Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Vicious Cycle of Shopping

photo taken from google images

How to put a stop to compulsive buying and relieve yourself from the vicious shopping cycle.

Okay, so to start I should probably confess…(deep breath) I think I am a shopaholic. I’ve done some research and I’m pretty sure I have most (if not all) of the symptoms.. I took the liberty of looking up the exact definition of a ‘shopaholic’ and its definition was ‘a compulsive shopper’. Let me just clarify, I am not an ‘all round shopaholic’, by this I mean that I don’t just shop for anything. I’m not a compulsive shopper for anything other than clothes. Yes, clothes. I seem to be trapped, trapped in a vicious cycle that is most commonly known as ‘shopping’.
    Many years ago I was surfing through my scarce wardrobe and mumbling and muttering that I had nothing to wear. To be fair, I actually had near to nothing to wear because I had undergone a common stage of life, ‘a growth spurt’. There were two things to come out of this generous ‘growth spurt’; the first, I grew considerably taller (which is always a good thing when I was used to being below average height) and the second, (not such a good thing) was that all my clothes failed to fit me any longer. There was only one option.. to go clothes shopping. I made a very practical, sensible list of all the items that my wardrobe was lacking. It included mainly the basics; jeans (although I am not a massive fan to this day), t-shirts and joggers etc. Back then my ‘style’ wasn’t really a style, I just used to treat the act of dressing as a chore, much like brushing my teeth. Some people like to choose carefully the best toothbrushes on the market, the best toothpastes, flosses and mouthwash. While others would rather reach for the bargains and the stuff that will be satisfactory… So, before I go into the ins and outs of dental hygiene, that was me, a bargain snatcher. I reached for the bargains, the deals and the basics and the resulting product was a mish-mash of boring clothes. I set off to the shops, clutching my list of essentials that I was dependant on. However, little did I know that that day was the start of a very serious, vicious cycle that is, shopping.
  It was that day that I realised that I loved clothes. It was that day that I realised that I love fashion. And.. it was that very day that the cycle of shopping started and an obsession was born. I was exposed to a world like no other, where the world of shops (or malls for you lovely American readers) became my fairy tale palace, my kingdom. To be frank I ditched the list and started uncontrollably flinging myself at rails of clothes, piles of neatly folded jumpers and yanking my feet into all the shoes that I could find. After acting like a wild animal looking for its prey, leaping and prancing around the shops, my shopping trip came to an end. An end in which left me with a massive grin painted on my face, I had clothes..and lots of them. For those of you who have read my very first blog post ‘BAGGED A BARGAIN’, you may have picked up on the fact that I adore the film, ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’. Ironic I know.  If you are unaware of it I will give you a brief background. The film is based on the life of a girl called Rebecca Bloomwood, Rebecca is a shopaholic. I love the film because the character of Rebecca reminds me of myself. For starters she has the red, long hair and most importantly she is addicted to shopping, a personality trait that I am familiar with.
