Day 263/366: Oniomania aka compulsive buying disorder

Falling off the clothes-buying-ban wagon in mid-August has led me to completely losing my self control.  Having discovered Lindy Bop and found that their lovely dresses were on sale it was like the brakes were off and I went careering downhill back into my clothes buying obsession. I would check the website every day for new sale stock and signed up for notifications when stock came back in.  I also joined two Lindy Bop selling pages on Facebook, and took my obsession to Ebay where I broke my Ebay clothes ban too.

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Lindy Bop navy floral Audrey.  She is so pretty!

This spectacular failure was compounded by going to The Curve Fashion Festival in Liverpool ten days ago.  This plus-size fashion show included stands from amazing plus size retailers including some I’ve not come across before like Emmy Designs and Studio 8 as well as finding that Praslin were selling all their sample dresses for £5.

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Yay – plus size bloggers represent!

It’s been an utter disaster for both my bank account and my mental health.  It would seem that I have an obsession.  There is even a medical term for it: Oniomania or compulsive buying disorder.

I love everything I have purchased.  The clothes are beautiful.  I want to wear them all, in fact I think this is part of it, I just want to Wear ALL the Nice Clothes.  It’s not even like I have anywhere to wear them to.

According to Shopaholics Anonymous, there are several different types of compulsive buyers.  I think I fit into at least three of these categories.

  • Compulsive shopaholics who shop when they are feeling emotional distress
  • Trophy shopaholics who are always shopping for the perfect item
  • Shopaholics who want the image of being a big spender and love flashy items
  • Bargain seekers who purchase items they don’t need because they are on sale
  • Bulimic shoppers who get caught in a vicious cycle of buying and returning
  • Collectors who don’t feel complete unless they have one item in each color or every piece of a set

I am definitely a trophy clothes shopper.  It’s always that the next dress will be perfect and will make me look amazing and everyone will love it.  But once it’s been worn once or twice, the excitement disappears and I’m looking for the next perfect dress.

I am also a sucker for a bargain.  Lady V London posted on Facebook today that all their sale dresses are now under £20.  I had one in my basket this afternoon despite the fact that last night I was nearly in tears about how full my wardrobe is.  But the dress was perfect and I must have it.

I saw someone wearing it at The Curve Fashion Festival and I thought it looked wonderful on her.  I want it.  I want to possess it.  I want to wear it because it will make me look beautiful.  I love the fabric.  And here I am, back to finding the Trophy dress.

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I mean, how gorgeous is this dress?  It needs to be in my wardrobe

I shut the browser and went away and didn’t buy it.  But it was beautiful.

And this is where we come to the third compulsive shopping habit I have.  I’m a bulimic shopper.  I buy clothes and then send them back, or sell them on.  In the last month I have purchased 23 dresses 7 tops and a skirt from Lindy Bop or off Ebay.  Add to that 2 Praslin dresses, an Emmy dress (at huge expense), a Studio 8 dress (also at huge expense) and one from TKMaxx which to be fair is the only dress purchase I have made in an actual shop this year.  Not that it’s much consolation.

Emmy Designs make gorgeous reproduction vintage dresses handmade in Sweden and I wanted them all, I seriously, seriously wanted to buy four or five dresses. I really, nearly bought more than one, but the cost made me think “I could get 10 Lindy Bop dresses for the price of this” as if quantity outweighed quality.  My mind is seriously screwed up if that’s the way I’m thinking.

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The utterly gorgeous Emmy dress I didn’t buy (and have non-buyers remorse oh so badly)

Of the Lindy Bop clothes, I have returned 11 and kept 12 dresses, returned 4 tops and kept 3 and returned the skirt.  Looking at this list makes me feel incredibly ashamed of myself. WHY do I feel the need to keep buying and buying.  Why am I not happy with the lovely clothes that I have got.  What on earth is my problem?

 

Above you can see just some of the clothes I bought from Lindy Bop. They are all pretty. I don’t want to part with any of them.

All the good work I have done since January has been undone in one month of completely uncontrolled binge-buying.  When I dieted, I used to be like this, good for weeks and weeks and then all of a sudden would completely lose control.  It’s the reason I stopped dieting because it made me so very unhappy.

