I really thought I was past my shopping addiction. I’d gone over a year without feeling the obsessive pull towards shopping apps – eBay in particular. Actually, it was strictly eBay. It still is. It’s embedded in my thoughts.
It started when I changed sizes. Don’t get me wrong, it was time for me to gain weight. I’d been the same size since I was about 14, and maintained this with bouts of anorexia. Eating healthily and daily was new for me. However, it did push me up a dress size. I went from a UK 8 to a UK 10. Not a major shift, but still noticeable. At any rate, I’m very happy with my body, and my husband seems happy that I have a bottom. So good changes all around.
However, few things I owned fit me anymore. Everything that wasn’t flexibly sized or too big when I bought it was unwearable. So I sold some things and donated some others. It was a lengthy process. I had no desire to go back to my old size, which made this easier. But if something was especially favoured before, I felt sad for a day or so. After that, I had to let it go.
What I wasn’t prepared for was replacing all the old things with new ones. I found a few of the old favourites in a size up on eBay, which was excellent. I also learned which jeans best suit me (wide leg all the way!). But I’d spent over a decade cultivating that old wardrobe – how could I come up with something that felt like me without all the years of hunting, saved searches and field tests?
The answer appeared to be ‘buy everything.’ I tried loads of styles – then kept some and sold others on. It was not the most efficient method of finding my style. Still, I’ve taken a few gambles and won some. I bought a new coat for a tenner, tried out white trousers and found that I don’t like floral dresses nearly as much as I thought I did.
Some days, I think that my closet has arrived – that everything I could ever need to make endless outfits is contained within and that I can stop. But other days, I realise that I’ve omitted basics like camisoles or no-VPL underwear and I question my tactics. Why have I been so happy to buy a velvet jacket but forgotten about a well-fitting pair of black ballet flats? Basics seem to have been overlooked in favour of exciting pieces with embroidery or some statement detail that, ultimately, makes the item harder to wear. It’s as if I’ve set myself up for failure but don’t know how to shop any other way.
This push and pull between my tentatively minimalist self and my old shopping addict self has been tricky. These days, I have a functioning wardrobe that I’m mostly happy with, but I still find myself shopping. I still want to ‘elevate my look’ and ‘appear relevant.’ However, the process of changing sizes has made me think that the investment pieces shouldn’t be blouses or jeans. They should be handbags, shoes and jewellery. The stuff that adorns us in ways that are unchanging.