnit.
So I had no idea if the dress was a good purchase or not.
I left the store and was still thinking about the dress and all the places I’d wear it; then I got to book club, where we got talking about the weather and summer clothes and then shopping in general. At that point I decided to ask my fellow young professional women: What’s the right amount of money to spend on a dress for work? What about ones that are actually for weekends? WHAT THE FUCK ARE CLOTHES ACTUALLY SUPPOSED TO COST?!?!
None of them knew either. We talked about it for a while but we never really landed on anything definitive.
Eventually, I decided to just go for it. I had tried on a size that fit but was slightly too big on Saturday; on Sunday, I went back and bought the smaller size without bothering to trying it on. When I put it on this morning, I was worried that it wouldn’t fit, or I wouldn’t love it. But oh, it did, and oh…I did. It made me feel so good when I put it on and my first thought was, OK, this was clearly worth every penny.
BUT WAS IT REALLY!? I still don’t know!
Then today at work, I was wearing my new dress and loving life while talking to my boss. I also happened to be wearing a really bright shade of neon spearmint nail polish (Color Club “Age of Aquarius” via a recent Birchbox), which I’ve been alternating with the American Apparel neon yellow for the past few weeks. Suddenly, when there was a pause in our discussion about ads and CPM and such, he said to me, “What’s with the green nail polish? I’ve just noticed you’ve been wearing it a lot lately, no matter what you’ve been wearing.” After all my wondering if it was cool for me to wear neon nails in the first place (AT MY AGE! Would my nearly-octogenarian boss think I was a loose cannon!?), this conversation was exactly what I was worried about!
But he wasn’t asking in a way that was at all judgmental or disapproving; he genuinely seemed curious, as in, I care about you and your life, so tell me…is wearing crazy bright nail polish with your classic, everyday outfits your thing? But because I honestly had been thinking for the past few weeks, OK, bright neon nails paired with simple, ladylike clothes is totally going to be my thing for now, I felt kind of embarrassed that he had noticed and was calling attention to it. I’m sure I blushed as I said, “Yeah. I’ve been into it lately,” feeling — as I do on a fairly regular basis these days — like a teenage girl whose obviously shifting identity is not as well-concealed as she was telling herself it was. But he was satisfied with my answer and was kinda like, “Carry on.”
So there ya go.
Anyway, if anyone could tell me what you think is a reasonable amount of money to spend on a dress that you love and will wear 1-2 times per week for at least 6 months (but probably longer), I’d really appreciate it. Because I’m not sure if this dress should be the most expensive thing I own, the least expensive, or what.