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There it is — in the corner of the shop, hung daintily over a mannequin and accessorized to absolute perfection — the dress you have been dreaming of.  It’s cute, it’s trendy, and the light is hitting it like a freakin’ halo.  You walk over a little too quickly to find it hanging on a rack that practically has your name on it. Seriously, it looks like the gods snuck into Vanessa Hudgens’ Coachella closet and plucked out this gem, only to leave it here for you to find.  You stare at it, admiring its beauty, excited to try it on.  But then, it happens.  As you flip the tag over to check the size, you see it: the ever-dreaded price.  It stares at you, flashing its triple-digit status in big black bold, blinding you with its unfortunate length.  And that’s when it settles in: the 7 stages of grief you feel for the clothes you can’t afford –


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1) Shock & Disbelief

You read the number once, twice, three times.  You pick up another one thinking hey, maybe someone made a mistake and put the wrong tag on it.  But alas, the number remains the same.  Still, you refuse to believe this atrocity. You approach a store worker and ask, ‘Is this on sale at all?’  And as she shakes her head and replies no, you head into the second stage… 

2) Denial

Not only will you refuse to accept this price, but you refuse to show the other shoppers how much this is affecting you.  You put the dress back on the rack and gingerly walk away, searching the store inside and out for something that suits your style, and your budget.  But as you go, all you can think about is how great that dress would look on you.  And you just bought those gladiator sandals that would match perfectly.  So, you descend into the third stage… 

3) Anger

You march back over to the rack and pick it up again.  A million thoughts run through your head — ‘There’s barely enough fabric on this thing to rightfully call it a dress, let alone one that’s this expensive.  What is it even made of?  Did Lana Del Rey craft this fabric with her own beautiful bohemian hands? I have been shopping here forever, I am a loyal customer.  I deserve to be treated as such, and by that I mean I deserve to be able to afford these clothes!’  Yet, as you realize that you in fact can’t afford it, you slip into the fourth stage…

4) Bargaining

This is the stage when you try to convince yourself that maybe, just maybe, if you budget yourself carefully, you’ll be able to afford this dress.  You make a list of all your upcoming expenses.  You think, ‘hmm, ok, so if I don’t eat out at all for the next two weeks, and maybe if I skip the pre-class Starbucks… I can totally afford this.’  But as the list of things you have to cut out of your life grows longer and longer, and you realize that this dress probably costs about as much as you’re paying for the class you’re about to miss, you head into the fifth stage… 

5) Guilt

Suddenly, that manicure you got last week doesn’t seem so necessary.  And really, did you need that late night pizza?  Ugh, if only you had ordered one less drink at the bar on Friday.  Okay, maybe three less.  Your head is swimming with guilt for all the money you wasted over the weeks, money that you could have been saving in your pocket for this very moment.  And with that, you slide into the sixth stage…


You think ‘Hmm, ok, so if I don’t eat out at all for the next two weeks, and maybe if I skip the pre-class Starbucks… I can totally afford this.


6) Depression

A moment of silence for all the beautiful garments you’ve had to pass up on account of the thinness of your wallet.  You curse yourself for not being more hard working.  Or for not having the luck to have been born as Kendall Jenner.  You return the dress to its rightful location, shedding an internal tear (no real tears, obv) as you think about the next girl coming along and purchasing this treasure instead of you.  It’s time to leave it behind and enter the seventh stage… 

7) Acceptance & Hope

Finally, as you exit the store, you begin to understand and accept your fate.  The dress just won’t be yours, but that’s okay, because you’re still a trendy chick and you’ll rock the $!*+ out of the Target version.  Plus, there’s always the hope that it’ll go on sale.  For now, you have decided to let it go, and pray to the clothing gods that someday you will walk by that store again and see a beacon of hope, a light at the end of the tunnel, a sign that reads “CLEARANCE: 50% off!”


Alex is a Junior at the University of Michigan majoring in Communications and minoring in Digital Studies.  She got her start in writing at age 4 when she authored Jace the Frog, which, much to her dismay, never had much success outside her dolly tea parties. She now prefers to lend her talents to blogging and writing Instagram captions that only she finds funny. She also loves all things food.


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