My year without clothes shopping

This guest post from Jill Chivers is part of the “reader stories” feature at Get Rich Slowly. Some stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success — or failure. These stories feature folks from all levels of financial maturity and with all sorts of incomes.

Hi. My name is Jill, and I'm a recovering shopaholic. On 15 December 2009, I started a challenge to spend a year without clothes shopping. It hasn't been easy; I have a converted double bedroom as my walk-in wardrobe, and I love clothes. So, why did I decide to take a year off from clothes shopping?

Financial Reasons

In 2009, my financial circumstances changed but my spending habits didn't. I was earning less but not spending less. Tired of earning good money in a lucrative market (I used to be a corporate facilitator and coach), I started an online business in early 2009. Whilst the experience “grew me” in many ways, it didn't grow my bank account.

In November 2009, in the midst of my financial “bleak house”, I did what many women would do: I went shopping! When I returned from a 10-day trip to San Francisco, I found myself with $900 worth of clothes and accessories that I didn't need and couldn't afford. What was I thinking? None of these items were “necessary” — unless one counts a pair of cheetah-print All-Star sneakers as “necessary”. These were all justification purchases: “I have to have it because it's [insert justification adjective here].”

When I got home to Queensland, Australia, I told myself, “Self, you have a serious shopping problem.” That was tough to admit. Frankly, it seemed a ridiculous problem to have. I felt embarrassed about it. But it was a real problem, and my financial situation forced me to quit ignoring it.

One reason shopping compulsions (or addictions, if we must use that word) aren't taken seriously is because it seems kinda cute. Shopaholics come home with beautiful cardboard bags, filled with colored tissue paper and objects of desire. There's oohing and aahing and cooing over the contents of those beautiful cardboard bags with their soft-rope handles.

When a problem like alcohol addiction manifests itself, it doesn't look (or smell, or sound) so good. You see people throwing up in the ornamental fountain or a motorcycle helmet. Not so with shopping compulsions. And movies like Sex and the City and Confessions of a Shopaholic don't really help to shed light on how damaging a shopping compulsion can be.

Practical Reasons

Most women wear only 20-30% of their wardrobe. A year without clothes shopping gave me a chance to boost those numbers. I wasn't adding any new pieces to my (already extensive) wardrobe, so to fulfill my yearning for variety, I was forced to reach for things I hadn't worn for ages. Over the past year, I found myself wearing items that had hung or sat unworn months. You know how sometimes children get so many toys that they can't play with them all? After a few weeks they “discover” the old toys and it's almost like having new toys. I found all sorts of new toys in my wardrobe.

Emotional Reasons

Women shop for a variety of reasons, many of them emotional. I was talking to two women recently, both of whom hate clothing shopping because they don't like their bodies and hate seeing themselves in changing-room mirrors. Other women say there's a lot of guilt associated with spending money on themselves.

For many women, clothes shopping is about more than just the need to cover their nakedness. It's an attempt to feel acceptable and accepted. We shop to help us feel connected, to help us feel in synch, to fill an emotional hole we may not even understand. We shop to ward off boredom, to create a quick hit of adrenalin that lifts our spirits — temporarily at least.

I now know that I shopped to make myself feel better — to be more visible, to feel attractive, as a way of rewarding myself.

Ethical Reasons

With poison dyes, pesticides, and child and slave labour, clothes cost us all more than the money that comes out of our wallets.

The International Labor Organisation estimates that over 200 million children are working in sweatshops earning as little as 25 cents an hour. Sweatshop owners claim their workers have living expenses less than 25 cents a day so hey, they're doing those children a favor! It's a tricky point, but no matter where you stand, this issue is receiving more well-deserved attention each day.

There is a growing movement to “buy green” when clothes shopping — and I'm not talking about the color of the clothes. Dyes and pesticides used in clothing production are harmful to the environment, to the workers, and to those who wear the clothes.

This wasn't a huge motivation for me when I started my challenge, but as I researched more on this topic, it started to feel horribly wasteful to continue to load up an already full wardrobe with “more”.

