Thursday, October 4, 2012

Want, desire and stopping shopping

During a two-month summer respite from blogging, I was struck by the notion of want, how that Janus word means both "desire for", and "lack of".

Want, the urge for the new, the different and especially the youth-granting is the gas of the still-sputtering retail engine. We are sold by appealing to desire, and also by persuading us that we have pressing, unfulfilled needs.

Removed, mostly, from the workplace fashion show, I'm no longer a Good Little Consumer, needing so little– but I can still be lured by desire, by the beautiful and unusual. And sometimes by the sale. 


Oooh, I envied her bag!
Reading blogs again, I was struck by the continual cycle of buy and display in some. Am I jealous, I wondered? Yes, occasionally; someone showed an antique bracelet that I found magical.

But mostly, I thought, Where do you put it? What did you do with the last four dresses/two bags/antique finials you bought just months ago? Do you use all this?

As they say in AA, when you point a finger at someone, there are four pointing back at you. (If you try it, there are in fact three–but you get their drift.) 

I donated two bags of items to charity and then returned to self-righteously raising my eyebrows.


Twig Hoops by Red Sofa
And I was not immune from spending. The summer's discretionary funds addressed
a) the mysterious disappearance of a favourite earring
b) the supreme stupidity of leaving two (!) necklaces on the hook of a change room in a store.

I was disappointed that someone didn't turn them in to security; fortunately, the jeweler could make replacements.

Joanna of Red Sofa said, "I'm sorry you had to spend this money and not get anything new", but sometimes what we want most is what we have, or had until a moment puffs it away. So much in life is gone for good, once it leaves, and the material is the least important of those losses.

I saw why, when my mother died, I found, among new clothes with the tags still on, soft handkerchiefs embroidered in her maiden-name monogram and a silk muffler autographed by friends in Dad's graduating class. The most-cherished possessions are not necessarily the newest.

"Lady T."
Last month, my son's partner launched a blog about her resolution to stop compulsively shopping and eliminate debt. "Lady T." considers the habit's clutches at "Breaking the (Shopping) Contract", here. She doesn't pull any punches, saying, for example,

"I don’t really like the term shopaholic. I can’t help but think of cute things, like pink dresses, dainty handbags and 6 inch high heels, none of which I own myself. 

The name shopaholic has also been tied to humorous tales of people falling into debt in funny ways and then selling their things and living happily ever after- all while wearing adorable cardigans, name brand skinny jeans and Jimmy Choo pumps. Again, it’s not real or at least, it’s not my reality."

And I admit I've been an Enabler, picking up the odd jumble-sale item ("This will be perfect on Lady T.") and enthusiastically admiring her finds. I realize my attitude of, Why not? She'll look so pretty in that! is actually not helping her. Fingers are pointing back at me, but now, knowing her resolve, I'm cleaning up my act. 

Have you any advice for beating a shopping habit?



46 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I've started following Janice's advice on the Vivienne Files -- I look at something (consider whether it is on my 'list') and ask myself whether this item is really worth a night in a Paris hotel. Or, whether I need to bring it into the house. You are so right! I have come to the realization that I have too too many things. I believe that most of us do. Finding much more joy in less -- and in passing along things I have that I don't use to friends and nieces. Susan - LeBonVoyage (P.S. I'm a curly top red head and have enjoyed your blog for some time now).

GP said...

Strange to read your post as I've always found your blog to be one of the most materialistic out there! I stopped participating a few years ago when you vowed to slow down on your spending, etc. etc. and then immediately after continued with more acquisitive suggestions.

Ros said...

Wait - I followed you from a recommendation from AMP, but it hadn't actually dawned on me that you're in Montreal too!

I LOVE Joanna's jewelry. She had just started making it when I got my first job and had a tiny bit of money, and she was working with organic shapes and silver and turquoise and gawd I love that necklace. And she's so nice!

