2012-08-31

Confessions of a Shopaholic.

I need a new vehicle. I've been saying it for a year now. My truck looks pretty bad, it often sounds pretty bad and lately I've taken to whispering sweet words of encouragement as it struggles up a hill. Last year I thought it would be nice to get something a little more reliable, this year the truck is on its very, very last legs. The situation is dire. The smart thing would have been to start saving a year ago but there were basements to be finished, places to go and dresses to buy. Faced with a dying vehicle, I responded reactively (instead of proactively...) and I put the brakes on my shopping habit.
As it turns out, I am a shopaholic. You are not surprised. I am a little. Before this shopping break, I would have told you that I was not a shopaholic and that I simply enjoy shopping very much. But it seems I actually have a compulsive need to buy stuff. Stepping away from it has been eye opening.
Years ago, in one of my last years of high school, my parents bought me a sparkly denim Steve Madden cross body bag for my birthday. I was also in need of some new school clothes, so in the same week, I also got a pair of l.e.i. flares and a 3/4 sleeve periwinkle top. I remember every detail of that outfit. A crossbody bag (name brand... what up?), flares and a 3/4 sleeve top all in one outfit? Those three new and trendy items were a crazy luxury to me. I don't think I stopped smiling for a month.
Fast forward a couple of years (fine... a decade) and I'm going to the thrift store. Apparently I'm pretty good at the thrift store, so I leave with a giant bag stuffed with 7 items. I feel excited and happy with my haul. Two days later I'm at Winners. One of the vintage dresses I thrifted would look so good with cognac heels and I have beige heels and brown heels but I don't have cognac heels. I don't find a good pair of cognac heels but I find another dress. And it's so cute... and a great price... On the way home, I stop at a drug store to get some detergent and...ohhhhh... I get distracted by some new lipsticks. Maroon is the hot new lip colour this fall, so I have been told, and I better stock up. The next day I realize I never bought the detergent, so I get them on my way home from work. Detergent... and a magazine too. I see a cute herringbone blazer in an editorial spread in the magazine... I could thrift that. Back to the thrift store I go.
That is the hamster wheel I have been running on. It is never enough.

I'm pretty good at easing my conscience. I've got my excuses lined up. I mean, how can you say no to a good deal? Because that is what most of my purchases are. Good deals. No, great deals. I have a closet full of silk, wool and leather for a fraction of the original price. There are name brands in my closet that I have no business having. You might be athletic or really good at those excel spread sheets; I'm good at shopping. I figure it would be a waste of my talents to stay out of stores...
I also share well with others. All my friends know that if they are in a wardrobe pinch, they are always free to come browse the selections in my closet. I usually even pour them an adult beverage. We gossip, sip drinks and try to make something work. My closet is like a library, but for clothes. You know what? I need a tax receipt for this kindness...
Besides, there are people who buy and spend way more than I do. I shop the sale rack and look for those extra discount signs with a trained eye but there are people who buy things without a sale sticker. That J. Crew catalogue comes out and two days later the chevron sequin of the season is at their door. Clearly, I'm the sensible shopper here...

And so the excuses go on...

But these last few weeks, in the absense of shopping, I noticed how much I missed the rush of shopping. And it's frightening to realize that I am missing not just the items I would be buying, but also the high I get off shopping. I shop to celebrate, I shop when I am sad and I shop to distract from the stresses in my head. It's an addiction that I can't seem to satisfy. I usually love this time of year, those final summer sales steal my heart. In order to avoid shopping, I just don't go in any clothing stores at all. I'm leaving nose prints on store windows because I know if I go in and hit a sale rack, a bag will come home with me.
I'm not saying that shopping in itself is bad. Even excessive shopping. If you have the financial means and you aren't using shopping as an unhealthy crutch, by all means, go for it. Appreciate that you are able to afford and enjoy 'things'. The fashion industry as a whole often gets hit with the label of being frivolous. Yes, much of fashion is completely frivilous, filling a want, not a need. But so is that giant TV, that fancy area rug and the Starbucks mug in your hand. They are nice luxuries but there is no harm in being reminded once in a while of the fact that they all are, at the end of the day, just luxuries.
It would be easy to blame my shopping habits on fashion blogging. After all, there is this continual need to show something new. I'm pretty sure I would still have a lot of clothes even without blogging. I can blame fashion blogging for my short lived foray into pigeon toes but I'm a shopaholic all on my own.

