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recognise excessive shopping

4 January 2013

Paris 2011

From the age of 19 to 26, I had a mostly unhealthy relationship with clothes shopping. It started at university as a way to kill time, play with fashion and finding identity, then an (ex-)boyfriend who bought me clothes all the time (at the beginning it felt great and then I just felt like a trophy clothes horse and weighed down by all the clothes). After that I was single and focused solely on big goals and didn’t shop much at all. Then I fell into it again – we recognise that sometimes it’s also motivated by the desire to never appear like a blind person who can’t dress herself.

Underneath I have always liked owning less since I was a child doing regular purges. It took some time to get back to that core. While I never got into debt from shopping, I certainly experienced other symptoms…

  • The constant thinking about what to buy and when and where.
  • Perusing magazines to find what my wardrobe was desperately missing.
  • The clutter of magazine pages torn out and accumulating.
  • The hours spent wandering through the shops with no need or specific goal.
  • The rush of finding something and paying for it.
  • The crash when I got home and felt awful for buying it.
  • Wanting to hide purchases from my man (but never being able to because I’m honest!).
  • Forgetting that I had items on lay-by.
  • Worrying about being seen in the same dress twice.
  • Too many clothes in my wardrobe, many never worn.
  • Not remembering what I already owned and buying similar items.
  • Getting caught up in a trend and overbuying for it.
  • Lots of cheap clothes instead of a few quality items.
  • Not being able to recognise my core sartorial identity.
  • Overwhelmed with choices when choosing an outfit or packing for holidays.

Have you ever had an unhealthy shopping habit or are you in one now? What other symptoms did/do you experience? Soon I will talk about how I conquered it.

7 Responses
  1. January 4, 2013

    Lots of cheap clothes instead of a few quality items — THIS is the biggest cause of my clutter. That means sales sway me, too.

    After decluttering my wardrobe, I made a decision to just buy a few, good quality pieces from now on, instead of accumulating short-term thrills of poor-quality buys.

  2. January 5, 2013

    I have experienced all the symptoms above too! I found that I only started to bring my wardrobe under control when I forced to remove an item when I bought a new one. My wardrobe is still to full, I had a sort out the other day and have more than 33 items that I want to wear. It is difficult to restrict your wardrobe when you have clothes that are needed for different occasions eg. work, leisure, gardening and dog walking.
    As both you and Juanita mention I have come to the conclusion too that it is better have less clothes that are better quality.
    Sarah x

  3. January 5, 2013

    I can identify with you here . Only a few years ago I became obsessed with creating a never ending new wardrobe and was very careful not to be seen in the same outfit twice. A practical need to downsize my wardrobe cured me and saved me from this shallow mindset. Now I enjoy wearing lovely clothes but I am proud to be seen in the same outfit more than once – in fact regularly. Wearing clothes that flatter you can trigger confidence whereas obsessive clothes buying generally generates insecurity. Great food for thought xo

  4. January 6, 2013

    yes… back when I was a teenager and I experienced everything you’ve described now. Living here in nyc has forced me to de-clutter, as I don’t have much room. I now have a much more focussed wardrobe, full of lovely, quality pieces I can wear in many ways for many years. And I’m much happier for it!

  5. January 7, 2013

    Here in Buenos Aires, mostly of people like to dress well and to show brands in clothes. Unfortunately, good clothes -with good quality- are (very) expensive, so you end in some way always buying some cheap items, reserving the good ones for special occasions. Agreeing with other comment, you have to have clothes to go to work, to walk on sundays, to go out on saturdays, to go to a wedding, to take vacations, to works on repairs at home etc. We end accumulating tons of fabric! And, because good items are expensive, you tend no to let them go and they finish petrified in the wardrobe.
    In 2012 I discovered minimalism (yes, did´n know it even existed) and started to select and take some clothes to give. I resist the impulse to buy by thinking that I don´t have any more space in my wardrobe -neither my apartament- and have to use and enjoy what I have now. Each item you buyed, is money you payed, and that money is time of your live you invested in work to earn it. So, I dont´t like to waste my time or the earth resources. Have a nice week!

  6. January 7, 2013

    Can’t say I experienced more than a couple of your symptoms, I always forced myself to keep new clothes out of the wardrobe until I wore them – this way you would be like can’t be something new, there’s still a pile of new stuff sitting in the bedroom to be worn.

    I must say I have stopped shopping as much as I used to, whenever I go shopping it gets harder and harder to find things that I like. But it’s always good when you do! The best part is when you take it to the counter and it’s CHEAPER THAN YOU THINK!! haha that always makes me when to rush back and see what other bargains I can find..

  7. Colette permalink
    January 8, 2013

    I’ll reach for that cheap, nearly tattered old favourite shamelessly over the stiff, tailored piece each time!

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