In terms of controlling shopping, though... I've been working on that as well, because I would rather have savings and a cabin next to a lake than pretty bags I don't use. What worked for me, and might work for you:
- Restricting blog usage. Blogs with a new! shiny! things! focus tend to make me want a pair of cute turquoise pants and yet another purse, and I really don't need that. I've been reading more blogs of the "DIY cute decorating" and "dress to suit your body" type (I highly recommend Always Pretty), and find it's much less about consumerism and more about using what you have in better ways, or using vintage (and therefore usually cheap but reasonable-quality) things.
- Taking my credit info out of Amazon, Indigo, and Etsy. Because if I need to find the credit card and re-enter the information, chances are better that I'll think about whether I really NEED that 5$ purchase.
- Go shopping with people who value quality over quantity. In my case, my sister is GREAT to go shopping with - we have a lovely time together, and come home with exactly what we need and not really much else. Friends who push the "oh why not, it looks great" pressure-buying are No Help At All.

Good luck! :)

Une Femme said...

I've had a rather acquisitive year, but am justifying (rationalizing?) it by saying that my wardrobe had fallen into the doldrums and I have a clearer vision now of what works for me, so have "turned over" a good percentage of it in recent months. Fall is usually the season when I make the majority of my purchases, both for color and weight of items, so I'm turning off the spending spigot for a while now.

LPC said...

I think of clothing as my hobby. That said, I don't "shop" all that much, so don't worry about curtailing my activities:).

Now, reducing my alcohol consumption, that took a little effort.

Gretchen said...

Brilliant, as always. I've been unemployed for 17months after a medical issue, and so you'd think I haven't done any shopping. Erm, no. I cleaned out my closet of a shocking number of things, and then replaced items that were looking a bit worse for wear. And then bought a few pairs of shoes. Okay, several pairs. I hate doing this. I neither need, nor really want, much of this, but my uniform of white shirt, skirt or trousers, and an interesting pair of shoes is deeply ingrained, and when the white shirts are dingy, the pants are too big, and the shoes have been resolved twice, I justify. Particularly as i am finally returning to work. And that's just wrong. I need to work with what I have, and keep purging, especially since I have two teens ready for college.

Anonymous said...

GP I don't find this blog materialistic in the least. I find it really, really refreshing for a change. There aren't very many positive role models of women who can be 50+ and still be interested in nice things and beauty for beauty's sake. I am surrounded by older women in my neighbourhood and there is nothing that will bring a community down faster than people that have no interest in their personal appearance, their surroundings or experiencing anything new. I sure don't want to morph into a stretch pants and baggy sweatshirt "old" lady and be considered noble for leaving my acquisition days behind me.

Oh by the way I love that bag, do you know where it came from?

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

This one is easy for me...plan and undergo a renovation! It eats up all the discretionary income quite swiftly!

frugalscholar said...

This deserves a really thoughtful comment, but I have stacks of things to grade (where my thoughtful comments go). My mother has an issue ("at least I don't drink or take drugs," says she); I have less of a problem (but I get too much at thrift shops), and even little Miss Em had a problem last year (when she had a lot of crises).

Clothing is just too cheap nowadays. And you can always stuff another item in. And--let's face it--it's fun.

Debt is another story and very dangerous for one's future.

I have stopped frequenting blogs that display consumption far beyond my means and comfort level--like ones that feature Hermes bags, like the one you have pictured. And I wouldn't have been able to identify it if I hadn't seen it featured in blogs!

So exciting that your son has a sweetie!

Jane W. said...

Seek out affirming influences.

I tend to skip the "loot" blogs in favor of more balanced "life" blogs. I skip fashion magazines altogether. The writings of my fellow bloggers have spoiled me!

Anonymous said...

8I had to stop a couple of years ago due to our unemployment...and do the so called "Shop your closet" for about six months. I also read Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth which is an excellent book about any compulsion, not merely food. It opened my eyes a bit wider about what I was doing...or avoiding. I also saw that if I added up what I had spent on low ticket items, I could actually afford bigger ticket items I had thought out of my reach if I could somehow manage to forego the hit of purchasing so often. All of this was educational...and emotional too...and it has shifted my buying when our cash flow returned. I've never gone back to the other method, though I do buy high and low. And I love to see what is new and current. But I am choosier and can leave stores with nothing at times now. Shopping can be like a museum trip! I also realized that if I kept buying new things, I would not wear all the great things I already had and were also very well chosen. And I like the look and feel of broken in leather and jeans, old boots. So I had to balance...that is really what it's about for me. A new thing once in a while to look modern and refresh wardrobe choices balanced with the happy relief that my own clothes I put back on in the dressing room are often the ones I like the best.

