Ordinarily, I would shout it from the mountaintops: I am a shopper. On a trip to Shanghai, I once bought eight pairs of pumps in one go. That purchase included a pair of leopard-print round-toes and the same style shoes in a pink and yellow ombre-effect snakeskin that I love and wore to death before platforms became all the rage. But I also brought home shoes that, in the three years I've had them, have never seen the light of day: suede turquoise ballet shoes with a gold ribbon (so pretty, but I could never find the perfect ensemble to go with them), orange snakeskin peep-toes piped in black leather (the store didn't have my size, so I bought it one size smaller even though they pinch my toes), and black Roger Vivier-esque flats with the silver square hardware (I decided they looked pretty lame compared to the real ones). There was no shame in letting the world know that I had bought shoes like a glutton—except that now, hard times are upon us, and the prudent thing to do would be to buckle up, tighten my waist-cinching belts, and...not shop?
Impossible. I know I sound like a spoiled brat, but that proposition sparks a panic not unlike denying a hungry baby its bottle of milk. I honestly tried not to acquire any more clothes—or shoes—in the last three months. How did I fare? Not buying clothes was helped by the fact that I wasn't back to my pre-baby weight, so it was pride—not self control—that kept me from reaching for a bigger size. (But I must say that it took an enormous amount of willpower to keep from buying one of Eairth's organic cotton dresses.) Though I've managed to weave my way through the string of weekly bazaars without buying a dress for myself, I have to confess that I spent on three cocktail rings—and another six (but they were Christmas gifts and only P100!) at Avatar's CITEM booth.
Don't start congratulating me yet. I've found that imposing a shopping ban on fashion doesn't mean a thing if I can still spend. I can't help it. Instead of clothes, I've been trawling flea markets for decorative items for the home! (Belatedly, I've come to realize that flea market shopping doesn't really save you money—at the end of the day, you end up spending the entire budget you set aside anyway.) Like my clothes, my home decor has to reflect who I am; I have this nagging compulsion to express myself through things. Thus, this need to acquire. So I've issued a moratorium on the shopping ban because I just ended up with a tremendous amount of guilt, which is a drag, really, because it stressed me out...and you know what a stressed fashionista does to relax? That's right. I go shopping! The one thing the shopping ban did was make me think twice about buying anything that would end up languishing with the aforementioned ballet shoes. Here's the key: If you can't stop spending, then you have to make the effort to spend smart.
This Christmas, the season of shopping, I started with a list so I'd know exactly how many gifts I'd need to give—and so I wouldn't end up with hand towels that would sit in the hall closet, taking up precious storage space. I started going "shopping" in the aforementioned closet, which is filled with perfectly good stuff that, for one reason or another, I never got to use. The thing I had to work on was convincing myself to let all that stuff go. Funny how there was so much in there, in the end I didn't really need to buy much Christmas presents. In fact, I realized I didn't know many people with size 7 feet, thanks to a pair of turquiose ballet flats that need a new home.
This story originally appeared in the December 2008 issue of Preview Magazine. Minor edits have been made by the Preview.ph editors.