How do I start again and get back on an even keel?  How can I train my brain to stop wanting all the pretties because I already have a lot of pretties.  Where does this void that needs to be filled with pretty dresses come from?  I think I need help….

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Day 231/366 : Falling off the wagon

Well, it happened.  I totally fell off the new clothes buying ban wagon big-style and went mad in the Lindy Bop sale.

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This is the Twiggy shift dress. I absolutely love it.

I knew if a failure of willpower was going to happen in my year of no spending that it would be big, but perhaps not as big as it actually was. I bought six dresses, three cardigans and a top that I’m keeping and I’m sending back five dresses, 2 shrugs and a jacket because of fit issues.

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This is the Ariel, it’s got such an amazing shape

Up until now I’ve been SO good for the whole of this year about not browsing in shops that it’s become second nature not to head into the clothes section of supermarkets or just going into town on a Saturday afternoon for a mooch around to see what’s on the rails.

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The pattern of this fabric is so beautiful

I’ve been quite unwell since the start of August and have spent nearly three weeks at home off work, mostly in bed. Frustration and boredom has led to a spending spree starting with buying perfume, shoes and boots online along with various dresses from Facebook selling pages. I can’t stop and have gone well over what I should have spent.

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This is a lovely dress, really nice thick stretchy cotton

So this spree has ended (I hope) with me raiding the Lindy Bop sale.  I feel hugely disappointed with myself, but I also feel that I have picked up some really lovely dresses at bargain prices as the sales at Lindy Bop are known for large discounts – all my dresses were between £12 and £15 and the cardigans were £10 or less.

So there you go, I lasted 226 days of the 366 of 2016, pretty much 2/3 of the year which isn’t all that bad.  I’m not going to go back to buying new things though, although I’m giving myself a free pass for the Curve Fashion Festival in Liverpool on 10th September.

I’m hoping that once I feel better and I’m back at work and not frustrated and ill at home that I will be in a better place for both my head and for my wallet.  Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can scramble back onto the wagon and ride it until the end of the year.

Day 74/366: charity shopping is fun

So, my resolution not to buy clothes this year was not buying clothes anywhere apart from in charity shops. This means I have now become an avid charity shopper, popping into the shops in Kendal most weeks and whenever I visit a different town, I look out for the charity shops. This website http://www.charityretail.org.uk/find-a-charity-shop/ is a wonderful tool for finding charity shops and I discovered three new ones in Penrith that I hadn’t come across before as they are in a back street.

These are two of my first three buys this year a Laura Ashley shrug and a purple sweater from M+S.  The third is a 100% cashmere jumper which is not at all smart but very warm so is great for slobbing out at home.  All of these three came from the Salvation Army shop in Kendal.

 Kendal has an Oxfam, British Heart Foundation, Scope, Salvation Army, Barnardos, a tiny Age Concern, RSPCA shop and a tiny Age Concern.  I have had the most success in Oxfam, Scope and Salvation Army and have yet to ever buy clothing in Barnardos as the choice there is truly awful (although they do have a good range of books and DVDs).

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Per Una brown cord coat

This coat is fab. It’s a little small for me, but as I’m wanting to wear it in the spring, I won’t necessarily need to do it up and it fits well everywhere else.  I altered the button position and also took the top button off and sewed up the button hole as it just wouldn’t fit across my bust. Also took up the sleeves, but I have to do this on every single coat I ever buy.

So far, Penrith has afforded the most spoils at the lowest prices, the charity shops in Kendal do seem to be more expensive – they are happy to charge £10 for a dress which I do think is a bit over the top to be honest.  I went to a number of charity shops in Islington when I was in London a couple of weeks ago and was horrified at the prices, and even more horrified that the largest item of clothing was a size 16 (and that there was only one of them).  Obviously charity shopping is not for the poor or fat in the capital.

Some of my Penrith charity shop finds

 

I paid too much for these too dresses (£10  for the Monsoon dress and £8 for the Tu dress), although I do like them both

This cardigan isn’t necessarily my style, but it’s lambswool and has the most amazing decorative cuffs!

