i don't like this topic.
popular wisdom always says, don't go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. assumption being that you'll want more than you need, or inappropriate things. you'll basically deviate from your intended list of required items, driven by an appetite that you aren't even necessarily shopping to fill (ie you are doing your shopping for supplies for the week, not for an afternoon snack). so instead of sitting down and having a snack or meal to satisfy yourself and then shopping, you are taking that appetite into a store filled with food, and buying things dictated not by need or rational (a recipe, etc.) but by hunger.
i don't like this topic.
in addition to being a means to an end, simply satisfying my aesthetics (i like what i like) and vanity (i like to apply my aesthetics to my image/person/identity), i also use shopping as a comfort and as a reward/treat. if i have something on my mind, i might distract myself with some e-browsing. when i hit a deadline, i use that little accomplishment to justify finally making a purchase i had been hesitatant to make. (the transaction was probably inevitable, but i frequently use little justifiers like that to make myself especially comfortable with it, and to give an excuse/explanation for my decision: i earned it.)
i don't like this topic.
i wish shopping were, for me, 100% about buying the perfect pieces, or even 86%, but it isn't. and that effects the results, as timing is a factor. if i buy when i have an emotional appetite that shopping satisfies, then i am not necessarily choosing the best item, but probably more so reaching for the closest bag of chips. if i were shopping without the emotional component, i think the results would provide more long-term satisfaction. that is not to say that i would want to buy without emotion - no, falling in love with something is important, but i'm just talking about the urge to buy, more so than what i buy - that the urge to shop, in me, is often complicated by other feelings and needs.
i don't like this topic.
the reality is that i already feel like i have more than enough clothes. really more than enough... today i was feeling that i have too many, in fact (did i mention that i don't like this topic?). but i know i enjoy looking and finding and buying...
i should add that sometimes that other motivation for shopping, the emotional one, results in a purchase being more special because i then associate it with an accomplishment or some other similar celebratory circumstance.

are you aware that you ever shop for reasons other than a sartorial need? how does this inform the results and/or your satisfaction with an item?


La Belette Rouge said...

There is a thing I do when I am waiting in lines or at the DMV, waiting in lines, I look at people in their clothes and I ask myself what were these people thinking. Please hear me, I don’t mean that in a snotty or judgmental way. I am very interested in the moment that people bought an item and what their process was. I would love to know what was going on in their mind at the time. What did they tell themselves as they bought the garment? What was the fantasy and hope of the garment? What did you really want when you bought this and did it provide what you hoped? I am absolutely fascinated by the deeper psychological needs that we try to get met through our wardrobe.
I love this topic! It may not be your topic (I hope that it is--I don't mean to change the subject). And, yes. Most of my shopping is not about need. There is a deeper meaning that sometimes I am aware of and other times that I actively avoid consciousness of and surrender absolutely to my Id of retail. As always, great and thought provoking post.

landis smithers said...

i'm going to pretend that you didn't post this. mainly because i like you. it's going in the "i saw it, but i didn't, so it must not exist" file.

also, you used the phrase "sartorial need" in a post about . . . now see, i've gone and forgotten what this was all about.

now, go. put up a pretty picture and ask a fun question about what to take off it or what makes it fabulous.

Shar said...

I have only just recently begun to shop without being guided by emotion. And I have found that now I actually have a closet full of things to wear instead of a closet full of nothing to wear. I used to buy purely on impulse, based on animal attraction to an item instead of using a thoughtful and contemplative process. I find that I fall slowly and deeply in love with these pieces that I buy for practicality, and I quickly lose interest in the items with which I fell in love at first sight. I will say that there is the occasional garment that I loved from the moment that I laid eyes on it and the love never faded, but this is a rarity.

Michelle said...

