Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Thoughts on Shopping: Shop Like You Mean It

Yesterday was my 100th post. Last week, as I approached the 100th mark, I thought that I wanted that post to be meaningful and thought about what I would write. Little did I know how meaningful it would really be.

Life is. . . well, it just is. And we just are.

Yesterday was a very reflective day for me, for obvious reasons. After starting to pull together Samson photos to make into a photo-book (one of those cool, bound ones that you can order nowadays), I got myself out of the house to run an errand and meet a friend to talk about a job. It was a lovely day and I was lucky to be able to bike around. I also had a strong urge to go shopping. And have a beer. (I am actually having a beer right now. Yes, I know it is noon, but, whatever. I'm in mourning - I'm allowed. Um, its also that our refrigerator is broken, so I am trying to get through all the things that might go bad before the repair-person gets here later in the week. I thought I would start with the beer. I think it is a good strategy.)

Shopping has always been a distraction for me. Assuage the nervousness of a date with a new top. Divert the anxiety of an interview with a new suit. Spend an hour in Filene's looking for . . . um, well . . . anything that fits, really. A slight emotional lift to a bad day, bad relationship, bad interview . . . Like a caffeine jolt on a tired morning, shopping has always served to get me through that emotional dip. Plus, I thought, "well, life sucks. But at least I look good." Having a bunch of credit cards made it easy peasy - delayed consequences.

I think its easy to get carried away with this emotional correlation. "Buying stuff makes me feel good." I think it also ties into why we are having so many issues in the world these days. Why there is so much waste. Why Americans save less than any other country in the world and have the highest debt.

Therefore, I offer up the following: being an eco-friendly fashionista first starts with a deep, hard look at yourself. Buying even eco-friendly things is still very taxing on the environment. And if you are constantly hitting the thrift and vintage stores (which is the BEST way to go, by far), perhaps you are still not dealing with some of the emotions you should be dealing with, but are delaying that pain, crying, healing, leaving, trying, quitting, moving on and moving out . . . even if you did just score an awesome DVF wrap dress that was actually made in the USA in the 70s . . . So, OMG, I would be so jealous.

Anyway, I'm just saying. I don't mean to be a downer. But maybe we have given shopping a role in our lives that is counter-productive to our success as people. (And maybe this is my official disclaimer, since I do suggest that you buy stuff on this blog.)

For me, this past year of scraping to pay the mortgage, while paying for school and not having a job, has served to put a serious dent in my shopping habits. But, that's not the only motivation for this sort of shopping self-reflection. Buying stuff because you don't want to deal is dumb. Self-awareness is hard-won . . . and may even help you save money (like, for a trip to some amazing, sandy destination where the men are lovely and the pace is slow). Just think about it. (And yes, flying to some far-flung destination may or may not actually create more greenhouse gas emissions than buying a pair of shoes, but I postulate that you will grow more from the experience.)

As for me, I headed to Filene's yesterday (hey, full disclosure). My budget is slim, but I needed a distraction - I just didn't want to go home yet to see the empty spot where Sammy's food bowl used to be. I ended up with a Penguin striped long-sleeved t-shirt. I had been looking for a striped long-sleeved t shirt, so I had a good excuse to buy it - it had been part of my plan (conveniently, also acting as a distraction) . I did put away all those other pieces that I tried on.

So, I guess my closing thoughts are: shop like you mean it. Know what you need to fill out your wardrobe. Be strategic. Maintain a well-edited closet. Know what looks good on your body. Don't buy crap that you don't really need/that you will never wear. Don't shop when you are upset. KNOW when you are upset. Be aware of the internal intricacies of your amazing, complex person. Don't make shopping a pastime - there are far more interesting pastimes than that. And, for heaven's sake, if you are in debt as a result of your shopping habits . . . well, maybe it is time to take another look at what is going on inside, girl. And besides, conserving resources (including $$) and making due with what you already have is THE NEW BLACK. I wouldn't lie to you.

Good luck, y'all.



Kiki said...

Wow. This post is so right-on. I was just having a conversation with a friend about how I used to turn to chocolate to get over something, but now that I'm trying to lose weight it's shoes. Maybe I should learn to live my life without a crutch?

ps. so sorry to hear about your pup. He was a precious one!

Sal said...

Here here! I've always loved to shop, but spent years shopping to cover up personal issues that I couldn't face. My husband called it "feeding the hole." Turns out, you actually cannot buy enough Fluevogs to fill the hole. And now that I've moved on from that phase, I enjoy shopping even more!

Marissa said...

Nice essay. I too am sucked in to shopping for no good reason. Although, it's mainly because I have no concept of finances. But I think you're definitely right that people should always *think* about what and why they're buying before shelling out any cash. Well said!

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