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In Praise of the (Grown-up) Security Blanket

December 01, 2017 | Filed in: Your Brain

When it comes to getting dressed, we’re big proponents of creating a uniform of go-to pieces that make you feel your best. But while there’s no denying the power of a great outfit, we were curious about the other objects people use to boost their confidence—grown-up versions of the security blanket or good luck charm, if you will. Below, a few of our team members and friends share the familiar items (and outfits) they turn to when they need a boost.

“When I moved into my first apartment in college, my mom gave me a collection of pots that I still cook with. They weren’t in the best shape even back then, and now they’re literally hanging together by a thread—if I don’t pick up one of the pans at a certain angle, I know the handle will fall off. One of the pots always conjures memories of my mom making broccoli cheddar soup for our family. At this point, it has what I call ‘flavor baked in’ from all the meals I’ve made in it over the years, from the risotto I burnt during a fancy dinner party to the spaghetti dinners I have with my friends regularly. More than anything, when I use the pots I think of my mom. I feel more confident when I cook with dishes that I know she’s used.”

—Emily, Strategic Operations Manager

“One of my biggest sources of comfort is my cat, Cookie. We have a morning routine that I look forward to every day: As soon as he sees me start to wake up, he jumps into bed so I can pet him. He makes it so hard to get up—sometimes I set my alarm for half an hour early so I have extra time to cuddle with him. He also likes to sit next to me while I play the piano. He prefers soft, slow music, and his favorite song is Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’—I can tell because he touches my arm every time I play it.”

—Yan, Graphic Designer

Yan’s cat, Cookie, studying up on MM’s wardrobe manifesto.

“I have a painting by an artist I met when I was interning at a gallery in New York. She showed us her portfolio and I immediately fell in love with one of her smallest pieces, called ‘Sunset Sail.’ When I came to New York for good after graduation, I moved around a lot, and the first thing I did in each apartment was hang up this painting. It was a nice way to make myself feel at home.”

—Corinne, Graphic Designer

“My first year living in New York, lost without my college dining hall, I experimented with a few simple recipes and ultimately adopted what I call my ‘dinner uniform.’ The actual meal (a simple stir fry) isn’t that impressive, but that’s sort of the point: It’s a foolproof, tried-and-true recipe that makes for one less decision during the day. Half the appeal is in the familiar motions of preparation—I’ve made this meal so many times that I can enjoy a casual conversation with my roommates without missing a step. And it also gives me a sense of accomplishment: Regardless of what I didn’t get done that day, I can proudly say that I made myself dinner.”

—Alex, Brand Associate

“I have a Ralph Lauren cashmere cable knit men’s sweater that I intercepted when a friend’s ex-boyfriend was getting rid of it. At the time, I had no idea how much of a fixture it would become in my life. I’ve worn it constantly for the past 11 years: around the house, to sleep, while traveling, to work on casual days, hiking, and on weekends. When I moved to Paris on a whim, it was one of the few items I brought in my two little suitcases. I sometimes wear it when I’m feeling sad or anxious, or just when I’m cold and want a little extra softness between me and the world. It’s the closest thing to staying in bed.”

—Tory, Creative Director of Brand

“Umm… I still sleep with my literal childhood security blanket.”

—Kit, Teacher

“I’m generally not a superstitious person, but when it comes to dressing for a big occasion at work (whether interviewing for a job or delivering a presentation), I have to wear my Etsuko dress. It all started a few years ago, when I wore it to speak on a panel at a conference. I was incredibly nervous, but the event ended up going way better than I expected. Since then, the Etsuko has become my unofficial good luck charm. It’s comfortable, classic, makes me feel confident, and I know I won’t have to worry about tucking or adjusting anything over the course of the day. I swear, only good things happen to me when I wear this dress.”

— Julia, Lawyer

“My ex-boyfriend, who is still my close friend, gave me a bracelet as a graduation gift that I wear every day. It’s a silver chain engraved with ‘TTWP,’ which stands for ‘This too will pass.’ I’m easily stressed, and the bracelet is a reminder that challenging times don’t last forever. That said, the quote also acknowledges that good times will come to an end, too—so when things are going well, it’s important to cherish those special moments. It’s a talisman that keeps me grounded.”

—Ruth, Senior Marketing Associate

Feast of All Saints by Anne Rice is the book I read over and over again, especially during times of change in my life. It’s about the free people of color who lived in New Orleans before the Civil War. Sometimes I’ll just flip it open to a random page and start reading. The characters feel like old friends, and revisiting their lives is like going home.”

—Becca, Public Relations Manager

“I need to have fluffy socks available to me at all times.”

—Rachel, Executive Assistant

“The one thing that never fails to entertain me, boost my mood after a particularly hard day, or lull me to sleep when my mind won’t stop running is the show Friends. It’s continuously on loop in my Netflix queue, and I have every line memorized. Even after watching all 10 seasons at least 10 times, each episode still brings me joy and makes me laugh.”

—Amanda, Analyst

“When I was in high school in Nashville, I discovered most of the music I listened to through the Vanderbilt College radio station, and after I heard about a band called Wilco, I asked for their album ‘A Ghost is Born’ for Christmas. I fell in love with it immediately. The music is beautiful, layered, and complicated—but so simple at the same time. Although my musical taste has changed quite a bit since, I still remember every single lyric.”

—Lesley, Social Media Manager

“I’ve never loved flying, but the one thing that helps to ease my anxiety is having a go-to outfit. I travel a lot for pop-ups, and on one of my first flights for work, I decided to wear a T-shirt that has become my signature travel piece. The shirt says ‘New York City’ on it, and was made in collaboration with an artist from Brooklyn. I guess I subconsciously opted for it because I’m from New York, and even though I was traveling somewhere else, I knew I’d be back. The first time I wore it on a flight, the trip was incredibly smooth—I thought, This shirt is good luck! I’ve worn it on every flight since, usually with jeans, sneakers, and my trusty Morandi sweater.”

—Taylor, Stylist


—Sara, Stylist

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Alexandra Johnson is the brand manager at MM.LaFleur, where she started out as a summer intern. Her happy place is the room housing Monet's Water Lilies at MoMA. Read more of Alexandra's posts.

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