Creative Reasons

Shopping is nearly a sport for many women, me included. I'm great at it. (Well, I used to be. My shopping muscles have atrophied somewhat in my year's abstinence.) I could have represented Australia in the shopping Olympics, if such a thing existed.

But when you look at the bigger picture, it's a rather sad state of affairs to consider all that creative energy going into shopping and becoming a better shopper. I learned to use that creative energy for more productive purposes.

What Have I Learned?

As I near the end of my challenge, I have mixed feelings. Am I finishing something life-changing or a self-imposed prison sentence? To help me get a handle on things, I've been thinking about what I've learned over the past year. Here's what I discovered:

  • It's okay to enjoy shopping and clothes. I learned that the problem wasn't with the stores — it was with me. Acknowledging that I needed to change my relationship to spending hasn't changed my love of clothes.
    One of my goals was to “shop my wardrobe”, which meant wearing what I already had instead of turning to shopping. Clothes are fun and can be a form of personal expression. It's okay to enjoy them — as long as you buy for the right reasons.
  • It's important to know why you buy. Almost any purchase involves more than just the thing and the money. There's usually some psychology at play. This project forced me to explore what shopping meant for me, what need it was filling. I can now make better choices. Shopping is no longer a reflex for me; I'm more conscious about what I buy. Sure, I'll still have to be “on guard” for some time to come, but shopping doesn't own me anymore.
  • I can use my time, money, and energy in better ways. Shopping takes time: A year off from clothes shopping allowed me to see what else I could be doing if I spent less time spending and more time living. Shopping also takes money: It doesn't take a financial planner to see that money gave me more options if I didn't spend it on clothes. And shopping take energy: I was surprised to find that this challenge released allowed me to release my creative energies in areas other than shopping.
  • Do what works for you. When I started this challenge, I didn't have a conscious relationship with money. It took a few months before I got a handle on what my unconscious shopping was about. During those first few months, I solved the problem by not going anywhere near shops — and certainly not going into them. I avoided temptation. Sure, it's not a very advanced strategy — it's more sledgehammer than fine scalpel — but it was effective.
  • The fashion industry's job is to make you buy clothes. The fashion industry is one of the most profitable in the world because it's worked out how to sell us Stuff — more Stuff than we need. It uses terms like “Must Haves” to create in consumers a bottomless pit of desire for new things to add to our wardrobes. They tell us what's in style and use gorgeous models that we want to be like (or sleep with). These messages are all very compelling, and they're difficult to resist.

Let me conclude with five reasons you might consider a year without clothes shopping:

  • When you take a year without clothes shopping, you learn to make other (better) choices with your money. You save the money you would have spent on clothing, shoes, accessories, and the rest of it. I estimate I saved between $4000 and $6000 this year.
  • A year without clothes shopping may inspire you to clear out the Stuff that's not paying the rent in your precious wardrobe space. And it may get you wearing what's already in there. (Most women only wear 20-30% of their wardrobe; you may find yourself wearing closer to 90%.)
  • A year without clothes shopping gives you the opportunity to discover why you buy. I learned about the gap that shopping filled for me, and I learned that I shopped almost unconsciously. I didn't enjoy owning up to this (and in fact this was the most challenging part of the year for me), but when you're in search of truth, you gotta take the bad with the good. It sure unhooked me from unconscious shopping.
  • A year without clothes shopping means you stop adding to the triple bottom line cost of clothing production.
  • A year without clothes shopping challenges you to put your brain and body to a better use than being a champion shopper. I'm living more of my life now, rather than spending my life.

You may be wondering if I stuck to the challenge completely. Well…I had one “falling off the wagon” moment at the three-month mark of the challenge (and yes, I did own up to it). You may also be wondering, now what? I don't plan to have a huge spending spree now that I've finished the challenge. If I did that, it'd mean the year was wasted and the challenge had failed. My goal was to change my shopping habits, so going back to the same level of consumption would feel like failure.

My year without clothes shopping has changed me. This challenge forced me to see myself, my wardrobe, and my spending through new eyes. I feel lighter, more empowered, and (strangely) more alive.

