Fashion, Travel + Place

“To be or not to be in Death Valley” outfit

My longstanding quest for Cheep has been to capture the look of a disinterested bohemian model in an Anthropologie catalog. She side eyes you in her cotton patchwork gown against a distressed backdrop—fingering strange, decayed objets d’art—like an end-of-times queen of leisure.

At long last, a solid decade into thick of Cheep, I finally reached my goal in a ghost town in Death Valley called Panamit City. Here’s a step by step guide to achieving this rare look:

STEP 1: Get stupid lost and stranded in the desert. Idiotically go to the entirely wrong side of the mountain to the rockiest road in Death Valley. Foolishly drive straight up it and viciously slash your tire to bits. Fail to locate a jack. Contemplate your slow, lonely demise for at least one night and one morning.

STEP 2: Get jacked. Somehow get cell service for just the tense five minutes it takes to call your dad and get him to Google where Honda painstakingly hid the jack in 2001.

STEP 3: Stress shop in Pahrump, NV. In the day-long wait for a new tire, go on a Goodwill dress binge.

STEP 4: Backtrack through space and time. Find the right trailhead. Hike seven miles straight up a canyon. Follow a brick mine stack that looks like a fallen castle to an abandoned cabin littered with bones and backpacker detritus.

STEP 5: Strip naked to air dry while you liberally spread the highlighter you (wisely?) packed in all over your sweaty face. Throw on a boutique cast-off gown.

STEP 6: Stick a rusted thingamabob in your wrecked hair. Fondle a bone. Self style a photoshoot that, even after 10 years of practice, still takes 100 tries to achieve two decent pics.

STEP 7: Repeatedly, existentially question yourself. Is this really what I’m doing with my life? (Answer: yes.)

And that is how to Anthropologie anthropology.

no label boutique cast-off bohemian black & purple psychedelic cotton dress – $8.99, Goodwill thrift store | Maasai red, white & blue beaded bracelet – $2000 Kenyan shillings (about $20) 

Cheep it when you’re ghosting the rest of the world.