Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Maddening Methods.

Today I spent another long, long day indoors at work, wearing black and talking about shoes. I've never been so sick of black in my life, and honestly those are words I also never thought I'd hear myself say (in my head).

But besides my own silly little woes, I got to thinking. I've noticed that a lot of women who come into our store, especially around this time of year or at the beginning of the weekend, buy entire outfits in one day. This is a foreign concept to me, although I suspect I might be in the minority. I suppose this depends and has to do with a lot of things, shopping habits in general, financial situation, personal style or lack-thereof, the kinds of activities one participates in, all that kind of stuff. It's the kind of thing, I guess, that the make-over-ers are always talking about on their TV shows, to shop for outfits (while making sure the pieces themselves integrate into the rest of one's wardrobe).

I suppose also, it is my natural habit as a pack-rat and collector to just accumulate things as I see them rather than purchase with a plan. For vintage shoppers it's obvious that one has to 'go with the flow' but even then just a few weeks ago a woman trotted into my store with a delicious vintage dress she needed to buy shoes and a bag for. Once again, I am troubled by this idea of buying an outfit.

Maybe I just have too much stuff. I've certainly been lured into romance of the woman, who is usually French, who has fabulous and basic wardrobe items that are chic and perfect and all that, but it has never been something that is able to woo me into applying it to my own life. Maybe I'm too much of a materialist; I like stuff. I like clutter and things like nesting dolls where something is filled with more somethings filled with even more somethings. Clutter, says the pack-rat in a voice of practiced justification, is not mess or dirty.

Back to my shopping habits. They're strange, constant, erratic, and nomadic. I've always shopped second-hand since a kid, and that's definitely where penchants for things that catch my eye but aren't practical latched on (this is a trait I tried to quash when I hit about 14, and have only recently revived). As a student this is very helpful, since I can get the feeling of having something new for, if I'm lucky, pennies. Second, not to toot my own horn, but I'm a pretty good bargain shopper. It helps that I'm in the mall often—I work there-- and so I can keep and eye on things fairly easily (my campus is also minutes away from the mall) and note when the prices drop. My favorites are, shockingly I think, J. Crew and Gap. For a crummy mall, our J. Crew is very nice. I think I might drive the sales people there crazy since I stop in almost every day and only ever buy those items which are deeply on sale.

This skirt for example, was 7$ at J. Crew. The shorts, and a similar pair purchased yesterday with another crazy pattern, were about 8$. I bought my boyfriend a wool cardigan with leather elbow patches for about 27$, along with countless dresses for around 19.99$ (before my favorite 25% off sale promo, plus 10% student discount). My favorite cardigan from Gap was on sale for 12$, and most of my flats bought there set me back about 10$ each, while blouses tend to be about 8$ although if I really like it I'll go as much as 14$. Generally, I hate spending more than 20$ on clothes and shoes. I know this is very cheap of me, but seeing as I don't live in a city with fantastic transportation, my boyfriend lives 45 minutes away, and gas prices are soaring to a heartbreaking degree, I can't afford to spend much more on anything. Although I probably should lay off the pastries for my health's sake. Unlike the women in my store, I can't afford to drop 80$ on shoes to match the dress I just bought at Banana Republic for 128$ (not that these numbers are exorbitant by any means for a fashion world, but you know. I'm a gas-paying, cake-eating, retail-slave with student loans) and a bag for 40$ all in one day, not to mention jewelry. Even for special occasions I don't go out on a shopping trip, since I usually already having something in my closet.

I suppose what I mean by all of this is, what are your shopping habits? When do decide to 'go shopping' do you set out with certain things to buy in mind? Do you build outfits form a key piece when purchasing? My habit seems to be very willy-nilly, just grabbing whatever catches my eye and hoping it fits in somewhere. Usually it does, but I'm curious about everyone else! I think it's interesting, what our shopping habits might say or not say about us. Because, for example, my grocery shopping habits are nothing like this, they are methodical and involve plans.

Personalized clutter. I keep my jewelry scattered in tons of boxes and bowls all over the place.


