Sunday, 30 January 2011

why i'm going on my first ever shopping ban

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Blogland is full of shopping bans. Some of them are personal, and some are group shopping bans, encouraging remixing of and appreciation for items you already own. I’ve never felt a need to join in; I already remix and appreciate my clothes. Yet I’m declaring February, and likely March, a shopping off limits time. No shopping for new, vintage, or thrifted clothes, jewllery or shoes. Why?

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It’s not for economic reasons. Of course, not buying any clothes can only be good for my budget, but I’m not bad with money, I was brought up with my mom and my depression-era grandmother saying “never spend money you don’t have,” and “don’t get into debt if you can possibly help it.” I don’t even buy that much, I just consider what I might buy. So, while every penny spent adds up, it’s not my motivation to stop shopping.

It’s not because I have too much stuff. I do have too much stuff, of course. Almost everyone in the first world does, and certainly every fashion blogger I’ve ever come across has much too much stuff. Still, truth be told, I like my stuff, and that’s not my motivation either.

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I’m going on a shopping ban because shopping has somehow transitioned, mysteriously in the last year, from being something I occasionally do, to being a “hobby.” I loathe this idea. I don’t want to have materialism as a hobby. If people ask me what my hobbies are, I generally say “reading, writing, languages…” But shopping? Hunting through shops real and virtual for clothes that I tell myself I’ll wear on bike rides or picnics, or to the pub, or to the theatre, when really I spend more time shopping than I spend on most of those activities?

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I shop because I think it makes me happy to find lovely things. But shopping actually makes me unhappy. Most of the time, it’s a solitary activity, trawling through endless racks or photos of rubbish, time (and money) that could be spent doing interactive, social things with people I like. If I never shopped, I would have to do other things, like read, go to galleries, go for walks in the park. Even if I spent all that time still on myself, I’m sure I could contribute to my own outward appearance in a more effective way. Learning to do my hair properly would make a more concrete difference to my appearance than a new dress. I’m sure I would find better things to spend the money on too, like lunches with friends, or flights to Barcelona…. Things that would form the fabric of my life, and not only contribute to the fabric in my closet.

During one of the happiest summers I can remember, I bought practically nothing. I was walking the streets, riding my bike, going to the beach, hanging out. I was just living life. And I plan to recapture that, even if I have to force myself to do so.

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Pictures from my pre-blog life, in which I'm doing various things, in various places, wearing various clothes...

47 comments:

sojourned in style said...

you have courage, my friend. a courage hard to find in our clothes oriented blogging fields. i give you kudos for that! that takes so much to stop, reflect and have the ability to come up with something like this :) all the best of luck in your endeavour to happiness!

Comtesse de ferveur said...

This is such a touching post - every word's struck a chord. You can get completely sucked into neomania and I completely admire anyone who can take a step back from it. Well done and good luck, I will look forward to hearing more about your quality time! xxx

Kerri @ OldLadyChic said...

What a great post. It got me thinking to the summer before I moved out of my parents house and spent nothing, so I could get my own place. If you really want to, you can stop. You are totally right about every single point, and kind of had me a little ashamed because I am guilty of a lot of those things! I have a million fancy dresses and about zero fancy places to go!

Raquel said...

I hear you friend, I actually stopped my shopping ban once the January sales came, but that was going on since the summer so oh well... But I've shopped quite enough since then and am beginning to get bored of it. Mainly because, once organizing my stuff back home I realized I have too much stuff, many I didn't even remembered having... And because also of the all the economic crisis thing, I still haven't started working so I don't have much money for shopping right now. But the main reason that makes me want to stop shopping is starting to get more quality over quantity, which I'm proud yo say that I've been doing! Both the shoes I've purchased so far are leather made and so was the bag.

Anyway, I hope to make you company in non-shopping activities in London, and hope you make me company too when I need to shop for some stuff, because I'll have to eventually (perks of being allowed to only take one suitcase!)


Hope you're feeling better!

Stef / Diversions said...

I am with you on this one :)
My primary reason is really just the full closet symptom but what you're saying is only too true. you hit the nail on the head ;)

Remix, read and travel right on! :)

Terri said...

