It’s 2:06 AM. I am online looking at shoes on Farfetch. I have added 15 items to my wish list in the span of 6 minutes. I’ve got 12 tabs open – ASOS, Top Shop, Browns, Nike, Office, Missguided, Banana Republic, H&M, Prettylittlething, Zara, Wayfair, Groupon. Purchased was 2 pairs of shoes, a dress, a swimming costume, a headband, 90 rolls of toilet tissue. My wish lists have increased 100%.
A week later, I am shocked by the number of couriers and postmen that have rang my doorbell. My mother silently accepts the packages but gives me the a rude stink eye indicating she is highly annoyed with my life-long shopping habits.
I open the parcels semi-excitedly, not even recalling when I purchased these things and not even sure where I will wear a rainbow two piece bikini to in the UK. The joke is, I can’t even fit three quarters of these outfits because my body is not what it was a year ago or even 3 months ago but I set the clothes aside on the couch to proudly survey my growing personal clothing and shoe empire. After I order a new batch of clothes arrive, these will be moved upstairs into my wardrobe/dressing room that is disorganised, you can’t see the floor.
I once read the Confessions of a Shopaholic and it felt like, in part, I was reading about my life – hiding purchases, feeling so good after making purchases, even going into a bit of debt because of my habits.
I started young.…
When I was a child (and even now as an middle-aged woman), people remarked on how fly my dad was. He had the latest of every style – to my teenage horror, this includes colourful spandex. He spends a lot of money on his appearance and takes the greatest care of his clothes and shoes (Gucci, snakeskin, Jordans). Mummy Reds had lots of clothes but her appearance wasn’t an obsession. That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t shop! She loves gadgets and appliances and once she cast her pretty eyes on something, she WILL have it – pressure cookers, digital toaster ovens, air fryers, iPads, bluetooth headsets, speakers, etc. It’s so difficult to buy gifts for her. Before I can buy her a new iPad pro for Christmas, she’s already pre-ordered it.
With these two as my parents, it is no wonder that I was a shopper (window or otherwise) since the age of 10. I used to look through magazines and request Christmas gifts like turntables (yeah, right was basically the reply from my parents). As a teen my fashion obsession start to show signs – I pressured my mother into buying me an 8 ball jacket, two shearlings (one of which was stolen), two triple fat goose coats, a bomber – okay, perhaps I was just obsessed with coats at this point. Then new Air Jordans dropped and my parents relented and purchased those. There were Guess first day of school ensembles, suede jean outfits, Champion sweaters and matching Travel Foxes.
How do I still have a roof over my head?
I have many weaknesses, chief amongst them is an intense fear of being seen in the same clothes I wore on a previous occasion (not work clothes – to be honest, I don’t give a damn what I look at work these days). This fear drives me to refresh my wardrobe several times a year especially when going on carnival trips such as to Jamaica, Trinidad and Barbados. The Caribbean culture puts a great deal of emphasis on appearance and songs often revere women who aren’t seen in the same clothes twice. This has definitely influenced my thinking. On average, I will purchase a minimum of ten new outfits for a two trip to Barbados. I usually leave Barbados having worn only 4-6 of them.
In preparation for my birthdays, my expenditure increases significantly. Generally, there is new bag, a few new dresses and casual outfits, along with jewellery, sunglasses, shoes and underwear. Half of this stuff remains in my wardrobe with tags on them. There’s pressure leading up to my birthdays, to reinvent myself, take myself to the next level – new haircut, colour, etc. It results in a great deal of money being spent and not the result of gifts from others – me playing Santa Claus for my special day.
Then, if there is a concert or wedding, I need to have something new. Nothing makes me feel better than the feeling of popping tags and slipping into a new dress and perfume before going to family gathering.
I don’t set myself a budget, I just buy the objects of my desire and let the coins fall where they may. This really isn’t an adult attribute and how I survived this far is truly a blessing from God.
The extremes I go to
It’s easy to shop online from home. The internet has changed my life! I don’t have to ask a sales clerk to look for larger sizes in the back, or stand in a long line to purchase a pair of tights. I simply click and the item is on its way home to mama. If I can’t source items in the UK or Europe, I have a mailbox in the US so that I can order items and have them forwarded onto me. I have also been known to contact the designer, whether in NY, Trinidad or South Africa to convince them to make an exception so I can get my hands on their clothes.
There have been times, however when the objects of my desire are only attainable by going to the store (I HATE that! Having to bathe, put on a bra and try to seem like a normal person). Two and a half years ago, I woke Mummy Reds up at midnight, we hopped in a taxi to Manchester City Centre and we sat outside from 1:00 AM in camping chairs in the cold night air. We weren’t alone though, there were at least 200 people in front of us in tents and sleeping blankets. All of this to get our mitts on the H&M x Balmain collection. Mummy tapped out at 5:00 AM and I remained only to get in the store to buy the remnants left by the 199 people in front of me. Simultaneously, I purchased 4 items from the website (it took about 45 minutes to complete these miracle purchases) and bid on two items on eBay from the same collection.
I made a small revenue by reselling the items I didn’t want to friends and strangers on eBay but the high of receiving these most-wanted items was so exhilarating! Until I win the lotto, I don’t think I will experience a similar euphoria.
What does this mean for me now?
Right now, I have at least 50 items of clothing that I haven’t worn – either because I don’t have anywhere to wear them or because they don’t fit. Sizes in my wardrobe range from a UK 12 to a UK 18 (US 8 to US 14). My mantra continues to be “Oh, I am saving them for when I lose weight and go to xyz” but my reality is I can’t most of these things and I haven’t done anything to change this. I have turned into a woman I swore I wouldn’t be in my younger years – buying items and setting them aside for when I lose my weight or giving items to little cousins on those rare instance that I am honest with myself.
I wish I didn’t love shopping but shopping has been a constant in my life that provides a happiness most people can’t give me. If I am stressed, shopping comforts me. I am happy, shopping makes me happier (I remember as a child sleeping in the bed with all my new clothes. If my dad would have caught me, he certainly would have attempted to slap some thoughtfulness into me.) I don’t sleep with my new purchases anymore, unless I fall asleep unboxing something. I don’t know if this confessional is a step on the road to recovery but I’ll try (until Gucci’s next semi-annual sale though)
In the meantime, I will try to stick to screenshotting clothes I want without purchasing. (My screenshot game is top. I may or may not have purchased a few of these – don’t judge me, I’m a work in progress.
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