Jill is developing a documentary based around what she learned during her year without clothes shopping. She also offers a 12-month online course called Shop Your Wardrobe that helps women create a working and wonderful wardrobe while redefining their approach to consumption. You can learn more about the project by visiting her blog.

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Louisa Rogers
Louisa Rogers

This is an interesting story and I salute you for facing your particular addiction. My only quibble? I resist the repeated gender stereotyping. “Women this, women that…” Few of the women in my world–my friends, sisters or I–are fond of clothes shopping. Most women I know, faced with a “financial bleak house,” would take a walk or go for a bike ride, not go clothes shopping. Maybe the gender stereotypes are truer in Australia than in the U.S.

Nicole
Nicole

Good for you! I admit I’ve never really understood shopping addictions, but I’ve had friends who shop recreationally. I do understand how difficult it is to break an addiction or habit though, so it is impressive you were able to do this. Reading this article, I realized I haven’t bought any new clothing in over a year and a half. (We bought some socks and shoes for DS and a pair of pants to go with his Halloween costume, but that’s it. The rest of his annual clothing came from generous other folks.) Last year we were living away from… Read more »

LifeAndMyFinances
LifeAndMyFinances

Wow! Nicely done! A year without clothes shopping must have really been tough.

I mean, I’m a guy that doesn’t even like to go shopping, butI still go out once in a while to find something fresh and new!

Jen
Jen

I agree with Nicole, this is something I’ve never been able to understand either. I do have a limited budget & so I spend most of it on my family instead of clothes. I have a hard time spending $100 a year for clothes let alone $1000’s. I have a friend who is a thrift store addict. She has known my family’s clothing sizes for the last 20 years & has basically kept us clothed. She’s so good at this that people clean their closets out & give her the clothes to distribute so she almost never buys clothes to… Read more »

Beth
Beth

Kudos, Jill! I especially like that you address the ethical reasons for shopping less. I feel guilty when I have clothes I don’t wear when I know there are people in my community who have far less. I grew up with the “one in, one out” rule, so that keeps my closet and my shopping manageable.

Mostly 😉

My biggest clothing challenge is that I tend to “save” my good clothes to keep them in good condition. I’ve since learned that it’s better to wear something out than not wear it at all!

brooklynchick
brooklynchick

It so interesting, I bet almost all of us could substitute something else for “clothes” and this would apply to our own spending! For JD it was comic books. For me its books. I don’t care much about clothes but giving up book-buying for a year would be HARD. And I have AT LEAST a year’s worth of unread books to “shop” from at home (not to mention library books!). Wow. Not sure I’m ready to take on the one-year challenge, but this has really given me something to think about. I’m also impressed she didn’t end the year with… Read more »

Everyday Tips
Everyday Tips

I have never enjoyed shopping at all. Well, I enjoyed walking around the mall with friends, but not actually trying on clothes and buying them. Part of it might be because I bought my own clothes very early on in life, and I have viewed closed as a necessity, and not ‘decoration’. I have always been drawn to function, not design, and that hasn’t changed as I have gotten older and had more money. I have also always been short, so finding clothes that fit has also been a challenge. When I was 14, I still shopped at ‘The Children’s… Read more »

Lynda
Lynda

“cheetah-print All-Star sneakers” rang a bell with me: I coveted a pair of Dr Seuss Chucks but considered the following:
A pair of bandana print Chucks already in the wardrobe which I couldn’t wear for long periods due to heel problems
I needed to get them imported from the USA and felt somewhat uneasy about the carbon footprint incurred by buying shoes…!
So I didn’t buy. OK, I felt a bit “meh” but recovered.

Golfing Girl
Golfing Girl

I am so fortunate to not have inherited my mother’s shopaholism. I’m just not a girly girl and could care less about purses and shoes–unless they’re golf shoes… 🙂
Good for you that you realized there was a problem and you addressed it head on.

