To Try, Then Buy
“If you don’t want to spend money shopping, don’t shop?” He helpfully offered.
Don’t shop? The words roll around in my head. Don’t shop? Isn’t that what fashion and style bloggers do?
I had stopped checking all the sample sales, I turned a blind eye walking past the H&M when I was laid off – but it was an upcoming ladies tea… and the curve of a wedge heel, and the urge to shop was there.
It’s not that I need to buy, I told myself, I just like looking at stuff. The cut of a hem, the drape of a satin, the alluring sparkle of sequinned tanks. And besides, what harm can browsing do? Except, I saw this dress that was a gorgeous sateen cotton and I had to try it on. And that was the trap.
“I’ll just try this on… it probably won’t fit.”
It didn’t. The dress was too small to get over even my narrow shoulders and because I mourned the ill-fitting cut of the dress, the entire experience gave me pause. I can’t afford to just browse and shop. It’s true that I have great reason to browse – I can surf through a collection in person and write about it later. But it was the realization that I went into this store, consciously ready to consume. Unwittingly ready to buy had that little dress fit (and had it been oh… $10 cheaper – but even $10 is easy to rationalize) and I didn’t realize that until I was majorly bummed that it didn’t fit. I had a guilty second where I thought to myself, “I should NOT be here…”
Stepping outside the store gave me a breath of fresh air and I rationalized that I’d been emotionally shopping – I went in because I was bored and killing time. I haven’t felt the ego-blow of being laid off (because ex-employer was sort of a dick), but there is a sense of mania when I ask, “What am I going to do with myself now!??!” I’d rationalized my purpose for going in (“Oh I can just browse to kill time…”), but I hadn’t realized that I went in with the wrong mindset. At that same time, if I had seen something truly unique and special, that would seamlessly integrate right into my closet… shouldn’t I buy it?
I need to be aware of the underlying mental reasons for wanting to “just browse” – and if I had cash-in-hand the situation would have been much different. If you’re going to browse – just browse – without having the money in your pocket to purchase, do so with an editorial eye. Had I gone in, in the right frame of mind, telling myself “I’m going in because I want to note the construction of this line, or the new trends and fabrics”, I probably wouldn’t have put myself in potential debt danger (wait, how was I going to pay for this dress if I didn’t have the money on me? OH right! Credit!). Had I gone in with the actual money right in my hand, I would have been justified to try and buy.
I don’t think the solution to not frivolously throwing money out is to not shop. It’s a source of wardrobe inspiration, and often it’s a source of blog inspiration. Hell, we probably all spend at least half an hour browsing through sales on the internet while we’re looking for post-fodder. I think the solution to that mindless consumption is to be mindful of why you’re shopping, and what you’re feeling while you’re doing it. And to think I almost rationalized an ill-fitting dress just to satiate my feelings! I think for me, it will be about having that money right in my hand and available when I actually want to shop to consume. And to realize when there is an underlying emotion as I’m out surfing the racks. Don’t shop to kill time, but do it with a sense of purpose – whether that’s to write about the experience, or to actually purchase something. Know your purpose, be mindful of your triggers. Shop, but know why you’re there.
Mindless consumption is a pretty serious and prevalent problem – especially when you’re on a limited budget. How do you stay mindful while browsing?