"the fabric of your life"--you have given this an entirely new spin. Good luck on this and I hope that it does not eventually lead to abandoning the blog!! It's your travels that have kept me coming back for more.

I worked in Yellowstone National Park one summer and my recollection of it is so vivid, perhaps because I had no access to shopping or media.

Closet Fashionista said...

Such a great reason to stop shopping! That's part of the reason I have my budget...I shop too much.
My budget isn't for monetary reasons or because I have too much, its just so I control myself. I don't do much living either though...I'm always at home or work...but that is because my friends are either not here or work in the evening instead of normal 9-5... *sigh* I need to get out more :p
http://aclosetfashionista.blogspot.com/

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

@Terri: No plans to stop blogging! I really love the blog, just not some of the other instincts it brings out in me.

@Closet Fashionista: Yeah, I know, sometimes it's hard to get out anyway. But at least if you're not shopping you're not replacing friends with things! And personally, when I lived with my family, I loved to hang out at home quite often!

Shybiker said...

I grasp your idea. I've done the same at times, to restore balance to my life. Often, our lives get out of whack when we rely too heavily on one activity or another to supply our emotional needs. Then, if we're smart, we pull back, re-assess, and make changes. It sounds like your re-evaluation will lead to greater happiness. Good for you!

CessOviedo said...

Should learn something from you girl! My parents think I have a real problem and have banned me from shopping, they want me to lower my spences on a 50%, not sure I'll do that with a lot of success, but you seem pretty determinated to do so! Wish I could take a bow like that! ... Can't wait to see how you get through this, probably you'll be my inspiration!

http://blog.cessoviedo.com

Diana said...

i think this is such a great idea! although i do truly enjoy shopping even if its just window shopping, i don't think it should consume someone's life. i know you'll be successful at this and i hope you'll find more happiness in your free time :) and keep us updated!!

http://dressedupallligators.blogspot.com/

Emma (Scrapbook de la Emma) said...

im also on my own personal shopping ban! it even includes food unless necessary haha! mines more financial than anyhting but its also teaching me to remix my wardrobe more
Scrapbook de la Emma

Christy said...

This is an interesting post. I agree that sometimes it's a problem when shopping is a primary activity.
I'll be interested to hear how your shopping ban goes.
Do you think you'll be more motivated to find new ways of wearing your existing clothes?

Christy of Dress Rehearsal

Elizabeth said...

I'm doing the same thing! I've never done a shopping freeze because it was never a huge issue. For the first time in my life, though, I have a decent-sized disposable income and I spend many many hours in front of a computer, so I online shop when I'm bored instead of doing productive things. I think it will be a great exercise for me and will help me focus on the things I really want to be doing rather than shop, which it's become habitual to do.

Elizabeth

SMASH said...

Ayayay, when you put it that way "shopping as a hobby", that definitely does not sound cool or appealing at all! I really liked your motivation behind this--to channel your energy into something more rewarding and productive. I'd be kidding myself if I thought I could do something like this (I buy a lot for my vintage store but very rarely do I buy anything for myself that is of note. I usually stick to books or knicknacks that are all under $1)

Anyway, I admire you girl :)

xx

Monique said...

I can totally relate to this. I've traveled quite a bit and when I was on the road. I spent my money on adventures like touring the Amazon Jungle and sailing the amazon river, surfing and taking Brazilian martial arts classes. Good for you. I'm really glad you are doing this. I certainly feel inspired to shop less. I will let you know how it goes.

pixelhazard said...

Oh all the best. my shopping ban was difficult but i learnt that i didnt neede so much stuff

Bright Green Laces

poet said...

I'm with you on this! I became a regular "hobby" shopper (though mostly within my budget) at a time in life when I was unhappy and looking for distraction, but I only realized this much later... now that I've resolved most of my past issues, I don't feel the need to shop for things all that much. I still like to browse stores to get inspiration, though, and I find this a completely legitimate endeavor. I wouldn't call it a hobby at this point, as the main fashion-related hobby I have is sewing!

All the best!
poet

Carrie said...

I agree 100%. You have put your finger on what it is that I have felt but couldn't name. I never officially join up with the no-shopping things, but there was something attractive about it at the same time. I like the idea of not spending money, but not just for the sake of hoarding it - I have bigger goals that I want to achieve and some of them take finances. I don't need to add one more item to my stuffed closet, that's for sure! As for the hair issue - I don't think it would matter for me if I had HOURS to play with mine, I still wouldn't know what to do with it. {sigh} Have fun!