One of the things I have made sure I do is actually wear the clothes I purchase from the charity shops as I have in the past been known to buy items and then not wear them, so I have really been trying hard to get them all worn.

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Brand New AXParis Curve dress – I love this the most of everything I’ve bought so far

One of the things I love the most about charity shop shopping is the thrill of the chase, will I find something amazing that someone else has discarded that I can take and make my own, and love and give a new lease of life to.  I really have had some successes this year, and I’m hugely enjoying the challenge as it’s making shopping exciting for me, and it also means that I’m not buying new, I’m helping to reuse clothes that are still very wearable, and that I’m donating to charity at the same time.  There is nothing not to like about this!

So my top tips for charity shopping are:

  • Try on things that aren’t in your size.  My finds above include a size 14 dress and a size 20 dress, both of which fit really well
  • Look for good quality fabrics – I’ve had real luck finding woolly jumpers and cardigans.  I rarely buy acrylic/polyester jumpers though unless they look brand new as they are generally bobbly
  • Be prepared to take things up or take them in.  I will need to take in the Monsoon dress as it’s a bit too big on me, but should be able to do this with no problem
  • There are almost always fantastic coats available
  • Dresses are hit and miss, you really have to look carefully to find anything nice and often there isn’t anything appealing
  • Go into your local charity shops every week or so as new things come in all the time
  • I’ve had no luck finding shoes, but I do hear of people who have scored pretty much brand new pairs for not much money
  • Take stuff to donate to charity shops if you’re not wearing it

 

 

Day 32/366: more choice doesn’t make me happy

In his TED talk The Paradox of Choice Barry Schwartz talks about how the the conventional wisdom of capitalism that the more options we have, the happier we’ll be, is almost entirely wrong. More often than not, the proliferation of choices leads to people being less satisfied, and we regret our decisions more. Fewer options means we are happier because it’s less likely we could have done better.

I can’t be the only person who has agonised for hours over a purchase to make sure I get the best deal for my money, especially online.  For example, my hair straighteners are broken.  No means of getting them fixed in our throwaway society so I would now like a new set.  Looking at the options, there are hundreds of different makes and models, everything from the most basic set in Argos for under a tenner to a set of GHD “limited edition” straighteners for £300.  On Amazon there are 1598 different sets of straighteners for sale; how on earth do I chose which is best for me?  Are the GHD set really 30 times better than the £9.99 Argos set? A cost benefit analysis of the straighteners on Amazon is like a giant quadratic equation and it makes my brain hurt.

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Pretty aren’t they, but are they really worth £300?

So it would appear that I am doomed to be dissatisfied with my choice of straighteners because the equation is impossible to solve and therefore I don’t know whether I will be buying the best straighteners at the best price.  This then takes the shine off the purchase.  Will I see a better pair and have buyers remorse that I didn’t get them instead?  That is of course if I ever get round to buying them because I am currently paralysed by indecision!

I think this constant feeling that we could have got something better or cheaper when it comes to purchasing stuff is beginning to wear on people.  There is perhaps starting to be an acknowledgement that there is too much stuff in (some, certainly not all) peoples’ lives and instead of more stuff bringing pleasure, it brings anxiety and dissatisfaction and doesn’t satisfy the cravings that we are trying to fulfill by aquisition.  It’s an addiction, this desire to buy more because we are never satisfied with what we’ve got, and we are looking for the next thing to buy even before what we bought on the internet arrives in the post (I’m oh so guilty of this).

So I need an attitude adjustment. I need to change my current mindset which is that having more clothes/makeup/boots/perfume/gadgets/art/trinkets will make me happier.  I need to believe this deep down emotionally as well as rationally as my purchasing behaviour is definitely not rational despite the fact I constantly justify it to myself on the basis of need.

I need to concentrate on the things that make me happiest for the longest time.  These are things like swimming outdoors, playing the ukulele, festivals, meeting up with friends to play cards, France in the campervan, collecting pretty stones, watching birds, going to the beach, cycling and reading books. Looking at this list, it is doing things rather than having things that makes me happiest and I need to concentrate on facilitating happiness or at least contentment in my life rather than chasing after more stuff.

