It all started on my 8th birthday. I was sitting at the breakfast table, thoroughly enjoying my chocolate croissant, when my sister handed me a present. It was a pair of black and white platform sneakers (à la Spice Girls) that I had been coveting for months. I proudly wore them to school that day and quickly became the envy of my second grade class. When my best friend asked me where I got them I told her, without hesitation, that they were from my favorite shoe store downtown. I blissfully went home unaware of the grave mistake I had made. The next day when I arrived at the playground, I saw that she had bought the exact same pair of shoes I had received only a day earlier. I was no longer the girl with the cool platforms, we were the girls with the cool platforms. I was so upset that I used the payphone to call my dad; however, he couldn't offer much in the way of consolation. Instead, he recited the old adage "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."
This pattern continued throughout my childhood. In the third grade, it was my multi-colored Patagonia winter coat. In the fifth grade it was my blue and yellow Skechers sneakers. In the sixth grade it was my favorite cherry patterned polo shirt that was the perfect mix of cute and sophisticated. That was the last straw. The minute I saw a classmate in my polo I vowed to never tell anyone where I bought my clothes again.
Over the years I've made up a number of different answers to the inevitable question. "My mom bought me this, so I'm not sure where it's from" (my mother hasn't picked out my clothes since I started talking). Or, "I completely forget the name of the store where I bought this" (a total lie since I researched the store, MapQuested it and then drove an hour to get there). Sometimes I would tell people an item was vintage (in my defense, it would become vintage eventually). But my personal favorite is "I got it on vacation" (who knew I went on vacation so often?). Don't get me wrong, I've done my fair share of copying other people -- I once bought the exact same Juicy Couture tracksuit as my friend -- but these instances are rare, and, more often than not, I copy strangers I see on the street rather than the people in my everyday life.
Since I declared this mantra at a mere 12 years old, I've spent most of my life spitting out these lines, and it has (for the most part) worked. Thanks to my secrecy and pathological lying, I was the only girl wearing cheetah print at my formal in high school (I bought my dress from a store called Intermix), my friend never found out where I got my denim jacket (it was from Old Navy) and no one I know was able to track down a neon beanie (I got that at a dollar store). But in the last few months I have started to loosen my grip. It hasn't been easy, but living in New York City and working in fashion, people can smell a lie immediately and know instantly whether or not a piece is vintage. And with the advent of Shopstyle it is next to impossible to keep your latest find a secret, and quite frankly, lying is exhausting. Though I (usually) own up when someone asks me where I scored my new item, my first instinct is always to say "Oh this? I got it on vacation."