Velvet said...

I've felt overwhelmed by my own clothes sometimes. It's a frustrating sensation. I feel stupid for spending so much money on clothes, when I could invest my budget in creative activities. That's why lately I've reduced shopping.

You're a wise gal Ruby! Good luck.

Virginie Lavallée Bélanger said...

Love this post Emily. Shopping can totally sneek up on you and become too important in our daily life. I will not be shopping neither since I will be taking the 30 for 30 challenge, we can support each other (although I predict it won,t be that hard after all!).

A said...

You are an intelligent person. Shopping makes me unhappy too. It ain't fun.

Always Something said...

Some awesome, awesome ideas expressed here, especially regarding the "hobby" concept.

I feel something I do is I'm constantly buying and donating... always replacing what I currently have with something a little better.

I loved this post; enjoy your ban!

Anthea said...

Good luck with the ban. I hear you, shopping can be a very wasteful activity. Gosh, especially here in South Africa!

Anthea,
Embracing Style

Tierney said...

as;ldkja;sdlkjasdf j Okay, so I kind of hated, kind of loved this post.

I need to stop shopping. I really really do. But, it's just so hard when all your friends/family/readers expect you to be so darn sassy/pretty/trendy all the time.

I totally agree with part of what you said about shopping being empty. It really can be, at times. Now, we're different in the aspect of, I LOVE SHOPPING. I love racks and sales and dressing rooms--it's almost therapeutic.

I'm going to try this with you. We'll see how long I go without purchasing something.

Gah.

Tierney

daisychain said...

Good luck with this!x

Jazzy E (hivennn) said...

So inspirational.

jessica said...

You just said something that rang very very true in my ears. "shopping makes me unhappy" Crap. I used to say how much I loved shopping but lately (as in the last 2 years) Ive been so broke Im constantly worrying about money and when I do shop I feel guilty. That is definitely not the way it should be.
Think I might go on a ban as well.... well I can try. Looking forward to see how you get on :)

sparkle is a color (Katrina) said...

Good luck! I've done numerous shopping bans and finally just put myself on a strict budget, which seems to work for me. I agree with you about shopping becoming a hobby...but for me it was becoming an addiction! It's just not worth the stress!

xx, Katrina

NRIGirl said...

Emily! Love you for this post. It was just what I had in my mind too. Well written and inspirational. Let me try too.

Ashley said...

This is great and I whole-heartedly agree. I've done shopping bans in the past for this exact reason. Wanting stuff is insatiable...but having life experiences in its place is priceless.

"when really I spend more time shopping than I spend on most of those activities" <---LOVED this line

Emily, Resplendent Tranquility said...

I've gone through phases of hobby shopping more often than I'd like to admit. It's quite scary the excuses we use to justify our needless spending, isn't it? ''Retail therapy,'' ''This will replace that,'' ''What's one more?'' and so on. Yikes.

Enjoy your time spent doing other things, Emily! Nice photos, too. The first one reminds me of the first photo I ever developed in a dark room (back in high school art class days). Mine was very similar: bare feet dangling in cool water. I love that little activity. Just the thought now is completely relaxing :)

loveandpeaceF said...

Great post, I am definitely with you on all of your points...But I feel like I'm doing my shopping ban for EVERY reason you wrote about haha :P

- www.itsanewkate.blogspot.com

Jenny Morris said...

hey!! awesome post...i really struggle with the association of bloggers to being materialistic. I mean...I havent gone clothes shopping since before Christmas!! Though I have been missing it this week in particular. Does taking an interest in fashion/shopping mean that one is immediatly depoliticized, consumers, capitalists etc? I truly don't feel this way about myself, yet I'm not sure that message comes through on my blog. How to take a stance and still fucking love clothes??? I'm a sexualities student and quite involved in the queer community in Montreal, and I'm making the decision to be conscious about integrating that into my blog - it will be a bit racier at times, but i want that!!

Sorry for my tangent! All this I am working out, but its nice to see that you're thinking about this stuff too.