This isn't a post to say that I am going to stop shopping. I don't want to be the poster child for Fashion Bloggers Against Shopping.
Who am I kidding? Yeah I do. Put this on your sidebar kids if you want to join the crusade. My duckface on your sidebar? Do it.

shop not

Actually, this isn't about you, it's about me. I need to have more control. I'm not going to promise to never shop. I've already been to a garage sale... I got a sequin shirt and I left the purple sports jacket behind. Even though I don't have a purple sports jacket! We call it progress.
I need to stop using shopping as a way to react to every emotion. I need to be able to walk into a store without feeling the immediate need to purchase some... stuff. I need to shop with intention and stop being an idiot. I need to buy a vehicle that runs without sweet words of encouragement.



48 comments :

briannelee said...

I am with you Jentine! I have the same issues. We can work on it together :)

Thrifted or Scripted? said...

Very poignant post. I hope you find a reliable truck, soon. I may very well be sporting your duckbill on my sidebar. You have a great creative style and I'm sure you can remix that closet for great outfit posts.

Jane said...

I have the same issues. And I have become supremely aware of them as a stay at home mom with no income of my own.

Every shopping hiatus I have gone on has ended in a binge shop of things I thought I needed/wanted that just haven't been worth it in the end.

And since I have started fashion blogging it has gotten worse because now I think - wow this would be great in a post!

I need to do a 30 x 30 or something and stick to it so that I can stop the cycle.

The_Leather_Skirt_Blog said...

You rock! Funny. Honest. Truthful. All of us have at least some degree of "shopaholic" in us.

Today's post made my day. Your blog is great! Your style is fabulous!

http://theleatherskirt.blogspot.com/

Katie Aman said...

Wow, this is so where I am at right now...I just got out of college and the reality of life set in that the money train is running on empty. Shopping is my hobby! Others spend money on sports, some are into expensive wines and such, but I love to thrift!
I really related to everything you wrote here...thanks for sharing!

Hooked on Shoes said...

I'm so there with you. And it sucks. Every time I tell myself to stop shopping, and every time I postpone to "next month", which never actually happens. Instead of buying all those great deals, I could finally buy that pair of Louboutins I've always dreamed of. Or finally get some curtains for my new home. Or get the attic converted into an extra bedroom... I'm going to try anyways, and I hope you succeed and get a really cool P.I.M.P. truck soon!

giecam said...

Unemployment has been great for my shopping habit. Less good for my bank account and general mental health... I miss having new (to my closet) clothes, but I don't miss the compulsive need to stop at every thrift store, and, because I'm a less skilled shopper than you are, I have way less ill-fitting or just plain weird duds that I have to try to wear anyways to justify the purchase. Also, I love your blog.

amanda said...

see. this is why you need to open your own vintage shop. just sayin.
hope you find a good truck soon :)

Anonymous said...

Spot on. I need to follow suit. Great post.

-Pam

andrea k (blonde bedhead) said...

Amen, sister. I appreciate all your honesty and struggle to stop shopping as much. I too can't help myself from buying something for myself anywhere and everywhere I go. It's so much easier to spend than it is to have self control and save, but then it comes down to when you need a new truck or in my case, a halfway decent couch and you realize if you didn't nickle and dime yourseld everywhere we could buy so many trucks and couches! I think chatting about this here will help hold you accountable and is also reminding me of how much of a dumb ass I am with my own poor shopping habits.

Rubi Diaz said...

Ahhh! I feel this same way! I took a break from shopping recently too and that's when I realized I was using shopping as a way to cope with stress and avoid reality. That's when it's become unhealthy. I always buy great deals, but when that adds up, it's a darn good amount of $$$. I'm sure you will do well remixing your closet!

