Pretty In Public: The Drive-By Askliment Is A Touchy Sartorial Subject

So, on the subway this morning, someone asked me where I got my dress. It made my day. For this reason, and despite its controversial status, I'm a big fan of the drive-by sourcing-compliment. If someone's wearing something I like, I'll ask where she got it - it's flattering, and its a way I've found a lot of stuff and even made a few fashion-friends. However, I've noticed that this seemingly innocent question results in a variety of reactions:

1. Flattered. Most women fall into this category, and will give you a straight answer.

2. Self-deprecating. These women do some variation of the "Oh, it's just from Target/H&M/Forever 21." Despite their deceptive humility, these answers can in fact contain a grain of self-congratulation at the speaker's discernment and bargain-savvy.

3. Gloating. Here we have the, "I got it 80% off at a Marc Jacobs sample sale!" type, eager for a chance to boast.

4. Smug. "It's vintage." Sometimes un-asked-for details about the garment's provenance will be given here. Garments made by hipster/artisan friends of the wearer also fall into this category.

5. Sheepish/uncomfortable. This only applies to those sporting designer items that they figure you can't afford.

6. Obnoxious. "I got it in Berlin." Even if true (rarely) this is, for some reason, always objectionable.

7. Paranoid. "You won't be able to find it." In fairness, I only had this happen once.

My own style is a combination of smugness, flattery and oversharing. So thrilled am I by any compliment that I become pathetically confidential, wont to write out unsolicited lists of stores and websites, draw maps of flea markets and wink inappropriately. I think the dame in question was kinda glad to be getting off at the next stop. (For the record, "askliment" is really not catching on. Even in my own mind. It just screams "ass!" over and over, even though it knows it's an awesome composite neologism. Please share any better ideas.)