As it turns out, I am a shopaholic. You are not surprised. I am a little. Before this shopping break, I would have told you that I was not a shopaholic and that I simply enjoy shopping very much. But it seems I actually have a compulsive need to buy stuff. Stepping away from it has been eye opening.
Years ago, in one of my last years of high school, my parents bought me a sparkly denim Steve Madden cross body bag for my birthday. I was also in need of some new school clothes, so in the same week, I also got a pair of l.e.i. flares and a 3/4 sleeve periwinkle top. I remember every detail of that outfit. A crossbody bag (name brand... what up?), flares and a 3/4 sleeve top all in one outfit? Those three new and trendy items were a crazy luxury to me. I don't think I stopped smiling for a month.
Fast forward a couple of years (fine... a decade) and I'm going to the thrift store. Apparently I'm pretty good at the thrift store, so I leave with a giant bag stuffed with 7 items. I feel excited and happy with my haul. Two days later I'm at Winners. One of the vintage dresses I thrifted would look so good with cognac heels and I have beige heels and brown heels but I don't have cognac heels. I don't find a good pair of cognac heels but I find another dress. And it's so cute... and a great price... On the way home, I stop at a drug store to get some detergent and...ohhhhh... I get distracted by some new lipsticks. Maroon is the hot new lip colour this fall, so I have been told, and I better stock up. The next day I realize I never bought the detergent, so I get them on my way home from work. Detergent... and a magazine too. I see a cute herringbone blazer in an editorial spread in the magazine... I could thrift that. Back to the thrift store I go.
That is the hamster wheel I have been running on. It is never enough.
I'm pretty good at easing my conscience. I've got my excuses lined up. I mean, how can you say no to a good deal? Because that is what most of my purchases are. Good deals. No, great deals. I have a closet full of silk, wool and leather for a fraction of the original price. There are name brands in my closet that I have no business having. You might be athletic or really good at those excel spread sheets; I'm good at shopping. I figure it would be a waste of my talents to stay out of stores...
I also share well with others. All my friends know that if they are in a wardrobe pinch, they are always free to come browse the selections in my closet. I usually even pour them an adult beverage. We gossip, sip drinks and try to make something work. My closet is like a library, but for clothes. You know what? I need a tax receipt for this kindness...
Besides, there are people who buy and spend way more than I do. I shop the sale rack and look for those extra discount signs with a trained eye but there are people who buy things without a sale sticker. That J. Crew catalogue comes out and two days later the chevron sequin of the season is at their door. Clearly, I'm the sensible shopper here...
And so the excuses go on...
But these last few weeks, in the absense of shopping, I noticed how much I missed the rush of shopping. And it's frightening to realize that I am missing not just the items I would be buying, but also the high I get off shopping. I shop to celebrate, I shop when I am sad and I shop to distract from the stresses in my head. It's an addiction that I can't seem to satisfy. I usually love this time of year, those final summer sales steal my heart. In order to avoid shopping, I just don't go in any clothing stores at all. I'm leaving nose prints on store windows because I know if I go in and hit a sale rack, a bag will come home with me.
I'm not saying that shopping in itself is bad. Even excessive shopping. If you have the financial means and you aren't using shopping as an unhealthy crutch, by all means, go for it. Appreciate that you are able to afford and enjoy 'things'. The fashion industry as a whole often gets hit with the label of being frivolous. Yes, much of fashion is completely frivilous, filling a want, not a need. But so is that giant TV, that fancy area rug and the Starbucks mug in your hand. They are nice luxuries but there is no harm in being reminded once in a while of the fact that they all are, at the end of the day, just luxuries.
It would be easy to blame my shopping habits on fashion blogging. After all, there is this continual need to show something new. I'm pretty sure I would still have a lot of clothes even without blogging. I can blame fashion blogging for my short lived foray into pigeon toes but I'm a shopaholic all on my own.
This isn't a post to say that I am going to stop shopping. I don't want to be the poster child for Fashion Bloggers Against Shopping.
Who am I kidding? Yeah I do. Put this on your sidebar kids if you want to join the crusade. My duckface on your sidebar? Do it.
I need to stop using shopping as a way to react to every emotion. I need to be able to walk into a store without feeling the immediate need to purchase some... stuff. I need to shop with intention and stop being an idiot. I need to buy a vehicle that runs without sweet words of encouragement.