Chicatanyage said...

I joined up to Project 333 recently. Not sure I have quite stuck to the 33 items only however it has got me thinking more before i make a purchase plus I had a good clear with lots going to charity or waiting for my next car boot sale.
Another strategy that works for me is remodelling good quality items. Have just taken a jacket to the alteration shop today to have the shoulders made smaller.

Viktoria said...

I find that I shop a lot when I´m actually unsure of what I want. I am an exploratory shopper, I suppose. After a while I figure out what I like and want, and then I make a purge and live happily ever after. Or until I need a major change, but that´s like maybe every ten years or so. I try to shop in an environmentally conscious way, and never spend what I don´t have. But I do see a lot of people having serious shopping issues.

Jill Ann said...

Presumably most of us readers enjoy shopping for new clothes and accessories, or we wouldn't be reading these blogs! But within this group of readers, there's a wide variety of shopping habits, income levels, acquisitiveness, etc.

I freely admit that I love to shop and buy new things. I also buy more than I need; especially now, since I am mostly retired and don't really "need" anything! But I have never bought anything I can't afford, and never ever run a balance on a credit card. On many of the blogs I read, I marvel at how the writers and commenters casually purchase $3000 bags or $600 shoes. While I am trying very hard to shift my focus to fewer-items-better-quality, there's still a limit on what I would spend for an item and it's way less than a lot of women are spending, apparently.

That said, it gets so dull to wear the same old thing all the time, no matter how lovely it is. Sometimes we just really need a new thing!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the great post. I too have been noticing certain blogs that claim to be francofile and frugal yet the bloggers seem to be constantly shopping for their wardrobe (it seems on a daily basis). I think that because some of their aquisitions are from thrift stores they give themselves a pass. When I see their purchases displayed in "what I wore" style photos I can't help but think - "you bought more stuff again?" Especially since they claim to have just decluttered/edited their wardrobe. Curating the wardrobe doesn't mean buying constantly, it means utilizing discretion. In a never ending cycle of consumerism (buy, get rid of something, buy, get rid of something)it becomes wasteful. How can anyone claim to be frugal yet acquire more "stuff" constantly? I've been through this myself but have gotten off the treadmill. I hope they too will recognize it as a waste of energy, time and money. It is the opposite of the french/european lifestyle. Thanks for letting me rant!

lagatta à montréal said...

Renaissance Montréal? Le Chaînon? (these are local charity shops).

I guess I'll really never be wealthy as I've actually turned jewellery and a wallet found thus over to security, and yesterday, waited for 15 minutes by a bicycle rack as I noticed that the newish bicycle beside my trusty old one was not locked at all - the lock around it was not connected either to frame + wheel or any stationary object.

I did tend to shop compulsively far more at Lady T's age - I made more at in my later 20s than I do now, and had almost no fixed expenses - apartments were dirt cheap here back then.

Anonymous October 4, 2012 4:33 PM, those francophile/frugalish blogs often make me laugh - I'd like to force a few of them to live in a tiny Parisian studio with no built-in closets and one smallish wardrobe for everything.

Hmm, want (in both senses)... and desire. Desire can mean wanting stuff, or relationships we can't have, but it also fuels creativity, so not entirely a bad thing (I'm no Buddhist).

Lin said...

@GP: that's a little mean, and a little untrue. Duchesse's "buying suggestions" are more like a...curated or themed catalog of pretty (and on occasion pretty useful things). You'll note she's not buying all, or usually any, of the stuff she posts about, and she's not saying you have to buy them, either. But if you are interested...there's some useful information about them. For me, I've learned a bit about pearls and jewelry from her posts that I hadn't known before.

