I want to talk about a very real shopping phenomenon: The Swagout.
I first became aware of the term thanks to an article sent my way by Complex Associate Editor James Harris. Written by Ross Scarano, the piece describes the author's trip down the shopping rabbit hole during Opening Ceremony's sale. According to Scarano, a "swagout" is like a blackout; swept up by the excitement of a sale, you end up blowing money you wouldn't have otherwise.
"That's hilarious," I thought to myself. "But that doesn't really happen to anyone."
And then I went on a shopping trip with my mom during a visit home last week.
I don't typically stop by Prada because, hi, I can't afford it, but something -- an angel, perhaps? -- told me to go through those glossy doors. There, in the sale shoe section, sat two of the most gorgeous heels I'd seen from the spring/summer 2014 collection. One pair, a green suede with blue crystals, was a size 40 -- just slightly too big for me. It wouldn't hurt to just put it on right?
The nicest Prada employee I have ever met (shout out to Anthony at the Mall at Millenia in Orlando) offered to bring me the other shoe. They were stunning, but gapped at the back.
Something in the way those crystals caught the light led me to ask if they might have a pair in a size 39. Perhaps I felt too confident that they wouldn't, because my size is fairly common and typically picked over by the time sales roll around. Prada's Nicest Employee™ slipped away to the back and just moments later swept back in holding a box.
"I don't have them in the green," he said."But I do have this blue pair."
The moment I fastened the second velcro around my ankle, I experienced a divine revelation: This is what it meant to be Fashion, capital "F." At the risk of overselling this, I had an actual physical reaction to this pair of shoes, a feeling in my gut that was a mix between seeing a really hot guy across the bar and missing a step walking downstairs.
I was in the early stages of a Swagout.
As I paced back and forth on the plushest carpet known to man in front of a mirror that made me look thinner than I ever have in my life, no fewer than three Prada employees gathered around.
"That color is so flattering on your skin," Anthony said, his voice smooth and soothing. "And Swarovski makes those color crystals custom for us." I knew there was something in the sparkle of those yellow stones that seemed special; my calves, which I normally hate, had never looked better than in their glow.
"I've been to the factory in Italy where they make the shoes," added another lovely employee. "The craftsmen take such pride in their work." Yes, I thought, I can almost feel the hands of an Italian shoemaker in the suede caressing my foot. (Okay, it got a little weird.)
"These shoes really sum up what Ms. Prada is all about," said the third. I nodded sagely in full understanding. Even my mom had fallen under the Power of Prada. These shoes were like a window into the soul of Miuccia herself. I had Ascended to the Fashion Plane.
Actually, I had lost my fucking mind. These shoes, even at 40 percent off, rang in at $780, and while that's not expensive for some people, that's around the same price as my rent. Somewhere from the haze of my swagout came a small voice of reason, reminding me that a) I never wear heels anyway and b) I have bills to pay.
So despite the fact that I was actually pained to take them off (that's not an exaggeration either, I made several sad noises doing so), I asked Anthony, Prada's Nicest Employee™, to put them on hold for me and forced myself to leave the perfect gleam of the boutique. I tweeted out a plea for advice, and several awesome fashion friends helped the rational voice overcome the potential swagout. Out in the clear (deeply air-conditioned) atmosphere of the mall, I came back to my senses.
At the end of the day, I just want to thank Scarano for coining the word in the first place and helping me recognize the symptoms, because I'd rather be indebted to Complex for giving me a new term than to Visa for $780 plus interest.
The swagout: It's real.
Photo on homepage: Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for Prada