Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Shopping Itch

I haven't bought any clothes since january and boy am I dying to scratch a hard-core shopping itch. Ever since my mother uttered the magic formula 'clothing budget', I have been buying clothes on a monthly basis. Actually, shopping has become quite the habit, and - unfortunately - not always a healthy one. After recently reading an article on habit formation (scary stuff, by the way), I decided to try out one something the author mentioned: curbing a habit by identifying routines, cues and rewards. Because when I look at my wardrobe, I see plenty of clothes, and yet I feel like I really REALLY need some new ones. Why? So in an attempt to save some money, I made a list of five cues that made me want to go out and shop over the past weeks:

Ah, such a classic. I can't speak for you guys, but I found that when I feel this way, it usually means that I'm just not inspired enough to wear my old clothes in a new way. Salvation lies in searching the internet for inspiration considering remixing, searching the back of my closet for clothes I forgot even existed, getting in front of a big mirror and trying to come up with something new. A grown up version of playing dress-up with Barbie. Only I find it quite easy to stand without toppling over and my dream house isn't made of pink plastic.

When I want a new dress for some or other special occasion, all I secretly want is to spend a lot of money on something absolutely impractical never to be worn again afterwards. Preferably with dry-cleaning instructions. Because obviously a new dress means a new, magnificent me! When really, it would be a lot more resourceful to just wear an old dress and simply accessorize it in a cool, new way. Wouldn't it be cool if our heads could split open, Zeus/Athena-style, and have Anna dello Russo pop out of them, here to cater to our every accessorizing need?

Now this is when clothes literally start speaking directly to me. As in: "You should totally buy me right now without regards to budget or actual needs because tomorrow I'll be gone with the wind. Or, you know, another woman. Gone I tell you!" The best counter-attack to this illusion is making a mental list of all the items you bought on sale and never really wore afterwards. It's a lot easier to say no once you realise that there's still plenty of fish in the sea, even when this one gets away. Albeit not as effective as taking a good, hard look at your bank statements.

Chances are that when I'm thinking this, I a) forgot to take a good look in the mirror this morning or b) neglected the weather report and am consequently freezing/melting. I was feeling pretty good about an outfit recently, until I got to the bus station and realised my hemline was MUCH too high to be worn with flesh coloured hosiery and heels. You see, the mirror I used that morning doesn't even show my knees, which led me to drastically underestimate the effect of my bare legs. My uncomfortable feeling only increased when I had to walk by a construction crew on a break. By the time I realised I would have to spend a big chunk of my day in a neighbourhood with a lot of working girls on street corners (I'm not talking your regular nine-to-fivers here), I was seriously considering hopping into the nearest mall during my lunch break and buying a new dress altogether. Luckely, my genius friend Sarah suggested simply buying a pair of coloured stockings. Less costly, but I could have saved myself the effort just by looking in a full-length mirror before leaving the house. (And if you're wondering, yes, the whistles were downright deafening. First day of spring and all.)

Confession: I have plenty of clothes that fit me perfectly well. It's just that most of them are lying on the floor, waiting to be handwashed or taken to the dry cleaner's. The solution here is really nothing more than me getting off my lethargic ass. No more laundry slacking!

To conclude: I am definitely a victim of the 'new' mirage. When I want something new, I'm secretly hoping that this new item will suddenly uplift my closet or sense of style. Things will get even better, if only I had that dress / those shoes / that top. When all I really need is a head-to-toe mirror, time, inspiration and creativity. And a decent washing machine. So if you'll excuse me now - I've got some laundry to do.


  1. I don't jave too much of a shopping problem, but I am definitely susceptible to the SALES! thing. And the 'this is just the most beautiful thing I've ever seen' thing!

    1. Oh, I hear you! I'm a real impulse buyer. I remember watching Jessica Simpson on Newlyweds, buying a nice lingerie set and finding out afterwards it had cost a shitload of money. That was about the only time I ever felt I could relate to her.

  2. My wardrobe (and drawers and storage boxes under my bed...) are stuffed with clothes and dressing up and hats and scarves. Pretty much everything is second hand/charity shopped or previously family-owned and therefore handed down. It's very definitely a habit! So even though I'm rarely swayed by the new and I do wear and re-wear and recombine endlessly, I STILL seek the thrill of finding something unexpected at a vintage market. My justification is often 'I can use this for my dressing up box' and home I go with a hand-stitched Edwardian nightdress. I'm definitely swayed by price too: 'I won't find another silk shirt like this for £4 so I simply have to buy it right now!' I have actually run out of space to store stuff too, so I'm going to have to do another round of selling on ebay. I think the 'reward' I use most often to convince myself I can justify buying something is, 'I'll still be wearing it in 10 years'. Coming from a family of hoarders it's a hard habit to break because I'm wearing clothes that have already been worn by at least one, sometimes two generations above me!
    FAscinating analysis of what motivates us to buy clothes and how habits evolve.

  3. I think I can regularly tick the boxes n. 1 and n. 3. I'm not an impulsive shopper and I try to consider very carefully all purchases, but when it comes to costume jewelry (necklaces in particular), dresses or skirts, I manage to keep the voice of my shopping conscience silent, especially in the case of a bargain...I think having started a blog helped me in improving issue n. 1 because I try to be very creative in the mixing of clothes and accessories, but I'm a victim of the what-I-wear-today dilemma at least a couple of times per week...

  4. I don't click any of those. "ooh shiny" is my number one reason for purchasing new things. Luckily, even my "ooh shiny" items become "beaten into the ground" items. I very rarely purchase anything I don't intend to wear until it falls apart... When I do, I sell them or give them to charity. Since even most of my "new shiny" comes from extreme sales (like 85% off), thrift stores, or recycle shops, it's not much of a fiscal issue.

  5. hahaha (seriously made me crack up). Totally true... I actually pull the 'I have nothing to wear' one a lot lately as I have been trying to adapt my wardrobe from London to Mexico!


  6. Oh boy. I'm always saying I have nothing to wear! And unfortunately I do give in to my shopping itch. My wallet is NOT happy.
    xx, micol

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  8. I haven't bought new clothes since January too. Wow, now that I realise it makes me want to rush into the nearest store !! Plus I'm living in Spain until August and they have different stores, some that are cheaper. But now that I have my own place I also have to pay rent, food... So I should probably wait for my paycheck. In 20 days.

    Luckily there are no sales until July because it's that one argument that will make me go shopping straight away.
    So for now, like you said, I'm using my creativity. Being poor requests a lot of creativity actually. So I'm trying DIY, creating new outfits with new accessories...

    Great post, as always. And thanks for the tips !

    Absolute B. of Incognito

  9. My obsession with shopping is increasing by the minute. I fall for sales-every weekend and even though I have a closet full of new clothing, I still find myself going back to the old pieces. I don't know what that's about!

  10. Oh this sounds so familiar! Although my shopping addiction has improved lately, as I'm just out of money (makes it kind of hard to shop). Great article!

  11. I soooo related to this post. Every. Single. Word. I'm bookmarking for future reference (in fact I should really commit it to memory!) Brilliant post!

  12. I totally relate to this. I actually call it "a case of the want-wants." I decide that I want something, then I decide that it will somehow change my life. Luckily, I'm much better at recognizing that feeling than I used to be, so if I just wait awhile, the feeling will pass, and I will end up saving lots of money.