Susan said...

I've always appreciated that Duchesse is very contemplative about acquisitions and thinks carefully about quality and versatility when it comes to buying an item. She loves beautiful things and hopes to own the ones she buys for a long long time. If you want to say that loving beautiful things makes her materialistic, you can do that, but I think there is much more to her posts than that.

MissMel said...

I've been meaning to try something that went around the sewing blogs a few years back called "Fashion on the Ration." You pretend you have a WWII clothing ration book. It isn't a ban on buying, you can still get what you need, but it does make you think about needs and wants.

materfamilias said...

We've exchanged views on this before, so you know I'm sympathetic to your position. I do find that there's an odd phenomenon whereby bloggers proclaim they're simplifying, clearing closets, etc., but before long they're sharing the new purchases.
That said, I admit to buying more than I need, although I've been doing less, editing more, the last year or two. I justify the focus by pointing to my job -- don't want to bore the students, right? But yes, I also try to be a bit mindful of the example I'm setting AND how it must feel to see all this and not be able to partake. I applaud Lady T's thoughtfulness and will be interested to see her progress on the blog.

materfamilias said...

And my, she writes well. . .

Wendelah said...

GP: I don't see this blog as being about acquisition for its own sake. It's hard to write about fashion without including some posts with suggestions on what's in style and what to buy. However, I think the emphasis here is on purchasing quality items that can be worn for years, and on finding a sense of personal style that transcends fashion.

The best way to get oneself out of debt is to make a realistic budget and stick to it. If you can't have credit cards without running them up, get rid of them and pay cash only. I think the old-fashioned envelope system is a good one. You put the money for each type of expenditure in its envelope and when it's gone, it's gone. If you don't use it all, you can carry it to the next month to use to pay down one of the cards. The best way to pay down debt is to start with the card with the highest rate, not the highest balance, pay it off as fast as possible and then pay off the next highest one and so on. Things I gave up until my credit card debt was gone: eating out, nonfat lattes from Starbucks, new clothes, books, cds and jewelry.

Ms M said...

I was contemplating a shopping hiatus for 2013. I doubt, however, that I will be able to do it for a whole year, because, honestly, I don't have all the clothes I need to make it through a year of wear.

Interestingly, just thinking about stopping has changed the way I view possible purchases. I find myself thinking about whether something will last for a whole year, or whether I might get tired of wearing it. I thought I was already conscious of good quality, but I've come to realize that I never seriously considered things like durability.

Gauss said...

Great post, as always! I don't have much advice, but I do find myself in a more minimalist mood these days and have been buying less stuff (moving into a house with smaller closets helps, too). I have stopped reading several blogs that were all about buying, buying, buying... As you said, what do they do with all that stuff?! It was getting stressful and depressing even just reading about it.

Anonymous said...

I cannot more highly recommend a program like no other being offered by a woman named Jill Chivers. It is called: Myyearwithoutclothesshopping.com
Shopping your Wardrobe

Jill has put together the most extensive and well thought-out program than you could ever imagine. She has pulled together all the experts, offers a plethora of fantastic information and various levels of personal support based on ones needs. She is the kindest person with first-hand knowledge and struggle with overshopping. There is a weekly lesson that covers everything from body-type/color/money/compulsion/debt/shopping your wardrobe and replacing urges with thought-out plans. I truly cannot say enough great things.
BTW, it would honestly do many women that do not even consider themselves compulsive overshoppers, a lot of good. It also helps women that are paralyzed by the thought of shopping (because they just don't know what to buy based on their body, no idea of their style etc.) and so they don't.

There are some parallels to what Vivienne Files offers in the way of learning what suits you and filling in accordingly (when the year is up). It is that and so much more.

It is not easy and I feel her pain. There is some other unmeant need that we try to fill. It is not always so obvious to figure it out. I wish her the best--it is a tough road.

Anonymous said...

Let me add: stop reading blogs, eliminate all catalogs (catalogchoice.com) unsubscribe from all etailers, no polyvore, no fashion mags etc.