    For those of you who know me personally this will probably not come as any surprise. Fashion is a massive influence on me and the one way that I can show this is through the way that I dress. In my opinion one can never have too many clothes. Clothes are a basic essential in life and although, like anything, shouldn’t be overindulged, they should be bought generously. However, shopping can be extremely expensive and over the past few years clothes shopping has been the last things on many people’s minds. Their soaring prices, the temptations of the store windows and the persuasive shop assistants sneakily guiding you to the ‘bargains’ sections that are guaranteed to have you brainwashed is enough to put anyone off. Although clothes are clearly a necessity (because let’s face it, no one wants to see the population strutting in their birthday suits), there seems to be a popular trend that people are refraining from buying the clothes that they need because it is financially and economically impossible to do so. Due to the ‘Credit Crunch’ (in the UK), local businesses suffered as well as the mega stores and in some cases suffered severely causing once successful businesses to be lost. Why? Because people weren’t shopping. Not out of choice but out of strong will and determination.
  Earlier on in this blog piece I confessed that I think I may be suffering from symptoms of a shopaholic. Well, what made me come to this realisation was the withdrawal symptoms.. Approximately a week ago I tried to get out the vicious cycle of shopping, for it is a vicious beast. I found myself trapped, found myself buying clothes and going back for more, wanting more and needing more.. My monthly subscriptions to several fashion magazines were partly to blame, they exposed me to the new clothes, trends and products that were released making me itch to go to the shops immediately to snap it all up.  But, there came a time where enough was enough. My wardrobe was over spilling, to the point where my sofa bed became the home for several ‘piles’/mountains of my clothes. Don’t get me wrong my wardrobe is no Mariah Carey style wardrobe, I have a small but faithful, wooden wardrobe that has been with me since my day of birth, partnered with a friendly chest of draws. It seemed that the capacity had been reached a long time ago and my clothes had to be vacationed to the spare room and stored in the wardrobe in there. Aside from the impracticality of having to traipse around the house to find an outfit I realised that my shopping habits had become a little out of hand. So, I vowed to stop shopping, to save money and to save my little struggling wardrobe before the doors violently catapult off their hinges. Sounds easy right? WRONG.
  Refraining from shopping is possibly the hardest thing that I have ever attempted to do. I found myself returning to old habits, searching the websites of high street shops whenever I was on my phone or laptop leading to desires of visiting the shops when I had browsed every inch of their shop. I indulged, more than usual, in fashion magazines, to get an insight of the new trends (now that I wasn’t seeing them in flesh) which left me with another restless want to visit my nearest town. All this made me realise that I had developed an addiction to shopping, not a fatal one but an unnecessary one which had undoubtedly stemmed from my intense obsession with fashion.  
  Even if you aren’t a particular follower of the latest trends or latest fashions everyone likes to shop for new clothes. There’s a lovely feeling when you return home with a handful of filled bags, containing freshly-bought smelling clothes in them. But shopping doesn’t come cheap, even on the high street. I myself only own one piece of designer produce and that’s my DKNY bag, the purchase was completely rare and probably will remain my only piece of designer wear for a very long time.  Designer pieces are virtually impossible to buy for the majority, the sky-high prices repel people away and attract them to the cheaper option of the high street where they can buy at least double the amount of items for the cost of one designer piece.  But, I believe that shopping doesn’t have to come at a high cost. Where refraining from the act of shopping is impossible shopping doesn’t always have to be expensive.  Alternatively if shopping in any shape or form is not possible I have put together a few tips that have helped me on my journey from refraining from shopping…