  1. I adore this post. I too am a fan of clutter and hiding my spoils in little nooks. You make me laugh. I never go shopping looking for something, but always buy attractive patterns and textiles that are greatly marked on sale!

    You are my favorite blog!

  2. I only shop at flea markets and thrift stores, so that sets some limitations, but I usually go out with stuff I "need" in mind. That way I'm set to the right frequency to find it, and lo and behold I mostly do. Obviously I pick up some stuff I wasn't thinking off along the way, or even start building around one such piece. Sometimes it takes two or three tries, to find the perfect item. I'll buy an item that's kinda like what I want and then find a better one later, so I have to do pretty frequent purges of the ol' wardrobe. Since I rarely pay more than 3€ per item, it's not that expensive a habit.
    There. Now have I told you I love your blog?

  3. I tend to shop like you; a little bit here and there--rarely ever anything full price! even when I worked in garment retail a few years ago, I could rarely bring myself to buy something unless it was drastically on sale (like 65% off or more). yep, I'm really cheap. lol.

    this year I'm really trying hard to keep from buying retail and instead rely on my own skills and thrifting. it's been amazing what I can find second hand (either through thrift stores, or more recently ebay) for just nickels and dimes! but because I don't have a consistent selection to rely on, that does kinda shoot the "have a wardrobe plan" mantra that a lot of people advocate. that style of shopping really doesn't suit me anyway--my tastes morph too quickly! lol.

    I think even if I became really wealthy and could afford to drop the money on full price dresses at stores, I wouldn't. the idea of not spending huge amounts on my wardrobe is too ingrained. lol.

    great post--really got me thinking! :) sorry if these thoughts are jumbled; I'm trying to get myself out the door for my class this morning. rofl.

  4. I like "organized" clutter. Everything is crowded, but it has its place. And I can't collect too much because I'm costantly moving and there's no place to put things. It makes me blue to live in a minimalist house!

  5. I find that whenever I buy a whole outfit at once I end up hating it later. For me, it's usually the pieces that really call to me, but that I may have no idea how to make an outfit out of, that become most integral to my wardrobe. So, I'm definitely with you on not buying whole outfits. I wish I had as much luck as you do in finding bargains--I guess I don't spend enough time at the mall. Back to your question, I think maybe some subconscious part of the brain makes us attracted to things that will fit well into our wardrobes, even if the conscious part can't quite justify such purchases. Just an idea. I like this post.

  6. Beautiful photos! I love the cameo earrings in the last shot.

    I used to keep all my necklaces in jewelry boxes and in drawers, but about six months ago I got fed up with having to untangle everything anytime I wanted to wear it. So I put a bunch of nails in the wall of my apartment and hung all my jewelry up there instead....and now my wall is decorated and my jewelry collection looks HUGE.

  7. hi stylish friend

    i just discovered your blog.

    As i find it very fresh, I just wanted to tell you that I met Sarah Jessica parker / Sex and the city Monday in Paris and did great shots that you’ll certainly like

    I also got great shots during the sunny days in Paris

    Have a look and enjoy !
    and may be one day i 'll be in your fav blogs ! lol


    Street style romancer in Paris

  8. I definitely never buy a whole outfit at once...I think that ruins some of the delight. I read somewhere about a website that sells an entire outfit, accessories and all so that women don't need to think about it. It makes much more sense for people who hate fashion...

  9. I find that when I find something I really love in a store I end up finding a whole outfit unintentionally, because the thought of that one piece is stuck in my head. Of course, I usually don't buy the whole outfit. Like you, I tend to only buy things on sale. Either way, I do think about how things will integrate into my wardrobe and what I can match with something before I buy it.

    (And hi, I love your blog!)


  10. Sometimes I use special occasions as excuses to buy outfits >.< But I know what you mean, sometimes it's all about building a wardrobe bit by excruciating-but-delightful bit. And I thought I was shifty about J.Crew deals, but $8 is fantastic! Are sales just marked down more upstate? I also love finding little outfits that people have started to put together and just left on a rack, with accessories hung on and all haha!

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