Eliminate all temptations. If you do not see it, you cannot buy it. Often easier said than done.

SewingLibrarian said...

A year ago I would have said I didn't have this problem. I do consider fashion, sewing, and clothes my hobby, but I don't overbuy, and I have never gone into debt for clothing. But last fall I fell prey to Hermes scarves, and when I came up for air in May, I had spent way more than I should have. My solution was to stop reading eBay, the scarf resellers, and the Hermes section of The Purse Forum. I haven't bought anything since May. And I now know I have to be very careful when Hermes is near!
Mater, I had a French teacher from France when I was a freshman at the University of Illinois. She and her husband were visiting scholars for a year. She wore the same skirt and sweater every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the entire academic year!

Anonymous said...

I must agree with Anonymous 10:41 AM. I have never found this blog to be materialistic so much as thought-provoking, with an emphasis, when discussing material things, on quality, suitability and self-discipline--all very chastening to my magpie heart! I remain susceptible to the beautiful, the old, the odd, the made-by-hand, and though I don't spend very much, and am in no financial danger, I possess too many things.

Forty years ago I lived in a small white cottage on a Greek island. It contained a bed, a table, and 3 wooden chairs. Our housekeeping, done in 15 minutes after breakfast, consisted of sweeping the floor, shaking out the rug, and emptying the enamel washing-up basin over the balcony. Right now it seems as appealing a way to grow old as it was to be young. I wonder.

C.

Kristien62 said...

Like Anonymous in the first comment, I have been following the advice of Janice in the Vivienne Files for a few months. I was struck by her comment about shopping, that you can only spend that money once (paraphrase). I did spend a bit this year changing my style to reflect my current life. I still love fashion, but have not felt the pull to shop that I once did. I recognized that my wardrobe was full of duplicate items and "one occasion" items, especially shoes. So I have been taking my time culling and donating. There are still some things that I covet. A trip to Muriel Dombret and one of her lovely dresses is one. But I have no desire to be at Macy's weekly sale and for that I am thankful.

sisty said...


Stay out of stores, and have more sex. Seriously.

Duchesse said...

Anonymous/Susan: Janice's blog is wonderful for tuning the eye for wise choices, getting mileage out of every dollar. And- a night in a Paris hotel is still spending, it's just shifting it- which is fine if you can swing it, Lady T. is looking at consumption in all aspects, as she is in debt.

GP: My suggestions are intended to assist women looking for sources of beautiful, well-made (usually not mass-produced) and sometimes specisl or hard to find items. ANd, I must add, clothing not made for 20 yr old bodies (18 inch skirts, anyone?)

I don't intend that they acquire compulsively or mindlessly. Check the posts under the label "consuming": I continually write critically about the disposable, you-deserve-it consumer culture.

As for my own situation, I divested over 60% of all possessions in 2010 and have bought little except to replace what has worn out or lost- except for two scarves that stole my heart, and I'm delighted to have them.

Ros; Hi! Wonderful to share the love for Joanna- she's remarkable.

It's not I who shops compulsively... I'm the opposite! Moved to a small condo, divested 60% of my wardrobe and hold strong value re not buying what I don't need. I live with zero debt, another value (my mother's daughter). The person struggling is my son's partner, a smart young women with deep values for social consciousness and change, a true humanitarian (in her work and community service)- and a crippling shopping hsbit which has put her into debt.

Une Femme: Always a good practice to turn off the spigot and see how it feels.

LPC: And let's not even talk about what happens after a couple of glasses of wine at lunch, then shopping!

Gretchen: There is only so long shoes can keep going and white stays white. You might find it useful to do as I have learned, make a "Re-Up List". That way you know what is on its last legs and don't get led into pointless purchases, or if you do, at least you know what's happening. PS: I loooove your 'uniform', and am happy that you are (it seems) recovered.

Duchesse said...

