Sunday, January 16, 2011

Let's Talk - overshopping

Wow.
I went to make an edit on another post and this post got deleted. Thank you so much to woodley park-zoo, Joyce and Ema who emailed it to me. Love the JCAs! And I had Googled some info on Blogger post recovery and the post miraculously appeared on my computer, in its entirety. As someone who makes this blog look like somethin' w/a whole lotta copy/paste and near nil knowledge of html, I'm feeling pretty awesome. Now...



In this post on The Mothership, Ibi said:

"A 40 percent OFF 3-day weekend is a dangerous thing!

...looking at my card statement may be just what I need to kick this habit! And that 12-step program sounds like a good idea. I am not joking or making fun of anyone — Compulsive serial shopping is an addiction, caused by 'fashion envy' (among other things)— a bit like boyfriend envy, when we have to have what someone else has/wants. Even if only for a day, a week etc and then its off to the BM for yet another demoralizing return; because I really didn't need, like or want it(or him) after all.

Just saying (may not apply to everyone)."

That kicked off some related comments. These jumped out at me, in particular. Disclaimer: if you made any of the following, I'm not saying anything specific about you. These are just comments that resonated with me.

* Always good to take a step back and rethink

* the pace! being breathless and worried at a pushing shoving sample sale in my own home

* I've been known to have a few drinks and shop

* In my defense (note: this comment was mentioned 3x)

* Please don't extend the promo!!

* ...as others have said sometimes it's just the thrill of the hunt, the rush of snagging a bargain and then hyperventilating as I try to find an item in accessories to cover the 45ç I need to meet Free minimum Shipping before someone snatches it out of my cart.

* if you can resist pulling the trigger, step away from the computer and then go on with your life the things that you have put in your cart will loose their appeal by the afternoon, if they are still there. It is like shopping in a store packed versus shopping in a store empty.

* Why do we get so frantic while shopping from the comfort of our own homes?! It's maniacal.

Within the thread, suggestions were made that Alexis run a post to share stories about 'shopping under the influence.' Comments followed about how said post could help disable the enabling of shopping, offer protection against Crewlade, and the like. I wasn't clear if the suggested post would have a serious tone, consist of funny stories or both. At any rate, it reminded me that I've long wanted to run a post about shopping addiction. There are so many jokes made and believe me when I say it's hard to get a very serious conversation going about it. Y'know the term retail therapy is thrown around as a joke, when my guess is that shopping addicts have people in their family who are addicts of other substances.

Even if you've only visited this blog for a post or two, it's clear that I share limited information about myself. I'm one of the cutters, cropping my head out of photos. I'm so happy I went that route as it's the right thing for my work & personal life. At the end of last year I realized just how odd it is to see someone's head cut off and it can be far less interesting than full frame photos. However, the pursuit of anonymity allows me to share more than if my mug was present. Two years ago now (amazing!), I took a break from this blog. It felt like forever, but it was only 2 weeks. My return to blogging was kicked off by this post and in it I mentioned the following:

"On one hand I was feeling blue and trying to shield myself from that. On the other hand, I felt like so many things were blooming in my life and going great. I admit that I was getting stuck in a rut of mindless shopping. I was not in control. At all. It was great to step away and begin to drill down to what was causing the compulsive and obsessive feelings I had at times. I'm still working on it, but I feel less obsessed and that's the most important thing."

The obsessive feelings I refer to are similar to those that someone mentioned on The Mothership. The feeling included breathlessness and heart racing. Whiiiile shopping. I also realized how intently focused I was when buying things. Kvetching over this and that. Feeling irritated by online reps who were trying to be polite & provide good customer service, but were making me nervous that I would miss out on my items. And who knows what else I was going thru in that mental state. I decided to start talk therapy, specifically asking for assistance with shopping addiction. I thought that working with a behavioral therapist would give me some tools to remove whatever triggers I was experiencing. I've been introspective for years and am very articulate about my...ahem...areas of opportunity. I realize I don't know everything, but the smarty in me thought going to someone w/a PhD. would trump...well...that that person would run the therapy show and not me. My cousin and I joke about how we're the CEO of our respective branches of the family. We're the people who come up with plans, solutions, how to execute, naming tasks for various players, etc... I wanted to relax and let someone else take charge of the situation and help guide me to solutions.

I got a therapist who ran the sessions well by keeping me focused on myself. However, he didn't take the lead as I had hoped. I got a reincarnation of Freud who wanted me to talk about my mother. And father. Well, yeah, I had some breakthrus,. Not about my parents, though. I worked that stuff out awhile back for the most part. One of my breakthrus was being able to articulate (beautifully, I might add) what the shopping high feels like. In short, I was trying to escape the pressures I felt irl. *lol* Stepping into retail stores was definitely a salve and a way to disappear for a bit. As far as therapy, I liked him and mostly looked forward to my sessions. Unfortunately, I felt he wanted to drag it out . Y'know, the line about therapy being 'a process.' I get it. However, I knew the how and why. I needed the what to do and wasn't getting it. I expressed these thoughts & feelings, but nothing changed so I stopped going after a couple months. As timing would have it, I went into rescue mode again in my family and didn't seek another therapist. I thought about joining Al-Anon as we do have addiction in our family. The Al-Anon theme came up a couple times in the year, but I didn't get around to it. I was afraid that might be a slow process, too.

From that point, I'd say my shopping more or less continued. I would have spurts where I shopped a lot and others where I didn't so much at all. I think one issue that was tough, and is still is, is seeing something new and thinking I want it. An issue I've left in the past is the JC credit card. I paid it off every couple weeks and they kept increasing my limit. I didn't even realize it. They literally tripled it and I didn't know it until I checked my balance one day. When you get into the buy-and-return mode, things get really confusing, right? The wake up call for me was when someone on The Mothership mentioned the crime and senselessness of paying 19%+ interest on the card. At that point I was carrying a balance. It snuck up on me and it was 4 figures. After I read that post, I immediately transferred my JC balance to a 0% Mastercard, closed the JC card and paid the MC off with the quickness. Since then I run a spreadsheet of what I'm buying. Looking at the spreadsheet on a regular basis helps me be a bit more in check. Also, paying for things straight out and not charging on a JC card has been good. With the buy-return practice, inevitably there is a game I play of well, my balance really isn't that high because I'm going to return x and x. Not acknowledging the fact that when I go to the store to return x and x, I'm going to leave with something else, wiping away the credit. Know what I'm sayin'? (looking at you *wink wink*)

In the interest of time I'm editing my story quite a bit, but I'd say one of the things that has helped me is discussing things with G Money. Despite the moniker I (jokingly) gave him, he doesn't fund my purchases. This has probably been a huge reason why we're able to discuss my overshopping in a constructive way. He's aware that I want to change things, but hasn't nagged me as I've tried to find my way. Hallelujah. So yes, shopping has been an escape for me at times. It has distracted me, amused me, uplifted me and more. We used to travel quite a bit and because of changes in our life in recent years, we don't. My travel has been at the mall, quite frankly. Unfortunately, I was repeatedly left with a hangover of guilt and regret about spending money on clothes that I scarcely wear. That was part of the fantasy, though. That I will wear a pretty dress to an upcoming event although there isn't nary a one in sight. However, one thing I've recently acknowledged is how much I love clothing, shoes and handbags. Some things -- not all -- are like little pieces of art. A couple weeks ago, G Money & I were in a retail store of some sort, which is rare. I literally touched every item that I walked past. I must've been fondling them or sliding my hands on them because he seemed a bit embarrassed and said, You don't have to touch everything. I said, Yes, I do. And I do! I want to feel the garment in my hands. The colors and textures are also delights to my eyes. Summing it all up, I'd say there was definitely a period where I was in a mode of running away from things, running towards other things and pursuing an endorphin high thru shopping. I feel I've moved away from that. My interest is definitely piqued by things I see on other people, but not in the same way as before. I used to jump in my car and drive out to get it. Or click and order it fairly quickly. I definitely feel better about not chasing things. I know that things I see on others may not work on me. They're not going to change my life in the long lasting way I want. Conversely, I've realized how much I just loooove touching and looking at clothes. One thing I used to do and got far away from is playing in my clothes. I was much more creative when I could take a day once a week or every other week to create outfits. Polyvore doesn't work for me. I have to touch the clothing. I worked in retail as a teen and thought about doing that part time. Although my desire to look at and touch clothing would be fulfilled, I'm not convinced that's a good idea. *lol*


I do believe shopping addictions are real. I tried to discuss mine with a couple close friends and it's like they. Just. Don't. Get it. Like really don't get it. Or maybe they don't want to deal with their own secret practices. I have no idea. Awhile back it was hard for me to decide whether I had a problem or not since I couldn't have a decent conversation w/anyone that I'm close to. I'm pretty sure one friend has an issue, but she won't cop to it no matter how much I share. And then we know the therapist didn't work out as I'd hoped. When I later had the fibroid issue and subsequent medical procedures, I took a good look at my mental state. I've made some progress and hope to make more. I think once some things change for my husband and I, my behavior will naturally change. From time to time I still consider talk therapy or working w/someone that can help me have the breakthru(s) I desire. It's tough for me to swallow, but I'm certain that shopping is a self-imposed obstacle that I've put between me and goals I'm afraid of pursuing. I can't tell you about your situation and I hope you don't try to tell me about mine. I'm not a psychologist or psychiatrist. Just a blogger writing a post. But I'll drop some questions that came up for me or that I read on websites, in no particular order:

Do you feel guilty about some purchases? Are you late to meetings or appointments because of shopping? Are you getting up in the middle of the night to check retail websites? Have you hid purchases? Have you lied about what you've bought? Have you lied about how much you've spent? Are you moving money between accounts to buy things? Are you using money for clothing that was intended for another purpose? Are you carrying excessive balances on credit cards for your retail purchases? Are you acquiring clothes faster than you can wear them? Do you get home and can't remember what you've purchased? Same for online...a box arrives and you can't remember what will be in it? When you think of a way to burn a bit of time, is your 1st choice to shop? Are you buying clothes for scenarios you see in your head, but don't often happen irl?

I already copped to that last one. *lol* I am in a position to need clothes for nice events, but they haven't happened as much as I thought they would. And when I do get an opportunity to wear nice clothes, I sometimes can't find them! I know that needs to change, too. Ibi dropped a link to this site and while I was briefly on it, I noticed a book title. I don't own any books on compulsive shopping or shopping addiction so I can't recommend any. However, when I was on Amazon looking up the book, I saw a number of other titles that looked interesting.  And remember trying your local library for titles. As with anything I post here, take time to read any online reviews, assess your situation and think about whether (insert product/service here) is right for you or not.:

* Addicted to Shopping and Other Issues Women Have with Money

* Born To Spend

* Bought Out and Spent! Recovery from Compulsive Shopping & Spending

* In the Red: The Diary of a Recovering Shopaholic

* Stop Me Because I Can't Stop Myself : Taking Control of Impulsive Behavior

* Spent: Break the Buying Obsession and Discover Your True Worth

* To Buy or Not to Buy: Why We Overshop and How to Stop

I invite you to discuss whatever you'd like about the topic. As much or as little as you like. I shared part of my story just to share. I'm not asking for any advice. I've discussed and will continue to discuss things w/people of my choosing. Unfortunately, blogs looks like an open door to some people to criticize, but there's enough opinions & judgment taking up space in my own head. Furthermore, I think it's presumptuous to tell someone what s/he should be doing with his or her money. When the mortgage brokers were selling loans and homeowners were refinancing up the yin, no one was checking on me to see if I was getting my McMansion. Therefore, it truly irks me when people suddenly want to regulate what others should or shouldn't be doing "in this economy." If you feel this is a topic unworthy of your time, feel free to skip rather than dropping a speech about what's 'truly' important. Just remember, you rarely ever know someone's full story.

Chime in...



ETA 5/17/11 - Check out Reformed Shopaholic. Many posts are thought provoking, and some of her realizations in this post really resonated with me.

Also see this post on Little Girl Big Closet.

