Author’s note: Another classic post from College Blair, because I just got an L.L. Bean Catalog in the mail, and, dammit, it’s still #goals.
A lot of magazines are said to cater to an “aspirational lifestyle.” All of those glossy Selfs (Selves?), Men’s Healths, and Fine Birdkeepings are writing articles and shooting spreads that depict the way no one actually lives but everyone wants to live (because when was the last time you went for a jog in a pair of pants that actually fits to warm up for your Power Yogalates and work off your decadent egg-white omelet?). They’re all subtly trying to coerce you to buy things like sports bras and Tupperware because my God if you could just get organized than your life would all fall in to place like so many stackable Air-Tite™ lids.
But there’s an easier way to craft a fantasy life, assuming your fantasy is as unthrilling as mine. I cut out the middleman and go directly for a commercial vehicle for my aspirational lifestyle: the L. L. Bean catalog. Leaf through its pages and find yourself transported to a magical land, probably located somewhere in New England, where everyone has great teeth and far-off farmhouses are lightly obscured by mist.
In L. L. Bean land, people are attractive despite the boxy and practical clothes they wear. Women are willowy and possessed of enviable cascades of frizz-free hair, despite the aforementioned humidity, and walk about laughing gaily in quilted vests. Their male counterparts are square-jawed but not too grizzly-looking, like investment bankers who know how to chop wood and have a soft spot for kids. And oh, the kids. The kids! Fresh-scrubbed little cherubs tucked into plaid jackets, holding up single, golden leaves or tossing a rascally snowball at their ethnically-diverse group of friends.
The fantasy here is obviously not one that ordinary publications push. Sure, people are healthy and attractive, but, just like the clothes they wear, they exude a sense of usefulness. I’m so very sold. In the mists of L. L. Beania, I see myself bundled up in a sensible peacoat and wellies, pulling a cartel of curly-headed children on a toboggan towards the log cabin where I have whipped up a batch of old-timey flapjacks with real maple syrup. On the porch, Dan, Bill, or Ted, my nonthreatening husband, rolls up the plaid sleeves of his flannel and rubs the belly of the Golden Retriever I’m magically not allergic to. We carry all worldly possessions in monogrammed tote bags and give each other lambswool-lined slippers for Christmas, a holiday which starts in late October and stretches into February.
Does this cement my place as Most Boring Millennial Ever? Perhaps, assuming I haven’t already been awarded the honor. Alls I know is, the catalog’s cheaper than a magazine and you don’t even have to buy anything to read it. Also, I’m pretty certain that quilted vests are making a comeback.