Dori who writes over at Dorigamii brought up some points in her recent post about shopping that made me think back on my own evolving values. I found the exercise interesting. She talks about the price vs. quality conundrum while shopping (“…how hard it is for me to come to grasps with dropping a lot of money on nicer clothing”), avoiding using specific items because of cleaning costs or fear of damage, and a desire to pinpoint weak areas of her wardrobe to be addressed in future purchases. These are all things I have done and still touch upon sometimes when I shop.
I think a good reason why this post interests me is how it calls to mind the changes I’ve undergone with regards to my own shopping habits. I’m not at all “enlightened” or have become some minimalist minion touting restrictions left and right. But I’ve cut down on a lot of extraneous browsing “just looking!” window-shopping trips. I’ve also used my somewhat detailed (read: obsessive) research of items more efficiently–the time spent trying everything on those browsing trips showed me where to shop first for a higher rate of fit/quality/price success; a steady stream of promotional emails means a sale is ALWAYS around the corner, and I’m practicing daily on that mental fortitude needed not to impulse buy. If I do slip up and pull the trigger on something, I try to figure out why. It’s almost always an emotional reason. Feelings of inadequacy is a frequent one.
I would even hazard to say that even as we “bloggers” (really, regular people over here) write our own wardrobe philosophies, it does not neatly apply to everyone. I started with goals to look professional and appropriate and “me.” But that last variable, me, is still rapidly changing! How can I effectively shop for a me I haven’t met? Luckily, most of what I bought when I first started my now full-time career is still a favorite and still fits. There were a few items that faded poorly and a few sizing mistakes that became apparent with weight loss (they were non-salvageable–I’m not going to spend half the cost to tailor a wool coat I can donate. Chalk it up as a lesson.) It’s hard to preach any one specific school of thought with regards to how to edit and replenish your wardrobe. So much can happen. Needs change, bodies change, circumstances change. There is no universal “wardrobe staple.”
The last thought fragment I want to discuss is the growing awareness of the effort it takes to shop. I noticed that I came home from browsing trips less happy, and more somber (because inadequacy: “I can’t afford it” or “It didn’t look good on me.”) I also knew for a while that the euphoric feeling after new purchases grew shorter and shorter. Why such little payoff from so much money and effort expended? Looked online because you saw a sale. Spotted a potentially cute shirt with enticing 30% off code. Made plans after work to check out the shirt. Drove 15 miles to the mall, parked the car, walked half a mile to where the specific store is. Found the item on the rack, tried it on in the dressing room, mulled it over for fifteen minutes. Lined up at the counter, paid for it, walked back to the car and drove home. By the time I got home and hung up the new shirt I’d already lost the excitement of new item!!! and it had visibly and mentally joined the pile in my closet.
In some ways I kind of want that shopping high back, like yeah! I bought the thing. The thing in the nice color and cut I always wanted. But if it means that the importance of material objects is diminishing, back to its proper place (IMO, to where 1. the item serves its purpose and is the best at doing so 2. ideally it also satisfies the aesthetic I want to project) then I’m OK with that too. It’s just funny that it used to be such a thing–yay new stuff because new stuff. Now it’s yay new stuff, now I can go to work feeling comfy AND on fleek in these new black sneaks (I am waiting to acquire said black sneaks. Another story, another time.)
I hope that wasn’t too convoluted to follow. Nothing I’m saying above is revolutionary; to me, however, it feels somewhat cathartic as well as a sort of way-marker for the person that I am in this point in time. It is also possible, as one of my dear friends likes to remind me, that I am overthinking things as usual (isn’t that what a blog is for? I can just blahg ad nauseam to my little heart’s desire.) What is the most you’ve ever done to shop for or buy something? Was it worth the effort? What (if any) sort of experience do new purchases give you?