99 comments

  1. Hi Gigi-Great post and thank you for the shout out on your side bar for the Thoughtful Dresser. I highly recommend it. I think, for me, shopping goes beyond the desire to acquire-into my childhood of modest means and a cheap old dad who didn't want money spent-period. Shoes had to have holes in them before they were replaced and forget a pretty prom dress...I bought my own. I do not shop many sales and the urge to buy a $72 shirt for $12, that I didn't need when it was $72, doesn't do it for me. To me "final sales" are a huge turn off. I won't order it if I can't return it. I have only bought one item, in store, that was final sale, and at $20 a gamble I can afford. Let's wish each other luck in our goals to curb spending and buy what we need, admire what we want and is beautiful, and be happy with fewer retail regrets.

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  2. I admit it. I have a "bit" of a problem. Case in point, during the 40% off promo an item of mine during checkout was removed from my cart. I was so upset I called every store in the hopes of finding my item. I never did find it though. What was it? It was a sequined tank top for DD in the color we didn't already own. See my problem is not necessarily buying for me, it's for DDs :p

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  3. Great post. I definitely was a bit shoppig addicted, but that stopped once I started med school and quit working- my parents basically said no financial support in med school
    If i didn't significantly cut back.
    It was definitely hard not to check the jc website every morning to check for updates, but it got easier as I got busier.
    I think you can definitely be addicted to shopping, just like anything else. And it's probably more common than people think.

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  4. Thanks, Gigi, this is why I love your blog. I've taken an 'extended' break from my own blog and the shopping blog world in general for related reasons. I get an intense high from shopping, so much so that I rarely feel bad about it. But I do spend more time and $$ than I should. Like you, I use returns as a means of keeping myself in check. It's time consuming.
    I thought that blogging might modulate my spending a bit since I was getting a similar elation from just talking about great buys, sales, whatever. But I did find reading other people's shopping blogs to be stressful. I have so many of them on my 'follow' list, and was a bit addicted to scanning them every morning to see what everyone else was finding.
    I think there are a lot of ways to turn an addiction like this into a positive...get a job in retail, purchase a sewing machine and get creative, check out thrift stores, etc. I prefer to call it a passion ;)
    Recently our youngest left for college and we've picked up stakes and moved across the country. This has given me a huge reason to shop, as I am now living in New England and had no cold weather clothes to speak of! I will always love to shop, and my latest technique to keep spending in check is to challenge myself to be very, very picky. I only make a final purchase when something looks fabulous on me and fills a hole in my wardrobe. So the thrill of the hunt keeps me going and gives me the boost even when I'm not actually purchasing. I keep tags on until I absolutely have to take them off, and keep a file of receipts. I try to be merciless in the dressing room. Another technique I use is to keep a wish list, and when I'm about to make an iffy purchase, I remind myself that that $$ could be going toward something I want even more. This has helped me with all these J. Crew promos...I had to fight the urge to use them for the sake of using them. That's just what they want us to do!
    One more thing: I have narrowed down the stores that I shop from..this helps. I've identified the brands that work best for me, and try to keep to those. There is so much duplication in the retail world, pretty much every major brand will be selling similar stuff during any particular season. This helps with the stressed out feeling that we have to check out virtually everything on the web or in the mall.
    Anyway, I'm rambling...just wanted to thank you for a great post.

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  5. Great post! I definitely have been shopping so much more since I started reading this and other blogs, and definitely need to watch myself on not falling into traps.

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  6. Gigi, this is an excellent post. Thank you for sharing your story.

    I do agree that sometimes reading these blogs can make one want everything other bloggers post, but I then take a long look at what I have in my closet and realize that I do not need to get it.

    I like to see these blogs as resources for putting outfits together, finding information and reviews on items I was already interested in, and in the case of some of the more personal blogs, I like to know about what other people have to say about their lives, hobbies, food, etc.

    I think that blogging about shopping and fashion can be fun but I can see how it can be dangerous for other people. I am glad that you were so honest about this issue Gigi. I appreciate your blog a great deal and I am glad that you bring up topics like these in your blog.

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  7. Great post Gigi! I have been thinking about this while I sat out this 40% off promo. No judgment on anyone, but I am so glad that I did. Isn't silly, but I am proud of myself. I have decided to love and enjoy the overabundance of clothes that I already have. It wasn't easy (Audreybella sure looks gorgeous in all of her cashmere) and I won't lie that made me run and look for it on the site, but I held strong.
    I am trying to only buy what I need and love. As for blogs and all the beautiful ladies posting their pretty clothes, I am trying to use them as inspiration to work with what I have. I find this a constant struggle and if there is an Anthro sale tomorrow - it will be a hard morning for me lol.
    Stay strong ladies!

    Gigi - thank you for starting the dialogue and sharing your story!

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  8. Gigi, thank you so much for posting this. I'm surprised it's something that isn't talked about more. I have "obsessive-compulsive tendencies" and MANY times this gets focused on shopping. I get the "I needs" a lot. Like my closet is just not complete without that. I started a budget this year on Excel and that has helped A LOT with mindless spending and staying within a clothing budget, but blogging tempts me all the time. Seriously, thank you for sharing, it seems like we all go through that!

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  9. Thanks for posting your story and starting the discussion Gigi. I know it's a tricky subject, but it's definitely a good conversation to have with yourself and others (especially those that really "get" what you're talking about, and don't judge you/berate you for it). I'm well aware of my own over-shopping tendencies, which I faced about 10 years ago. Since then, I'm much more wary/exacting. I still love to shop, and love to get a great deal, but I've still very, very careful about staying within a budget (and if I do go over, I rein it in over the next few months). I've found that being the one in charge of our family everyday budget has helped me greatly. Every day I check things out, knowing that if I buy this one thing, then it's going to take "that" much longer to save for something else (trips, etc). This past year I've done way more shopping than I've done in the past 10 years, b/c I've needed a wardrobe update due to age/sizing/circumstances, and it's been a little freaky to me. For 2011 and moving forward, I'm going to be focusing on items I really love and try to be thoughtful about my picks. That's not to say I won't pick up a trendy piece now and then, but it will still be a thoughtful decision.

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  10. Great thought-provoking piece Gigi! Thank you. I'm off to do some contemplation.

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  11. I am a self-confessed shopaholic, but while reading fashion blogs sometimes gets me revved up about particular items, it also holds me back. I will now research items on the blogs before making a purchase decision. I would argue that I probably bought more BEFORE reading the blogs. Plus I bought in a vacuum, so it was less fun! I mean, I used to check J Crew and other shopping sites first thing in the morning (while making breakfast) BEFORE I started reading blogs.

    Another thing I have done is just focus on J Crew and Anthro. I know J Crew takes advantage of loyal shoppers like me but I feel it is easier for shopping-obsessed people like me to have a limited focus. Looking at other retailers would just take up too much more time.

    However, reading these blogs do take up time that I could probably spend being creative and earning (whether writing or photographing or sewing), not to mention parenting. So I am going to try to divide my time more efficiently.

    I will also be more ruthless when cleaning out my closet, because I don't want to wind up on that Hoarders show!

    But I try not to give myself too much of a hard time, because I do resell my clothes (whether through consignment or Ebay), and, like you Gigi, I do really really love clothes -- I love textures, colors, how a silk dress flows. I have since I was little girl. I used to be a fashion columnist so at least I used to get PAID for loving clothes. So just as my husband collects guitars and cameras and photographs, I collect beautiful little pieces of wearable art. OK many pieces in my closet do NOT count as 'wearable art', but it's a learning curve, haha. Thank you, Gigi, for another great post!

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  12. Thanks for the great topic and sharing; wish I had time to make a real post. Great topic. My $.02: If I have a little chocolate on a regular basis I don't feel the need to binge and I try to apply the same philosophy to candy. I'm trying to be less materialistic in general and I sort of have a mixed relationship with the blogosphere . . .I tell myself I come here for new ideas on what I already have but sometimes it just leaves me wanting more . . .

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  13. Like the first poster, I remember being deprived as a child. I would get "hand me downs" from my mother's friends closet-cullings. So I was the 12 year old dressed like a 50 year old woman. Or, worse, my mother sewed, and sewed well enough talent wise, but was cheap with the fabric choices. So many of my classmates in grade school heard "my mother made me wear this", when it was a dress, and all the other kids has Levis cords. And it was Buffalo, NY, for god's sake. Also, under my mother's guidance, I was completely clueless about the details of foundations and layering, and was a fashion 'don't' all through college, for as long as my parents were financially responsible for me.
    So, I think my fascination with finding the perfect 'x' to go with 'y', now that I have the means, is on an intellectual level of finally getting it right- the right pieces with the right foundation, right colors and right for my figure. And yes, there is a not-insignificant amount of returning merchandise in the experimentation. And I DO love the rush of watching an 80$ pair of capris for a few months and getting them finally for 15$ in 2 colors.
    The blog world has helped me learn these fashion lessons. I had many fashion books, but the blogs have people with figures like mine who I could relate to. And also, in particular, the Crew blogs, there is a financial finessing of waiting for the sales, getting the free shipping, not wearing an item for 59 days, then returning and/or rebuying if it costs less, that side of making it a 'game' is the more distressing side of things for me, which I want to stop doing.
    But now, for me, the wardrobe foundation is finally done, and I can tweak things here and there.
    I am grateful to all you brave shopping bloggers.
    Carol

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  14. You are such a good writer, and a post like this takes courage, because you have to really be honest with yourself. I totally "get" everything you are talking about and have often felt the "rush" with purchasing something. Here's what I think. Our entire society overspends. While some overspend on big ticket items like cars and houses, others do it on a smaller scale with monthly purchases of clothing or home decor. When it comes right down to it, I think we are all 1) looking for an escape from a more stressful life (a.k.a. our "live to work" mentality & fast paced lives) and 2) wanting something to hope for. Whether it's hoping that you will fill a giant house up with love and impress family member or finding that perfect dress to wear to a fancy Gala with your honey to have a magical evening together, I think they both contain that element of hope. And for "CEO's" like us, this allows us to have a sense of control over our own happiness. I know I'm definitely an emotional online shopper. I shop when I'm bored, sad, gained weight, lost weight, feeling neglected by the husband, or even to celebrate, though I don't purchase 3/4 of the things I look at due to my lower shopping budget ($50-$100 per month). I haven't purchased anything yet in 2011, because we just booked a trip to Europe, and I have that *idea* to hang on to in the midst of job hunting stresses and fertility issues. Since I have a nice wardrobe right now, I've decided to try to shift where I'm spending money to vacations or perhaps buying those tickets to a charity gala, etc. Because having a more exciting life is a lot of why I "dream-shop" anyways.
    So I think that setting a clothing budget and sticking to it (which helps erase the guilt), while at the same time booking something to look forward to and spend your time planning works best for me controlling my urge to shop. It is tricky when you can afford to buy many of the clothes you want, but when I realize I'm sacrificing experiences (like traveling, taking a cooking or dance class, etc.) from the time and money I spend shopping, I don't feel as deprived when I turn down something I like. Lastly, I try to be very honest with my husband about my purchases to keep myself in check, and we have a separate savings account that we don't ever touch to keep some $ out of sight/out of mind. When you see less in the account, I find it's easier to not even be tempted in the first place. Thanks for the post, lady, and my hat is off to you for your honesty on this touchy subject matter.

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  15. Gigi, thanks for sharing your story. I've known for years that I love to shop. When I first started reading the blogs, I have to admit that my spending went up. Starting last year, I decided to only buy what I loved. I also have a need list - still looking for that perfect white (not sheer) non-button up shirt. I still buy too much, but I'm much better than I used to be. I will continue to try to curb my spending, especially since I have a trip planned at the end of this year, plus I'm going to be needing a new car soon and I'd love a new couch. So the clothes, jewelry, shoes, bags, are going to have to take a back seat for a while.

