I don’t have a shopping addiction.
At least, this is what I would have said if someone would have asked me. Yes, I used to buy the same clothing piece in multiple copies and different colors and, yes, I was well aware of how many clothes I already had (I wore most of them just a couple of times, usually in the days that immediately followed their purchase). “They are all good quality”, I was assuring myself. “I’m investing in my style and wardrobe”, I was saying to myself. Also, it was my money, it’s not like I was borrowing any to maintain my shopping addiction and I certainly didn’t use a credit card.
Back in those days, I really believed that I was buying things, not because of my shopping addiction. With every piece of clothing, accessory, pair of sandals checked at the cash register I felt like “this is it”. This piece of clothing will change things, it will make the difference…
Fast-forward a few years later and I am on the other side of the barricade, managing to overcome that toxic relationship. De-clicking is not made by changing your shopping addiction, but by changing your entire perspective of what your personal style means.
I’ll say it again, to be well understood. Regardless if we buy clothes every week, for the sake of having something new to wear, or run in a store each time we have to be part of a special event, the root of our problems does not reside in the way we shop. But in the manner we refer to our own style. To stop purchasing clothes we’ll never wear (or which we rarely wear or get bored of them rather quickly), we have to go one step further. To dig deeper.
Understanding how you wish to feel
We are attracted by certain clothes in the same way we are attracted to a song or a particular image: it helps us feel in a certain way. This is what we “hunt” with every new item we add to our wardrobe: an emotion, an experience.
What is the problem we don’t seem to see? We don’t dig deep enough to understand if this new clothing item, accessory, or sandal really makes us feel as we wish.
Yes, we do feel the ecstasy and joy, but they fade away quickly. We will never feel fully satisfied with what we have, as long as these things are not in harmony with who we are (or what we could be), with the way in which we would like to look, and the way in which we would like to live. So we try it once more, buying one more dress, maybe next time we manage to reach Nirvana…
The first step I invite you to do is to look for answers deep inside of you. Decide on how you want to be in front of the world. Yes, I know it sounds very New Age, but do try to do this exercise. Don’t dig your feet into the words that describe your style or clothes, but focus on how you want to feel. What would you like to show to others around you about yourself? How would you like to feel in your own body? How do femininity and beauty look in your version?
Then analyze each clothing item of your wardrobe based on the words you discovered. Do the same exercise each time you go shopping. Ask yourself if the item you just tried one will pass this test: can it make you feel the way you wish, each time you will put it on? (if the answer is “meh…”, just leave it at the store).
Raise your sights (and live in an area of stylistic genius, and not a mediocre one)
I used to go shopping every week, sometimes even daily – continuing to discover things I wanted. The race was never-ending, for real… Now whole weeks can go by without purchasing anything at all, but, in spite all this, I still get to buy what I want. Or, better said, I buy only what I truly want, not any attractive little thing I get my eyes on.
Shopping and our wardrobe, just like our lives, shouldn’t be an all-inclusive buffet. By raising our sights, by changing our standards, we’ll choose differently what we’ll add to our wardrobes, what we wear, and what will be part of our image and style.
Only when we have a clear view of how we want to feel and how to dress, we will really want to understand what cuts, colors, materials, and styles best resonate with those experiences. Otherwise, we will see the technical part of our style – the so-called rules and principles of personal styling – as a matrix of conformity.
Direct your attention toward what you already have
Guilt, regret, being at sea, boredom, discouragement, and the feeling of being overwhelmed by a load of clothes… The more we propagate toxic shopping patterns, the more often we will have these experiences each time we open our dresser’s doors. Obviously, it will be very hard to choose an outfit that will manage to make us feel good, beautiful, coquette, dynamic, radiant, elegant, and so on – the way we decided to feel if we went through the exercise presented at point 1! – when everything we see in our dresser is a spiral of negative emotions.
Once you understand what your area of stylistic genius is – the one that excites you, brings you happiness, and makes you feel alive – you will start eliminating from your wardrobe those items that are not up to your standards. And, most importantly, you will reconnect with the others, with the fantastic clothes that were waiting for you to rediscover them.
Spend a Saturday afternoon this way or start by doing this 5 minutes a day: select the clothes that will make you feel superlative, bring them in front of your eyes, take them off the hangers, and make room to see them properly. At the same time, move the others in an area of your dresser that is less visible or behind a dresser door you don’t open that often.
Finally, take out of the dresser for good those clothes you intend to donate, sell, offer as a gift, and so on.
In the end, behave nicely with those that remained, those clothing items that form the “skeleton” of your style. Treat them with respect. Wear your dearest, the most expensive, dress in an ordinary day. Match your favorite top with a skirt that will make you leap for joy. Complete your look with a bold lipstick or colored jewelry. Can you feel now what it means to be radiant?