Cutting a Vice: Online Shopping

My dear friends and readers all around,

Online shopping has taken most of the world by storm, many of us barely shop “live” any more. Why waste time going to a store when you can have everything home-delivered at the click of a button? However, I have noticed for myself that it is so much easier to over-shop because you are eliminating the exact hurdle of regular shopping: trying things on in a tiny dressing room with bright lights and pulsating music (strobe lights and total darkness if you’re still into Abercrombie or Hollister), hauling heavy bags home. There are many benefits to online shopping, including the wide assortment of styles, special fits like petite, curve, maternity and – my personal favorite: The “tall” section at Asos, Topshop and Zalando, that allow me have a look other than permanent bermudas, freezing wrists and “maxi” dresses that are really more, well… ‘semi’. The world is becoming more digital, and that is convenient. However, despite all these benefits, online shopping detracts from a few key principles of healthy consumption and makes it so much easier for us to overspend. For instance:

  • When buying online, you can’t be 100% sure of the fit. Even if you know the brand and the size you wear in it, there’s always a chance this particular item won’t fit right, or you’ll get a dud. But you’re less picky since, once it’s already in your house, you want to try to make it work.
  • You can’t feel the fabric and for people who care about comfort, this isn’t good. Still, even if it doesn’t feel great, you are less likely to return it since it’s more of a hassle than just not buying something in the first place.
  • You eliminate the personal experience factor that attaches a certain memory to an item. For example, I love buying things when I go on a trip, as it always reminds me of the place. When online shopping, there’s no story to the item.
  • It’s easier to forget what you have. Similar to having a memory associated with a piece, when you shop online, you tend to lose track of what you already own. New styles are at the tip of your fingers so you’re less likely to rack your closet to see if you don’t already own a million pairs of non-show socks (because you definitely do, but the washer/your dog ate half of them) or a shrugged leopard-print faux fur bomber jacket (you never know).
  • You’re less creative. This is a big one: it may be paradoxical to think that the less you own, the more creative you are with your style, but out of necessity comes innovation. The more you feel like you can purchase at any time of day (and yes, I believe all of my online purchases have occurred at hours no store other than a 7/11 or a porn shop would be open, fashion items dubious in both of these locations), the less thought you put into creatively using and combining what you already have. I realised this when I noted I felt like I was always “missing” something, but truth be told, no matter how many more “must-have” items I bought, a short time later, I’d feel like something else was lacking. Ironically, I barely thought about what I already owned. Some of my best outfits, I soon noticed, happened when I was in a time crunch and had to put together a look without the chance to buy something new. Suddenly, there were so many cool things in my closet and so many different ways to combine these pieces – plus, if you’re truly uninspired with your outfit, a different hairdo or some bright lipstick will instantly change your look.
  • The Grandma Ideal: Once upon a time, people didn’t have the internet (if you were born in 1997, like my brother, or later, this will send you into a panic attack). Have you ever noticed how stylish people in older photos look? It’s because they had to so carefully curate what looked good on them and  know themselves so well that each piece in their closet, whether basic or elegant, looked fabulous on them. They also took care of each item with so much more TLC than we do in today’s fast-fashion world, since they knew they couldn’t replace them as easily. Thus, my grandmother cherished her style dearly and she had quite a lot of shoes and clothes after many years of buying key pieces, but not nearly as much as I already do now and, most importantly, no crap or stuff she bought on a whim.
  • Quality over quantity: The “French Closet” is a similar concept to this, as is Mari Kondo’s Japanese minimalist philosophy. The idea of really knowing ourselves and adding just a few key pieces each year to complement the growth of our personal style, in addition to truly loving everything we own, is quite huge. I started applying this rule already: If I look at some material thing in my life and don’t feel positive emotions towards it (either it’s worn and gross and/or it doesn’t suit me any longer, thus making me feel bad) it’s just taking up unnecessary space and energy. Imagine loving everything you own and feeling good in each piece. Invest more money in one or two amazing items than the same amount in ten ‘so la la’ pieces.
  • Basics: Everyone has theirs. Know them, have them, but once you do, you really only need to shop to replace them or add a few amazing standout pieces to their repertoire.
    To give you an idea, My personal basics are: nude and black shoes of each kind (sandals, flats, high boots, ankle boots, pumps and sneakers), black, white, grey and beige simple t-shirts and tank tops, black skinny jeans, denim shorts, a few black and denim mini skirts, some tops in red, yellow and green (I personally don’t wear cold colors like blue), a couple of summer dresses in lighter colors, some elegant dresses, a few different jackets, blazers and coats (different warmths for different seasons), a couple of leather jackets, faux-leather pants, tapered formal/work pants and monochrome sweaters and scarves in neutral colors. I have some workout clothes I usually just use to do nothing in – olé! 😀 My go-to accessories are rose and yellow gold rings, necklaces and small earrings as well as some larger hoops (2000s J. Lo forever), a black or grey beanie for winter and some banana clips and black hair-ties for my hair. I tried hairbands but they give me a headache.
    My statement items are: A denim jacket with rose embroidery on one sleeve, a few t-shirts with embroidery or slogans (a rose, “Bonjour Simone”, TLC’s album cover screen-printed), a pair of jeans with rose embroidery (I love flowers), a black faux-fur coat, a pair of grey heels with plastic pearls, some Indian earrings, Brazilian or Spanish (as in, bought the items in those countries) summer tops and dresses with unique prints, some extra-large and baggy bomber jackets with customised embroidery (for my Rihanna-inspired moments), a few boots with studs and belts for a rockier vibe and a couple of body suits and party tops that are either see-through, lacey, backless or somehow or other not something you’d wear to the office (unless you work in Brooklyn or Venice Beach). And that’s it!

In summary, I want to test the theory that style actually improves when we stop online shopping. I hypothesise to be more creative, daring, stylish and thoughtful in my day-to-day looks when I stop relying on buying new things online constantly. Will it work? I don’t know. But I’m going to give it a test, so I told two of my friends (who, very surprisingly for two 20-something girls from Europe, didn’t want to do this challenge with me :D), that I’d be off online shopping for, drumroll please…
A year.
Ok, not quite – until just a week before my birthday, so approximately October 20th of 2018. If I am dying to purchase something only-available online, just before my BDay, as a gift to myself, it seems like a fair date for a treat.
But still, it’s 11 months. To me, that’s a lot. If I crack, my friends get to pick a punishment. But I don’t think they will have to, as I’m actually really excited about this.

Of course this means I won’t be giving up shopping entirely (sorry, Mom), but I can only shop live, in stores, which happens very rarely (though it may increase). However, when I do go to a store, I only buy something if I absolutely LOVE the item in every way possible. I am much more discerning and the selection is much smaller at any given time, so I do believe I will save quite a bit of money this way. And this money can (and, if you know me, 100% will) be used for traveling, books and concerts.

I believe I will be more stylish, more creative, and that I will save more money. I know I will feel like I’m missing out at first, but I do believe I will get used to it. When I do buy something, it will feel more special. Plus, the tradeoffs of what I can spend money on, and the fulfilment of feeling more creative and stylish on the daily, seem really worthwhile. 

Here’s to the pact of real-life style! I will be reporting back to you in 11 months time. If you want to do it with me, even if just out of curiosity or for a short time span, I warmly invite you to do so so we can share our experiences!

Offline stylish vibes and love,

Simone

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