Nicole
Nicole

@1 Louisa With you on the gender stereotyping. Though most people I know would not do anything so healthy when faced with stress. More like, eat this, read that, watch this, sleep that, drink this, play that, facebook this, forum that… I don’t think the gender stereotypes are truer in the US than Australia, though I don’t have empirical evidence to back that up. I also don’t think that not enjoying shopping means that you have a poor body image etc. I don’t like spending the time shopping. I shop when I need an item or when someone else drags… Read more »

Jenna
Jenna

Great article! As a former excessive clothes shopper, I totally relate. Whatever our compulsion to spend on is, it is usually not about the item. When I shopped heavily, it was to fit in with my friends at the time, to cure the blues, to cover perceived body flaws, etc.
I believe George Michael said it best – “Sometimes the clothes do not make the man”.

Josh
Josh

I found your article very refreshing – I appreciate the honesty, and the stick-to-it-ive-ness that I see so rarely these days! Being a guy who upon losing a few pounds has found clothes shopping to be a lot more enjoyable than previous experiences, my limited funds have been stretched extensively for gearing up for graduate school and getting my first line of suits ready for the working world. So in that light, it was nice to see someone’s take on money-saving tips, especially after I get a staple of clothes that fit and fit well. I definitely see myself trying… Read more »

kaitlyn
kaitlyn

I am with previous comments about disliking the gender stereotyping here. My boyfriend will cheerfully spend hours walking around a mall, buy things because “it’s a good deal,” and I have come home to unexpected packages from Amazon 3 times this week.

Me? Going a year without buying new clothes is normal. Being forced to buy a new wardrobe for a job that requires “business casual” practically had me in tears. It has nothing to do with body image issues or anything. I just hate shopping.

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth

I thought about the gender-stereotyping issue while editing this, but after a couple of passes, I decided that it wasn’t that Jill was pigeon-holing either sex, but that her target audience is specifically women. So, my take wasn’t that she was saying that “women are this way and men are that way”, but that her message is actively targeted at women, so that’s who she references in the post. I could be wrong, though. In my household, I’m the one who’s been a shopaholic in the past, as you all know. Kris isn’t drawn to that behavior. Sure, she shops,… Read more »

NW Bob
NW Bob

The message here (and it’s a great one) goes beyond clothes. If my wonderful wife didn’t keep her fingers on the pulse of our checkbook, I’d have put us in the poorhouse buying guitars and other musical gear that I don’t really need.

It was also enlightening to learn more about the human toll that is paid for some of the luxuries we enjoy. Two lessons for the price of one!

Megan
Megan

What a timely article. I just added up my amount spent on clothes for 2009 and 2010…for 2009 I spent ~$350 and for 2010 ~$700!! Yikes! Although I spent far, far less in 2007 and 2008 so if you average back more years, it becomes less per year. But the trend appears to be going in a bad direction. However, this year I started back at school, and I discovered REI. A lot of my clothes also wore out this year (including two pair of pants I’d had for about 10 years) and I also decided, at the age of… Read more »

Jody_PDX
Jody_PDX

You’ve planted a seed…I’m wondering whether 2011 is my year to not buy any clothes!

Alex
Alex

This is a good general intro to shopaholism (sp), but didn’t say much about what you changed to stop (beyond just deciding not to buy), or the root cause for you personally. Whatever personal detail you’re comfortable sharing seems like it will help others get over their problem.

Mike Korner
Mike Korner

Very interesting Jill.

I swear that brooklynchick was reading my mind earlier because I was thinking pretty much the same things while reading.

I, too, have a book buying issue and I have a big stack of books to read. I’ve made a lot of progress this year, but there’s no chance I’m give up book buying for a year. But, I might try a month due to your inspiration.

Thanks for sharing this. VERY thought provoking.

Carla
Carla

I’ve never been a big spendthrift. I DO like shopping but my “shopping” is window shopping. I love browsing boutiques, independent shops, thrift stores and even some (gasp!) malls. I do it for entertainment (especially this time of year) and to relax. I rarely buy anything though. I love clothes, but I don’t like to spend money on them unless its a super good deal, I really want or need it. I guess my weakness is shopping for skin and hair care products. I started doing 30-day spending freezes on buying skin and hair care products in an effort to… Read more »

AMANDA
AMANDA

I hate shopping. I haven’t bought anything that was an absolute necessity for myself in at least a year. Last month I bought a pair of warm boots to replace my 8 year old ones.