Love,

Rubi
lilyamongthornsblog.blogspot.com

Stephanie said...

I think so many of us are like that. At first I looked at thrifting as a way to at least stay within a budget and that I was being smart about it. BUT if you don't have the money, you don't have the money. . . I'm doing my best to stay out of the stores for the next couple of months for similar reasons. I know intellectually, I have enough nice things to make it through the fall/winter seasons without buying new things, but it the emotional 'fill up' I miss from shopping. If I don't go into the storees, I can't spend money there.

Amber of Butane Anvil said...

Thanks for talking about this, Jentine. My vehicle savings are also holes-in-the-floorboard urgent, yet it still pained me mightily to pass on Vivienne Westwood Pirate boots at a really good price. But I let them go! And your dear duckface is on my sidebar. :)

tragicomedia_gmr said...

I have the exact same issues and feelings about shopping.
I've been on a shopping halt lately for pretty much the same reason as you, I need to save money ASAP. But last night I stopped by a store with 2x1 sale on accessories. Who can resist a good deal?
So, I think we're all together in this.

Brenna said...

Spot on! I recently went back to school (yay..another round of college loans) and our household salary decreased significantly. To survive, without lapsing on the mortgage, the first thing to go was my frequent shopping trips. So sad. But 100% necessary. Even though I miss it greatly, it has helped me to really evaluate what I "need" and what I "want." I still shop occasionally, but I'm focused on getting the most out of my money, and not just the thrill of the purchase!

brenna

A Fine Balance said...

Oh sister you are speaking my language.

I try desperately not to leave with a purchase becausE I can totally see it working with what I have. its frightening too.

Im a shopaholic too....but as they say the first step to recovery is admitting it.

Anonymous said...

That's sweet, Jen. The more I read you, the more I like you. You're so honest. all the best with finding a good balance! That said, being a shopaholic is much more attractive in the long run than being a foodaholic! Mrs. H.

Jenn H. said...

I'll raise my hand and add myself to the list of shopaholics you've got going on here. It's weird, I've known that I have a weakness for shopping but it wasn't until recently - when I don't fit into my regular clothes and maternity just isn't very plentiful - that I realized I may have a tiny problem. I actually feel restless not being able to shop for clothes to wear. It's kind of scary.

Theresa said...

Maybe you could sell some of the clothes you thrift online? You could still enjoy the thrifting hunt, but without the monetary cost and maybe even earn a small profit, since good vintage items sell for quite a bit on etsy or ebay.
Otherwise, I am looking forward to some great re-mixes of your existing clothes!

Anonymous said...

Amen. I hear ya sister.

Rebecca Jane said...

Wow, see so much of myself in this! I too stalk ebay, thrift stores and sale racks for finds, but it sometimes gets out of hand, so I have to walk the line and keep myself from spending money that could really be better used on other things.

As always, a fantastic post. Well said!

Natasha said...

Are you sure you're not talking about me here? haha
Although I'm not as good at thrifting as you...I'm pretty good at finding a good deal...and I pretty much ONLY purchase "good deals"...and I get a high from finding a good deal. I also get a little bummed out if I go shopping and don't find anything...but that could have to do with the fact that I live in the middle of nowhere and only get to a big center a few times a year.
But enough about me..haha..I just wanted to say you're totally not the only one (duh!)...perhaps you should turn this "problem" into a fantastic solution and start up an online store of sorts? I'm pretty sure people would pay decent money for your carefully curated finds :)

Emma said...

This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. For me, my bad habit is online shopping. I have a desk job, and when I get bored, I inevitably find myself on Ruche or Modcloth. Almost before I know it, I'm clicking "Add to cart." It's like an itch that I have a scarily compulsive need to scratch. The most depressing thing is that sometimes the purchase doesn't work out in real life and I'm too lazy to return it so I just add it to my donate pile...tags and all. It makes me feel crappy and guilty and just UGH.

