Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Shopping Strategy

What makes shopping valid?

I've spent a lot of time considering this lately - well, for years actually - but even moreso recently because a) I have every item of clothing I could ever need to put together attractive and functional outfits each day, b) because the better I get at sewing, the less I feel like purchasing a finished product. I want to create it! and c) because there's a lot of waste in this world that I don't want to contribute to. The money I don't spend on clothes I don't need or that I could make, is money I can apply to other endeavours. Eating, for example.

Here's what happens to me everytime I decide to leave the fashion shopping alone for a while:
  • I discover a great new boutique.
  • One of my fave stores opens a warehouse sale location.
  • One of my fave stores has the sale of the century.
  • An item I cannot live without jumps into view.
  • Every fucking thing looks great on me.
I know, it makes you want to cry for me.

In light of this - and btw it started happening as soon as I decided merely to consider not shopping for the next couple of months - I have had to determine my core, legitimate justifications for purchasing new clothing in general.

Thing is, it's not good enough to say "I'll get a lot of use out of it". I'm a pretty experienced, dare I say talented, purchaser of clothing. I use everything I wear because I don't have so much of it that I can't get through it all - and because I don't buy things unless they are practical and desirable enough for me to wear them constantly.

Nor is it ok to say "It's on mega-sale". Yeah, a good deal is thrilling, but I'm starting to feel so awful about the cheapness of labour and how I contribute to the cycle (keep in mind, I am my own sweatshop lately). I just can't go there with abandon any longer.

The notion that I cannot live without something, so awesome is it and perfect on me, is a compelling one. Of course, it's one I wouldn't have so many opportunities to exploit if I weren't a stealth browser. But one could have umpteen such things, were she to find herself in a lucky patch, and at some point it's just more of the same.

So here's what I've decided - and this is for purchases after March 31 or whenever I decide I want to buy something next (see how I'm emotionally leaving my options open). I will not buy unless:
  • It's totally useful.
  • It fits very well.
  • I love it to bits.
  • The price is right i.e. I can afford it comfortably, whether or not it is on sale.

What's your take on things? I mean, we who read the fashion blogs are peeps who tend to love all elements of shopping as, if nothing else, a means to an end. There's the hunt, the feel, the kill, wearing, taking photos, collecting and the list goes on.

Do you feel controlled by your impulse to shop? Do you have new or standard systems in place to keep you confident that what you purchase is right for you and your lifestyle? Do tell.


  1. i am so with you on this one. here's my story: about 3 years ago i suddenly realized while cleaning out my closet that a majority of my clothes all were of the "fast fashion" variety - from H&M, Zara etc. and it seemed such a waste to keep throwing $$ away and having to throw clothes out after only a few months or a year.

    so i've tried to completely overhaul my wardrobe in the years since and work on building "the perfect wardrobe" of staples, classics, etc. making a list of some of these things that i didn't have in my wardrobe but needed to keep a lookout for during sample sales really helped me stay on track and not buy redundant multiples of things i already had. it's taken a few years, but now i find that i purchase less, better quality, and more "strategically".

    and this also applies to accessories - shoes + bags - which, in my opinion, is almost always the stylish woman's achilles heel!

  2. I used to be a total shopaholic. But, I've basically stopped since I've not been to Europe in two years. OK, I'm gonna go cry now...

  3. There is a lot of food for thought for me in what you say here. I decided on a shopping ban til end of January; in part inspired by MakeDoStyle. Also because I am feeling somewhat financially insecure at the moment. I have not extended it to (not) buying stuff for my kids.
    I have had sooooo many temptations between fabric sales, closing down sales, usual Jan sales BUT so far, have stuck to it. And I dont feel deprived. Instead I am ensuring I USE what I have.
    What have I learned- that I am easily swayed by what I see now; a fear that it will not be there in my size later; or by the comparative saving on full price.
    The other lesson is that I should/must abstain from fast, cheap stuff entirely. I'm getting to old for it!

  4. I try to buy only things that I LOVE and will wear constantly. I find that otherwise I just have huge buyer's remorse. I also love looking in my closet and absolutely loving everything in it.

  5. Since you already know my take on this, I won't go on and on.

    I'll say this: Unless I can actually use something at least twice a week in my current lifestyle, I won't buy it.

    This leaves me with not much to choose from, but it keeps me sane. I don't wind up with anything for "special occasions," of which I have none in my life. I have things I can wear every day, and not just look at, wishing there was a place/time/reason to wear them.

  6. Sophie: I love your story. I'm trying for the same aesthetic!

    Stacy: You haven't been to Europe but you live in Manhattan! :-)

    Tipchic: I so hear your concerns about walking away from the sales. I struggle with the same ones! Good for you for working on the challenge. I think we'll both be better for it.

    MK: I love looking in the closet at loving it all too. Extremely worthy goal!

    E: You are the original conscious shopper. I learned so much from your shopping ban (was it more than a year ago already??). I couldn't be as disciplined as you. Well, who knows, maybe I could! But baby steps :-)