Thursday, July 26, 2012

Everything I Believe About Shopping (In A Single Sentence)

I was recently asked whether I prefer to shop for clothes online than in stores and in some ways I do because clothes shopping seems like a completely frivolous activity that I never have time for (even though I regularly need clothes, and they do need to somehow be acquired) so if I’m looking for something in particular, I might go online and check out several different sources for the single item, or, like my recent Zappos experience, where I thought it would be more efficient to find a pair of summer sandals by ordering 40 pair of shoes in varying sizes and colors and having them spread out all over my living room (a phenomenon my husband described as a shoegasm) so I could walk around the house in them and try them on with some of my clothes and get the opinions of visiting friends (one of whom needed to return multiple times because my head was reeling with too many shoe choices and I was beginning to have an identity crisis), and then send back whatever I didn’t want (which was all but one pair – shoes that changed my life for a few weeks but that now feel a little too stretched out and which I may send back as well), a process that, at it’s completion, proved to be wholly inefficient and stressful in a different way than shopping in a store, where, yes, you can touch things and see true colors in real time, but where you also have the opportunity to be struck by a certain something that you may not have been looking for at all, a prospect that scares me because I spend so little of my life browsing that the sheer act of visually taking in all that’s available in the world sends me into a kind of manic state and I end up buying far more than what I was looking for – far more than what I need – and, like any kind of mania, leaves me feeling exhausted and blue after the climax has passed, so that, for me, any in-store clothes shopping is best accomplished the way I did it yesterday, which was like this: I wandered into a clothing boutique at the Jersey Shore (looking for something more interesting to wear over my bathing suit than the cargo shorts I currently had on) and quickly eyed all the racks for a starting point, landing on a long, flowy, blue-and-green batik slipover dress that was cut in a way that would accentuate my lean torso and de-accentuate my child-bearing-hips; I pulled it off the rack, took it into the dressing room, slipped off my shorts, slid the dress over my bathing suit, looked in the mirror, stepped out of the dressing room to look in another mirror and also to give a sales clerk or another customer the opportunity to see me in the dress and spontaneously offer that it was the perfect dress for me (which no one did), returned to the dressing room and into my regular clothes and headed for the cashier, dress over arm, quickly scanning the rest of the store, not so much to find a different dress, but in the way that some old philosopher I’d once read (Sartre? Kierkegaard?) described the act of looking for a friend in a coffee shop – how you see everyone’s face not for what it is, but only to determine that it’s not who you’re looking for – and then, after that brief 30-second scan, satisfied that there were no other contenders, I paid for the dress and left the store, the whole process taking under five minutes, and had only a slight amount of buyer’s remorse as I walked up the boardwalk, remorse that completely dissipated later when I put the dress on and my husband told me how awesome I looked, which is really all we’re looking for as the fruit of our shopping sprees – aren’t we – someone to think that we’re awesome.


  1. Thank you, that was very satisfying. So much of what you describe could not happen online. And your hilarious shoegasm...very insightful into the obsessive behavior that can come from online shopping. Which I do my share of, but mostly for electronics and software, stuff that isn't so personal and in need of "trying on." I would never buy a guitar online, for instance. It's such a delicate thing, the right musical instrument.
    Anyway, in the FB exchange that prompted this I was merely astonished that "our generation" seemed to have given up brick and mortar stores. I didn't mean to be judgemental. Merely interested.

  2. I didn't think you were being judgmental. Just curious. Also, I have to point out that not only is this the longest sentence I've ever written in my life, but that I've also learned that Run On Sentences have gotten a bad rap because writing a blog post in a single sentence is really hard and not something to be undertaken lightly. In that way, they're a little like clothes shopping.