These are a few of my favourite experiences.  I don’t need to buy any more stuff to do them.

 

Day 14/366: oooh, shiny

I think in general people are magpies, and very much drawn to new, pretty and shiny stuff.  Our ancestors were wearing jewellery and beaded and decorated clothing 25000 years ago during the last ice age and as humans began to work metal; jewellery and clothing became more and more complex and beautiful.

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Beads made of mammoth tusk Image via Twitter

So what has this got to do with buying too many clothes you might ask?  Well, beads and beaded clothing that took a lot of time to make were status symbols.  To create things that had no practical purpose meant that you had the time and resources to do non-utilitarian, non essential activities; you were not just out gathering food or collecting fuel.  This meant that jewellery and ornate clothing was scarce, precious and therefore highly valued as a status symbol by our ancestors.

25000 years isn’t very long in evolutionary terms, and we are still very similar to our ancestors in our desire for attractive, shiny things that demonstrate our status to the people around us.

Up until the late 20th Century with its huge rise in provision of consumer goods and general rise in incomes in the West, pretty clothes and jewellery were scarce unless you were very wealthy.  People would generally have one “smart” or “special” outfit and possibly a piece of jewellery or two.  Dresses were often made at home and were patched and mended and made to last as long as possible because it was expensive in both time and money to purchase fabric and make something new.

We now live in a time of plenty, in fact many would say we live in a time of excess, where our very ancestral human desire for new and shiny things can be gratified at any time of day or night.  We are constantly bombarded with images of things that trigger our desire for pretty things but also trigger our status anxiety.  Indeed, the consumerist society that we live in depends on our instinctive need to show status and position.  Look at any magazine, TV advert or billboard and you will see a lifestyle of shiny things being sold to you.  The economy would collapse if we only ever bought what we needed rather than what we want.

So it’s no surprise that many of us end up with so many clothes, shoes and bags that we could never wear them out in our lifetime.  We still have that basic, underlying anxiety about scarcity and status that our ice age ancestors had which never seems to go away, no matter how much you buy.

 

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Tiffany diamond necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 7/366: Addicted to the Purchase High?

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I’ve now done a week without buying any new clothes, although obviously I had two online shopping parcels arrive on Saturday.  I have however bought some perfume online today which isn’t so good (although the perfume smells gorgeous – I have samples already).

What I want to know is why I feel such a compulsion to buy things all the time. What is it in me (and in many others) that makes us such acquisitive beings?  In today’s Guardian Suzanne Moore talks about the now famous book by Marie Kondo called Spark Joy which muses on how we should only keep things in our life which bring us joy, and get rid of all the other clutter.

Well lots of things in my life don’t bring me joy, but are essential to every day life: things like dog poo bags or floor cleaner or sellotape, so I’m not sure that I go with this argument.  However Moore makes a good point at the end of the article when she says:

But the decluttering industry can’t deal with the broader aspect of why we feel so out of control in our own homes. After all, we have merely done as we were told: consumed. Now, it has become excessive, and we are swimming in our own tat. Is this elevation of tidying enough to stop the circle of shopping, of built-in obsolescence, of fashion, of our complete lack of connection to where any of our products come from?

To be free from this cycle may indeed be magical. The illusion that it is up to each of us individually to sort this out may be comforting. But liberation from the mess we have made is about more than a neat sock drawer.

And clothes bring me joy most of the time, but actually looking at it objectively, maybe it’s the *act of acquisition* that brings me joy.  I love trying on clothes and shoes and imagining wearing them during exciting or satisfying moments of my life.

Unfortunately, the reality of wearing clothes in my life is never as good as the imagined and I end up with an overstuffed wardrobe full of lovely clothes for which there aren’t necessarily the occasions to wear.  If the best I felt about the clothes was at the moment I purchased them, well really, what is the point?

It’s as if we are being sold the instant of purchase rather than the actual item we are buying.  Spending money can sometimes be seen as an almost sexual turn on. So is it the act of spending money not the thing itself that brings me joy?

This may be why I find myself making so many purchases; am I addicted to the purchase high?  If so, this is something that needs addressing as it is seriously disordered behaviour.  Consumerism is fucking me up.