Confessions of a Would-be Shopaholic

I have a confession to make (and no, it’s not that I’m a shopaholic). It’s that I actually really enjoy the Confessions of a Shopaholic series.  I’m not saying they’re Hemingway or anything; for me they’ve always been more of a ‘I’m at the beach and ran out of my own books to read, let me steal something of my sister’s’ kind of deal, but they’re a fun read.

What I’ve never gotten, though, was how Becky Bloomwood (the main character) always managed to buy so much stuff.  This woman could walk into any store, be it Henri Bendel or Home Depot, and rack up several thousand dollars worth of credit card debt.  I try to buy things and I can never make myself get anything I don’t really need and/or love.  It’s possible that I could aspire to be a shopaholic, but I will never be a purchase-aholic.

It is my belief that there are four kinds of shopping, which I will list below from my favorite to least favorite:

  • Casual shopping when there is nothing you really need, and you just want to shop and look at things.  Inevitably because you don’t need anything, you find the best stuff, usually on sale.  (This philosophy also usually works for dating, minus the sale part.)
  • Revisit shopping for an item you noticed while casually browsing, and couldn’t stop thinking about.  This is the kind of shopping that is thrilling when it works out, and haunts your nightmares when it doesn’t.  I am still nostalgic about a BCBG dress I tried on years ago, didn’t buy because I was waiting for it to go on sale, and of course when I went back it was gone.  I learned my lesson.  I recently saw a stunning pair of neon red pumps when I was shopping in New York but didn’t have time to buy them, so when I got home I clicked my way straight over to Zappos where there were only three pairs left in the size and color I wanted.  The price was more than I usually spend on shoes, but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t own them.  I have since worn them twice and they have already paid for themselves in compliments.  They are the kind of shoes that even boys notice, and that is saying something.
  • Purposeful shopping for a particular event, when you know you need a certain item to perform a certain function (shoes to go with a bridesmaid dress, suit for an interview, etc.), but you haven’t decided exactly what this item needs to be (the shoes could be gold or silver, you could wear a skirt suit or a pant suit).  This can be particularly stressful if you’re like me and put this sort of shopping off until the day before the event.
  • Insane shopping for a particular item you have decided you want, but aren’t sure if it exists.  You’ve conceived of this item in your head, and it usually seems like a reasonable thing that should exist, but it can be extremely challenging to find what you’re looking for.  I spent a very long time looking for a short length, long sleeve casual black dress, which seems like there should be a lot of, but I could never find anything that quite fit right.  I finally found the perfect one, wore it to a party and got tons of compliments, and then went to find a link to a picture of it so I could show a friend, and learned that Nordstrom had actually classified it as a shirt.  This was a particularly humiliating revelation as I am the biggest advocate of “Tights are not pants” since Blair Waldorf herself.

The point of this treatise is that I spend a lot of time shopping for things, and very rarely actually make purchases.  This is how I have managed to spend a year searching for rose gold ballet flats.  There were shoes with the right color accents, or shoes that were the right color but in snakeskin texture instead of plain leather, shoes that where the right color and texture but had hideous bows on them, but nothing I could settle for or get myself to commit to.  I was starting to realize that my quest might never end (again, this could also be said of dating).

Then last week, while doing casual browsy shopping, I spotted them.  They were radiant.  They had no weird accents.  And they were just the right shade of pinkish gold.  They were also more than I like to spend on ballet flats, but this was the end of a quest, you guys.  To have not bought these shoes would be like if Frodo didn’t get the ring to Mount Doom.  If Mario didn’t rescue Peach.  This was epic stuff.

(If by any chance you’ve been in search of a similar item, the shoe is the Ivanka Trump Magnoli Ballet Flat.  I am slightly embarrassed that the shoes are Ivanka Trump.  I always feel awkward about buying celebrity branded stuff, particularly when someone asks me where I got it from and I have to admit I’m wearing a Jessica Simpson dress or Paris Hilton perfume, which is actually amazing and I always get compliments when I wear it.  I justify this by figuring that famous people have enough money to hire really talented and tasteful people to design their stuff for them.)

Finding the shoes was an incredible high, and kicked off a buying spree that I haven’t indulged in the likes of in a long time.  It involved one regular mall, three strip malls, and the purchase of three dresses, three pairs of shoes, and a belt (the last being notable because I never accessorize).  I returned home feeling deliriously triumphant.  I had shopped, and I had conquered.

Of course, after a day or two, the high faded.  I wanted it back.  I headed to another mall.  Despite the fact that I went with the intention of actually buying things and the fact that most of the stores had sales going on, I returned home empty handed.  I felt…flat.  Empty.  Defeated.  No matter, I told myself.  Memorial Day was approaching, and there was an outlet mall a mere 20 minutes away.

I headed out for the mall excited and optimistic.  They had all the right stores.  J. Crew, Kate Spade, BCBG (maybe I’d find that dress!).

I should have known when there was traffic when I got off the freeway that I was in trouble.  I hoped there was another reason.  When I got to the outlets and saw cars parked in things that were clearly not parking spaces, I knew I was in trouble.  I persevered, and when a parking space magically made itself available to me, I believed there was still hope.

I’m going to cut to the chase.  Do not go outlet shopping on Memorial Day, you guys.  This place was so busy that J. Crew had a bouncer.  I am not joking.  I tried on clothes at many places, but I liked exactly zero things enough to justify standing in the epic lines between me and the cash register.  I ended up buying lip gloss at Target just to feel like I’d bought something, but it was a hollow victory.

I guess I’m too picky to be a real shopaholic.  I’ll admit, I’m a little sad that shopping cannot bring me constant thrills as it does Becky Bloomwood, but my credit card bill is probably the better for it.

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