look what i didn't buy

Sarah Maingot

Lately, the number of items of clothing I liked but didn’t buy has exceeded the list of what I did.

There was a Black Fleece shirt I decided against because I didn’t want another blue and white striped shirt, even though I was deeply in love with the collar (also, I wasn’t sure how it would fit). There was an adorable terry-knit striped tee from Rag & Bone (I didn’t really need another tee). There was a sweet polka dotted silk blouse by A.P.C Madras (fabric just a little shiny?). A cozy Steven Alan cotton knit jumper with striped sleeves. All of these things would have made me pretty happy and are probably not terribly regrettable, but a sense of inertia about shopping seems to have overwhelmed me.

Exhaustively analysing potential buys drains the urge to shop out of me. And usually, when something is right, it requires no such analysis, and there’s no guilt. So whenever I hesitate too much, I usually abandon the idea of buying it, and move on.

Hence, my spells of shopping lust have been brief and infrequent, and I was largely unmoved to shop in August and September. Except for the Chanel bag (if it's a fulfillment of a fantasy it shouldn't count as mere shopping, no?). Have I finally conquered the impulse demon?

Meanwhile, 10 things I’ve been enjoying, while not shopping:

  • Any of my jumpers, and this WSJ mag editorial celebrating jumper goodness
  • My blue and white checked cotton shirt
  • Gardenia perfume from Jo Malone
  • Daims (nutty butter almonds covered in milk chocolate)
  • My beige suede "desert" boots (these impostors from Topshop are doing very well)
  • "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver (what took me so long?)
  • "Be better than the Gap!" – uttered with earnestness/irony by Ryan Gosling in "Crazy Stupid Love"
  • My Chanel bag
  • Stephen Fry telling me clever things on “QI” (you will not believe the eco-footprint of keeping a pet dog)
  • Yoga
Picture via discotheque confusion


Kate said…
What a nice post. Sometimes things not bought haunt you for a while but you usually know when it's right.

I also like your list of non-shopping pleasures. If I might offer a few of my own, I'm currently enjoying whole cumin seeds, very slow and lazy yoga and my green tweed blazer.
Austere said…
I definitely agree that too much hesitation usually means that it wasn't meant to be. I agree with Kate that your non-shopping pleasures list is a good idea. We often don't think about those things we're glad we didn't indulge in buying.
Lucy said…
Lovely list!

Barbara Kingsolver is my favorite contemporary author (so admire her verse as well); everything she writes she imbues with a sort of raw honesty tempered with practical hope, that, yes, the world does go on. Because it must. Ooh, enjoy!
Anything pales in comparison when you've bought the two big double Cs: Cartier and Chanel. ;)
S said…
I love what you say, that when it's right, you don't really have to think or worry about it. I haven't been quite 100% about my shopping ban, but like you, I've resisted much more than I've actually bought, and it feels great. And I've found really enjoying and appreciating what you already have, as you've done here, is just a great way to weed out those unnecessary wants.
Ammu said…
What a lovely list :) I feel less and less inclined to buy anything - I look at my list this year and if I include a pair of bespoke burgundy trousers that a friend is making for me and a possible purchase of a tee-shirt by Kain, my favourite tee label, I will have bought 20 items this year. It feels like a lot. Honestly, I am reluctant to keep adding things to my wardrobe. Am still getting rid of things and trying to whittle it down to only things I wear often, give or take 10% (which is pretty much taken up by my saris that are too beautiful to give away).

So in the spirit of your list, I would say I am enjoying:
Cooking (hosted two dinner parties last week, and loved every second of it)
Pears (crisp, green, and a refreshing alternative to apples - plus they taste great in salads)
Reading a seriously well-written book by a friend of mine - on prenatal sex selection around the world.
Wearing a gorgeous art-deco onyx and silver bracelet handed down to me from an older friend - an early birthday present. A statement piece if there ever was one.
Autumn! Today I wore a jacket for the first time in months, the air in Delhi is finally crisp enough for it. Can't wait to start wearing my wool wide-leg trousers.
lin said…
Kate: I remember discovering whole cumin seeds at an Indian restaurant and I thought it was a most refreshing thing to snack on.

Austere: I find that I learn from what I don't buy - maybe it was the material, or that sinking realisation that lovely as it is, it actually doesn't bring anything new to what you already have.

Lucy: I confess I was always put off by the length of her books but I finally cracked it open at the library last week and found that I couldn't put it down.

Pret a Porter: You may be right! At the very least, my wallet was seriously impacted :)

S: Exactly! I like it that when I'm choosing a shirt for work, I actually feel like, I can't decide, I want to wear them all. So something has to be really special to make me want to welcome it in I think. Like the perfect round-collar shirt that isn't US$400 like Margaret Howell's.

Ammu: I know that feeling! I don;t think I bought much this year but I have something like 11 or 12 items already, which feels like too much.

I love having friends over for meals (or going to their places for meals) - and I enjoy cooking with them, it's such a great activity to spend time in each other's company, with delicious outcomes.

What's the title of that book? I am trying to build up a list of non-fiction books to read.
Joy said…
The hesitation kills me. Gah I hate it so much and I so understand how it's completely draining. Also esp. when you're pining for something so badly yet is out of reach...anyway at least you DID a lot and was productive instead of buying buying buying. Sometimes I wonder if it's my blog that makes me so materialistic recently...
Ammu said…
"Unnatural Selection" - depressing and riveting.
Also, I would recommend "Kaboom" - a soldier's memoir of serving in Iraq. A tad too long, but the first half is laugh out loud funny,
miss sophie said…
as usual, your post is both insightful and inspiring. :) i remember about 5 years ago when i thrived on 'small' shopping sprees at H&M and other fast fashion places to satisfy a shopaholic need. as i get older, i find myself increasingly savoring the well considered and planned 'big purchase' once in a blue moon.
lin said…
Joy: Shopping does give you material for blogging, haha. Maybe it's a bit like an echo chamber where the significance of getting dressed becomes amplified out of proportion. I'm still to work out how I want to deal with that when it comes to blogging.

Ammu: Thanks for the recommendations! Depressing and riveting seems to be the order of the day - my friend just talked to me about a story about deforestation in Borneo...

miss sophie: you know something is good when you get excited putting it on months after you've bought it.
Anonymous said…
I agree 100% with you. Nowadays I think every purchase I make (due to a lack of funds) and I realized I don't miss that much going shopping.I am rediscovering the things that I really love from my closet and the ones that need to be replace. I am also selling the things I don't use, with this month money I bought I pair of skinnies I was lusting for...
Anonymous said…
Hello Lin, many a times we think of freedom as being to do what we want to do, buying what we want. But it is certainly on higher ground when you can don't do what you don't want to do and not buy what you don't need. I am happy you found this equilibrium and is enjoying the fruits of this discipline. After I decluttered my wardrobe, there was a big hole, both physically and psychologically and I am trying to fill my closet with more wearable stuff, like comfortable basics, and things that I will get a lot of use from. I am inspired by sharing and hope I will get there eventually!
i usually fight getting that feeling by buying it then returning if necessary- that way i dont feel that i lose out!

lin said…
Lunaday: Yes, careful shopping has been much, much better for my wallet, which comes in useful when there's something I really want!

justeileen: I think we all have the same aim, and I don't think there's a real "end point", so the best way forward for me is occasional, small tweaks to keep things in harmony..

alice: The return policies in Singapore aren't quite that generous, haha.

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