I definitely shop for reasons other than need, but I try to limit it to accessories. I used to get rid of so much stuff that I had bought without considering whether they fit my lifestyle or my wardrobe, and it made me mad that I had wasted so much money and closet space. So now I really try to stick to clothes that will fill a gap, replace things that I've grown out of style-wise, or things that I think will expand my wardrobe creatively. I don't know whether this can all be considered "need," but the process is more well thought-out than it used to be. I let myself be more impulsive with accessories - jewelry, scarves, and shoes - because I consider them to be a finishing touch. I allow myself to be pulled to accessories by sheer aesthetics or a visceral attraction. But when it comes to clothes, I want at least to know that I have a wardrobe that works for me. Like you, I've bought things to reward myself for completing a project, but I've found that the feeling of pleasure from acquiring the item usually wears off over time, but the feeling of satisfaction from the accomplishment lingers. The things I've bought without need that I've never regretted are the ones picked up during travel.

Anonymous said...

I'd say I also buy as comfort sometimes - not so much for reward though. My comfort comes more from a place of railing against mundane-ness in the world, or something. It's probably really bad and unhealthy...but I do sense that often my drive towards fabulousness is fueled by a sadness about the state of the world, that I'm pushing back against global depression. I do believe that art and color and creativity can contribute to betterness is some small way (look at socially healthy communities - they almost always boast beautiful costume/ dress of some sort). But on a bag-o-chips shop level, I sometimes feel compelled to visit a beautiful boutique on a particularly grim day.

Iheartfashion said...

I sense too much hand-wringing here! What's wrong with shopping for fun? I rarely shop out of actual need (who does, in 21st century America?), but because it feels good, buying stuff. Call me shallow, but I get a charge out of browsing, buying, and wearing new stuff. I DO try to get rid of the old stuff, either through donation (helps a guilty conscience) or re-selling on eBay if it's a big-ticket, never- or seldom-worn item.

a. said...

"are you aware that you ever shop for reasons other than a sartorial need? how does this inform the results and/or your satisfaction with an item?"

oh yes, yes, of course....! i find this topic fascinating too. it kind of relates (for me at least) to the stuff i just posted about trophies vs. workhorse items (a belated reply to a comment from you, editor). basically, i have found that no matter how much i plan, i can't really predict whether an item i buy will end up being worn to death or will languish at the bottom of my closet. many - no, most - of my main workhorse pieces were purchased on a total whim, with no planning involved. and then when i try and plan (starting a new job... must buy work clothes) i usually end up getting stuff that i wear, but i don't wear OUT. and sometimes i get stuff that i don't wear at all. (which is why i simply can't shop at cute, small boutiques - damn exchange-only policies.) and certainly i don't feel excited about wearing it - it's more like, ugh, gotta put on the work uniform today...

for example, for work tomorrow do i want to wear one of the three pairs of slacks i purchased because i was starting a new job, or do i want to wear the cute colorful miniskirt i found last weekend when i went shopping out of boredom/desire for something new/that deeper psychological need we're talking about? i really want to wear the miniskirt... and as long as it's not too cold, i probably will. :-)

the friend who convinced me to get the etam tweed coat in paris (whim purchase, not a necessity) said to me that i had a huge grin on my face when i put it on, and that's what i should base my decision upon when buying clothes. i think she's probably right...

ps. genx theorist, i am right there with you.

editor said...

la belette rouge - you can muse about anything you want in response to one of my posts. i like where you took this - a natural extension of my thought, you apply it to others when you're people-watching.

landis - i know, bad territory. scary. boo!

shar - that approach sounds very sensible and practical and even satisfying. i struggle with it frequently - buying what i love and buying the right pieces. it seems that what i love is very often not going to work out so well for me (that's what experience is teaching me).

michelle - ita! things i've bought to satisfying something more emotional do really lose their extra special glow over time (i have to remember this, because it's like i'm hypnotized at the time).

genxtheorist - it sounds like you would save a lot of money if you moved to a bigger city...

iheartfashion - absolutely true, all my purchases are bonus, extras, BUT some are inspired by the (imagined? lol) function of an item for my lifestyle whereas the impetus for others is something else, usually very un-related to any need, however tiny, in the wardrobe dept.

a. very interesting about the unpredictability of appeal and use. that's something i was going to post about later this week. similar to what shar wrote too - what we use becomes what we love sometimes.