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  16. Brilliant post, thank you for being so open and honest. When I was a teenager I was loony about clothes, I once spent my terms student grant entirely on clothes in 5 days, ugh!
    Now I don't buy an awful lot, I like a tidy clutter free life and that includes my cupboards and drawers, I don't like the feeling of having masses of clothes hanging up, it makes me feel overwhelmed. Last year I did my first clothes shopping in two years. Now I'll just be buying the odd lovely thing until I run my clothes down again. I'm obsessive but about order rather than excess

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  17. What a great and thought provoking post Gigi. Thank you for your honesty. It's amazing how once that door is opened by someone else, we all feel a bit more comfortable discussing our own issues.

    I often tell myself this:
    *Just because I have the extra money doesn't mean I need to spend it.*

    I did purchase something on this last 40% off promo with J.Crew. It was a new winter coat. I recently have taken an inventory of what I have in my closet and where I need to fill in the holes. Armed with this knowledge, I am able to make more reasonable purchases and not buy "just to buy". I know how easy it is to get sucked into that mindset. The Psychology major in me would call that, "groupthink"-"each member of the group attempts to conform his or her opinions to what they believe to be the consensus of the group. This results in a situation in which the group ultimately agrees on an action which each member might normally consider to be unwise".

    Again-GREAT post for discussion. I love your "Let's Talk" posts.

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  18. Oh gigi... great post.

    For me the worst was when I had a phase where I did the "shop for who I want to be, not shop for who I am" thing.

    I am working in a restaurant rather than in an office, and I really want to be working in an office. So last year, I bought all these office clothes and nothing to wear to my real job. I'm in school again, working towards that office job, so for me the shopping was a way to get instant gratification. Two years of classes are difficult, time consuming, and the gratification from going back to school is delayed, but shopping was immediate. I could put on my new suit and twirl around in front of my mirror, and think of the life I don't have yet.

    "Luckily," I'm pretty poor for now, so that keeps me under control. Plus I have had to consciously ask myself "is this for now, or for later" when I'm shopping. If the answer is "for later," I force myself to put it back. Later will be here soon, I hope.

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  19. Gigi, great post and thank you for sharing. I do admit I have an addiction to shopping and I def have an addictive personality. I have been in therapy on and off since I was 20, so I know why I shop. I shope for so many reasons, I am bored, to fill a need, I am lonely for adult companionship (homeshooling 3 kids isn't easy), when the kids stress me out (that's all the time) and it's better that eating a gallon of ice cream when I am stressed! I hear you plain and clear and feel the same way you do! I do have a friend who shares my addiction but, her parent's are gallionaires and they feed her habit and she doesn't have to worry about finances, I do. I have recently said on my blog that I am stopping shopping for at least 3 months and then I will keep extending it, I am hoping for a year. I am having fun just shopping my closet. ;But, as you mentioned I get that heart pumping feeling and it's like a high, I felt alone at times, but now I know so many others struggle with this same issue. :)

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  20. I recommend a memoir I read recently called "Spent" by Avis Cardella, about a time in her life when she had a compulsive shopping habit. She eventually sought therapy and learned she was shopping to fill an emotional void related to the death of her mother years earlier. You can read more about the book and her thoughts on compulsive shopping on her website, www.aviscardella.com

    I myself just let my subscription to Lucky magazine lapse because reading Lucky just makes me want to buy things.

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  21. Oh No Gigi! You lost your post! Well, I read it this morning and I was just coming back now to leave a comment.
    I posted this morning on my shopping strategy for the year, and I have developed this strategy partly as a way to avoid over-shopping, and in particular to avoid the sale game at JCrew .
    I returned so much stuff last year to JC, at incredible shipping expense from Canada I might add. I have dropped out of shopping their sales, I don't have a bill to pay this month and in fact I am canceling my JC card altogether to avoid temptation.
    I have over-shopped in the past and the only way to avoid it is to be very strict. Just as I would never spend $800 on a designer top from Net-a-Porter I will not shop the sales. My budget is limited and I am now writing everything down. I keep that book right under my laptop to remind me.
    Last year I wouldn't have been able to resist 40% off the sale. I would have placed a couple of orders, probably. it is very tempting and almost a game on the part of the retailer to whip up impulsiveness!
    Great post Gigi!

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  22. Great post! I was on a shopping bender since September. I had either been pregnant or post pardum for the last 4 years. I finally lost the baby weight and realized everything in my closet was out of date. I had to totally restock. In addition, I found all of these awesome blogs that just made me want more! I hit rock bottom the week after Christmas at the Banana Republic 40% off sale. I bought 12 tank tops just because they were a deal. I already had similar ones in my closet but got them b/c they were cheap. I felt sick about it for a while and am back on track now. The sales are crazy right now and have been since before Christmas. Not sure how much longer this 40% off madness can continue....

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  23. Thanks for the thoughtful, honest post. I go through spurts and am, thankfully, in a lull right now. I started reading shopping/fashion blogs last summer and began a steady online shopping habit at Anthro and JC. I returned a lot (maybe 75%) largely b/c of sizing inconsistencies and b/c I hadn't yet figured out the brands and how they'd work for me. I'm not in debt and spend very little $ on any thing else for myself. But I did feel like I couldn't control the shopping for a while there. At one point I made a $1072 JC order (did return most of it b/c ordered multiple coat sizes), but that was my tipping point. And I haven't ordered much since then.

    I think I can get swept up in the promo mania and the pretty things want, but I don't think I have a full blown addiction. I wish I could find a happy medium between the periods of frantic online over shopping and self-imposed bans.

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  24. Great post! :)

    I am definitely a big time clotheshorse and I do spend a lot of money on clothing. That said:

    I was at my absolute worst right after having my second child. I *thought* I was going to stay the weight I was postpartum, and bought out J. Crew during their crazy TURKEY promo of 2008. I did get some beautiful items and they served me well...until I lost the weight and discovered I wasn't going to stay that postpartum size. I kept some of the items (just in case I have another baby), but the vast majority of what I bought was sold on the exchange, ebay, or to the consignment shop.

    And what I do with that money? Bought more pretties in my new size (which is my old pre-baby size) even though I have a ton of clothing from when I was that size before. LOL. I guess I just wanted more modern clothing and there are so many styles that I wanted to try that I hadn't thought to attempt a few years ago (I feel like edgy preppy fits me better than my past southern preppy look).

    I have slowed down in the past year because of:

    I have a lot less money to spend.

    I have a closet full of clothing, and I have made a deal that I need to try and sell the clothes I have that I don't wear to make room for any new clothing I buy.

    I want to be a great shopper, but if what I want and will wear is not on super-sale, I will buy it near full price (try to get at least a little discount, though) and be fine with it when it does (eventually) go on sale.

    If I do find a deal, I am stoked, but I definitely do not just buy things because they are on sale. For instance, I had been eyeing the couplet dress, the factory ravine dress, and the miller moto boots for AGES. This weekend, with the 40% off, I said that if the items I want make it all the way to late Sunday night and they still have my size, I will buy them. And they did. But I didn't just buy a tissue turtleneck because it was available. I have no need for another one in my closet, nor did I want it, so I didn't get it.

    I still have a lot of work to do to be the best possible shopper who doesn't overdo it but I feel that I have become more introspective about why I buy and that has made a difference. Not a huge one, but I know change takes time.

    I also had a very poor childhood (we were on welfare for awhile--everyone is always shocked by that--and that is why I get so bent out of shape when people come on my blog and say that my spending means I have no idea the real value of money--grrr). I also have read the book SPENT and I agree, that is a fab tome if you would like to start a journey of self-discovery into your own shopping addiction (I definitely started changing some of my habits after I finished it).

    Thanks, Gigi, and all. The comments and post are very important and I applaud all of us for talking about it!

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  25. Fabulous post Gigi, I think you struck a chord. I've always loved clothes but didn't spend much in college, constrained by finances and not loving the way most things looked on me with the extra freshman 15 (or 30) that I carried around for 4 years. Bought much more in my first "professional" years, was excited to lose weight and wear cute suits, etc. Now that I have a little more flexibility in what I can wear, I'm had a lovely time the past few years with J. Crew. Since I also love to buy clothes for the kiddies (Lelli Kelly shoes, anyone)?, it can easily get out of hand. My area of weakness is new releases online. I can be much more careful with sales, probably in part because I live in the mountain west and miss the updates. But, I panic that something new will sell out and I'll "miss" it, which I've learned rarely happens. My "task" for this year is to be more patient and wait for sales, esp. for items that I won't even wear for 4 more months (i.e., spring). I think online is a challenge for me because my b&m is pretty limited in selection, and I get carried away with seeing all the stuff "irl" that my store won't get.

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  26. Gigi, I really do hope that some alert reader managed to save your post, because I missed it this morning and, judging from these honest, eloquent and astute comments, I lost out big-time. I always find your observations to be laser-accurate, Gigi, and I can certainly deduce that this case is no different. SOMEBODY PLEASE BRING BACK GIGI'S POST! :-)

    On this general subject, even without seeing Gigi's post, I do have confessionally-flavored thoughts to toss in here.

    Like so many others, I find that these fashion/JC blogs are a double-edged sword.

    The positives of being a JCA: Since discovering The Mothership in late 2008/early 2009 I have been steadily acquiring new and truly interesting blogs to follow, and through them I've developed some warm online acquaintanceships with like-minded women that truly have the potential to become friendships. Wonderful stuff. And even after having been in the rag trade myself for a decade, I've learned a whole lot from y'all about freshening my own wardrobe within the framework of my lifelong personal style. That is golden information, lemme tell you, for a young-feeling but decidedly late-middle-aged mother of two young-adult sons who really want their mom to look polished, updated and fashionably "correct" but do NOT want their mom to make the deathly mistake of looking like she's dressing too young for her age. I can't thank y'all enough!

    The negatives of being a JCA: Time and again I've gotten swept up in the emotional whirlpool caused by seeing an item look incredible on someone in an IRL photo or in a Polyvore set. Often it's an item that I'd not given a second glance. Add a promo price and you've got the perfect storm. Good grief, the frenzy this sets off in me -- I am truly embarrassed to admit it. It drowns out my sense of reason and good judgment, it keeps me up til ridiculous hours stalking websites and eBay and calling B&M's, it results in silly purchasing mistakes, it wreaks havoc on my budget, it necessitates trips to the mall to make what were absolutely pre-destined returns, and in the end, worst of all, it makes me feel really, really crummy about me. (And the fact that my precious, obviously perplexed DH doesn't nag at me -- in fact is so lovingly tolerant of having his sensible wife suddenly behaving this way -- just makes me feel even worse.)

    One of my most important 2011 New Year's resolutions is to pull away -- and if necessary drag myself kicking and screaming to a safer distance -- from this time-sucking, money-draining, honestly exhausting behavior. Shame on me. I really DO know better!!!

    So I'm curfewing my computer use -- no late night stalking, not allowed online to search for Sunday morning popbacks. While I am allowing myself to enjoy a little blog/Polyvore time (the only reason I am sitting here typing ;-)), I've also been reminding myself of this fact every day: I am an experienced, educated shopper and I know what works on me, what makes me feel like the authentic me, and what doesn't. No matter how fantastic something looks on Gigi or ABC or Dina or Slastena or any of you beautiful ladies, if that item didn't catch my eye when I studied the newest catalog or the latest website update, it's 99.9% likely that the item didn't fill an APPROPRIATE space in my closet. What's an appropriate space? That's the hole in my closet reserved for an item of clothing or shoes or accessories that's available at an affordable price in a color, a style and a fabric that flatter my coloring, my shape, my personal style, the way I live and the climate I live in -- and for which I do not already own a perfectly reasonable substitute.

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  27. My overshopping also takes on a "binge" quality... I'll find all these great deals on things I've had my eye on, and they all seem to happen within a few weeks/days.

    Then I'll tell myself I need to be good and try to stay away from the mall, but it only lasts a few weeks also.

    It's incredibly frustrating, but I don't really know how to stop altogether.

