Couple weeks back I was standing on a queue to the fitting rooms in Zara. There was an hour until it was time for our dinner reservation so I wailed away the time browsing the stores. I don’t go to the shops often because there’s an enormous risk I might find something that I couldn’t walk out of the there without… And an even bigger risk that that something would cost more than I could afford, but I’d get it anyway.
The queue was moving forward slowly and I watched woman after woman coming out of the cubicles with as many articles of clothing on their arms as they were allowed to take into the fitting room at once. One woman dumped all of the clothes on the table where a girl was putting them on hangers to be returned to the shelves.
This woman walked away, then came back to rummage the pile wondering if she should or shouldn’t buy the leather trousers and a rather hideous mustard yellow blouse. She decided to leave the clothes and walked away. And was back within a minute. She kept this up until it was my turn to go try on the pullover I had picked up.
When queuing for the counter, the same woman appeared behind me with all 6 pieces of clothing on her arms. I couldn’t help but think to myself, if you are so unsure about buying all that crap, will you in fact ever wear any of them. And that’s when I started thinking about my own shopping habits.
As I mentioned, I stay away from the shops most of the time because I acknowledge the risks and I really have more important things to use my money on. But due to modern marketing infiltrating our lives from every direction I do come across products every now and then that I simply NEED to have. More often than not a pair of expensive brand shoes or a bag. Thankfully they cost so much that I need to save up before I can purchase any of them.
I’m not a big shopper; I’m extremely specific and particular about what I buy. There was a time when I’d buy any crappy top with a funny unicorn print on it but thankfully I grew out of that phase a long time ago. Nowadays I’m interested in the quality of the fabric and the shape of the garment; how long will this fit me and will it be stylish still after 3 years.
I can’t even remember the last time I left any store with more than one item in my bag. So, I guess I could say I’m not a victim of marketing. Even if I see something I need to have, I save for it… and, more often than not, still don’t purchase it.
But what about everybody else? What about this indecisive woman in Zara? We all know someone who tends to buy 5 pieces of clothing at once and ends up wearing only 2 of those on a regular basis. The other 3 are just waste; waste of money and, in the worst case, waste littering the landfills. We also know that the clothing industry is one of the biggest polluters in existence. Consumerism is literally killing our planet and us with it.
But, to be completely honest, the need to buy new stuff all the time is understandable. The joy we get from buying things is comparable to the high that a drug addict gets from another fix. Okay, perhaps the shopping high isn’t quite as strong but the idea is exactly the same.
We get addicted to the feeling of joy of the ‘novelty-factor’. And to induce this ‘addiction’, and to make sure we can’t ever forget about it, brands keep bombarding us with advertisements from every single channel surrounding us, from radio to our Instagram feeds.
Another powerful aspect of marketing, which advertisers love to utilize, is the FOMO (fear of missing out) effect. How can you not go and fight over a pair of knickers on a Black Friday when every channel of communication is telling you that everybody else is gonna be there? How sad of an excuse of a human being are you if you’re not part of that phenomena!
Thankfully it seems that we have reached some sort of a peak with over-consumption, and that people are becoming more aware of the consequences of their (buying) actions. Slow styling was a big thing last year and sustainability is being valued more and more when it comes to our favourite brands. The change is slow but it’s happening, and that can only be a good thing.
When thinking about all this, I started wondering how we could all bring a bit more consideration to our shopping habits. And then I came upon the magic word, ‘mindfulness‘, being aware at this moment of our feelings, emotions and the surrounding environment.
Many attempt to adopt this into their lives on different levels, but not so much on the shopping front. So, how could we shop more mindfully to avoid those pesky purchases that we never end up wearing anyway.
Like mindfulness overall, also when it comes to shopping patience is required. Patience to stop and think before you act. So, when you find yourself walking to the fitting room with your arms full of clothes, stop for a minute and ask yourself couple simple questions:
Why am I here?
Did you come to this particular store because you specifically needed something from there, or are you just browsing even though you don’t need anything new at the moment?
Do I need this?
Even if you stepped into the store thinking you need a new blouse, when you’re on your way to the fitting rooms, ask yourself one more time “Do I in fact need this?” Do you have something similar in your closet already or will this become the next wardrobe essential to you?
What if I wait?
Do as I do and reserve each item that you’re not 100% sure about immediately. You have 24 hours to think whether that item actually brings your closet more value on the long term or whether it’s just about you looking for that ‘quick fix’ again. If the item is not the first thing on your mind the next morning, just leave it.
How will I pay for it?
Very important question, ‘Can I afford this?‘ What other expenses do you have coming up this month and is there something else you’d rather spend that money on?
Where will I put it?
And, if it’s about clothes, ‘What would I wear this with?‘ If you can’t immediately come up with use for the item, or something that you’d pair it up with, don’t bother with it. It’s very likely that it’ll just end up wasting space from your closet.
blouse and shoes | Zara
jeans | H&M
bag | River Island
watch | Swatch
earrings | gifted
I actually did this thought process on that queue to the fitting rooms at Zara. And I came to the conclusion that I did indeed need this polo-neck jumper, there was no need to wait (or reserve it) because I had nothing like this in my closet, I had enough money in my account and I knew exactly what to pair it up with.
In fact, when leaving the store I couldn’t wait to get to wear this beauty. Paired with regular skinny jeans or black trousers it makes for a perfect office outfit. Add some colour with accessories and voilá! This is definitely my new favourite winter outfit and I absolutely adore the pouffy sleeves.
Do you guys tend to impulse shop or are you like my best friend, considering each purchase for days on end? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. xx