Anon@10:41: Thank you; GPs criticism was so off the mark of my intention in writing the blog that I questioned how I was interpreted by readers, and am relieved you picked up what I really want to do. The bag is Hermes, the "Marwari.

hostess: Still room for a few blackberries, thank goodness! And you have an eye for a bargain!

frugal: There is a lot of mutual enabling in the blog world, and no one *ever* says "What, another one???" to someone merrily displaying their booty. (No matter if Hermes or thrift, a woman can overconsume according to her means.) Is there thesis material here? I have always admired your openness and self-examination.

Jane W.: Will Lady T. will avoid fashion mags (what else to do at the hair salon :)- she is young and gorgeous. But I can easily give them a miss as so few of the things shown would suit my body and age.

Anon@12:17: Your words "...also realized that if I kept buying new things, I would not wear all the great things I already had and were also very well chosen" evoked such resonance in me that it kept me awake (mean that as a compliment!). This principle is one of the fundamentals in consuming consciously. H


Will read the book- sounds like it contains many insights, Huge thanks.

Chicatanyage: I did a similar challenge and wrote a summary of what I learned,
"Post Express Checkout: The unanticipated pleasures of a spare wardrobe":
http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=2872918251244874644#editor/target=post;postID=6192263211695658060

Viktoria: Many readers (and I) recommend "The Vivienne Files", Janice's blog, to help you make better choices. And it's free, thanks to Janice's generosity.

Jill Ann: Yes; as Janice of The Vivienne Files once commented, "we tire of our clothes before they tire of us". I still buy the occasional new thing, but also, I realize my boredom is a cultural artifact and that I can re-invigorate the thing by wearing it in a different way. Something new *is* fun but I find that lift does not last long, as Lady T. points out in her own blog.

Gretchen said...

Duchess, I have two requests...first, I wish you would invite Lady T to share her thoughts here as a guest, as her writing is incredibly lucid and thoughtful (what a lucky couple she and your son must be, since they both seem intelligent and with their priorities in the right place). Second, I hope this will be a topic you expand upon even more frequently moving forward. I enjoyed hearing about your preparations to move to Montreal (what stays, what goes, what do you truly need in this new stage). I have been surprised by the comments, but shouldn't be. As women of that certain age, so many of us shop to fill holes in our lives or souls, not holes in our closets. The advice given by others is solid. I tell myself that having several shirts or trousers means I don't have to launder as often (my despised chore), but it's too much consumption. I continue weeding, and stay away from the blogs, sites,and shops that tempt me to spend money I'd rather use for experiences. And champagne,

Duchesse said...

Anon@4:33: Are we not just a mass of contradictions! I try to call myself on my own BS, and a definition of maturity is getting there before someone else does- or maybe just getting there.

I can so see how a woman can deeply value frugality yet get into compulsive buying. I called her Mom.

Lin: That's my intention, and I'm relieved that some readers appreciate it.

materfamilias: I mulled over your comment and asked my student-age women friends (many of whom I saw at a party recently) if they could remember what their profs wore last week... only one could- "A plaid skirt, I think?". So, I suspect your tongue is in your lovely chic.

And yes, Lady T. writes very well- one of her many talents.

Wendelah: That is correct; my posts under the label consuming should make that clear, and I show things to help others hone their eyes- and they in turn have honed mine.

Your tips will make absolute sense for anyone in debt or struggling with consuming. I have zero debt since overspending and scaring myself silly in 1982- result of comforting myself during a divorce with designer clothes.

And "chapeau" for beating yours!

Ms M: You make a useful distinction. Some of the highest quality is not very durable- such as some exquisite but fragile handbags. Once you have assembled a good core wardrobe, a year off shopping is entirely possible but is sure is nice during that year to get the occasional gift of a new top or scarf, or swap with a friend.

Gauss: Smaller closets here, too! And I so enjoy them uncrammed. Ever notice how no one asks those questions on the loot blog?

Anon@11:57: Great resource, thank you! Lady T and I agree that compulsive shopping is about filling other unmet needs. And at times it is about getting your head turned by a sale rack or just having fun with a girlfriend. It's such a pervasive culture.