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  28. Excellent topic. I admit to a "yes" for almost all the questions. However (here it comes), I don't think of it as an issue (yet)and, ironically, it's b/c of shopping blogs like yours. Before I started looking at blogs 11 months ago, my (public) wardrobe consisted of 3 pairs of nice jeans, a few (not more than 5) t's, 2 pairs of tennies, and pair of boots. Also I had a dress my mother gave me and 1 pair of pumps from when I worked (I had given the rest of my work clothes away to clear my closet of things I didn't need.) One day I looked in the mirror and did not like what I saw. I tried shopping on my own but I was literally overwhelmed w/ all the options in one store, never mind all the stores in the mall that carried women's clothing. I went a couple of times and only tried on 4 things b/c of "options" anxiety. In an attempt to focus, I used shopping blogs (yours was the first I found, Gigi). Once I found something I liked on you, I would go to the malls and try it on. However, even if it fit and looked good, I balked at paying full price so I had to wait for sales and clearance (some things got away but I don't miss them -except for 2 things :P). The shopping blogs (yours in particular, Gigi) have saved me time and money, helped me w/ (desparately needed) styling and expanded my shopping horizons.
    I have gotten carried away at times. I cop to binge buying, I bought 4 blazers from Anthro 2 months ago(I haven't worn 3, the same style but differnt colors, b/c they are awaiting a trip to the tailors to add another button -- "in my defense" they fit perfectly but I have a thing about placement of buttons on blazers/cardigans). There are a couple of more things that point to overshopping (for example more than half of the things in my closet still have the tags on, but there is not an item that I don't love and do not plan to wear). However, in my defense, (here I go again) I did not take the advantage of Crew's 40% off -- but there are 2 boxes from Land's End on their way to me. I did go to an outlet mall and bought an awesome one size too small sweater (other shoppers in the store were asking where I found it) in the clearance section that was an additional 60% off the reduced price--luckily I have 2 daughters who are one size smaller than I am and recognized it is a phenomenal sweater even though their mother picked it out. I let them borrow it until I can fit into it:P
    I definitely struggle w/ shopping, and shopping wins sometimes(the price is too good, I "love" (?) the item). However, I am beginning to develop checks -- I have a number of skirts and am not tempted by them no matter how cute. This year I will be focusing on dresses (I still have only the one my mother gave me), jewelry and other accessories.
    Thanks for providing a place to ramble (purge) and read about others' experiences. It really helps me to explore something I was trying to ignore.

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  29. Hi Gigi,
    Another great post! I contemplate these issues a lot as I have been addressing these issues in my life for a few years: I have changed many of my habits over that time but have a ways to go. I think the parts which resonate with me are

    1. Hiding purchases so as to avoid husband's questions but this is directly related to not enjoying the purchase. Might get too well-hidden and ignored.

    2. Shopping as an activity in contrast to all the other activities in the world. A couple years ago I spent so much time keeping track of receipts (what if I changed my mind etc)and finally tossed all receipts and said "You live with what you buy." I need to return to that mentality and yet find it hard with the insane price fluctations especially with j-youknowwho.

    Dr Phil says to change habits you need to replace them and I am looking (again) at that: going to the office gym on lunch hour instead of shopping, etc.

    I do think blogs are enabling (as well as informative as dinagideon pointed out) but I will keep yours on my reading list because your writing is great, you have a variety of topics and our shopping tastes/body types are very different so it is not so tempting! I love your Let's Talk!

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  30. Gigi, I can't thank you enough for opening this topic up for discussion. Over the last few years I've also suffered from a shopping addiction - not addiction in air quotes, not some cutesy thing I do just to pass the time - it was pure and simple an addiction. Something I felt I had little control over, was devastating not only to my finances but also to my personal well-being, and it's something I'm still battling with today.

    Love her or loathe her, we watch a lot of Suze Orman in our house. She likes to say when finances are all a mess, your life is usually also filled with clutter. This can't be more true in my situation. There were boxes coming to the house every day from UPS - so many that I couldn't keep track. And in my tiny apartment (before I got married), there was no place to put the stuff. I'd purchased an entire set of dishes, glasses and silverware - for "when I had a house someday." Of course buying all that stuff was totally preventing me from ever saving for a house, but that didn't matter. I had boxes piled up in every corner. Clothes were in piles around the bedroom, because there was no room in the closet.


    Do you feel guilty about some purchases?

    Yes, almost instantaneously after purchasing. Buying online, while it is gratifying to find that one item you've been desperately searching for over the past *gasp* two whole weeks(!) - shopping online doesn't truly offer the same instant gratification of purchasing something and having it in hand. At the most serious point of my erm, addiction, I'd enjoy maybe two seconds of joy from the time I click "submit order" until I received the order confirmation email, at which point it really sunk in that "man, I just bought that. I didn't need it. I didn't want it. What will I do with it?"

    Like you, I've got a therapist - and she's done wonders for many aspects of my life. But as for fixing the shopping addiction - I guess maybe we never really got there? Or haven't gotten there yet? It's been over a year of weekly visits, and, as you mentioned, I still don't feel like I have the tools to stop it. I'm trying to get better on my own; trying to understand why I do the things I do. And now that the credit cards are all maxed out (and I'm doing all I can to pay them off) I can't buy like I used to because I literally can't. I just don't have the funds.

    Thank you again for allowing us to chat about this - it's probably way more personal that I should be getting. But it feels good to let it out. I'm hoping (planning? intending?) for this to be the year I get my life back. I want to work out. I want to pay off every last one of my credit cards. And I want to stop buying things I don't need and don't want. This will be the year.

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  31. Great post, Gigi! I played JCrew Interplanetary Shop and Awe this weekend, and am glad it's over.

    My mom was a fabulous dresser, had her things made for her in good times, stalked sale racks and charted markdowns during bad times. And our town was known for its department stores and good shopping, on rainy days the driest shortcut home from school was through Saks… well, you get saturated. If you're lucky, you develop your own sense of what does and doesn't work for you, what you'll regret because you'll see yourself coming and going, and what you like but can pass on. And, most importantly, you develop IMMUNITIES. You learn that there will always be another sale, there will always be navy blue in the spring, whites after Memorial Day, pinks & greens in summer, black linen in August, golds & browns in fall… no rush.

    Trips to factory outlets (when they really were outlets) changed those attitudes. The stuff really would disappear. The samples really were samples. And on one trip to NJ, I swear I believed some stuff really had fallen off a truck. Or out of a container. I learned that sometimes you have to decide fast. My tricks: get on the longest line to pay, and pay by check if possible. And now, shopping without crowds! without parking! in bathrobe! in face cream! Free shipping, promos, multiple screens open, Yes.Please.

    I pay off my cards on time, set up the payments early on my bank account and check to make sure what's supposed to go out has in fact gone. Interesting how long JC can take to credit an electronic payment!

    No, what I did not like about this weekend was the feeling that I was in some kind of computer war game with unseen fellow gamers, and that, as with slot machines and computer poker, one way or another, the house is going to come out ahead. Once you view shopping as a competitive event, you'll want to win…

    I'm glad it's over. I'm glad I got some goodies. I'm just ambivalent about how I got them.

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  32. Great post, Gigi. Thnx for sharing. I am trying to exit a period of overshopping that in retrospect started with some combo of
    1) having a closet that was empty and did not fit my new lifestyle - think old clothes from high school with midriff baring tops, eek!,
    2) blogs and online shopping - as much as I love keeping up with the fashion happenings, ten years ago I would have no clue who (fill in designer) was and their latest line for NYFW, and I wouldn't be online exposed to all the BRIGHT&SHINY things, and
    3) a traumatic event that I didn't know how to handle very well.

    At least I keep records of seething I buy (parents instilled receipt keeping and excel spreadsheets long before mint.com), and I can see the trend- that is how I'm "exiting" vs lost in the overshopping. The numbers don't lie. From the time I bought my own clothes ~1998-2007 I probably bought an avg of <10 items a year - about 1-5 shopping trips in 12 months. After fall 08, I counted up my JCrew (at that point my wardrobe was mainly jcrew) items at ~60 for a period of maybe even less than 6 months - that's about 10x more than the average of the prior decade. I bought 29 pairs of shoes in 2008 and again in 2009. (2010 numbers forthcoming but I think it's half that).

    My closet is now full. Part of the problem is I don't SEE it (physically) when I click Submit Order because I'm not always at home. But the main issues are the three above and now that I have the staggering #s and understand my trigger I'm hopeful I'll continue exiting the overshopping trend. Perhaps I'll look back at 2008-2010 as those great JCrew years of popbacks that made my closet- a closet that will last another 10 years :)

    Thanks for promoting some self reflection, Gigi!

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  33. Very well written post Gigi. As for myself I definately have more clothes than I need, and buy when I think something is cute or "of the moment". But I'm addicted to "basics" which unfortunately means I don't get rid of much because it a) never goes out of style b) usually never wears out. But that never curtails my appitite for the new.
    Fortunately I have never spent more than I could afford, and have always been of the mindset to never have more on a credit card than I would be comfortable or capable of paying off instantly if need be. Shopping in person helps because I for the most part never, ever use plastic for in-store purchases. I have always used cash because if I don't have green my wallet I can't buy anything. Problem solved.
    But on the flip side online sales always and forever do me in. But the fortunately lack of stock in my size does help.
    I do belive if you start hiding any purchases that aren't gifts for others you do have a problem.

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  34. When my daughter was a baby (now a high schooler) I thought we needed a playpen. We never used it for my daughter but I discovered that it was a handy spot to hide shopping bags! Now I show my husband my purchases and it is a much better for being accountable and reasonable - also cuts the guilt factor way down!

    Gigi, thanks very much for this post. It will be interesting to see how many posts there will be - so far a very popular topic.

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  35. What an excellent post Gigi. I think a lot about this stuff too. In fact, I started my blog to examine my shopping habits (that's where my handle comes from -- the golden mean, finding the right balance between frugality and overindulgence, saving and spending, minimalism and excess...), but to be quite honest, they only got worse, much worse, within a few months of starting it! Reading and immersing myself in the world of fashion blogs provided SO much temptation -- there were beautiful things everywhere, and I felt like I somehow had to collect and accumulate them all, or they would pass me by forever. And of course, if they were on sale, so much the better, as it was simply unthinkable to pass up such great *deals* on such pretty items. My closet ballooned. I had to upgrade to slimline hangers just so everything would fit! I pretty much stopped saving completely and was just spending my entire paycheck. And I started carrying a CC balance for the first time in my life -- not a big one, and this only lasted a few months, but it was such a wake up call to me, since it was something I promised myself I would never do.

    In the last year and a half, I have become much better about these things thankfully, but it's not like the temptation has completely left. I've done two things for myself that have really helped, to the point where in the last 6 months I've been consistently on/under-budget. One is that I started a private tumblr, where I just started saving all the pretty things that tempted me (I also put in looks that inspire me, things on my shopping list, etc.) This way, I satisfied the "collector's impulse" -- I was keeping and remembering these pretty things somewhere, even if not physically. Going through my tumblr archives (they are visually laid out, very pretty) is such a satisfying experience, and provides the same kind of "shopping high" that I used to get, but without me spending any money. I often find that after I've virtually saved something, I don't need it in real life. I do actually buy some of these things that I put there, but I think long and hard about it before I do so, and I buy in the context of all my other needs/wants that I've also saved to the tumblr, which makes my purchases much smarter.

    The other thing I do is periodically look at my savings accounts and make small (and sometimes not so small) savings goals for myself. The feeling I get when I when I see the numbers go up, and when I hit a big savings goal, is a high equivalent if not better to that of a big shopping score =)

    I still shop, and I still spend, and I'm perfectly happy with that, because hey, it's how I enjoy myself, so why not?, and realistically I'm never going to stop completely. I just make sure that I'm pretty disciplined now about doing it responsibly and with the balance I first sought when I started my blog.

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  36. ^goldenmeans-this tumbler idea sounds very interesting and helpful! would love to see a post on how that is done/set-up!

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  37. Two books which have helped me greatly (with fears, phobias, and very real panic attacks) are Melody Beattie's "Codependent No More" and "Beyond Codependency."

