One day last summer, I was chatting with my neighbour over the fence. Her husband and son were going to the cottage and she was staying home to spend the evening with a very good girlfriend.
“How nice! What do you guys have planned?” I was so excited for her.
She was also very excited, “We’re going to grab dinner and then do a bit of shopping.”
“You’re going shopping?” I tried to make this sound pleasant, but I couldn’t pull it off. Even with that big grin plastered on my face. “You have a night home alone and you are going shopping?” My distaste was palpable.
I honestly do not remember the rest of the conversation because my brain went into a protective mode and all talk of malls and sales were blocked from my hippocampus.
I hate to shop.
This is a problem for me. I'm surrounded by women who love to shop and who are beautifully attired every day. I’m actually quite intimidated by some of the moms who are doing “drop-off” at the school in the morning. They're probably off to coffee with a friend and then to yoga, but are better dressed, coiffed and made-up than I am on my best day… whoops, sorry. That’s a whole different therapy session.
The same way my husband cannot understand how people could possibly like onions; I cannot understand how people find shopping pleasurable. I would rather sit in a dentist’s chair and have a filling than go shopping for an afternoon. I know this sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s not. On my day off today, I had to shop for clothes. It was nasty.
In order to minimize my own discomfort, I have tried to remove superfluous shopping from my life. And for what shopping I have to do, I have developed a few survival strategies.
1) If I find something I like, I buy it. I don’t waste time comparison-shopping. It’s exhausting and I’ll just end up having to go back for the original item.
2) When I find a basic top or a pair of pants that fit well, I buy them in multiple colours. Who cares if I have two pairs of the same pants? One’s brown and one’s black, perfect!
3) I only shop at stores where there are defined sections and the clothes are easily visualized. Discount stores like Winners where you have to go through every item are my worst nightmare.
4) When I buy a pair of shoes, they have to be super comfortable and go with everything. If I need a "statement" shoe for a special event, I borrow a pair from my sister. She loves to shop and has beautiful shoes.
5) I shop in the middle of the day when there are no crowds, even if this means taking a day off work. This is the introvert in me, of course.
6) I always enlist the help of the sales staff when I’m in the changing room. I tell them what I need and let them bring me different options. They’ll often bring something that I would not have picked myself but then end up loving.
These guidelines mean that I will never be a fashionista, but I’m okay with that. I like simple clothes and I like clothes that won’t go out of style. I am not saying that I don’t like trendy clothes, I’m just not prepared to put myself through hell to get them. I really would be the ideal client for a personal shopper.
There was one day a few years ago, when we arrived home at the same time as my beautifully dressed neighbor. She had walked home from work with big sunglasses on and hair flowing and she carried a gorgeous handbag.
My son saw her and exclaimed, “Wow, you look like a movie star!”
He immediately realized his faux pas and turned back to me, who was schlepping backpacks and groceries out of the car, and said, “Sorry Mommy, you’d look like a movie star too but you’re carrying too many bags.”
From the mouths of babes.