What Happened When I Let My Instagram Followers Dress Me
As an editor, I may feel capable of dressing for nearly every type of occasion out there, but when it comes to dressing for a cocktail event, I’m somehow stumped. “Cocktail attire” is one of those sartorial categories that not many of us have on lock (if you are someone who can navigate this territory flawlessly, please let me in on your insider knowledge). So when the opportunity to work with a stylist before attending a cocktail event arose, I jumped at the chance. Maybe I’d discover a tidbit of life-changing advice from the experience, or at least find a look fitting for the occasion that I could re-create in the future.
What actually happened was this: I arrived at Nordstrom Local—the retailer’s genius new West Hollywood concept store where nothing is actually for sale. I quickly spilled my life story to the stylist I worked with and, yes, described my strange anxiety around getting dressed for a cocktail event. We quickly got to work chatting about what kind of overall look I was going for, and after trying on a few outfits I felt lukewarm about, it came down to deciding between two looks that were on opposite ends of the style spectrum. Being the indecisive person I am, I threw the question out to a close circle of trusted friends—that seemingly random assortment of Instagram followers who watch my daily Stories—to make the decision for me.
One poll later, and I swear to you my inbox has never been more inundated with impassioned messages and comments. It seemed everyone had an opinion on the matter. Everyone agreed—94% were in favour of the second look, and I was immediately at an existential crossroads.
Coming in at just 6%, Look 1
The first look was tonal, sleek and most importantly, incorporated a strong pair of trousers. This one had me at hello. Ever the creature of habit, my relationship with black and white clothing grows stronger each day. So it was almost without question that I would opt to stay well within my comfort zone here.
Winning 94% of the vote, Look 2
This was the look that won over the hearts of my Instagram followers. No lie, within seconds, my inbox held messages like "Red all the way," "That's the most amazing outfit ever," and even one friend who jokingly threatened to end our friendship if I didn't choose the red.
The pressure was on. I looked in the mirror. I turned and pivoted, but I still couldn't wrap my head around wearing something so, well, loud (read: opposite of my personal style). It's the kind of the dress that's full of personality and commands attention, so I could easily see why at a 0.2-second digital glance, the decision would be a no-brainer.
I read and re-read through the messages and tried to allow this form of instantaneous (but ultimately fleeting) validation translate IRL. If 94% of people insisted I wear the red dress, there's no reason I shouldn't listen to them, I thought to myself. And once I entertained the thought, allowing these social media interactions to dictate my reality became wildly enticing. But (yes, the "but" you've been waiting for), at the very last moment, I realised that none of the faceless accounts who follow me would be the ones to wear this when the time came. Despite how much I wanted to satisfy my followers' opinion, I knew it would mean buying into the idea that social media means everything. And that was the ultimate lesson in all of this.
Sandy Liang Ibiza Ruffled Textured-chiffon Top ($410)
Both available in French sizes 36 to 42.
As much of a thrill as I got from reading the responses and urgent messages regarding the red dress, it was ultimately my decision to "go with my gut" and wear the first look that made me feel like myself (read: most confident) attending the event a few nights later.