    It's all up to you, the individual. Little changes can turn into big ones, and shopping is a large cover for something bigger. I read these books decades ago, loaned them to a neighbor who never returned them (a "boundary" I had to deal with) and moved on; I repurchased them and read them again when I was moving from one phase of my life to another several years ago.

    The best "breakthroughs" are the ones you achieve on your own.

    Take care.

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  38. Lots I can't say, but won't. And can't. But yes, Gigi, been there. Am there. Thank you for this post. God bless you for approaching it so thoughtfully and earnestly. And with with that Gigi sass ("I'm not asking for your advice." Snap. LOL).

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  39. I appreciate this post a lot, Gigi. Like others, I tend to take stock around January 1. This year my overshopping is front and center. I definitely have a problem. I am also introspective and "know" the reasons I shop (online almost exclusively). However, I've found it is another thing entirely to stop. My reasons are situational, and my situation isn't going away anytime soon. It's a matter of breaking habits, and since the blog world has become an important part of my (virtual) life in this process, it is hard to go cold turkey because I will definitely miss it.

    I am lucky to have a wonderful husband who recognizes my problem but knows I'm aware of it and doing my best to shape up, so I'm not hiding it and I do have great support. I know it is silly, but sometimes (like people who sue McDonald's for their obesity problem), I get really mad at JCrew, which seems silly, but which may actually serve as the basis for my recovery. In some ways I think their tactics (for me) resemble those that drug pushers must use, LOL. Frequent rollouts, popbacks, and a PS who does me favors have induced a two-year buy/return spree that makes my head spin just thinking about it.

    There are good things that have happened, friendships forged, a community built, a closet full of beautiful clothes that I don't regret. It was helpful to go back through all the stuff I've bought over the past year or two and see the mistakes I've made and realize "what was I thinking?" In some ways I think JCrew's new return policy will be my savior as well, as I have definitely played the buy/return game at 60+ days in the past and won't be able to in the future.

    Anyway, I thank you and others for being so honest, it has really helped me to hear others' stories. Good luck to us all!

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  40. Great post Gigi. You have such a knack at getting people talking.
    I wasted a lot of money in 2009. When I first came across the mothership and got immersed in the Jcrew sale game. Then I watched most of those items fall apart or sit in my closet gathering dust. Realizing that, I became much more critical. About what was worth my money and what was truly my style. Now I am as obsessed with closet analysis and shopping strategy as I am with buying. It's my new game I guess. Figuring out what deserves a place in my closet. I can obsess over building the perfect wardrobe instead of the largest one

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  41. Dear Gigi Thanks so much for your candor and for taking the time to put this together (you must have been up all night)!

    I am definitely guilty of some of the red flags, but being a business owner I have a shrewd streak that takes precedence over going all out. That being said JC offers far too many 'perceived bargain promos'. The bottom line is that even when an $88 cardigan is sold at $29.99 they are still making a profit...and that 'bargain' is really not a bargain.

    One thing that helps me to resist temptation is to ask myself if the item I am lusting over were to be hanging on a rack at Nordstroms or Macys would I want it as much? Probably not. Its those damn catalogs, the styling, colors and of course our JCA sisters' blogs who are part of the trigger.

    If JC didn't have the generous return policy and Free ship mins I would be less likely to make a purchase — I am reluctant to pay for to/from shipping costs. The fact that a B&M is close by is part of the problem because I can return something in a heartbeat with a quick skip to the mall.

    After my last post on the Mothership I actually cut up my JC card and removed both it and my VISA account from the payment methods — So far no shopping.

    I will go through older catalogs and shop my closet for the next few months and will get inspiration form what JC catalogs offer in the future. Thanks to the decline in quality I will resist making any new purchases for now—Don't need another piling cardigan to add to the many I already have!

    Its still January and early enough to make a change! So my heart goes out to those struggling. One or two of the recommended reading GiGi has shared may be the best thing you buy yourself.

    I will bookmark this page and come back to read this thread. So thank you ladies for sharing your thoughts.

    Wishing everyone a reflective and
    Happy Martin Luther King day.

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  42. First, a HUGE shout-out to GIgi for posting this. For sharing your story with grace, honesty and clarity.
    I am a shopaholic and believe 100 percent that this is indeed a very real and diagnosable problem. And the numbers of people falling victim is growing at a rampant rate.
    I don't have to make a long winded post noting my specifics. I would indeed answer YES to all those questions and everything I do/feel/have experienced has been posted by others. The most recent anonymous sums me up to a tee but I would add that for me, this has been going on for many, many years. I have tried many programs, read many books, been on and off the wagon--in and out of debt etc. It is truly exhausting and very damaging.

    For me, I must go with the day-by-day and all or nothing approach. I have to make up my mind and open my eyes to the FACT that I have all that I need, I am grateful and that experiences are what's needed in my life--time spent doing, making memories and serving others. Not time wasted shopping, serial returning, reading shopping blogs etc. That is precious time that I cannot get back to spend doing things that really make a difference and enrich my life with REAL and wonderful experiences.

    I want to see my bank account grow instead of shriveling down to nothing and then go into negative by way of foolish choices-carrying a balance on a J Crew credit card with that interest rate..is living blindly. (Like Gigi did, make a transfer to a zero interest card, immediately.)

    Stopping shopping entirely in order to gain control is necessity for me. It's the only way I can leave room in my head to do the necessary work needed..to search my soul for what it is that I am really seeking when that urge hits and make realizations (that do not happen overnight) about what I am really feeling. I have been numb to my feelings and it is time to wake up and FEEL again. Feel discomfort, sadness, boredom etc. and decide, how is shopping really going to help that? It's not.

    I hate to say this but I know for certain that as positive as the JCA blog has been for me, it has also been supremely involved in my demise. This is not the place an overshopper needs to be spending their time. It equates to the alcoholic spending their time at a bar or liquor store. Going there, to the J Crew website or online shopping at any store is the greatest disservice I can offer myself. Nothing good can truly come out of this when you are indeed a compulsive shopper AND you want to get/be better.

    Shannon's ideas and her quote, "I can obsess over building the perfect wardrobe instead of the largest" is something I aspire to. Minimize. Less choices but great ones.

    I thank Ibi for her thoughts and for spurring you on to make this utterly important post. THIS post WILL change lives.

    I want to add that I have read many of the books mentioned and have worked with April Benson on her program. She is one of the leading authorities in this field and her book (on your list), To Buy or Not to Buy..is a great book. Visit her website for more invaluable info: www.shopaholicnomore.com
    Also, I cannot more highly recommend SPENT-Break the Buying Obsession and Discover Your True Worth. Isn't that what so many of us are really searching for?

    I sincerely hope this helps someone else. Best to everybody!

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  43. Great topic Gigi, and thanks for sharing your experiences with us in bloggy-land.

    I know I have the makings in me to become a full-blown shopaholic. There have been few times in my life when I haven't been obsessed with shopping: when I was in high school with no money and a changing body that I couldn't dress, when I got out of University and earned my first paycheck and "collected" office clothes even though I wore a lab coat all day, then back to school I go and had no money... onto my years of being married, made good money and was bored/felt unloved so I shopped and shopped...right up to a few years back when I split from my ex, dropped 20 pounds and shopped for a new (size appropriate but somewhat jejeune) wardrobe... and now, when I have 2 homes with 2 closets which sorely tempt me to fill up with new goodies.

    In the last year or so, since I gave myself the OK to start ordering from JC (use to be the bi-annual visits to the crewlet and B&M...now paying S&H and duties to ship to Canada!), and discovered the JCA blogs, I've felt the rush in joining the crowds when I scored a find on promo, or "made" an outfit with new pieces...I have accumulated a lot more clothing than I need for my lifestyle. Thankfully I can afford to spend the money, but I keep asking myself, wouldn't this money serve me better by saving it for my retirement?

    I know what my "triggers" are... boredom, loneliness, dissatisfaction with my body... I am learning to deal with each of those issues, and have (I think) regained control of my life, and shopping habits. I won't say I won't fall off the wagon again and go on a binge, but I think I am smarter and more analytical about my shopping since I started blogging and polyvoring.

    Right now I'm planning to hold off on buying anything new till Spring, the real Spring when the weather actually warms up, and not the "retail spring" when the stores stock new items. I find I work better if I'm looking at what is in my closet, rather than guessing at or trying to remember when I've got packed away in my out-of-season-boxes before pulling the trigger. So, no more Jackie cardis or striped tees till April. Or March. Oh, whatevs...

    Thanks for the discussion Gigi! love your blog as always!

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  44. WONDERFUL! Thank you so very much for chiming in. It takes a great amount of courage to pull away any masks, be honest & share your story. I could put my name next to many of these sentences and the same circumstances have or do apply. I'm reading each comment as they come in. So know that you are being heard. Bravo to all :-)

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  45. Thanks, Gigi, for your honesty in discussing this issue. I'm working on my issues. I over-shopped a lot last year because a) for the first time in my life I actually had real disposable income and b) I wanted to build up my wardrobe.

    I bought a lot of stuff. I got some great deals. I wasted money on a few things. But at the end of it, I had a full wardrobe and then some. So it should have been easy to stop shopping, right?

    It wasn't. I know that feeling well that you described--the one where you see something you want, and suddenly, you REALLY want it. You HAVE to have it. It's absolutely the LAST thing you'll buy. Except it isn't.

    I called a shopping ban at that point, but it didn't work for me, mainly because I know the issue is learning to control my shopping, not obliterate it entirely. The fact is, I do have the money to buy SOME of the things I want and so the trick is to let myself buy some without losing control and buying too much.

    It's hard but I'm working on it. And posts like yours make it easier, so thank you :)

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  46. I haven't posted on your blog in quite awhile it wasn't because of your blog I think it is wonderful I had to step away because I was ordering waay too much clothing. I have replaced my J Crew addiction with another retailer and now have to stop shopping all together since I am no longer working.

    Based on my experience please I have to give advice to all your readers please get your financial house in order and do not let shopping take over from saving for a house or some other big time financial goal, I did and I regret it every day I am now in my fifties.

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  47. Such an interesting topic, Gigi. I'm glad you chose to post about it. Speaking as devil's advocate for a moment, I think it's important to build a good wardrobe and look one's best and the only way to do that is to shop! You've been so helpful to me this past year as I had a little more money to spend but am easily overwhelmed in stores and also actually lazy. :) BUT I did find myself getting obsessive sometimes and that seems to be a feeling shared by many other commenters! It's hard to know when enough is enough. I'm going through a taking stock period right now--if I find there's something I need and don't have I'll get it, but I'm trying VERY hard to avoid the impulse buys and recreational shopping because that money is usually better spent somewhere else.

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  48. Some more thought provoking questions from Dr. April Benson:

    How and when did the shopping addiction begin?

    What form does it take? Is it shopping on the Internet, from catalogues, on TV, in stores? When buying gifts?

    What emotions underlie the shopping addiction?

    Is it a means to self-soothe?

    Is it done to try to enhance self-esteem or feel more socially desireable?

    Do you shop to enliven yourself b/c of an internal feeling of deadness?

    Is it a repsonse to a change in another addictive behavior?

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  49. Like a couple of other posters mentioned I grew up lower middle class and did not have many clothes or "in" clothes like the other kids I went to school with. I was truthfully the only one in my class without $$$.

    As an adult who then had the means to buy clothing I slowly started shopping more and more over the years. I finally realized one day my closet was overflowing and I was overbuying. The time was NOW to stop this craziness and realize "The Hole has Been Filled". STOP. (or at least slow WAY DOWN.)

    I now only buy 2-3 new pieces of clothing each season which is 4-6 items a year.

    It has been really hard as 2010 finally was the year I did this. Feeling very good.

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  50. Hi Gigi, I posted (under the name Hopeful as I truly have hope for myself at this time)a rather lengthy but thought-filled expression based on my first-hand experience as a shopaholic. I saw it post but now it is gone. Is there any technical difficulties going on with the blog or are you removing it for any reason? I have so much first-hand knowledge that I had hoped to share but I wasn't sure if I violated rules or something. I don't want to try to recapture all of my thoughts (re-write and post) if something I am writing is proving offensive or against your blog rules. I apologize in advance if that is the case. Please let me know before I try to go back and re-write if you don't mind. TIA!

