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    Posted on Aug 28, 2016

    I Tried To Get Over My Fear Of Snobby Stores

    They can smell my fear.

    Stores can be intimidating. Especially fancy stores.

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    I find all stores a little bit scary. Any time a sales associate approaches with a smile and asks, “Can I help you find anything?” a voice inside my head screams, “RUN AWAY!” So when I’m in a fancy store full of expensive stuff, I’m worried a demon in a top hat will rise out of the floor, point a boney finger at me, and bellow, “You do not belong here.” And everyone will stare at me and say, “Yeah, duh, get that peasant out of here.” Because I am just a regular person who once really thought Hermès was pronounced "her-mies."

    I’m not typically throwing a bunch of money around on expensive clothes, but on the rare occasion I have a reason to go into a fancy store, (a gown for a black tie wedding, being dragged in by a friend) I’m consumed by the feeling that I shouldn’t be there, like I’m breaking a social law. And I’d rather not feel that way. There are stores I walk past and think, “Maybe one day, if I’m ever rich, I’ll shop there.” I decided to force myself to go in now.

    And, for the record, I have worked in retail and am a respectful and low maintenance shopper. I'm not waltzing into designer boutiques messing up the T-shirt pile — I'm creeping around, not touching anything like a terrified gerbil.

    The Rules

    • I would force myself to go into as many upscale/snobby stores as possible.

    • I would try things on.

    • I would try not to FREAK OUT.

    • If I found something I really liked and could afford, I would buy it.

    First stop: Club Monaco.

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    Club Monaco ranks pretty low on the snob-o-meter. That's why I went there first — to ease into things. You have to crawl before you can fly, or whatever. It turns out, this store is not that scary. I felt comfortable enough to try on a hat right there in the middle of the store. OK, "comfortable" is an exaggeration based on the fear you can see in my eyes. Are you even supposed to try on the hats? I don't have lice, to my knowledge, but what if I did?

    The decor was wheat-themed which sort of put me at ease.

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    But things got a little intense when I realized the wheat was GROWING THROUGH THE WALL.

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    I ran to the dressing room to get away from the wall of wheat. This is how normal people take selfies, right?

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    I tried on this striped blazer because I wanted to look like a business casual candy cane.

    Next I tried on a skirt that looked, to me, like something a cool boss robot would wear in the future in space.

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    Ultimately, Club Monaco was in the minor league of fancy stores and I felt dumb for being scared of it.

    Next stop: Barneys.

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    Walking in was mildly terrifying but the sight of these dog purses eased some of the tension.

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    They had a lot of interesting stuff like rainbow fur balls.

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    This metal tank top that cost more than three times my rent.

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    And this thing that looks like the dead body of Gossamer from Looney Tunes.

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    My big issue was with the mannequins. The male mannequins had heads. Meanwhile...

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    All the female mannequins had spikes instead of heads????

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    Aside from the bizarre mannequin sexism, nothing too scary happened at Barney's. Still, I was too terrified to try anything on. The clothes were on display like they were works of art at a museum and touching anything seemed wrong.

    Next stop: AllSaints

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    You know this store is cool because it's filled with vintage sewing machines.

    This store seems to encourage a leather-jacket based wardrobe/lifestyle.

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    I knew I should try one of the leather jackets since it's kind of their "thing." I picked up this one randomly in a panic. The jackets didn't seem to have price tags which only made me more nervous.

    I've always been too scared to try on a leather jacket because I don't own any motorcycles.

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    I liked this dress but the dressing room gave off a scary abandoned hospital vibe.

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    I felt slightly judged while walking around this store, but everyone there was very nice. Ultimately, the horror movie feeling of the decor made me happy to get back outside into the sunlight.

    Last stop: Rag & Bone.

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    For me, Rag & Bone was the scariest store. I REALLY did not want to go inside. I panicked and thought about abandoning my mission. This store does a great job at projecting an image of aloof superiority and they don't even sell bones. I'd feel less embarrassed running down the street screaming, "Look at me! I'm a pretty little baby!" than going inside this store. Opening this door was one of the great "rip off the Band-Aid" moments of my life.

    Somehow I found the courage to try on this dress.

    Joanna Borns / BuzzFeed

    I tried to remain calm as I entered the store. A nice man asked me if I needed any help and I don't think I kept my cool when I said, "Just browsing!!!!!!" Swim in your discomfort, I told myself. After several terror-filled laps around the store I stopped to look at the above dress. The moment I touched it I was told, "That dress is very popular and it just went on sale." Very persuasive. I took it to the dressing room and was shocked to discover I really liked it. I didn't think they sold any garments I could even physically fit into, so this was a surprise.

    Even though I ended up having a positive experience, I still scurried out like I was exiting a haunted house.

    Surviving the fancy store challenge

    Going into a bunch of fancy stores at once was like poking my anxiety with a stick. I felt on edge, like I had spent the day nervously watching someone walk on a tightrope. But all the employees at all the stores were nice. No one treated me like pre-makeover Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

    As with most things I fear — cottage cheese, ghosts, all social interactions — there’s no great reason to be afraid. Forcing myself to shop at rich-people stores was a good reminder that you can push back against fear and discomfort. If I can go into a Rag & Bone and not throw up while falling into a display of wool fedoras, then maybe, just maybe, I can do anything.

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