Confessions of a Former Impulse Shopper

The H&M Skirt
It all started when H&M opened up in Manhattan during my freshman year at NYU. All of a sudden I could buy fun, trendy clothes for relatively cheap. It was guilt-free shopping. At one point nearly every piece in my closet was from H&M. The catch? I spent hundreds of dollars there but have very little to show for it -- just one skirt. Because purchasing this "fast fashion" was so painless, disposing of it was just as painless.

Why does it matter? "According to the EPA Office of Solid Waste, Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year..."

I once bought a mid-calf length summer coat by Gianfranco Ferre at Loehmann's marked down from like $300 to $30. When I saw it on the rack, I didn't particularly care for the print. But as soon as I looked at the Italian label and the price tag, I immediately declared, "I've got to have this." I believe I wore it exactly once during the year after I bought it -- to Lips in San Diego (a drag-queen theme restaurant) for my cousin's birthday. I did get some compliments on it, but now it's hanging on a rack at a Salvation Army in eastern Switzerland.

What's my point? After rehab in Switzerland, I'd now rather have a few carefully selected, stylish pieces in my wardrobe than a closet full of impulse buys I'll never wear and cheap clothes I'll no doubt toss when I'm finished with them.

How to avoid impulse shopping:

1. Find a partner who is the polar opposite of an impulse shopper. (Isaiah is frugal. He will think long and hard about expensive purchases, research the best prices, and decide not to buy the thing after all.)

2. Move to a country devoid of Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack, Loehmann's or whatever your favorite shops may be. (I sure missed those friends while I was gone, but they were going to be the end of me.)

3. Lose or quit your job. There's nothing like going from getting your own paycheck to asking your husband to pay your credit card bills ('cause he's the only one with an income) to wake you up from your impulse-shopping stupor. An empty bank account does not a fun shopping spree make. (It also helps to cut up your credit cards -- that's the only deliberate move I made toward recovery.)

Now that I am back stateside, you may be wondering how I avoid temptation. Well, since I didn't have my shopping pals (mentioned in #2) around me for nearly two years, my whole perspective on shopping and fashion changed. I decided on the very day we moved back to San Diego (July 15, 2010) that for an entire year I would buy only resale and vintage clothing. Here are the reasons why I made this lifestyle change:
  • Before our move back to CA, we donated a lot of our clothes to the Salvation Army because we didn't want to pay to ship it all back or drag it all over Spain (for one last European vacation) in our allotted one suitcase each. I arrived in San Diego with tank tops, shorts, bikinis and sun dresses. Nothing appropriate for going back to teaching in a 3rd grade classroom. We didn't have enough money for me to replenish my entire wardrobe in one shot, so I knew I'd have to buy just a few pieces at a time. Resale shops often have nice "professional" clothing at great prices.
  • It's good for the environment.
  • It forces me to create my own style, not one dictated by what's in season.
Vintage Bally Sandals
Over the next few weeks, I will be posting photos of my favorite pieces purchased over the last 5 months. I hope it will inspire you to do more of your shopping at resale and vintage shops!

Photo Details:
Silk Blouse - Vintage (purchased at Hunt and Gather, San Diego)
Skirt - H&M (which I kept only because any variation of yellow is my favorite color)
Shoes - Vintage (purchased at Salvation Army, Altstätten, Switzerland)
Leather Belt - Vintage (purchased at neighborhood thrift shop)

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