Why I’ve Been Shopping.

I always wonder if anyone reading this blog doesn’t personally “get” the desire to shop. I wish I knew what that feels like! I’ve been interested in clothes since at least middle school, when I started keeping a journal of my outfits to make sure I didn’t repeat them.

There are the standard shopping reasons for people like me: new trends to try, dated clothing to replace, seasonal update, etc. But I had two big reasons this summer: major body change and an upcoming new job.

I’ve never not been overweight. I was in the “pretty-plus” sizes through elementary school and was mortified when my sister took me shopping only to ask for the “big” kid section. Through the years, my weight fluctuated some, but never to the point below a size 12. That meant there was a whole world of styles that were not meant for me no matter how badly I wanted to make them work. They did not work, and I got used to what did work and made the best of it. A couple of years ago I stepped up my style quite a bit, ditching the daily fitted tees, jeans, and Merrells combination. I also climbed to my highest weight/size combination, effectively slamming the door on most of my previously beloved styles.

You already know that this year I decided to make a health change, and I’m still a bit shocked at the results. I thought it would take another year to get to the point where I am, but my body really responded to weightlifting. Early in the process, I’d gone down one or two sizes, but most of my clothing still fit fine and worked. Six months into it, I was down a total of five sizes. FIVE SIZES. I can’t even believe I’m writing that. Or the fact that some of my new pants are getting a little loose. (Weights, I love you!) But I’m not just a smaller version of my previous self. My body has changed shape. I used to be an unmistakeable pear and now am barely a pear at all. I can wear bodycon things without shapers underneath. The extra lumps and bumps are not terribly visible, though I can assure you I still have some!

This change has opened all those doors that have been closed for a lifetime. I can’t even express how thrilling it is to try stuff on and have pretty much everything fit. Now, I’m not saying I’m a model or anything. I just mean that to my eyes, what I try on looks good on my body, like it’s supposed to look. What?! On me?? This is crazy. But I really, REALLY love the dressing room now. The first month or so, I cried in the dressing room. I’m no stranger to crying in there, but it was usually for the opposite reason. This is why I’ve become very strict with shopping lists. Otherwise I would want to buy out the store.

Another side of that coin is that with this new body, I’m free try out a completely different style persona. I’ve never worn flowy, loose items…but what if I try it now? Maybe it would work for the first time in my life. It makes me want to go to new stores that were previously out of my reach and find out. And, it’s getting cold. I just want warm, cozy clothes and don’t currently have any other than sweatpants. Warm, cozy, and flowy make up my wishlist these days.

Then there’s the job, but it’s not what you think. It’s mostly a work-from-home job, so my desire to shop because of my job is not so that I have something nice to wear to the office. No, it’s the fact that I have an income again for the first time in seven years. An income that doesn’t have to go to anything important. It should, but it doesn’t have to. Finally, I can shop without a budget! I mean, there is a budget, but not the arbitrary low number I used to use.

I’m taking it day by day. I didn’t buy anything this week, but I did browse online. I’m planning a big shopping trip in a couple of weeks and trying not to buy anything before then. What works for me? I keep thinking about how I would feel wearing xyz to school drop-off. Um, not a whole lot different than I did wearing what I did today. There is no paparazzi waiting to take my photo. No one is looking at how I’m dressed, especially now that it’s coat season. And who cares what my coat looks like? Why do I need the most flattering coat I can find? Is waist detailing and a slightly different sheen that life-changing? These thoughts keep me grounded.

Until I see someone that looks fantastic and wish I could be as stylish as her. Then I start browsing online again…

9 thoughts on “Why I’ve Been Shopping.

  1. Mara says:

    I am wondering if you have put anything in place to “soak up” your obsessive tendencies or if you are working on a program to remove/control that obsessive nature? For me, when I am not obsessive with food I am obsessive with clothing. When I was heavier my main concern was finding clothing that fit and looked nice. Once I started losing weight then I was shopping because I finally looked good…and I couldn’t stop. I gave myself permission to keep shopping because I hadn’t been able to for so long. I’ve noticed when I have a handle with shopping I become more mindless with food or vice versa. My GP encouraged me to be more mindful of my food choices to stop the obsessive behavior and I’m trying to do the same thing with my shopping. But I’ve realized I need to find other (constructive) outlets for my obsessive tendencies. Right now it is planning my spring vacation for next year:)

    • Cristina says:

      Thanks for the comment! I don’t really have anything in place. I had hoped that this blog would help me rationalize the shopping and therefore keep me from doing it, but that has not been the case. All my obsessive behaviors have revolved around shopping in one way or another. When I had a little baby, it was cloth diapers. Completely obsessed, researching, buying, selling, trading. Then baby gear. Then strollers. I went through hundreds if not thousands of dollars in stroller buying/selling/trading. Car seats and baby carriers, too. Now I look at my RSS feeds about those things and find them so uninteresting. Yet the obsession over clothing and shoes remains. It could be that I’m getting more into shopping now because the workouts, which were an obsession for most of this year, are not as new and interesting. I’ve always been the type who looks forward to the Next Big Thing. I feel like I have two options: either conquer the need for a next big thing, or find a next big thing that is healthy and meaningful. Maybe once I stop shopping, I can put money aside for a BIG vacation and have fun planning it!