Like you, I'm trying to put a stop to this crazy cycle. I have set a weekly shopping budget that I've been sticking to for the last few weeks. If I want to buy something that exceeds that amount, I have to save up for a few weeks. I've been actually visiting stores in person so I can try things on. When I do shop, I'm investing in good-quality basics instead of focusing on cheap trends. It's not a lot but it's a start.

I have found Kendi's Working Closet and 30 x 30 Remix challenges to be super helpful: http://www.kendieveryday.com/p/working-closet.html
Totally worth a read.

Anyway, this post is much appreciated! Even writing this (very long) comment has made me feel better. Thanks for the cheap therapy...and thanks for your honest and hilarious insight.

Marie a la Mode said...

The first step is admitting you have a problem! ; ) I have a problem, too. With my credit card. No but really, I need a new vehicle as well, and I've been saving up. But it's hard. I will not go into debt, I refuse to. I wonder how all the other fashion bloggers do it? Do they actually make enough money to buy all those clothes? Or are they in huge debt? Or are they trust fund kids? I always wonder but of course it's none of my business. I have decided I'd rather invest in real estate or RRSP's than in a $1000 bag.

Lissa @ The Looking Glass said...

thank you for sharing, jentine! i'm currently fasting against shopping for a year for many of the reasons you stated above. i have started to question: exactly WHAT am i trying to "FILL" with all this stuff? where is the emptiness? i need to push myself and find out. now, don't get me wrong, i don't think that WANTING to buy because you love clothes and fashion and creativity (believe me i do!) is wrong. i think that using shopping to fill some spaces that are really missing other things (quality time with friends, etc.) is cheapening me out of a EXTRAordinary life. NO MORE! thanks for sharing :)

barefootandvintage said...

great post, yen. you made many good points, but one point really stuck with me...that as a fashion blogger, you're always feeling the need to show something new. i struggle with this a lot these days. i don't really have the means right now to do a lot of shopping. but to be fair to myself, i too do a lot of sale rack and thrift shopping - choosing items from last season at a fraction of the price, or a vintage dress that surely no one else will have. BUT i worry. i worry that when i DO post an outfit or a style, it's just not interesting enough. who wants to see paige in the same freaking maxi skirt and blouse as the week before? how many times can i wear the same boring pumps. it sounds so silly to worry about something so frivolous, but hey...you're sharing, so i'm sharing so...here were are. i knew you'd get it. maybe mix and matching what you already have would be a fun challenge for you! you're very creative...i'd stick around for that. ;) now go get a truck.

newpetite said...

Reading todays post was like reading about me! I am the same, the emails and the ads and the other sale stuff lure me in without my knowledge and although I am aware most of the times, I just choose to ignore it and buy stuff! Its hard but I have been going through these shopping bans and buying stuff only when required and trying to do the laundry regularly helps too.. Oh and closet stock taking can be overwhelming and makes you go through the shopping ban without feeling guilty!!

Kitty said...

Jentine - two points just jump out at me when I read this post. The first is that I am not sure you realize what gifts and talents you have. I'm 30 years older than you. I'm saying now is THE time to open up your mind to all possibilities and create value for other people with your gifts. How that works? I think you try and fail, try and fail and follow the trail until it reveals itself. It's a lifelong path and you won't want to be looking back on your 50th birthday wishing you had had the courage to start earlier. I'm pretty sure you won't find this career pathway in any manual because it wasn't possible until now.

The second idea is that, again being 30 years older than you, I encourage you to be kind and forgiving to yourself about your thrifting. It's your thing. It helps you balance yourself in a world that is full of alot of ugly. Your unique expression of beautiful makes me catch my breath sometimes when your posts pop up.

Vehicles come and go. They depreciate quicker than your vintage dresses. Just because our culture tells us we should want to drive a nicer vehicle doesn't mean that we do.

Life etc... said...

Oh yeah, this is familiar territory! I guess it's all about balance. I think that there's nothing wrong with indulging in the 'frivolous' and enjoying the rush of shopping (especially of finding bargains!) - it can be a pretty great creative and stress-releasing outlet. Shopping is fun! But that's only as long as it's not just out of habit, buying 'stuff' for stuff's sake, and ending up feeling broke, guilty and a little bit empty. I guess you just have to judge how you're really feeling about it at the time and know when to stop :)

Life etc

Nicole said...