However, in 2009 my husband and I each had a $1000 clothes budget and we spent it. Still, neither of us has many clothes.

My addition is eating out. Can’t see that happening for a year!

Shauna
Shauna

This is an issue I’ve been struggling to figure out for myself now for quite awhile. My husband and I started a debt snowball and an envelope budget about six months ago, and we each get $50 for clothing/shoes each month. In that time, I’ve observed that the clothes in my closet tend to wear out, fall apart, or shrink in a fraction of the time his do. Consequently, despite my not wanting anything new, I’ve used my clothing budget every month just to replace items I wear all the time, while he hasn’t spent any of his funds and… Read more »

Mary
Mary

Hm. I was expecting a reader story rather than a stop on someone’s promotional tour (perhaps this should have been positioned as a guest post?) but I agree with a lot of what she’s saying. For me, it would be hard to go a year without buying clothes because I have a modest closet and I do need to replace things and fill in the occasional gap. It’s easy to “shop your closet” when you’ve got a huge closet to draw on! but I think we all have items that don’t get as much use as they could. Still, I… Read more »

J.D. Roth
J.D. Roth

@Mary (#23)
This article was originally a guest post. In fact, it was a guest post up until late Friday, when this week’s reader story had to be postponed. Because I had to scramble to fill today’s reader-story slot, I asked Jill if it would be okay to characterize her post that way. She agreed, and that’s what we did.

That’s a small glimpse at the behind-the-scenes wrangling that goes on here at GRS. 🙂

HeatherT
HeatherT

I really enjoyed this post, but I would love to know more about what activities you started doing once you quit spending so much time shopping. I think a lot of people spend time shopping because it’s an easy, obvious place to go when you want to get out of the house. It takes some extra effort to find non-commercialized places to just hang out.

Duckie
Duckie

This article was especially timely because my wife and I just embarked on a similar challenge after returning from a shopping expedition. We added two slight twists to it. 1. We cn give each other gifts of clothing at the usual and customary times of year. 2. If there is a moment of weakness, the there is 100% family tax on the purchase: 50% into family savings and 50% to the spouse. I would have liked to had read more about whether shortages developed and were there items that were worn in shabby condition because new couldn’t be purchased.

Pamela Wilson
Pamela Wilson

Jill, Your situation isn’t one that I can relate to, but I have personally seen what shopping addiction can do to a family, and it’s devastating. I have a family member who has had a shopping addiction problem for decades. She is now estranged from her children and separated from her husband. Her addiction is at the root of her relationship issues. For those who struggle with this issue, your information is a godsend. You approach the challenge with a “can-do” attitude that makes it seem manageable. It looks like your website offers a tremendous amount of support as well.… Read more »

Kate B
Kate B

I have heard of a few people doing this, and I think it’s so impressive! I wouldn’t say I’m an “addict”, but I can relate to that little pick me up/adrenaline rush that can come from a new piece of clothing/comic book/gourmet food/substitute your vice here.

Abby B
Abby B

I had to cut my wardrobe in at least half when I moved overseas earlier this year, and not being able to try on clothes in the stores makes not shopping really easy for me. Almost the opposite really, because I’d love to go buy some new tops, but without being able to try anything on, the frugal side of me just can’t get in line with that.

It’s great to see stories like these!

Jill Chivers
Jill Chivers

Thanks for your comments here and thanks JD for your comments while I was sleeping (it’s Monday morning here in Oz). JD has addressed the gender stereotyping issue that some of you have raised, and he’s correct in what he said. Some men have shopping addictions and many women do not, so overshopping is certainly not a gender-specific issue. The piece was written that way because women are my target audience. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. As for what activities I ‘replaced’ shopping with… well, that’s interesting because I was aware that I didn’t want to substitute one… Read more »

Kay
Kay

Great article! When the student is ready, the teacher will appear….I was just thinking about doing the exact same thing during 2011. Interesting to know that it can be done.

