Emily Siegel

New Orleans

It hung on the rack in the upscale consignment store. It was brown leather with black details and a yellow leopard print interior. It was new with tags and it said it cost $1200. They were selling it for $300. It was D&G, Dolce & Gabbana.

My paycheck from my job as a hostess at a restaurant on Bourbon Street was a cool $600. I spent my days interning at a depressing publishing company and my nights making up for not being paid all day by greeting drunk tourists and leading them to their tables where they were going to eat overpriced mediocre food. The days were long and I was especially unhealthy at this juncture in my life: usually eating nothing all day and grabbing fast food on the way back from work at midnight. Only Rally’s cheeseburgers are capable of making your veins hurt. I was unhappy. Full body consuming unhappy. I guess it was what some people might call depression. I was having a lot of trouble snapping out of it.

I had been in this consignment store many times. In fact, it was where I purchased most of my wardrobe. No matter what the cost I knew that $300 for a new D&G, Dolce & Gabbana leather jacket was a deal that was too good to pass up. My appreciation for discount designer clothing goes back to puberty when I would fish through bins at Loehmann’s searching for the Michael Stars tee that all the cool girls were wearing. Even in the midst of braces and Maxi Pads, finding something beautiful to wear would bring me out of my dark place. This jacket was meant to bring me out of my dark place. So I spent half my paycheck on it.

Functional? No. It wouldn’t keep me warm through a slight breeze. Beautiful? Yes. A very strong yes. Even when I wore it over a Hanes t-shirt and leggings I felt glamourous. That’s the thing about clothing–people find fashion to be superficial, but being able to feel good about yourself when nothing else is going right should never be taken for granted.

I never really did snap out of it because, of course, that’s not how it works. I just worked through it. It’s a constant battle everyday. But three years later the jacket still gives me a slight uptick of happiness. Even when thousands of emotions are swirling around in my head it’s nice to have a constant.

It’s less perfect now. My boyfriend’s dog jumped on me and made a two inch rip in the sleeve. When it happened I opened my mouth but no sound came out. I stood there in horror looking at the gash. It was a physical pain. Not because of the money, but the beautiful jacket that made me feel beautiful now had a flaw. My boyfriend paid to have it fixed but it’s still there and noticeable. You can’t get rid of a scar. It took a while but I realized it’s grown just like me. Just as I was ever-changing so was the jacket. We put on makeup to cover our flaws but we can’t make them disappear. Our true selves are never perfect. And now I wear the imperfection on my sleeve and I don’t mind it. We’re more similar now anyway.

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