One Thousand Words on I Heart Shopping

I have a confession to make. I enjoy buying new clothes. Wait, that’s an understatement. I love buying new clothes.

I know that this statement is politically incorrect. Call me shallow. Call me materialistic. I don’t care. I still love buying new clothes.

And I don’t mean “new to me” clothes. I’m talking brand new, as in no one else had worn them unless it’s to try them on and decide they don’t like them.

I know a lot of people who shop at thrift shops and second hand stores. That’s just not my thing, but I’ve always felt guilty admitting it. Especially when they are standing there in a $4 skirt and $2 blouse, looking so proud of themselves.

I usually use the excuse that there are people who can’t afford to buy new clothes, so I leave the second hand stuff for them.

It sounds charitable, doesn’t it? Like I’m so worried about the poor people who can’t afford to dress nicely for job interviews so they can’t earn a living and feed their children without public assistance. Like my avoidance of thrift stores is my way of making a difference in their lives.

That’s bullshit. I really just like to buy my clothes new.

I know that second hand clothing is environmentally friendly. It’s recycling, reusing, saving the earth from the overflowing landfills, etc. etc.

I do my part. I donate to thrift stores. I just don’t want to bring the recycled clothes home with me. The only items I buy used are books. And I clean those with Clorox wipes before I put them on my shelf.

Of course, the other socially acceptable option to shopping second hand is buying all organic, locally made clothes. Hand spun yarn, cotton linen dyed with berries and leaves, wool sheared right off the sheep in your neighbor’s backyard.

I don’t do that either.

I like the big bad box stores. Ones like Kohl’s, Sears, JC Penney. You know, the chains that put locally owned stores out of business. Again, not very politically correct.

I get a good feeling going into one of those department stores, picking up clothes, trying them on and buying them. It releases endorphins. Some people exercise, I shop.

I’ve read all the literature about how stores use lighting and mirrors and music to make you think you look good in order to get you to buy more.

I worked a very short time as a “women’s clothing merchandiser” at a small store that sold clothes for both men and women. When I started, I was told that you hang men’s pants on the hanger differently than you hang women’s. In the dressing room, men just like to be able to take the pants off the hanger and put them on, so you hang them as they are worn.

Women like their clothing to look like no one else had tried it on. So you fold them with seams in the legs and hang them sideways, tucking the larger sizes in a bit to make them look smaller.

I know all those tricks. I don’t care. Just let me shop.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a “shopaholic.” I don’t buy super expensive shoes and take them back the next day. I only return things if they are damaged. I don’t buy sixteen sweaters and leave them hanging in my closet with the tags still on them. I don’t have seven maxed out credit cards in my wallet from daily shopping trips.

I wear and enjoy all the clothes I buy and I go on a serious clothes shopping binge only once or twice a year or so, usually spring and/or fall.

And as far as binges go, mine are pretty inexpensive. I don’t spend thousands of dollars. I just buy a few new outfits.

That’s all it takes because each one seems like a new start.

I think that feeling has something to do with getting new clothes for school when I was a kid.

Each year shopping for school clothes was a chance to reinvent myself. I was never very fashion forward, or even fashion conscious, but every fall I felt like if I had a certain pair of jeans or a particular color socks, I could be a different person than I was the year before.

I was smart enough to realize I didn’t live in an afternoon special or a Sweet Valley High book. The right sneakers wouldn’t make me popular or the homecoming queen, but they could change my self image.

If I was the girl who got good grades in ninth grade, in tenth grade I could be the girl who was into theater if I bought clothes that made me look artsy.

It usually only worked for a few day before I reverted back to being who I really was, the girl who got good grades. But I liked the idea that I could reinvent myself with a new shirt, even for a short while.

As an adult I don’t try to recreate my image every year, but new clothes do give me more self esteem. I know they are just pants and shirts and sweaters, but if I’m going to an important meeting or asking someone for a big donation, a new outfit makes me more outgoing, more confident and more likely to succeed.

Now that I’ve come out, I’ll probably be shunned for my shopping predilections.

I have friends who love to shop second hand and are always wowing each other with their latest finds. And shopping locally is practically a religion for some of my colleagues. If it wasn’t made here, the store owner better be from here or they won’t buy it.

I’m sure these folks will think my shopping habits are a sign that I’m trashy, superficial and have poor taste.

But maybe they can agree to look the other way. After all, it’s not like we’ll be running into each other in the aisle of Kohl’s.


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