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  51. That was a great post, Gigi. Judging by the comments, it was very thought provoking and struck a chord with many.

    I don't really identify with overshopping. I've been pretty good at self moderating, not getting caught up in frenzies and buying things on sale that I wouldn't buy full price. That doesn't mean I haven't had shopper's remorse and found myself not liking things as much after a few wearings.

    One thing that has helped me ENORMOUSLY was creating a wardrobe catalogue. I started last year and it took quite a while. I have a description and picture of every single article of clothing, shoes, bags and jewelry that I own, other than undergarments, pajamas and workout wear. I was able to find stock pictures of almost everything online. I took my own photos of the few items I could not find pictures for.

    Two things happened once I completed my wardrobe catalogue. I was able to clearly identify what I wasn't wearing. In some cases it was just because they weren't as flattering as I'd like or they didn't suit me. I was able to decide to either part with them or tailor them. The other thing that happened was it focused my shopping. I could see if there was a need or a hole and just fill that. I didn't need to buy something new if it was similar to something I already had. I'm buying much less, and I find now I'm focusing on accessories, jewelry, shoes - the kinds of things that help you turn existing clothes into different outfits - moreso than buying new clothes. I use my wardrobe document every day. I get outfit inspiration and find I'm using things in different ways and getting a lot more bang for my clothing buck.

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  52. HOPEFUL - Your comment was marked by Blogger as spam and not published. I don't know how it decides what is spam or not as I don't have any filters set. I'm not even sure if I can set filters or not. At any rate, I went looking for it and published it from the spam folder. Thanks for chiming in.

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  53. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  54. This is a great topic for discussion and everyone has such interesting points of view. Thanks for posting about this topic, Gigi.

    Ironically, my word verification is "nocardi" Ha ha. That is one thing on my "No Need to Buy Anymore of These!" list for 2011:)

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  55. what an incredible post :) I can relate in the sense that I really LOVE to stop (as you know).

    However, I tend to justify my shopping because I never use credit cards and I don't buy things I can't afford (and on top of it all, I actually wear the things I buy, they don't just sit in my closet.)

    But, I know that just because I have it under control, it doesn't mean I don't shop too often. My goal this year is to try and make smarter purchases---spending more on something i LOVE and I know I'll use the heck out of versus a $20 top from Forever21 that I'll wear 3 times.

    here's to trying to shop smarter in 2011!

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  56. Great post. Gigi, i love your blog its one of my many daily reads. I do enjoy shopping because i now have the body and bank account that i always wanted. I have more clothes than i could possibly wear. I still compare myself to others, esp those with better bodies or pricier clothes and wish i had more. But at the end of the day, stuff is just stuff. There is so much to who i am and many many important things in life!

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  57. Being a shopping addict is a very real addiction and you are correct, not many people "get it". I am a somewhat recovering shopping addict having pulled myself out of debt twice. I still can't trust myself 100% with shopping and my spouse accompanies me on 99.9% of all shopping trips. People laugh, they think you are just joking or being spoiled. It is an addiction like any other.

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  58. I love that people without any shopping "issues" are sharing info and providing ideas on how they view shopping and work their closets. I find it astounding and exhilirating to hear about/from people who clearly have a healthy relationship with shopping (I'm looking at you, Desert Flower;) What a marvelous idea to catalogue ones entire closet! It makes such good sense--especially for someone with loads of stuff that can easily be forgotten. It seems a certain way to identify what is really working or where there may be actual needs instead of blindly shopping for more random stuff. Also weeding out the unnecessary so that only things you want to wear and work with other things are hanging there.
    When I read this, it sounds so clean and simple to do. I hope my mind can get to this calm and controlled place one day. It sounds so freeing to be in control:)

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  59. Simply, thank you for this post...

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  60. Long term reader, first time poster
    Fantastic thought provoking post, I was thinking along similar lines the other day, not so much on the topic of shopping addiction but with a view to starting up a blog of my own, I've really begun to question why so many of my daily reads (two years ago I had never read a single blog in my life, now I have hundreds bookmarked) seem to be written from the perspective of
    'look at what I have"
    as opposed to
    'look at what I did"
    or better still
    "look at what I gave"
    I'm old enough and have been through enough not to get caught up in the
    "must have it cause she has it and it looks fantastic on her so it will on me too and then everything in my life will suddenly fall nicely into place with the wearing of this shirt/dress/coat etc"
    although I'd be lying if I said I never get suckered like that at all
    but for younger more impressionable girls and women I worry about the added pressure
    This is in no way directed at blogs such as your which I find one of the most informative and well written blogs on my list of 100's,
    For sure shopping addiction was an issue long before the blogging world came about or even long before the internet, my grandmothers closet was testament to that, but yes, the older I get the less palatable I find these
    "look at all I have" blogs
    consume, consume, consume etc
    Lifelong clothes fanatic who is finally learning that quality trumps quantity for sure

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  61. Wow! What an incredible read, both the post and the comments. I can see how the various blogs would be like candy to a sweet tooth and I do find myself worrying sometimes about some of the comments I read, even on my own blog. My advice has always been to take a break from reading the blog even though I will miss that person being around.

    On the topic itself, I agree that it's hard to resist the excitement of seeing how great an item looks on someone else or when a bunch of bloggers look great in an item. But after growing up with a hoarder I will never allow myself to own too much of anything. I'm not overly minimal but I cannot stand the feeling of clutter. I think that helps to keep me in check.

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  62. After reading all the comments I wanted to try one of those book. I put "spent" in cart and to get free shipping I automatically started browsing. Gosh that was close!

    Great post Gigi and everyone.

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  63. Oh, boy, I am in trouble..:) I go through ups and downs with shopping like many. Like many I am compensating for my less then thrilling {materially} childhood { the rest was there, I promise). When I shop, I feel empowered. Granted, I have enough restraint to shop sales pretty much exclusively, but sale items can pile up quickly to a pretty $$$, so who am I kidding? :)I do not have a debt as I pay everything in full ,as with you, DH does not sponsor my purchases, and yet, teh guilt is there.. I culd have put more in SEP, or donated some, or have done smth more meaningful with it. I am glad there is help around. The frist step is acknowledgment and I think I have made it.

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  64. I have a gigantic shopping problem. I could write forever and ever on this, but I'll spare y'all my extensive brain dump. I dug myself into a huge financial hole, which depression sprang from, aiding and abetting the low self-esteem I've been dealing with my entire life. I started over-shopping in 2005. When I discovered blogs in 2007, my shopping just increased exponentially along with the number of shopping blogs. I also knew - back in 2005 - not to trust myself with a huge credit line that was handed to me, but I didn't listen to my gut. I shop too much to bandaid other problems, and I can no longer do the things I once loved/wanted to do - the things that really would make me happy instead of a piece of cloth that pills or is out of style in a few months or gets worn out after a few washes. My debt holds me back. I'm ashamed about it, my previous super consumption habits and my life situation entirely, so I'm working hard to fix it. Thanks for recognizing and talking about issues like this.

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  65. Wow how wonderful that so many of you stopped by with reflective and supportive comments.

    Just wanted to add a TIP (similar to Desert Flower and GoldenMeans' Tumblr idea) that helps me:
    As a designer I keep 'inspiration folders' of things for future reference that I find are aesthetically striking, a great color combination, or a clever use of type etc — Well I also happen to have a folder chock-full of styling ideas; images of outfits gathered from websites, Ads, blogger pages etc. Using my MAC I just 'select all' or the most recent 50 images in that folder and click 'preview as a slide show', sit back with a cup of tea/joe and just watch the eye-candy float by! (you can do the same with flicker). I know it sounds barmy, but its so relaxing, inspires a new outfit or two (w/items in my closet) and then when it's all done and my recess is over I get back to work with a smile on my face — No temptation, no enabling, no 'SUBMIT' button (or submission) involved!

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  66. P.S. Thanks again Gigi. Hope you can keep this thread up for a while...

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  67. Thank you so much for the post! I actually googled "shoppers annon" to try and find mtgs in my area as I thought they might be helpful!

    I LOVE shopping and then it stressed me out when I look in my closet and see so many clothes that I can't possibly wear them in one season... and it's never ending!

    I pretty much ONLY shop at JC and for designer denim now because it keeps me from buying things at other stores that I end up not actually wearing! It's really hard to avoid the LOFT 50% off EVERYTHING and JC 40% off sale ... grrr!

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  68. * Tracking all of my expenses. I keep a fairly detailed budget using Quicken, and if I'm good about tracking things, I can see toward the end of the month if I'm overspending. That seems to be the best motivation for me to stop buying clothes or otherwise overspending, discovering that I've spent all but, say, $30 of my entire monthly allotment in 3 weeks and have to stretch that money for all food and transportation and other expenses for the last week to meet my budget. I'd been "borrowing" from the clothing allowance for future months to buy things, but I realize now that this penalty-free borrowing from a vague and distant future just gets me in trouble; budgeting per month helps me prioritize and
    say no to some things.

    * Making a shopping list of things I'm allowed to buy to fill "holes" in my closet. (I actually keep a private clothing blog just for myself, which gives me a place to simultaneously enjoy my clothes without fear of judgment but also record what I have and what I (don't) need, in a place that I can refer back to later.)

    * Staying away from stores. I know that I don't need anything, so why am I looking?

    I've also set another "fun" goal for the next year (saving for a once-in-a-lifetime trip), and I think it'll help because I'll be able to point at a concrete reward for not shopping.

    J. Crew's final sale was also a blessing in disguise, because I'm a big returner (need to try multiple sizes) and I can't do that with final sale. My J. Crew purchases went down dramatically when their final sale really became final sale.

    I don't believe in bans for myself, however, just as I can't do diets, because it sets me up to "binge" when I'm done.

    Thanks to everyone for your honest stories -- it really helps hearing what others are going through, what they've found their shopping "triggers" are (in substance use treatment, they say that there are about 150 to 200 triggers that can make an alcoholic want to drink), and what techniques they use to motivate themselves. Good luck to all of us who are trying to rein in our spending habits!

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  69. Oops, the first half of my comment didn't publish. The list above was techniques that have helped me rein in my spending. What got deleted:

    * A very heartfelt thanks to Gigi for opening up this discussion, for sharing her own story, and for somehow making this discussion a space for support and sharing without attracting the nasty anonymous comments that so often plague the online community.

    * A comment on one issue that gets me and, I think, a lot of other people: the fact that one purchase engenders another. I recently bit on the J. Crew 40%-off promo, and somehow the 1st purchase turned into several. I think research has found this phenomenon with other things that people deprive themselves of, be it food (for dieters) or drugs (for addicts).

    * The thrill of the hunt (popbacks at J. Crew, wishlisted items reappearing at Anthro) also gets me. I think that's because all of a sudden it's about the game of shopping rather than the actual goal, which is to add something to my closet that was needed or enhanced it somehow.

    Sorry that this was out of order and may have caused confusion!

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  70. Anon - if you want to copy/paste your 2 posts into one, go ahead. Then I will delete the original 2, separate ones.

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  71. I want to publish this as Anonymous bc I hate logging in - but I would like to otherwise tag myself as SA. Thank you Gigi for opening this up. I am a keen follower of the JCA blog and some related blogs and it's so great to see so many regular JCAs talk here...it fills in a lot of blanks for me.

    I am a shopaholic, about 6 months to a year into this mess. I am on the verge of racking up serious credit card debt. This will be the month. I have bills to pay, student debt of $100K to repay. My husband finances the rest of my life and is insistent that he is the primary wage earner, so he's the one helping me repay the student debt.