  2. Louise says:

    Actually, I don’t “get” it. I determine what must be purchased based on my own requirements (not externally prompted “needs”), I develop a plan for my wardrobe, I head to the store (or on-line), I find what I am looking for within my established budget, and then I make a purchase. I don’t cruise the sales racks, wander the mall, peruse websites. The strategy as worked well for years, and there is no anxiety about lusting for clothes I can’t afford or don’t fit my lifestyle.

    • Cristina says:

      Thanks for your honesty! I’m trying to get to that point, and like to think I’m nearly there. I do have a plan now when I shop, and my shopping trips are made on purpose rather than spur-of-the-moment. I know which store(s) I will go to ahead of time and what exactly I’m looking for (or the neighborhood of what I’m looking for, like “dark long-sleeve knit top”). It does help with the actual spending… but doesn’t help when I’m at home cruising the web for everything under the sun…

  3. Cathy Stell says:

    I just found your blog today through Recovering Shopaholic and have to say that while I read a lot of blogs, your October posts are the first time I’ve read something that so totally echoed my own experience.

    Like you, I loved clothes and tended to overspend in an effort to feel good about myself when I was a size 14. But when I finally lost 45 pounds after years of trying — mostly due to working out like you — the messy but incredible combination of actually needing new clothes, having a much-easier-to-find-clothes-for-new body, having so many options thanks to in-store and on-line shopping and having a decent income basically meant I went crazy. The first year I spent stupid money exploring various style. This year, I’ve spent stupid money because I finally figured out my style — and love it, but it basically meant starting over because of the many mistakes I made the first year.

    Now I need to figure out how to stop — which is why I started reading Recovering Shopaholic in the first place.

    We could almost afford my spending, but when I think of how much better most of that money would feel in our safety net, it makes me cringe. And it’s exhausting how much time I spend shopping and returning and thinking about what I “have to” buy or should buy or shouldn’t buy and so on.

    I’m afraid I won’t be able to stop. It’s slowed down and gotten smarter, but I sure haven’t been able to stop it yet.

    I keep thinking that everything I know about how to lose weight as a compulsive eater should apply — but it’s SO SLOW learning the triggers and how to work around them.

    So I wanted to thank you for both of these posts and your honesty. And I look forward to your learning your way through it and what works to help relieve the pressure. Sounds like you have a good foundation under your belt already!

    Best of luck!

    • Cristina says:

      Thanks for sharing, and congrats on the weight loss! I’m glad that I at least honed in some kind of style and shopping rules? guides? before my weight loss. I don’t have a closet full of remorse; just a head full of remorse over continued wasted time and energy.

      Your analogy is interesting and not one I’d ever thought of. Weight loss is slow, and this unshopping process is slow, too. I had to talk myself into not overeating at each meal and need to do the same with shopping. I didn’t do the weight/food thing all at once; first I made my portions a little smaller, and then smaller again. Once I was used to that, I changed WHAT I was eating, but again, it wasn’t drastic all at once. First it was less pasta, then more protein, then more vegetables. The way I ate in January is completely different from now I eat now; there’s no way I could’ve done that overnight! I plain didn’t want to and it wouldn’t have lasted.

      Mulling this over!

  4. Egfr says:

    Wow, a journal to track outfits! Sounds so very organized! I had not thought of that! I do recall avoiding an outfit repeat the same week (easy if laundry is weekly) but i love finding a “great outfit” in my closet as i tend to buy separates rather than sets. Exception being interview type outfits and annual birthday gift to myself.

    I think there is so much more to shopping than the clothes themselves. Some is the “thrill of the hunt” some the appreciation for fabric and textile (i have pinterest pages for both, surprised myself by numbers of pins in there!!), some the appreciation of my 40plus yo body (last year i weighed what i did post college but my shape is more balanced, arms and shoulders bigger-used to be tiny, and smaller hips–never thought i would see that, still hippy though), some the fetishization? Of store–in my case i have always loved and felt i understood BR. More later.

    • Cristina says:

      I also buy individual pieces and like falling asleep thinking about what to pair together in the morning. For now, it’s taking the place of thinking about what online stores to browse over breakfast!

  5. Nikki says:

    A new, healthier body certainly brings with it many new temptations! In terms of having a second income stream, I would urge you to save 50% of your income for a rainy day – it should be automatically transferred into a separate savings account on each payday – maybe the kids’ college fund? Just imagine how much you’d have saved by the end of the year. It would be AWESOME!
    Then, I have a challenge for you: for just one week, cut out ALL sources of fashion information (no fashion magazines/blogs/shopping websites, NONE WHATSOEVER). Then, allow yourself up to an hour maximum each day to play with the clothes in your EXISTING CLOSET – be creative, try out different combinations, even take photos of them paired together if you like. Enjoy the process. Then stop once your hour is up (use an alarm if you need to) and know that you have another hour the next day to ‘play’. It would be interesting to see if this form of controlled fashion play helps to structure your addiction into manageable chunks. Good luck!

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