SewingLibrarian: Well observed; even if you can justify your scarves by their many virtues, if it stresses your bank account, time to stop. Textiles, especially scarves or shawls are my Achilles Heel; they don't wear out, always fit and vary my simple wardrobe. But 'enough is enough', even for such satisfying purchases.

C.: I'm grateful for your affirmation of what I'm actually putting up here. Le Du and I downsized (space and possessions) dramatically with this move; visiting friends say how "spare" it is. We love it, and I can finally truly and efficiently keep house, not just shift stuff.

Kristien62: At one of Muriel's trunk shows, I was struck by a woman who said "I wear her things into the ground". I doubt few of us do that with our clothes. So, hope you get there. Your "one occasion" item remark is spot on- they are space hogs and money pits.

sisty: Knowing my son, I think Lady T. can find ready cooperation for implementing your advice ;). Other readers might have to do a bit of "shopping around".

But, seriously too, the affirming and bonding qualities of sex can allay anxieties that otherwise ca manifest in various compulsive behaviours.

HB said...

Very interesting and thought-provoking post, thank you.

I struggle, not as much with the larger expenditures, as those are tempered by the availability of funds, but with the sneaky smaller ones which add up and also create clutter. I work in the midst of a potential spending opportunity in a downtown area rich with young-seeming and -feeling stuff. And the convenience of all of it Right There. I added an app to my phone and started tracking all the times I decided Not to spend $30 or $40 on something that seemed nice but which I really do not need. This has made me pay more attention to the times I go into a mindless consumer haze.

None of this is to say that it's easy to notice myself getting into "the wanties" when I know darn well that I have more than enough stuff. Very easy to be a consumer and very difficult to be a mindful one.

Duchesse said...

Gretchen; Lady T has her own blog, which I've linked to; since she is a busy full time student, that will be the focus of her nonacademic writing for now.

I have somewhat somewhat more free time, will expand on the topic and thank you for the request.

lagatta: A native Montrealer, she is well-versed in the charity/thrift shops as well as our many sidewalk sales. As Lady T says, the dress might be only $10 or $30 but if you keep spending when you don't have the money, big trouble. And she didn't wear anywhere near all those finds.

The virtues of honesty (returning found valuables) and kindness (standing guard on the unlocked bike) as you have displayed will not of themselves prevent one from ever being wealthy. The barriers to wealth creation are of a different order. Keeping somebody else's wallet wouldn't make you instantly wealthy, that takes winning a lottery. But depending on others' misfortune or luck for wealth (if indeed one has that as a goal) is not a reliable strategy.

My French friends live in apts smaller than the North American standard; they do not accumulate as much. One of my most avidly-shopping Parisienne friends is a Buddhist, go figure.

Duchesse said...

HB: That app is a smart little tool. (And could also be done on a sticky note or purse notebook if one has a dumb phone, as I do.)

For 2 yrs I wrote down every penny I spent and was that illuminating! I stopped but still like to see how long I can keep $20 in my wallet without being a total wet blanket.

Susan: Thanks. Sometimes I think about it so long it's gone- but usually it is still there if I really want it. Travel can put me in a twist, because I will not be back anytime soon.

lagatta à montréal said...

Duchesse, the charity shops comment was just musing about which worthy causes were the recipients of your offerings. It was not advice to Lady T.

Of course being thrifty does not mean being "penny wise and pound foolish", skimping on shoe repair or new clothes we need. One thing we need here in Montréal is boots that are at once 1) warm and comfortable for a long walk 2) resistant not only to water but to the salt and other gunk used to melt ice and 3) reasonably stylish, as in wearable to work. Always expensive, and a joyless purchase as in the same shoe store there are lovely buttery-leather boots that don't cost any more than the clunky, practical ones.

And for the bustier among us, bras. Supportive ones are extremely expensive, hell to try one, and never as pretty as the ones we'd really want.

barbara said...

