Growing up, I was always insecure about my appearance. I wanted to fit in, but never really felt I did, especially during the difficult high school years. Back to school shopping was a stressful ordeal, as my family didn’t have a large budget for school clothes and I wasn’t sure what to buy. I liked clothes, but I definitely did not have an innate sense of style. I also struggled with weight issues and carried excess weight on my frame throughout much of my adolescence. My height only made things more difficult, as I always stood out even when I wanted to blend in.
“Quirky and Fun” Style Statement
Over the years, I cultivated a “quirky and fun” style statement. Since I didn’t know how to dress stylishly in the conventional sense, I basically decided to opt out and form my own style. The body image issues I struggled with regardless of the number on the scale led me to dress in baggy bohemian style clothing. I draped my figure in fun colors and prints and wore loads of unique jewelry. And so it went for many years.
Some of my “quirky and fun” outfits – Early 2000’s
Last week, my husband and I took an overnight trip to Catalina Island to celebrate our twelfth anniversary. Catalina holds a special place in our hearts, as it’s where we were married on July 4, 2001. While we don’t spend every anniversary there, we visit at least once per year and always enjoy this idyllic place that’s miles away yet seems worlds apart.
Catalina Island, California, with its famous landmark, the Casino
As I know many of you haven’t had the opportunity to visit Catalina, let me paint a picture for you. It’s a small island approximately twenty miles off the coast of Los Angeles. There’s only one main town, Avalon, and the year-round population is less than four thousand. The main industry on Catalina Island is tourism. And where there’s tourism, you guessed it, there’s shopping!
This post is part two of my “debrief” on my Project 333 experience. On Monday, I shared all of my Project 333 numbers, including how often I wore the various pieces of my wardrobe capsule, how many shoes and accessories I wore (I didn’t include these items in my 33), and my favorite outfits worn during the challenge. Today I’m highlighting the top lessons I learned from my minimalist fashion experience.
This was my April through June wardrobe – just 33 garments!
In previous posts, I explored “The Reasons We Shop Too Much” and “Why Continue to Shop?” Those articles covered a lot of the reasons why compulsive shoppers continue to buy more and more, even when we don’t really need anything and may be in debt as a result of over-shopping. Today’s post looks at another reason for shopping too much and one that I’ve determined is a primary driver of my shopaholic behavior.
“Normal” Shoppers vs. Shopaholics
When we visit the mall, a local boutique, or our favorite online store, we usually think we’re shopping for a new dress, pair of shoes, or fun accessory to add sparkle to our outfits. For people who don’t have a compulsive shopping problem, the surface “need” is probably all that’s there. They determine a gap in their wardrobes and shop to fill that gap. Even if they happen to pick up an unplanned item on a shopping jaunt, there probably aren’t any underlying psychological reasons for the extra purchase.
What if what you really need can’t be bought in any store?
Is it really your wardrobe you’re bored with?
In recent weeks, I’ve been complaining about my boredom with my Project 333 wardrobe capsule. I haven’t been excited to wear the same 33 garments over and over again and have found myself yearning for the wide selection I had with my pre-challenge closet. I reasoned that if I could just have more clothes to choose from, I might feel excited about my wardrobe again.
My Wardrobe is Not the Problem
Although a wider selection of garments might quell my wardrobe ennui for a short period of time, I suspect that the boredom would come back with a vengeance before too long. Then I would reason that more shopping would be necessary to inject new life and versatility into my closet. I would then go shopping, buy new things, and feel excited and happy for a while, only to see the boredom creep back in a few weeks later.
As many of you know, I recently accepted a challenge from a reader to not shop for a month. I committed to go the entire month of May without buying any new clothing, shoes, or accessories.
At first, it was really easy for me to refrain from shopping. In fact, I started to feel like it would be “a piece of cake” for me to breeze through the challenge and I even considered the possibility of extending my shopping hiatus.
The ever alluring store sales – so difficult to resist!
Then, It Happened…
Then, it happened… I learned about the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Nordstrom’s sales, here’s the bottom line. They only have sales three times per year – two half-yearly sales in May and November, and the “Grand Poohbah” of sales, their Anniversary Sale in July. I can’t remember the last time I haven’t shopped at one of these sales. After all, Nordstrom is my favorite store, I love shopping there, and I’m a “regular.” Many of the salespeople know my name and greet me warmly when I arrive. I feel “at home” there, like I’m in my element.
This post was inspired by a reader question in response to one of my Project 333 updates. I love how my readers challenge me and lead me to think more deeply about my behavior and thought processes! I’m so happy I started this blog, as it’s already exceeded my initial expectations. I’m delighted that it’s helping others deal with their wardrobes and shopping, as well as accelerating my own awareness and growth.
Here is the reader question I’ve been pondering over the past couple of weeks:
Why do you continue to buy clothing when you have so much already that you haven’t made decisions about?”
I decided to answer this question in a post, as I’m guessing other “shopaholics” will be able to relate to my answers. As I wrote about in “The Reasons We Shop Too Much,” there are many motives behind compulsive shopping behavior. Just as a compulsive overeater doesn’t overindulge because she’s hungry or loves food, the frantic buying behavior of shopaholics can rarely be attributed to a love of fashion or genuine wardrobe needs.