You know how some people comfort eat?
I comfort-shop. Yes, it’s a thing. Because I said so.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve lost a few pounds due to sheer stress and anxiety (and I’m pretty sure I’ve gained them back, too, thanks to my mum’s determination to ‘feed me up’, which has included deliveries of her famous mac ‘n’ cheese – thanks, mum!), but I’ve also spent a few pounds – er, more than a “few” pounds, if I’m honest – on clothes, shoes and other things which I told myself would cheer me up, and which I felt I “deserved” on account of the sheer misery I was going through at the time.
The problem with comfort shopping, of course, (other than the obvious effect it has on your finances) is that it sort of works, too. And I mean, OBVIOUSLY a new dress does not cure depression, relieve extreme anxiety, or make even a tiny dent in the sadness caused by some of the things I’ve been facing lately. I’m not saying that for a second.
At the time, though, there’s no denying that shopping does make me feel just a little bit better – albeit temporarily. (And sometimes for longer, too: a thing of beauty is a joy forever, amiright?) Shopping has always done that for me: it’s one of the reasons I love it so much. It’s fun, it’s exciting (yes, I realise how pathetic I’m making myself sound to those of you who just don’t “get” it), and I get a huge kick out of walking out of the store with that much-coveted item, or getting an exciting delivery in the mail – in fact, because of that, I don’t just count down to pay day itself, but also to 14 days BEFORE pay day, because that’s when I know I can use Paypal Pay After Delivery. It’s a little bit like a drug, I guess. I’m not making this sound any better here, am I?
OK: the main point of this post, then, is not to attempt to explain or defend my shopping addiction to you: it’s simply to acknowledge the habit, and attempt to do something to change it.
Now, don’t get me wrong here: I haven’t shopped so much lately that I’ve gotten myself into debt, or caused any other issues in my life. I haven’t really had the time, what with all of the hospital visits and non-stop worrying I’ve been doing. I have, however, reached a point where I think it’s important to say, “OK, Amber, enough is enough: I want you to back away from the ASOS website slowly, with your hands above your head…”
So, that’s what I’m going to do.
Er, not literally, obviously. I mean, I couldn’t type this post with my hands above my head, could I? And one of the more difficult aspects of my job (I use the word “difficult” here in a relative sense, you understand…) is that my livelihood quite literally depends on me visiting a number of retail websites every day, and then writing about the products I find there. I can’t just stop doing that, but I CAN stop myself actually going on to BUY the items I write about, which is why I’m putting myself on a 3-month shopping diet.
You’ll notice I’m using the word “diet” here, rather than “ban”. I DID consider an outright shopping ban, but I’ve decided to attempt to reduce my shopping, as opposed to stopping altogether, mostly because I know from experience that if I attempt to totally BAN myself from something, that thing will immediately become the only thing I can think about, and I’ll end up doing/eating/buying even MORE of it than would otherwise have been the case. I’m not proud of myself, but, well, I think it’s important to know how your mind works with this kind of thing, and not just set yourself up for total failure, don’t you?
So I’m calling it a “diet” rather than a “ban”, but, with that said, I intend it to be a pretty strict one, and I’m aiming to more-or-less totally cut out all unnecessary spending on clothes, shoes and accessories during this time. There are just a few exceptions to this:
01. I will allow myself to replace any essential items which become damaged or lost
Honestly, I don’t really foresee any situations where this is likely to happen, but by “essential items” I’m thinking of things like that white tank top I layer under absolutely everything, or the only bra that fits me at the moment, or whatever. Should something happen to the items I literally can’t live without (like, all of my PJs get … drowned in a flood… or something), I will replace them, but if it’s just a case of “Oooh, lookit the pretty shoes!”, then NO, AMBER, BACK AWAY, FFS.
(Oh, and by the way, if you’re thinking it’s not possible to actually LOSE clothes, then think again…)
02. Ditto makeup and skincare
I don’t have nearly as big an issue with beauty products as I do with fashion ones, mostly because I just tend to stick to the same favourites, which I buy over and over again. I’m aware, however, that if I stop allowing myself to buy clothes, I could very easily just switch my obsession to makeup instead (the small collection of totally unnecessary new nail polish currently sitting on my desk would seem to confirm this suspicion…), so, as above, I’ll allow myself to replace items which run out, but I won’t be buying any new ones during the duration of the “diet”.
03. I will continue to accept items from blog sponsors
This final point is one I suspect some readers might have an issue with, but the fact is, as a sometime-fashion blogger, I’m in the very fortunate position where I’m sometimes offered clothes and accessories to feature on my blog. As the main point of this exercise is to reduce my personal spending on those items, not to force myself to try to live with a totally ‘minimal’ wardrobe (I have total respect for people who do that, by the way, but I have to acknowledge that fashion is something I enjoy too much to give it up entirely), I will continue to accept those items, some of which come in the form of gift cards.
I’m being upfront about this because, at the end of the day, this is part of my job, and while I’d like to balance my personal spending a little better, I think it would be silly (both in a business sense and in a personal one) to turn down offers which a) help my blog and b) allow me to indulge my love of fashion without over-spending.
On a similar note, obviously Christmas is coming up, and although I’m planning to avoid the sales, should I be lucky enough to receive any gift cards etc as gifts, those would also be covered by the exemption above!
So, that’s the plan.
I’m aiming to stick to this spending “diet” for a minimum of three months, at which point I might consider extending it – we’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, in order to both keep myself accountable, and to help drive the message home (to myself, I mean…) that I have MORE than enough clothes already, I’m going to be taking daily outfit photos, to record my progress, and hopefully help motivate me to appreciate the clothes I already have, rather than constantly convincing myself I need new ones.
I’m not quite sure yet whether I’ll be posting these daily, weekly, or a combination of both: I HAD actually planned to re-start the ‘12 Days of Christmas Outfits’ series I did last year: in fact, I’d had some quite ambitious plans to involve some brands in it, and make it much more of a “thing”, but, of course, I hit rather a large stumbling block with that, so it didn’t work out. Next year, perhaps.
What I DO know, however, is that when I say ‘daily outfit photos’, I’m talking mostly about those back-to-the-wall ones I do when I can’t take photos outdoors, for some reason. It won’t be anything fancy (not that there ever IS anything “fancy” with my photos, mind you!), and those posts will be an addition to the regular content, not a replacement for it – so I’m not going full-on outfit blog on you. To be honest, I can’t even promise the “daily” bit, because right now I’m still feeling the effects of the methrotrextate treatment I’ve been having, I still have multiple hospital visits ahead of me, and, above all, I’m still very aware that things could all go horribly wrong, health-wise. I mean, I’m hoping they won’t, obviously, but I’ve learned my lesson, and am not going be making the mistake of over-confidence again in a hurry, or push myself to crank out blog content if I’m really not feeling up to it.
Still, though, I spoke about the importance of “normality” in one of my posts last week, and I still think that at least trying to get back into a somewhat normal routine, even if it just means getting dressed every day (I’m not counting the leggings and sweatshirts I’ve spent the last couple of weeks in as “getting dressed…”) and blogging about some lighter, more “normal” stuff than I have been, will be a big help to me right now.