On Shopping

Does anyone else have the problems with shopping that I do?

Today we’re in Kansas hanging out with Mike’s friend, who probably owns everything in the J. Crew catalog. It’s just who he is, who his family is. I guess it’s what you do when you have lots of money and no concept of Christian stewardship.

So to kill time we went to “Town Center” and walked around. Mike’s mom wanted to get him clothes for his birthday, so Mike had his eye on a few things and we were both very successful at finding really great clearance prices on really, really nice clothes at J. Crew, Banana Republic, Express… I got the new pair of flip flops I’ve been needing at J. Crew for less than they would’ve been at Wal-Mart, and they’re J. Crew flip flops. So cute and so classy.

Here’s my philosophy of shopping, as inherited from my husband: if you just “go shopping” for the sake of shopping a few times a year and buy nice clothes when you find them on clearance, then you have nice clothes when you need them. If you wait until you’re thinking, “Hmm, I have a recital coming up, I need a particular outfit,” then you wind up forking out $100 for something that could’ve been in your closet all along for $35, just because you NEED it, now. So I’ve learned to enjoy shopping with Mike and his family now and then, finding really cute things marked down from $40 to $10, like the shirt I bought today.

But it takes only a couple stores before I’m shopped out. Upper-end stores like the ones we like get to me pretty fast. I look at the manikins and admire the classy outfits they exhibit. But those outfits aren’t just a shirt on clearance. They’re $60 pants or $130 dresses, and $50 cardigans over $20 tank tops, and even if everything in the store’s 25% off, that’s out of the question even BEFORE the jewelry to complete “the look.” I forget that those manikins are carefully maintained by sales people and there’s nothing real about them. That’s the problem with browsing catalogs; no one except for a model at a photo shoot dresses like that. So I start feeling indignant as those people, as if they’re somehow dishonest and my feelings of discontentment are because THEY are bad people. Stupid stores.

And have you noticed that manikins are not human? I put those clothes on my own body and they don’t look the same. So then I start feeling like my body’s not good enough. And I feel bad for spending ANY money, even when I have a genuine wardrobe need to fulfill, and I feel bad that I can’t spend enough money to actually dress like I would dress if I had money. And when you look around at the people in the store, what you see is people that look a lot more like the manikins than I ever well. You don’t see the credit card debt and the psychological issues that convince them that dressing “down” would decrease their personal value. So many unhappy people, but at least they have good taste in jewelry. Confession: I love jewelry.

So I end my shopping adventure. I follow Mike’s advice and thank God for all He’s given me. I resolve to do a little more yoga. I keep on flaunting the same two cute necklaces my mother-in-law has brought me from Tanzania. I put back the cute $35 $9 shirt since I have no skirt or pants to pair it with and I know having it will only make me covet a mate for it. I remind myself that a 22-year-old guy owning everything J Crew has ever made is the exception to a very good rule. I secretly adore my husband for how he tells me to deal with my shopping funk (see above). And I pack up and head back to reality, with Paul ringing in my ears:

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

“Having food and clothing, with these we should be content.”

But sometimes the music wafting from the ceilings of those stores and the artistic styles I’ve seen flood my senses and drown Paul out. So I curl up with a book at Starbucks while Mike and Jonathan chill at the cigar shop and I wait for the mood to pass. I wish I weren’t such a hedonist.

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