@GP: first of all it's everyone's own cup of tea how much he or she is spending for shopping.
Like other readers I find, that there is a huge amount of bloggers especially in the US- blogosphere who's main job is shopping. I wonder about , when I read "all the money was gone" ore "The fortune faded". Duchesse though doesn't belong to this community.I always appreciate her post which show us high end designer fashion and what is preferably affordable for us "normals".
@lagatta à montréal: google Ludwig Reiter.com. It's an Austrian Company who produces the best Winter Boots you can get for money: "Maronibrater". They ARE expensive, but they last lifelong and they aren't ugly! I own a pair since about ten years and they are still in perfect condition. I live in a similar clime, Munich/Bavaria where correct Boots are an urgent need.

lagatta à montréal said...

Danke sehr, Barbara.

Those look lovely indeed. I may be travelling to Europe before winter, for a conference, but don't know yet. There are no locations in Canada, though I may write to the company. Also depends on whether I have the discretionary income, of course, but it is a lovely resource.

Actually, until recent years, our winter would get much colder than yours, with temperatures dipping as low as minus 30 (C), but, due to climate change, in recent years we've had more see-saw weather and not as much deep cold, while there has been a lot of snow and severe winters in Western/Central Europe, certainly in Bavaria (I have friends there).

Anonymous said...

It's so easy to succumb to the lure of shopping for clothes for reasons other than need. On the other hand, i am sometimes seduced by the notion that some specific number of clothes is morally superior to a larger number. For example, Project 333 is great in terms of making us conscious of whether we are wearing everything in our closets and whether we might make do with fewer items. But really, 33 is an arbitrary number - is it actually morally superior to 35 or 50 items? Is the problem only when things are unworn or is there a magic number where just having the things is wrong? These are things i keep going back and forth about for myself.
J

Duchesse said...

J: After I finished one of those wardrobe challenges-12 items worn for a month- a friend visited my apartment, looked in my closet and said sharply, "Well there certainly are not 12 items in here."

That challenge was not undertaken to find a magic number; it did, though, reveal how many duplicates and unworn things I had. Donated these and have not replaced.

Also, "the number" is affected by
1. Climate. Here, we have a 60+ degree (Celsius) temperature range, so need clothes to suit that.
and
2. Lifestyle. If you work outside the home and require business attire or occupation-specific items, your requirements are larger than that of someone who needs a casual home-based wardrobe with maybe a few dressy things.

Jean S said...

I don't think of this as a shopping blog by any means--much too thoughtful for that.

I read a lot of sewing blogs and often find myself thinking, "Really?! Do you truly need that? Do you truly have room for it? Are you kidding me???"

As for tips, I have a counter-intuitive one: Do once-a-month "look-see" trips to see what's out there, but don't actually buy. Then, once you have an actual need, you won't be in a panic.

Duchesse said...

Jean S: Great idea! Panic leads to desperate, "good enough" buying. Lady T. finds that looking tempts her, I don't. Each person must identify her triggers.

It's extra-tempting for sewers, who can fall in love with a fabric and buy for use "someday". When I sewed, I did that all the time! If you identify the project first, then find the fabric, one is less likely to overbuy.

Shelley said...

I have changed my shopping habits via several ways. One was to have an overriding goal: I wanted a deposit on home of my own more than I wanted any new dress or shoes. Another was that I started wearing everything I already owned. I lined up my work outfits on Sunday afternoon starting with the left-most item and choosing the next coordinating items to create an outfit. At the end of the day the worn pieces went into the right side of the closet. If I skipped an item many times it went in the charity bag; if I identified a piece that would fill a gap it went on my wishlist. Third, and not a positive method, I don't like the way my body has aged and so I'm not fond of the way clothes look on me. This means the delight in buying has largely gone and I just purchase what I need to be appropriate.

Duchesse said...

Shelley: Your contribution is useful in that it spans the macro (a goal) to the minor (planning each week. I found that getting rid of the unworn is a counterintuitively good thing to do- we don;t want to buy more "unwearable" clothes.

Like you, I miss the time when I could wear anything (and, two sizes smaller). But I try not to be down about my body, as that self-dislike affects my joie de vivre. It's not that I turn a blind eye, but now I look at, say, a tight, short dress and think "days gone by" wistfully. Kind of like how I approach banana splits :)