Jentine, I've read your blog, but only commented a few times. This post is like you're in my head. I would NEVER have considered myself a shopaholic, but I could have written this post (aside from needing a new truck and not being a fashion blogger). I am really good at thrifting, so when I see something in a magazine or online that I want, I know I can find it at a thrift store, so I applaud myself for "saving" money. But it definitely is a rush, a high, that I get when I shop. And it's never things I truly "need". Lots of things to think about. Thanks for this post.

Erika said...

I so hear you. I have to pay off my car (a VW Caddy) now that the lease is over. Ouch. But my previous car was terminal, so this was the way to get a new car - my first ever. So I MUST stop buying clothes (and shoes). Problem is, I have 2 Vivienne Westwood tops in my ebay watch list at a VERY good price. And I've been offered an artwork I adore at the original purchase price (and pay it off).

I'm just gong to have to work out a budget and stick to it, including some "breakout" money...

kristen breese said...

I am right there with you sister. I am actually planning on taking a hiatus this month from all shopping for myself. I have so much stuff, time to use it all and stop spending my hard earned money on things.

Anonymous said...

girl, it is like i wrote this post. every time i go shopping, i think, "ok. NOW i have enough stuff! i dont have to go shopping for at least a year!" whaddyaknow, when i get bored, i am back at the thrift shops for that thrill i get. thrifting is even more thrilling than regular shopping because you can find AMAZING deals, more so than a 20% off top at nordstrom rack. i mean, i get positively giddy when i think about the marc jacobs jacket i got for $10, or the tibi dress for $2... but on top of that i have probably purchased 100s of dollars worth of "throwaway" clothes, both thrifted and non... clothes that i wore once or twice and am now sick of. my solutions for this (and it is something i have to constantly work at...) is not paying a lot for trendy items, and focusing on basics in solid colors that i can accessorize, and therefore wear many ways, and therefore get more "worth per wear." it is tough, though. something to consider when you get the urge is the "hedonistic treadmill" (wiki it) -- basically we get mini-thrills every time we acquire something, but very quickly we get back to our baseline happiness level, causing us to go back out for those mini-thrills, but never advancing on the hamster wheel. i also recommend the documentary "happy" which delves into this a bit more... good luck, yen, and know you arent the only one... and thank you for this post, and for inspiring me to take a break from thrifting/shopping, and take some serious closet inventory. and maybe even get a new car in the future :P

Nicki said...

Dear Yen,
was it yesterday when I told my best friend that I have to become serious and save my money to build some stock? ;-)
Working for a big german publishing house, publishing for example the german version of ELLE and InStyle, I m confronted by fashion and jewellery and everything new and fabulous in this business nearly every day.
Then it is quite hard to deny how fabulous these great things would work with some clothes I already own.
It ist like a chain reacting then, bying for eyample one piece in the latest trend colour, finding out (Or maybe feeling like...?) there is nothing in my wardrobe to go with it, bying another silk blouse because this colour is still missing, then feeling in need of a necklace to blend in... and so it goes on and on.
I now try to stop shopping for some weeks, but I am not going to tell anybody but my best friend - because if I fail, no-one could blame me. ;-)
Keep your fingers crossed for me beeing sucessful in mixing and matching my stuff the upcoming weeks! ;-)

Greetings fron Germany,
Nicki

Terri said...

I'm doing better with my shopping having recently started an ebay business. It is interesting to see it from the seller's point of view, so while I'd like to put this delightful pic in my sidebar and I definitely support the cause, I'm going to continue to believe that my wares serve someone's need(s). We do need libraries where we can check out looks.

danielle and dinosaur toes said...

i'm actually really, REALLY to read this post. these last few months i've been telling myself that my thrifting habit has gotten worse than a habit, and now no matter how many times i tell myself not to go to the thrift store because i may be missing something, somehow i always end up there. i know that it's better to enjoy the thrill of the hunt and get things for super cheap than to pay top dollar and be in debt, but the fact that i have to constantly make room for clothes that i truly don't need by getting rid og other things, or just moving them to new closets means that it's gotten ridiculous. i'm going to *try* and take a cue from you and back away from shopping!

