I Want the Most Popular Skirt on Social Media, Should I Get It?

Leandra Medine Cohen skirt of summer style

Remember when Vogue Runway, née, was the vertical that we relied upon to share trends on the imminent horizon? Editors would cover shows, which were boasting clothes worn by models, and inject their opinions about which trends would stick and which would remain on the cultural back burner until a better climate for the trend in question surfaced. Unless, that is, the powers that be decided said trend had no place among the discourse at all.

Sometimes I still can’t believe that Instagram, genius but simple, and manipulative but gentle, staged a quiet uprising and usurped the old guard’s throne, democratizing the playing field and turning every single one of us into the simultaneous trend forecasters, models and spectators. Talk about a three-pronged hustle.

By simple virtue of scrolling, one, two, three — as many times as you’d like, you glean the vast array of dressing styles being served on the app. In doing this, you take what you want (and perhaps log it in your fancy saved folder) and discard what you don’t. Inevitably and often unconsciously, your cues are informed by this gleaning process, thus generating a hankering for you, too, to wear what you see. (I could go further into this, but it’s probably better that you read Harling’s take on whether algorithms are replacing personal taste.) So you replicate the dressing you’ve seen, make it your own, add a jooj, remove a bangle, take a selfie and boom! From spectator (watching the trends) to editor (deciding what you like and what you don’t) to model, there you are, foot on console, increasing the brightness, taking down the contrast and adding a speck of saturation.

But every now and then, Instagram will go so far as to trick you into believing you are having an original thought. Like you are the owner of a trend that has sunken so deeply into your personal narrative, you can’t believe it wasn’t there just two days earlier when you were engulfed in The Vortex that is a mind-numbing scroll. This happened to me recently with a silk leopard print skirt. I was standing in front of my mirror, Donald Duck-ing in a striped tank top and yellow flats, thinking to myself: the only thing that could complete this look is a slip skirt rendered in leopard print, one that hits about an inch below my knee but definitely does not graze my shin. The print had to be specific, almost cartoon-ish. I could picture it in my head and was certain that I’d just become a phantom designer. But before I could create a launch plan based on this advancement, something else caught my attention, which then redirected my gaze to Instagram and boom shaka laka, there it was: the leopard print skirt, not my design idea by any stretch of even the Little Prince’s imagination, styled over…

And over…

And over…

Some more over…

(And over)

Once more!

Fine, twice.


At this point, I was presented with an intramural conflict. Do I go ahead and get the skirt? Or do I let this want fall by the wayside; it’s already been seen, digested, interpreted and co-opted by The Girls of Instagram, so do I really want to add to the noise? Furthermore, if I do, will I look like a puppet or can I genuinely make this skirt me? They say you can’t unsee things, and I agree, but can you enforce an altered sense of vision to see said thing differently?

Ultimately, I got the skirt. The thought of not acquiring it because so many people on the internet (who I don’t even actually know, mind you) already have it made me feel like I was living too literally for my digital life instead of my real life, making decisions based on this cyber illusion of a world that exists only in the palm of my hand as opposed to the one that exists in real time, where no one save for the living, breathing organisms in my periphery can see me and decide for themselves whether I do, in fact, look like I’m going to a Fran Drescher convention.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

More from Archive