Molly said...

I think this is so amazing! I'm excited for you. The last shopping ban I did (it was a 30 for 30 too) felt really great. I hope this time is awesome for you too.

Leaving the House in THIS?!?!

Sophi said...

This is why I thrift! It doesn't participate in consumerism. You might be buying things, but the money is going to charity and to provide entry level jobs for people who might not otherwise be able to get jobs. It's also just more gratifying and more affordable.

That said, sometimes it really is nice to just get out of all the stores and be out under the sunshine, loving life :)

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

@ Sophi:
I see your point and think thrifting is definitely better than regular shopping, but I don't feel it solves the root of the problem: the need to own more and more all the time. In that sense it is consumerist, just cheaper and with recycling.

I don't disagree with thrifting--I do it myself--but it still propagates the culture of spending more time trawling through clothes than actually doing exciting things in those clothes...

the Citizen Rosebud said...

I just read the above: and so true! As a person who LOVES to thrift shop and is now making some living from doing so...that is what I resent.

Last week I said over a big bagful of vintage that I was hanging up: when do I get to live my life and wear MY clothes. Not quite the same, but yeah, your remarks resonate.

Congrats on the LALM by the way. It's an article that deserves more readers.

Krystal said...

HEY I missed this post but saw it in the fashion blogger links, congrats!!! I loved it - I feel like my happiest summers too were the ones where I was living life - not worrying about clothes, etc. I am so with you.

A said...

I get what you're saying about it making you unhappy and being mainly solitary. I've realised I only enjoy shopping when i'm with someone else.

This is mainly because I'm quite young and always paranoid that people will assume that if I'm shopping alone, I must be intending to steal something...

Nice blog!

Tashrin said...

Welcome. Welcome to a new way of seeing things.....viewing your life and the moments and activities that it is made up of. As you know I have not shopped since last November.....and I have never felt happier. :)

Also congratulations on the post being selected for IFB link a la mode. It made me proud to see someone's post up there whose motto I deeply believe in.

As to answer your question....my family and literally all my friends are back home in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Love

Tashrin - Style musings of a Bengali girl from Toronto, Canada

Tashrin said...

I do not know if you know of this man or not. But his name is Leo Babauta. I recently came across his writing and one word to describe it would be refreshing.

The two blogs I read by him are called Zen Habits and Mnmlist.

Enjoy!

Newspaper Cut Outs said...

Do you ever feel like you regret fashion blogging? I know I don't spend a lot of money and I'm alway on the edge of making my blog into a completely fashion blog. Do you ever get those doubts?

~newscutouts from www.newscutouts.blogspot.com

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

@Newspaper Cut Outs:
Hmm, when I wonder if fashion blogging is good for me, it's usually because of the time-wasting and procrastination it brings, rather than the purchases. I have bought more than normal since I started, but I'm on top of that now, and I think I've also bought better and more interesting things. Blogging does but you in the path of more desirable things, but it also gives me a sense of fatigue with other items I might once have been tempted to buy.

Good question, I'll try and get back to it properly in another half year or so. By then, I hope to know the answers to some of these problesm...

Tea For Two said...

Seriously one awesome post :) Really made me smile. You should get in to writing for the Slow Fashion Movement or something. I contribute to slowfashioned.com :)

Definitely following you. Hope you post about some shopping-free adventures.

Eyeliah said...

very exciting, good luck with the ban! I haven't shopped much, but I don't have a job so..... ;)

friedenlinde said...

I can hear you, loud and clear! I think it exactly like you. I like to go shopping, but I would totally exchange a solitary afternoon of shopping for an afternoon of talking and laughing (or crying!) with a friend! Shopping is a solitary affair for me as well. I mean, I like to go out and find new interesting things, but still I get more excited when I go thrifting than to go on a first class shop (I never ever actually entered in one of those shops, I think). And I still prefer to see a friend, going for a coffee maybe, rather than going shopping together. I some times quit shopping as well, usually when I spend the time at my hometown in the country and I don't need anything else than a good book and a good company (my fiancee, friends, family). But when I'm in town I find myself to spend time going from a shop to another. Some times I have fun, but some others I find it is really sad. It makes me sad. No, if 'shopping' is an hobby, don't count me in! :)