    I have emotional reasons for shopping -
    1. Grew up badly dressed in a middle class family, surrounded by rich well dressed friends. I was never the cool kid, but always felt inside that I was being held back by my circs.
    2. I shop when I'm mad, when I'm sad, when I'm bored and when I'm procrastinating.
    3. I shop for my fantasy events
    4. I shop to show that I now have a sophisticated sense of style
    5. I shop because I enjoy it and i adore beautiful shoes, clothes and bags. I have a rip-roaring collection of sequins, shoes and bags this year. It's ridiculous because we moved into a rental home and there is no closet space. so I have boxes in my study, hiding and being stashed away bc there's no where to store my stuff. And the stuff that's hanging in my closet is inaccessible, b/c the closet floor is cluttered and I have to hide everything anyway when I first buy it and start wearing it after a suitable lay period.

    I am very very stressed about this problem. I resolved to cut up my CCs, but J Crew always always sucks me back in. I'm struggling so badly. I am lying to my husband and I feel terrible bc I am hurting us financially - we have a toddler. I am interested to read that therapy has not helped people. That's anohter magical fix in my head that I want to access sometime. I think the stuff that resonates with me as possibly helping is all the good values that our mothers instilled. And I need to start practising it and BELIEVING it again, bc I want to be a good responsible mother to my son.

    I am so mired in this right now. I hope that writing in will be the first step. I am desperately reaching for a foothold right now.

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  72. Thanks SO much for this post, Gigi. Really, thank you.

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  73. This was a great post, Gigi! I appreciate your honesty. I definitely go through spurts where I will buy a lot. I am strictly a sale shopper, but I tend to go overboard when I feel like I'm getting a great deal. I've often come home with items that I wouldn't have looked twice at if they cost just $5 more.

    I do a lot of shopping for the future too, which is stupid because I tend to get bored of clothing very quickly. I have recently come to the realization that I have everything I could ever need. I have a J. Crew card and a Banana Republic card, but don't keep balances on them, and I will probably close the J. Crew card soon as the benefits are just not enough. Even though I have a very good job and make good money, there are plenty of other things I could be spending that money on (I still also have debt from law school).

    About two weeks ago, after coming home with three sweaters even though I live in Florida and already had at least two of the colors, I decided I needed to take a good look at my closet. I am putting together a spreadsheet of every item in there. I plan to keep track of what I am wearing, so I can get rid of what doesn't get worn in 6 months or a year. I also plan to keep a copy in my purse or on my phone so that when I spot a great deal I can instantly see if it will fill a need in my closet. I'm hoping that I will be able to curb some spending that way.

    Why can't I be addicted to working out like I'm addicted to shopping?

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  74. Thanks for the additional comments. I'm confident there are hundreds more women who have read this and want to post, but haven't. Women who posted, that think they're in control, but aren't. Women afraid to post because they don't want to be found out. Women that don't know where to start. Women who clicked out of this post because they don't even want to deal.

    Overshopping, shopping addiction -- whatever you want to call it -- is a symptom of larger issues. Period. As I stated in the post, I personally believe some shopaholics (dislike that work) are addiction prone. If it isn't the mall, it might've been alcohol, drugs, sex or something else. For others, it's simply an escape. It starts of innocently and escalates into a larger problem. I don't think the 1st step is admitting that there's a problem. Admitting is just the doorway out of denial. That 1st step only happens once. I think the tenants of Al-Anon state you repeat each step as necessary, but I think that's a way for some people to build in excuses. No judgment. Just stating my personal opinion. Furthermore, I think many people believe admitting means you're 50% of the way there! I totally don't agree because it lets you off the hook too much, implying that you're half way to fixing the problem. I think complete honesty is a way to get you closer to a cure. Honesty isn't just telling someone/admitting the problem. It's really coming clean to your significant other and to yourself about the details. Heading off the UPS truck. Hiding boxes. Re-routing boxes to another address. Hiding bank statements. Don't you want to give that up?

    I'm not sure what one should do after being honest. You'll have to make a choice for your next course of action. Avoiding stores, taking a different route home, unsubscribing to retailer emails and things like that just isn't a realistic behavior change for some people. If you have a problem, you have a problem. You will find a way to continue the habit. At least that's been my experience. I hope that doesn't sound dismal. I believe in happy endings. And I hope that what we share here can help one another on the road to getting there.

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  75. Thank you, Gigi, for the post, and to all who have commented. Much has resonated with me. I look forward to the shopping ban post you are planning; do folks find them worthwhile, or do they lead to "binge" shopping later? I am experimenting with one myself right now; it has freed up a lot of time, not to mention money. And, no more guilt about hiding those ups boxes. ;

    Love the idea of cataloguing my clothing...will embark on this as a means of remembering what I have and being strategic about future purchases.

    Heard Stacy London on the today show last week say that you should buy for two reasons: utility (true need for the item) or joy. It's hard to feel joyful if you feel you have bought too much, no matter how special the item may be.

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  76. Cheers Ann. That right there is the root of my sporadic over shopping. The feeling of happiness of a winning bid on Ebay, the great price you paid for that item you would have never bought full price. But when it is placed permenently in your closet only sits there un-enjoyed collecting dust, forgoten.
    Gigi, I completely agree that simply resolving to change never works, EVER. Change comes from something outside of yourself, and hopefully I am reaching a saturation point. Coming to a realization that I have beautiful things in my closet that go unworn and enjoyed. And that I may find a cure for too much time on my hands with something other than dreaming of the new things I want to make outfits from.

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  77. wow, this was a great post and I can't wait to read the comments! Your blog was the first "shopping/style" blog I ever found- now my google reader is exploding!With that said, I felt the need to "step back" this year. I spend a lot of money shopping clothes last year and I did so to update my wardrobe and become more fashionable. I think I accomplished that goal by June and then kept shopping...

    I knew I had to get strict with myself when I kept sending boxes to storage... I live in a small apartment in the city and it's selfish of me to take up the entire second bedroom with clothes... especially when I am shopping just to shop.

    I haven't spent money in 5 days, not a dollar. I have been tempted, very temped, but I made a promise to myself and I don't want to feel regret and guilt that so often comes with excessive purchases. I also signed up for mint.com and it is INCREDIBLY motivating. I don't have any debt and for a long time I used that as an excuse "oh I can buy this because I have no debt" but that's not a reason, I had to be truthful to myself and put the sweater/dress/shirt/pants/boots, back :)

    I am spending a lot more time cooking new recipes, planning weekend trips and vacations and running.. all things that make me so happy but that I didn't carve out enough time for because shopping started to take up a lot of time.

    I don't judge anyone for shopping or bans or anything else, this is just my situation and my experience.

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  78. I just want to add that the reason I haven't spent money for several days is because I was doing things like visiting with family and keeping myself occupied with more fulfilling activities. I do think after reading the comments that shopping is an activity I used to fill a void. no doubt. When I feel happiness- true fulfilling happiness, I'm not thinking about the next great sale.

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  79. I'm glad I stopped by to read the post! I've definitely been there. Buying this, buying that. Gotta have it before it sells out... Even now I still tend to check my iphone super early to see if there was a sale update. I found myself overspending A LOT. Did i reeeally need all those tee shirts or cardigans? No. I just wanted it because it was so cute or everyone else was buying it too!

    For me personally, I find myself buying more the more I stop by jca/polyvore. Seeing everyone elses stuff makes me want it too. Especially the items that you never thought were worth getting the first time around. That's the hard thing about keeping up with a shopping blog and why I've taken a step back from my own... I wanted all of the new arrivals, I wanted to take part in every promo just because it was a good "deal."

    I've cut back SO much and I'm proud of myself. I usually only buy during sales to justify it all. But now I just buy what I reeeally need and LOVE. No more of that buying "just because its cheap" business.

    Thanks for sharing this post Gigi. Great food for thought!

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  80. Gigi
    I have been following you for awhile and love your posts. Whenever I see an item on final sale at JC I know where to find the review, so you have helped me quite a bit. Your comment on addiction really resonated with me because someone close to me has a mother who is an alcoholic and I have never seen her wear the same thing twice ever, and she lived with me for 8 months. She shops all the time. I can't help but make the same connection you did.
    I also feel that I shop for the same reasons you think you do. It's like I am afraid to live life or try to do the things in my life I have been to busy, scared and (insert a whole slew of adjectives).
    I have been better lately and the reason being is that I was just exhausted from checking return dates, running to the mall and not making deadlines because I am looking at clothes. Every time someone would ask me out for drinks or lunch I would always say no because well, $50 is a nice sale sweater.
    When my sister held me close last weekend and said I miss you and offered to pay for everything we do together just so she could see me more made me analyze and take stock to what is really important in my life. Drinks with my sis was way more rewarding to my soul than my FS j.crew sweaters.
    I do love that you mentioned all of these topics. I had to bite my lip at one point because they were all to true to me as well.

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  81. Great post Gigi. I think overspending and buying things we don't always need is a real problem for all of us. Regardless if we're shopping for ourselves, spouses or kids. It would be nice if we didn't place such an emphasis on material items and to have the latest things. I think people are a lot happer with less. Anyway I think it's couragous of you to be so honest and thank you for sharing your story. It helped me to have some perspective.

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  82. Thanks for your openness! It really is an issue in our society. I started my blog a few months ago and did it to celebrate all the items I haven't worn. It's opened my eyes to the things in my closet that haven't gotten any play time and it's helped me become more selective.

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  83. I was addicted to shopping online - and I still am and always will be - but what works for me is to fill my "shopping cart" with everything fabulous that I want (and I mean EVERYTHING). Oftentimes, my cart total exceeds $1,000. My strategy is to just leave the cart open for a few days. I refresh the cart daily just to check up on my items, but I've found that I'm not that bummed when items aren't available anymore. It's more of a "well, I liked that but I didn't really need it anyways. Someone else dropped the $200 instead of me." And that's a great feeling. After a week, I close the shopping "cart" all together and try to forget about the items. Most of the time, it's just the act of shopping and placing items in my cart that gives me the rush. I've been enjoying the absence of guilt that comes from actually purchasing and have had more free time because of fewer returns. Thanks for addressing this sensitive issue.

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  84. Hi Gigi! THANKS for posting about this. I have been a long time overspender and shopping addict. I will say, I have spent WAY more money since I started reading all the JCA blog(s). Things I never gave a second thought to suddenly became must haves for me. I always wondered how all these ladies were able to buy so many new clothes. I can only imagine that most go into huge amounts of debt.

    The way I've tried to cope with overspending is to focus on the more luxury goods than all the "crap" that falls apart (here's looking at you J.Crew!). There are only so many pilling cashmere sweaters and t-shirts with little holes that one can own. I have tried to only buy "investment" purchases. I see how much I spend on J.Crew items and think, gosh...if I just didn't buy all this "crap," in two months I could have a really, really nice designer bag, or a pair of Chanel shoes. I'm less likely to pull the trigger on higher priced items, so I end up saving money that I can use to pay off debt. With my closet BUSTING at the seams with tons of stuff I never wear, and that has NO value, I can fill holes in my wardrobe with nicer investment pieces that will hold value and last many years to come.

    I guess I've just gotten very jaded with current offerings. Nothing thrills me, nor gives me that feeling of satisfaction anymore. Jenna and Mickey diversify their wardrobe too with higher end items. Although cute, there is no reason why I have to dress head to toe in one specific retailer.

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  85. Still reading all the comments! Thank you for sharing, and for your candor and honesty. Again, I could put my name some of these statements and it would be apart of my story.

    I'm just amazed.

    Thank you for opening up. And welcome to lurkers & new subscribers. :-)

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  86. I just love what you say about how some items "are like little pieces of art" and how "The colors and textures are also delights to my eyes" and that "[you've] realized how much [you] just loooove touching and looking at clothes." All those statements show a lot of self-awareness, and I admire that. Personally, I've realized I just like the process of acquiring new things (don't have to be clothes, and don't have to be expensive at all... even groceries count! I love buying groceries!), but I don't quite know why yet, and I don't know if it's a bad thing. I guess it's time for some self-analysis, eh? I do sometimes feel guilty about purchases or hide them, and I don't like it, but that's as far as I've gone so far and I hope to go no further. Thanks for all your thoughts, Gigi!