Board Shanty said...

I've always wondered how you style bloggers afford to be style bloggers. Good luck on your new quest to save money!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. I am trying to go with just a few items in my closet and then mix them up. Over half the stuff in there I do not need. I wish I had the money back.

C'estChic! said...

Thanks for your compelling honesty, Jentina. I am totally confident that there's enough stuff in your closet that, along with your incredible eye, will keep you in amazing outfits for much longer than any of us can imagine! Reading your heart-felt post, and the many responses, has really touched a chord in me. I, too, have been thinking it was high time I take some time to reflect on my "shopping behavior", and seeing you tackle this challenge inspires me. I'm going to try for the month of September... And I'll let you know how I do! YAY JENTINA!!!

Catherine said...

My eye opener was tallying the monthly total of my thrift finds...shocking! I came to a screeching halt when I realized my emergency bumper was suffering.
Baby steps...

Catherine said...

I'm spending my allotted funds now focusing on experiences, instead of things. And it's just as fun :)

Sarah said...

Ugh I totally get you as well! Put myself on a "clothes quota" for the next year - to which I have limited myself in the purchasing of a certain number of dresses, skirts, pants etc. Went op-shopping (as we know it here in New Zealand)/thrifting today and walked away with one amazing dress that I will wear and wear for the next year or so. But I came across at least 4 other things that I would have brought before my self-imposed quota cautioned me off them (as if I had brought them, then I may not be able to buy an even more amazing [X] next year as my quota will run out). I even put back a pair of boots my friend was gah-gah over, at a good price and in perfect condition, because I can only buy one pair of boots this year - and those weren't completely perfect.

Anyone else who had an addiction as we do should try it! We need to stop buying things for the sake of our wallets and our clothes racks! (Even if it is SUCH a good deal).

Home Furnishing Company said...

How much cheap it will be. Is this will cheap from Home Furnishing Company Area Rugs & Bath Mats Online STore New York, USA. Ho much cost of a Hand Made Area Rugs.

Chilel said...

finally found somebody who I can relate too! Thank you for telling it like it is...I am so putting your duck face badge on my blog but the thing is I can't stop shopping!

Katie said...

You are right on the money! I find that every time I shop it always lead to me wanting "more, more, more!" I wish there was an app for this (how sad is that?). I'm sharing this post on my blog (with the duck face picture, of course).

A.Co said...

I couldn't have written this better myself!! I actually need a new car too, like, any day now and have additionally been on a self-imposed pre-vegas shopping ban for almost three weeks... i'm going NUTS. It hurts! How terrible is that?! LOL. Stay strong, sister, stay strong :P

A.Co said...

I couldn't have written this better myself!! I actually need a new car too, like, any day now and have additionally been on a self-imposed pre-vegas shopping ban for almost three weeks... i'm going NUTS. It hurts! How terrible is that?! LOL. Stay strong, sister, stay strong :P

Anonymous said...

Oh, Jentine, how I get what you are saying! I've recently realized that I am addicted to shopping myself: thrifting, sales, lipsticks, all that. I have a whole bunch of stuff at home that I've never worn, and the summer is over, and I keep buying. When I feel too guilty to buy for myself, I buy stuff for my daughter or my husband. Just an hour ago I spent my lunch break "just visiting" some stores to see what's new and I ended up spending almost $100. The deals were too good to pass :-)

Unlike me, though, you have much better taste and a great eye for trends and quality. And there may be ways to use that. You were joking in your confession, but you really have a talent for it. I honestly think you should consider opening a vintage/consignment store, either a real one or online. Then, you get to shop in thrift stores to find merchandise for your own store. Shopping for profit, how about that?
In any case, I've really appreciated your honesty. That's why yours is my favourite blog.
Daria