Karen in MN
Karen in MN

Want to stop shopping for clothes? Move to the rural Midwest!

Unfortunately, where I live there’s not many clothing stores. Those that do exist offer primarily low-quality discount items and very little in my size. I’ve ended up buying almost all my clothes online from stores that I know offer decent quality and sizes down to XS.

I suppose it saves me money, but it makes it difficult to maintain a professional wardrobe. I spend about $1500/year on clothing + shoes which I think is reasonable when you consider that it includes shipping.

bella
bella

Im consistently amazed by how much time and money women I know spend on clothes. My husband and I get a lot of ‘how can you afford that’ with our toys, car restoration projects, but it really is a matter of priorities. Good job Jill. Enjoy your richer fuller life.

Mary
Mary

@J.D. — Gotcha 🙂 I imagine a blog like this takes some creative scheduling!

Actually, Jill’s post today saved me from buying a sweater I didn’t need. Sure, it was on sale — but I’ve been sick for the last two weeks and when I thought about it I was looking for something to make me feel better.

shallowwater
shallowwater

@Shauna I think there could be a couple of things going on here, but a large part of it could be that lots of womens clothing is just not made to quite the same standard as mens. If fashions change every season and women are more expected to keep up with fashion, the clothing just isn’t built to hold up for all that long. Thing 1: Think about how you are caring for your clothing. Do you use lingerie/delicate bags? I wash 90% of my nice/good knits (ie everything that isnt tshirts) in these and I think it really helps… Read more »

Lily
Lily

I love love love to clothes shop, and I do it recreationally. A few years ago, I was earning a steady income and living single. And yes, I spent thousands a year on clothing, shoes, and bags. Then I quit my job to work/travel in New Zealand for a year, supporting myself with temporary backpacker jobs. So with a drastically reduced income, I made a rule for myself. I could still clothes shop when I wanted or needed too, but I could only buy second hand. Buying vintage was good to my wallet and good for the earth! I got… Read more »

Fiona Lam
Fiona Lam

Congratulations to Jill! I made a similar resolution this year, except more extreme – “Buy nothing” excluding food, transport, experiences (tickets to shows, movies etc) and gifts. I did break the resolution twice, when I bought a $2 envirobag and a $7 cookbook.

kaitlyn
kaitlyn

@Jill, I don’t really feel as though the gender stereotyping thing was addressed. Just because your audience is women, it doesn’t mean that it’s okay to say “women do this” and “women do that.” If you replaced every “woman” in the article with a specific nationality or race, how would that read?

This is particularly true given that you delve into the issue of psychological shopping (ie: women who don’t like to shop have body image/guilt issues). Are there actual studies you are citing to back up these claims?

atorres
atorres

@1 Louisa and others I agree with others about the gender issues raised in this post. To me, the problem is more about the sweeping generalizations the author is making in her writing. I think it’s a cop-out to say that it is ok simply because women are the target audience. Clearly, the target audience of women are saying that they don’t appreciate the assumptions made about their gender and behavior. I think if it were any other oppressed group (black people, gay people) these kinds of generalizations wouldn’t be ok…and it’s not ok for women either. To be more… Read more »

Melanie
Melanie

Congrats Jill and also a big hello from a fellow Aussie. I also enjoy shopping and have cut down over the years as other priorities became more important…eg the mortgage then becoming financially independent. I do work in a corporate environment in a major city and I find that there is an expectation of dress and that I need to keep up with the latest somewhat to be taken seriously. I do work for a major company and many of the women I work with tend to enjoy wearing labels. It makes it tough to keep to a budget! Now… Read more »

Brett | Investing Part Time
Brett | Investing Part Time

Interesting post! I like to think I’d be able to go without clothes shopping for a year, but there are so many possibilities for excuses of why I need something that it would not work out.