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  87. I'm one of the "in my defense" posters and, truly, most of what I have spent is defenseless. Too much of this rung true. I am fine with my clothes shopping when I am on a really tight budget. Then I know I can't shop and I do other things. It's easy. But as soon as I have some wriggle room, I find myself shopping. It was sample sales at first, then reductions in dept stores/boutiques, then I supplemented these with online sales (Gilt, J. Crew, ebay). I just spent a ton in J. Crew and found myself perusing their store sales yesterday. I know I don' t need anything but the lure of a bargain has always been too attractive.

    Thank you for all your thoughts. I am going to try to stop this year--there are other things I want to do with my time and life. And my closets are beyond full so I have to enjoy what I have. Granted, there are times I will need replacements--shoes wear out (even when resoled), sweaters finally give up the ghost. But these aren't the reasons why I spend. I love the art of clothing, I love the thrill of buying, and, yes, it can be a panacea when other things go wrong or an entree into a fantasy I want to embody. But at the end of the day, clothes only prevents me from accomplishing the goals that I want to attain, be they professional or personal. I don't think I have a problem but I want to stop before I do. I think I can, and posts like this really help. Thank you.

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  88. What an honest post, thanks. I teach the book "Born to Buy" in one of my classes. It's a sociology approach to consumerism that explains the detrimental effects of marketing on all of us, from a very early age.

    Bottom line- it's very difficult to avoid the power and influence of marketing when they use psychology to their own benefit. We are taught at a very early age (not necessarily from our parents, either) to buy, buy, buy. Very hard to rewind years and years of that kind of exposure, especially if you're under the age of 30, since this is a more recent phenomenon.

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  89. I read this post on my phone on the road and had to chime in :) Thank you Gigi for being so candid and honest about a difficult topic for many. While I would say my shopping is under control at the moment, it has not always been that way. I've maxed out cards and then dug my way out of debt twice (bc I'm stubborn and didn't learn my lesson the first time?). And although I haven't carried debt for several years, I've still overspent and felt guilty about it. Another commenter said that just bc you *can* afford it, doesn't mean you *should*. I have so many things that my $ is better well spent on, and I constantly have to remind myself of how that money could be better spent (or saved). I guess I will always be one of those "slippery slope" people- prone to doing things in excess. Whether alcohol, exercise, calorie counting, spending outside my means- I tend to take things further than the average person. Unlike a lot of commenters, though, therapy did help me. It helped me deal with my trigger issues. I think I'll always struggle to find the healthy or moderation in things, but that's ok bc I feel I have the tools to deal with it. And it helps that my husband is a total tight wad. He doesn't fund my shopping, but when I see how much he saves, it inspires me to match it. So I guess I'm competitive too :)
    My heart breaks for some of the commenters that are currently struggling- I know the depression and dispair that comes with it. Hopefully your post and discussion will give people hope!! Or at least a feeling that they're not alone in facing this.
    Thank you again Gigi :)

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  90. Very interesting topic, Gigi, and lots of insightful posts. I have to agree with those who noted that "just because you can afford it, that doesn't mean you should." This is especially true for someone like me who lives in a small Manhattan apartment with very limited storage space. I pay off my credit cards every month and have zero debt, but wouldn't it be a better idea to put that "extra" money in my retirement savings rather than buying yet another pilly cashmere sweater to add to the heaps of sweaters I already own and rarely wear? I feel inspired to resume tracking my current wardrobe and new clothing purchases on an excel spreadsheet. It's sobering and a bit horrifying to realize how many clothes I already own.

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  91. LT said, "My heart breaks for some of the commenters that are currently struggling- I know the depression and dispair that comes with it. Hopefully your post and discussion will give people hope!! Or at least a feeling that they're not alone in facing this."

    I couldn't agree more with this statement. I have been there (a few times--at the bottom, bottom and in complete despair and self-loathing) and there is nothing more that you want than to be heard, not feel alone and find a place to turn for help.

    Like Gigi mentioned, unfortunately, many people do not see this as a real problem. Spouses don't "get" why you can't JUST STOP. And friends are often in denial about their own shopping issues so they can be difficult supporters (of your getting better). I really hope that (especially a few very desperate sounding posters) reading and working the program of a couple great books (SPENT Break the buying Obsession..)and April Benson's website and book (To Buy or not Buy)will help get you started. They totally helped me.
    April does offer counseling and programs that you can join via the telephone, as well.

    To those truly suffering and out of control, you have to break down and share this with those closest to you. It is DAMN hard to do-trust me. But it is necessary. Then get help via support group or therapist. But also pick up some books and begin to delve deep into what is behind the obsession and compulsive spending. Spending that continues to go on even when things are spiraling way out of control.
    I wish everyone the best.

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  92. http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2009/10/06/how-to-stop-buying-clothes-you-never-wear/comment-page-2/#comments

    Great read that relates well and even mentions J Crew!;)

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  93. So many thoughts on this subject! I totally get this post and have thought about this myself!


    I meant to comment earlier in the week, but this week was crazy for me. I wish I had a chance to read all the comments too.

    A couple months back, some fitness blogs took a hit from a certain female interest magazine for allegedly encouraging unhealthy habits, and claiming that marathon training was unsafe and unhealthy. I thought that you could think that about any specific-interest blog, including fashion blogs. If fitness/health blogs trigger eating disorders or over-exercise, then couldn't you say fashion blogs might encourage over-shopping in those that have a hard time controlling their spending?

    I definitely have had issues with buying more clothing than I need. I actually have a much lower mall tolerance than I used to so I do most of my shopping online. There's something fun about having packages waiting for you when you get home from work! I ordered lots of cute things, based on cuteness, not actually needing them. I got excited by wearing cute outfits and receiving compliments on those outfits at my internship and later at work.

    I have felt guilty about purchases, I have hid them in my closet upon receiving them, I have fibbed about how new an item was (since when did my hubby start paying attention to what I wear!?), I moved money between checking accounts, or transferred money from items sold on Ebay into my personal (not our joint) account - to buy clothes/pay off CC bills. There have been times I couldn't remember what packages I was expecting still.

    I remembered something that you had posted back in spring maybe, about cutting back on cheapy purchases from Old Navy. I agreed with you on that - and realized I was buying things from ON just because they were on sale for a good price, not taking into account that it wouldn't be a very durable piece of clothing. Looking through my drawers-- I wasn't wearing much of those purchases. I then tried to cut back on those purchases.

    I cut back on my shopping this past fall when I did some math and realized what percentage of my salary I was dropping on clothes (for running or work). Sometime in the fall I decided to not buy something new unless I was replacing something I was donating/throwing away. In November, I challenged myself to not buy anything else for myself for at least two months. My husband also voiced that he didn't think I could do this. I'm happy to report that I have proven him wrong it has been over 2 months since buying anything! And amazingly my wardrobe is just fine. And I have managed to sock away more into our savings.

    Luckily, I have not carried a balance on a credit card since before I got married. I always pay it off in full now. I've gotten the intense shopping feeling before - when trying to buy something online that I expect to sell out (ebay, j crew, lululemon). Actually today, I was near my local lululemon and almost went in, then resisted the urge - because I don't NEED anything right now!

    Part of this, too, is that I have 8,000 email subscriptions to various stores. I was just in the process of writing a post about this - and clutter, etc. I subscribe to all these stores in case I need a coupon, but the email encourages me to look at their website when I don't need anything, leading to impulse buys. I'm working on unsubscribing from most of these stores now.

    Interesting point you raised- I never thought that wasting money on clothes might be a method of self-sabotage. The long term goals would be building savings for a house down payment.

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  94. Thanks for the new comments! I hope that some ppl are

    Running On Coffee - You said, 'couldn't you say fashion blogs might encourage over-shopping in those that have a hard time controlling their spending?'

    Totally. And that's why, contrary to what people perceive and believe when they visit here, I don't share all of my purchases. I definitely have wondered if I might trigger someone's issue by saying I got x and x, so I toned down my sharing. If someone flat out asks whether I bought something, say during a JC promo, I will tell. But I don't always do the check out my haul thing.

    Another reason I stopped mentioning and/or sharing everything I buy is because I don't keep everything. In the case of a recent little jacket, I brought it home just to compare it to something else I'd seen online and share the pics of both. It's going back this weekend. I blogged about it here and someone said, Good score in reference to the Anthro version. I never said I purchased it. It was just assumed -- by who knows how many people -- that I did.

    But back to your point...can blogs trigger issues? Absolutely. I've decided that I'll share what I feel like sharing and leave out the rest. Many of my decisions on what to post are determined by time. Sometimes it's all about what I can put up quickly. I have mostly decided that my blog isn't responsible for what others do. As someone who has made a gazillion excuses myself...they're just excuses and pushing my responsibility on an outside source. If my blog isn't the trigger for someone, it would be another blog, a forum, an email from a retailer, a bad phone call, a good phone call, and so on.

    I can't think of much besides life and personal experience that 'qualifies' me to assist others. However, I *do* feel that I can be of help to a few. At least I hope I can. As I said, the blog will eventually continue as it was, but hopefully create more awareness as I integrate topics like these. Can't un-ring the bell.

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  95. ps,
    to be clear - I'm not implying you are causing anyone to have issues! Just a thought I had when some popular fitness blogs were criticized and taken out of context for an article in the magazine (MC)- I think it was in Novemberish. This writer had blamed the bloggers for others' eating disorder relapses and for encouraging unhealthy habits, and I started to think about how there are so many other blog subjects out there you could make similar claims about. So it was an interesting topic that you brought up and there have been lots of good comments :)

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  96. RunningOnCoffee - Thanks for writing again. Oh no, I totally didn't take it the wrong way. I thought you raised a good point and I didn't feel like it was against me. There are a ton of thoughts I have about blogging and what I read on blogs that I don't post my opinion on. However, some of these things have come up in this post and the one on shopping bans, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to express my thoughts.

    Anytime I think there might be a misunderstanding, I try to email the person privately. I know it's easy to misunderstand and I don't want that to happen, esp unnecessarily. :-)

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  97. I'm so late to this discussion, but this is a great blog post. I wound up on this page after feverishly debating whether I needed the J.Crew cocoon cardigan on final sale... or maybe even two of them. I started googling for reviews of the cardigan and somehow ended up here. I was thisclose to completing the check out process, but after reading this post and all the comments, I've decided to sleep on it.

    Like many other readers above me, I grew up poorer than the other kids. My parents had scraped together money for years and years to afford property in a very affluent neighborhood. The kids there all came to school decked out from head to toe in designer brand names, and suddenly my closet of weird hand-me-downs and bargain basement outfits was a huge embarrassment and social impediment.

    My parents didn't understand at all. Shopping with my mom was sheer torture. NOTHING was ever cheap enough. We'd spend six hours combing through the clearance racks at an outlet mall, and my mom would veto every single item that wasn't marked down to $5 and therefore hideous. Hence my motivation to start working part-time as soon as I was old enough. Then I had my own money that she couldn't tell me what to do with. But since my mom never taught me how to shop properly, until my mid-20's I spent all my hard-earned money buying tons of absolute crap.

    A few months ago, I had an epiphany. Suddenly nothing in stores appealed to me anymore, whereas before I couldn't spend five minutes in a mall without finding about ten things I wanted. I became extra critical - this doesn't hang quite right here, that stitching looks a little shoddy, this may be trendy but it doesn't quite flatter me, etc. Even when I desperately wanted to find something to buy, I'd leave the mall hours later, empty handed.

    But that's the kicker, I still can't stop the act of shopping. I've just spent hours scouring online shopping sites looking for the perfect fall items. On one site I put about twenty things in my shopping cart, because everything was such. a. good. deal. It took me forever to narrow it down to four items that would actually fill holes in my wardrobe. It's the thrill of finding the good deals and collecting them all before they're gone. It's the excitement of picturing yourself in that perfect new outfit, and the places you'll go and the people you'll meet, blah blah. The fact is that it's fun! I don't know that I'll ever be free of my shopping habit, but I'm glad I've finally gotten past the urge to buy a tank top in every color just because they're on sale. Thanks for knocking some more sense into me with your blog post.

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