Saturday, April 30, 2011

Shop Little, Buy Well

I recently visited an image consultant.

A few people in my life were a bit taken aback by this.
They furrowed their brows.
They fell silent.
Finally: “An image consultant?”
And then the pause, as they formulate the following in the nicest way they can:
Who sees an image consultant?” or “That doesn’t seem like you” or, simply: “Why?”

“Because,” I answered, “shopping should be far more efficient than it is.”

I think one of life’s little tragedies is how much we spend each year on clothes that we never wear.
Imagine if we could make shopping as easy as grocery shopping.
Imagine if we were able to select and bring home only the pieces we truly loved.
And imagine if, each time we (actually) wore those pieces, we glowed.

Imagine if, when we walked into a store, we could immediately circumvent the sneaky marketing and quickly filter through everything hanging oh-so-stragetically on the racks. Imagine if we could identify colors, patterns, shapes, styles and fits that suit us, and never have to bother with the rest. Imagine if shopping for something took less than a half hour.

(In this ideal world, I would even learn to skip Banana Republic altogether. Despite my perpetual efforts to convince them – through my continual purchases – of the possibility of a mutually-fruitful love affair between us, they insist on styling their clothes to fit a 5’3” woman. As it is, I buy and subsequently return about a dozen pieces a year.)

And imagine if we had enough confidence in our selections to buy quality over quantity. Rather than buying the same $10 t-shirt in seven colors, we can buy a single $40 t-shirt in a color that looks so good on us, it makes all the others irrelevant. Imagine if we bought a single $300 coat that lasts six years rather than replenishing our closets each year with a $50 coat for every mood. You make that investment one time, and any later shopping becomes superfluous. A well-chosen pair of $100 pumps will last years, if cared for, while a $30 pair will last only a few months and need to be replaced repeatedly in the same timeframe. (I know this because I’ve tried it both ways.)

Imagine if our closets were streamlined and smart; if each morning, we dressed ourselves with the certainty that any item we put on will make us look – and feel – like a million dollars. Imagine how differently our days would go, how differently we would perform, how much better we would feel. Imagine how much of our time and mind-space would be freed up not having to concern ourselves with a.) shopping (again) and b.) whether or not our outfit is “right.”

It is not about materialism, nor is it about buying more. It’s about shopping with purpose rather than for the sake of “going shopping.” It’s about shopping less altogether, buying better, spending less in the long run, and radiating, every day, a confidence that comes with feeling competent about the whole thing.

(Of course, this whole concept really only makes sense if, when you shop, you are doing so with the specific objective of buying X item. This concept does not, on the other hand, work for people who shop for amusement, for validation, for comfort, or for distraction. If you are one of those types, this post was likely the source of considerable confusion or resentment.)

my image consultant:

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