Luke
Luke

An amusingly written article, but I couldn’t help but find that Jill was almost a cartoonishly over the top stereotype of the compulsive shopper (sorry Jill).

Willpower aside, I don’t see that not buying clothes for a year when you have a double bedroom as a wardrobe is much of an achievement?

Also, you write that you saved $4,000-6,000? I’d argue that you *didn’t waste* $4,000-6,000 😉 Most people don’t spend 50% of my annual housing bill on clothes 😀

mimo
mimo

Thanks for this story. It seems that quite a few commenters here are already good at being thrifty. I am not. I want to be and I mean to be, especially since becoming a first-time homeowner last year. But then I go about the day and see “super-duper deals on things I’m going to need eventually” or “things that the BF’s kids would love” and so on. Then my day’s goal of not spending money is shot. I don’t win this goal on most days. I reluctantly opened Quicken and looked up how much I spent YTD on clothes, accessories,… Read more »

louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife
louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife

I’m not an obsessive shopper by any means – I don’t spend more than £200-300 or so in a year on clothes – but I’ve been thinking a lot about why I buy the ones I do recently, and I’ve decided to have some time out. I don’t think I’ll be able to do anything as hardcore as Jill but I’ve decided that next year, I’m going to limit myself to one piece of new clothing and one piece of second-hand clothing (I buy a lot at charity/thrift/op shops and on eBay) a month. I think this is more realistic… Read more »

L
L

Some are raising concerns about issues of stereotyping in the article.. is it really stereotyping, though? For example: “We shop to help us feel connected, to help us feel in synch, to fill an emotional hole we may not even understand.” I have heard Suzie Orman identify that some woman spend money to try to relief emotional pain or stress. I’ve been reading some interesting economics/sociology books and blogs lately that show that some stereotypes are based on fact. Likely, studies have shown that at one point MOST women did A, B, or C. Not all women – you may… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole

@45 L There’s a difference between “some,” “many,” “most,” and a general sweeping statement that implicitly includes “all.” “Statistical discrimination” is what you’re talking about, when a stereotype is used because one group is more likely to do something or be some way than another group. That still doesn’t mean that most people in a group behave that way or that it is right to judge any individual based on group characteristics, nor is it right to increase a culturally self-perpetuating stereotype. When we say that there’s a difference between boys and girls because boys love trucks and trains, that… Read more »

ali
ali

Even though the author is speaking about women when she said “We shop to help us feel connected, to help us feel in synch, to fill an emotional hole we may not even understand. We shop to ward off boredom, to create a quick hit of adrenalin that lifts our spirits – temporarily at least.” I think that really refers more towards compulsive shoppers but the author generalizes it to women either because she assumes that all women feel the same way she does or that she knows other compulsive shoppers and is drawing conclusions based on their experiences. You… Read more »

Shalom
Shalom

Thanks for this article, which is a pleasant change of pace from the usual (and also interesting and helpful) articles here. It’s also a good motivator for me for next year. I’m thinking my resolution for 2011 is going to be to “use it up.” I have more clothes, accessories, make up, books, craft items, fancy spices and ingredients, blah blah blah than I can stand; it’s time to quit adding to the pile. Like brooklynchick @6 and Mike Korner @19, I think the concepts in this article easily could apply to stuff other than clothes and books in particular.… Read more »

MutantSuperModel
MutantSuperModel

I sort of like this, but what I would REALLY like JD is the follow-up article NEXT year. As much as these challenges are great eye openers, they’re not always life-changes. I’d like to hear back from her in another year and then a couple years after that. These experiements are interesting and we love the whole idea but I think they’re meaningful if they stick.

erika
erika

I thought that what the author had to say about reining in unconscious/compulsive spending and making more deliberate choices with her money was very relevant and appropriate for a GRS post. Granted, the audience here is less likely to be full of compulsive clothes shoppers, but there are plenty of people who can relate to the need to curtail spending in a particular area. I personally am a reformed unconscious shopper, and I can relate to the ideas of shopping for psychological reasons that have little to do with the actual objects.

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