Shopping doesn’t have to come at a price:
 I sort of touched upon this in two of my previous blog posts, ‘Starring the knitted jumper’ and ‘Fashion can change lives’, if you want to check them out just click on the hyperlink that I’ve attached to the titles.

    1.    Day-to-day essentials Unfortunately the most boring types of shopping are the trips that require shopping for the day-to-day essentials. These items are inclusive of knickers, socks, bobbles, hairclips etc. Day-to-day essentials, over the years, have become my worst enemy for two reasons. 1. They are disguised under the illusion that they are inexpensive but can in fact be so expensive when they are amounted together. 2. They are no fun. They put the ultimate snooze factor in shopping. But they don’t have to be boring or expensive! It’s easy to get tempted by labels and offers in shops, displays are designed to be tempting – don’t fall into their trap!
a)    Make a constructive list and promise yourself that you will buy nothing other than what is on that list! Don’t stray! Avoid the 2 for 1 offers that defeat the meaning of ‘essentials’ because who really needs double the product?
b)    Do you really need it? Ask yourself the all important question, ‘do you really need it?’.  There have been countless times where I have bought something thinking that I have ‘run out’ or ‘lost’ a product when miraculously it turns up a few days later. Make sure those few days pass and that you have had a good old rifle before you journey to get a duplicate of something you already own. Another common mistake I have made is convincing myself that I need something when in reality I have no use for it. So keep recycling that question, ‘Do I need you?!’.
   2.    Charitable buying – Go to my article, ‘Fashion can change lives’ for more information!
   3.    One off wonders – Although it is best to walk away from the sale racks and bargain sections of shops, sometimes it is virtually impossible… Even worse is when you come across ‘a bargain’ and the price tag is a price that it should be to start with. There’s one problem, you’ve grown attached and developed a love for the bargain item. What do you do?
a)    Well, much like the day-to-day essentials, ask yourself the question ‘Do I need this?’, if the answer is yes…ask yourself again…
b)   ‘I already own you’ - If, at this point, you see your life ending at the prospect of leaving the bargain unbought ask yourself another important question… ‘Do I already own you?’. As crazy as it sounds there have been numerous times where I have bought something instantly, returned home and realised that I have a very similar item already in my wardrobe. Try and vary your wardrobe – keep it different and make sure that every item has individuality. Most importantly – avoid the compulsive buying!
c)    Defining the one-off wonder - If you are still bowing down to the god-like item that you physically can’t live without, treat the purchase as a ‘one off wonder’. By this I mean take the plunge – buy it. However, if you chose this option you need to discipline yourself and tell yourself that it is a one-off purchase and remember how wonderful it is for the rest of your life. The truth will be revealed, if you can’t imagine loving it for the duration of a lifetime, or you feel that it will go out of style – walk away. It isn’t that ‘wonder’ that is worth splashing out on.
   4.    DIY – check out my article on ‘Starring the Knitted Jumper’. Sometimes DIY is the way forward and only requires getting the ingredients for the product!

Lastly, I put together user-friendly tips to help you refrain from shopping all together…

1.    Empty your pockets – If you’re going out with a couple of close mates to town, you know there is going to be that risk of splashing the cash. The only way to avoid this sinful act is to empty your pockets (or purse, wallet or whatever you use to keep your money in…). Even if you do see several to-die-for items, you won’t have the money to buy them, walking away empty handed. It may sound miserable and not a lot of fun but it saves your money and works (trust me!).
2.    Subscribe, follow and Google – if the main reason that you go shopping is to see what new trends and products have hit the shops there’s an effortless way forward – subscribe, follow and google. Subscribe to magazines such as Vogue, Harpars Bazaar, Company, Look, Glamour etc. They’ll keep you updated with trends and unlike a shop they’ll give you commentary! Follow all the fashion blogs, twitter pages and Youtubers you can find to keep ultra updated. Finally, if you’re still thirsty for more google to your hearts content! Almost any online magazine or site will have a style or trend section that will undoubtedly keep you updated! 
3.    Go vintage – By this I don’t mean go out to a vintage store and splurge the notes, I mean borrow and recycle. As some of you may know, my most favourite possession is my vintage, wool lined coat. It was a hand-me-down from my Mum and I adore it. It cost me nothing and keeps me snug and cosy in the bitter weathers of the UK. See what your Mum/Grandmothers or relatives have lying around in their wardrobes because vintage stuff is often way cooler than the high street!
4.    Make a mess – When you have the urge to shop it’s usually because your bored of the clothes that you already own so my advice is to make a mess. Empty your wardrobe’s contents, take out your drawers and look at all your clothes. Make new outfits out of the clothes you own! Guaranteed there will be some clothes that you will have forgotten about which in some cases can be as good as new!

Like I mentioned earlier, at this current stage of my life I think I am a shopaholic. I wrote this blog post as a form of therapy and with hopeful spirits that I would take my own advice, which is commonly known to be a tough thing to do.  Shopping is both your best friend and your enemy, it will be there when you need it but leave with side effects and some withdrawal symptoms. Coming to the end of the post I leave you with this, ‘Good luck’ with vicious cycle of shopping.


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