For a while now, the New York Times Thursday Styles section has been moving in a weird and boring direction of simultaneously attempting to pander to the cosmetic eternal youth delusions of Ladies of a Certain Age (this week’s feature on what such ladies spend on their blowouts and Botox made me want to vomit) and what the editors imagine Kids These Days are into. But buried at the bottom of the page was a name that surprised and pleased me: Cintra Wilson, author of the caustic and funny Colors Insulting to Nature. I was even more pleased to see that she was doing the Critical Shopper column, this week devoted to a review of the Valentino boutique on the Upper East Side, although also a little worried that the Times might have neutered her style. Luckily, they had not:

The lifestyle [the store represents], while seemingly reliant on inexhaustible privilege, nonetheless has a tragic charm in its Darwinian unsustainability. How much longer can the Valentino tribe remain sheltered from realities more painful than eyebrow-tweezing?


A blouson jacket of kelly-green felt ($2,590) has oversize buttons that may look whimsically childlike on a Marc Jacobs garment but, in this case, look large as an aid for numbed fingers and blurred vision brought on by an excess of Klonopin.

Oh, and:

The black pants I tried on were marvelously cut and would have been a flawless basic (for a near-reasonable $890) if not for the ruffle around the waist, which relegated them to the enviable ghetto of, “I’ll wear them sensationally once, then pugs can nest upon them.”

I loved every word, as it spoke to my ambivalent attitude toward couture–I think the clothes themselves are wonderful. Yet when I wear something really fine, I feel afraid both that I’ll be exposed as a fraud who doesn’t belong to the tribe that wears such things and that I might actually become one of them. So for now, I’m happy to go touch these things in the stores and then toddle off wearing my mid-market fashion.