A chore

i did not use to like to shop. family and friends thought i did, because i liked clothes. i always explained that i liked having the clothes, but not the process of buying them. then the internet happened to me. i like to buy online. nevermind that i can’t touch, try on or even be certain i am correctly seeing the item i am buying. when it’s an emotional purchase (meaning, one made to satisfy an emotional rather than practical need, inspired by boredom, sadness, frustration, stress...), i prefer the internet because then the time it takes the item to arrive is all part of the anticipation, expectation, celebration of the acquisition. then the delivery day, carefully checked and monitored, the box, it’s all more like a present than a purchase. when i do my shopping irl (as opposed to virtual – which is still very real when the cc goes through), that process feels more like work.

it isn’t that shopping in a store isn’t fun, but there is some stress involved, sometimes. either it’s a sale and i know i can’t return it, or there is a sales person making herself too available, or no sales person around to help at all, or i just don’t want to be rushed with my decision. online i can leave a web page open, contemplate, ruminate, speculate, have a snack, and generally take my time. i can spend an hour, a day, a week, visiting and viewing the item in question (geez, after all this analysis you would think i would have a higher rate of success than i do...). also, in person, the anticipation is eliminated. instant gratification used to be the order of the day, but gradually i’ve become accustomed to appreciating the delay (when there is certainty that gratification is on its way, whether it’s just leaving the warehouse or already on the brown truck, out for delivery) because it stretches out the fun, so that there is more of it.

why give all this up? well, i’ve given myself enough almost right “gifts” to consider that maybe choosing my clothes should be work, or at least should be taken more seriously. enjoying the process is not, i am realizing, more important than enjoying the results. a key point in the "pro" column for shopping in person is one that i had lately been putting in the "con" column - the selection, the choices. such quantity, all right there, side by side. instead of expertly navigating between "outerwear" "skirts" "dresses" all reviewed in separate tidy windows, i have to wade through everything at once - choosing smaller boutiques is helping me gain my footing in this wild retail world again.

now, if i buy, i have the benefit of seeing and thinking about how the item will interact with other clothes before i buy it and, i can better control myself from buying for buying's sake. it's a start.

how important is the shopping process to you?


Briana said...

I don't enjoy the act of shopping much at all these days - it was so much more fun when I was younger and shopping meant scouring through racks of hideous polyester crimes against humanity to find a gem at the local thrift shop.

I love the idea of online shopping but (having to do with a previous post of yours) because of my body type I really need to see a piece of clothing on a hanger (not a model or flat) to know if it will work on me...

I've learned over the years that I can tell if something will work on me by how it drapes - and strangely enough I have discovered that the pieces that have the right tailoring for my body are usually the ones with the least amount of "hanger appeal".

Also, as much as shopping feels like a chore, I will always love the feel of textiles as I brush my hand over the racks. Linen, silk, tweed... oh my.

Iheartfashion said...

For better or worse (or is it richer or poorer?) I LOVE shopping. In person, on the Internet, small boutiques, big stores, for other people, for myself...
There IS some fun in the anticipation of waiting for an order to arrive, and I prefer to try on clothes at home anyway, so that's an advantage to online, but I have a huge aversion to returning anything, ever. If it doesn't fit, I give it away or sell it on eBay.

Anonymous said...

I love the sick adrenaline rush when i step in stores, I love the anticipation of finding that perfect piece. I enjoy the excitement when that supposely perfect piece is truly perfect on me. I do hate forced interaction with sales people though.

I don't like online shopping. I like to look, to get inspired, to score low prices when i know exactly what i am getting. but i hate to pay for shipping, i hate that i have to return if it doesn't work out. I hate that it has to take a whole month to get my credit back. I hate to guess if the material is what i hope it is. I hate to guess if the clothes will fit. too much uncertainty.

and i love instant gratification.

even when i am only buying work uniforms. :p

Anonymous said...

I've always loved the shopping process in one form or another - although I detest malls and mass-shopping type places.

But for my fashion quests...I've always loved the personal experience that one has going into a boutique where the owner's asthetic matches mine. Just that pre-req narrows things down quite a bit. In my current town I visit 2 boutiques, that's about it. I've enjoyed becoming friends with the owners and people that work there, discussing fashion, hearing their ideas on what's coming in that I might like. But this has a lot to do with the fact that I moved to a town where people are really friendly and creative!

When I used to work in downtown San Francisco I loved going to Saks and Neiman on my lunch hour to browse and learn. I think my love of high fashion developed during that time..although I've always been into it in some way or another.

But the Internet! Gosh, I remember looking at the runway photos on style.com when it took a thousand years for each page to upload! I think the Internet has entirely changed the options we fashion shoppers have, and the availability of items formerly found only in big city excursions.
Being able to look at and think about items online definitely helps me to prolong decisions and not impulse-buy.

Anonymous said...

I Love shopping to the point that it has caused financial distress several times in my life. I always vow to go on a shopping ban and then I break it and start the cycle all over again. I read once that shopping is like the modern version of the hunt and that is really what it feels like. To find that perfect treasure.....ahhhhh nothing compares. I'm on a shopping ban right now so this and your other blogs really help! Many thanks!

editor said...

^^^anonymous - just a thought, i don't think bans work. not when they're called bans anyway. especially if it's something you love to do. what about an allowance? or a set time/day/budget for a little shopping? when i have tried flat-out bans, first it's hard, then i feel proud, then when i crack i feel sort of bad about it.