Are you giving thanks today, cleaning up from last night, or shopping?
I know one person definitely not heading out to shop. In fact, she will not be buying anything--not even books, dvds, cat toys--until the holidays are over.
That person is my friend Rachel Willard, and she, along with her friends Nia and Erin, is engaged in a 6-month shopping freeze. The freeze will hold until January 1.
A. Well, I did a shopping freeze about 7 years ago when we were saving up for a big trip to Greece. Lately, it seems as though I shop when I'm bored, for entertainment, and online a lot. Yet, I still have a hard time in the morning finding something to wear! After the last freeze and for quite a while, it really helped me to reassess my wardrobe, wear things I hadn't in awhile, and when I was done, I really shopped less. A lot of the addictive desire of it went away! I spent my time on other things like reading and pottery.
Quality over quantity When the freeze was over, I really started to focus on quality instead of quantity. After wearing $5 Old Navy shirts for 6 months, I realized it might be worth the extra few bucks to buy something that doesn't fade and stretch out.
Aren't we all a little gluttonous? This time the freeze is inspired by two things. Part of it was I’d just gone to Mexico and Peru, and I saw how happily others live with so much less. I came home and looked at my walk-in closet and actually felt a little ashamed. Gluttonous, to be exact. My closet, filled with lovely things, was bigger than the little sheds that whole families lived in.
The second inspiration is Jennifer Scott's blog The Daily Connoisseur and her book about French women/lifestyle/wardrobes (Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris). Most stylish women in France have 10-20 things they treat well and reuse. [Jennifer Scott gives several benefits of The 10 Item Wardrobe here.] I am such a Francophile! It's pretty inspiring to think about a 10-item wardrobe and how chic French women are. For me, I realized I had 10,000 things but only wear a few of them. I hoped the freeze would help me to wear more of them. I felt like I had enough.
Q. What are you going to buy when the freeze ends?
A. Black dress pants.
Q. What's been the hardest part of enduring the freeze?
A. I've stopped buying anything that isn't a necessity. So I miss my favorite British interior design magazines like
Living etc. and Elle Decoration. I miss my favorite perfume Chanel Allure.
Q. What have you missed the most during the freeze?
A. I miss going to the mall with my sister. I don't roam the mall because I feel looking is akin to shopping. If I were on a diet, you wouldn't show me a plate of cupcakes, right?
Q. What's been the best part?
A. My credit card statements. They've been about $800 less a month [I had to bold that figure :-)].
Q. What's been the worst moment during the freeze?
A. Last week Nia said let’s quit. I asked Erin what she thought, and then I sat there and said to myself: Are you going to quit? It's been really hard for all of us. Right now it's especially hard because of the holidays, the sales, all the ads, emails, etc. But we intentionally planned for the freeze to go past the holidays. My husband has been so supportive.
Nia, Erin, & I decided we could hold out until January 1, as planned.
Q. Do you feel like stopping shopping has increased something else (maybe a vice?) in your life? Like how at the end of The Nutty Professor, when he manages to push the fat in one place, it pokes out in another? Often addicts will stop drinking alcohol but take up smoking or drinking soda.
A. I haven't increased anything else, as far as I know, during the freeze. I thought it would change things a lot, but it really hasn't. When I get bored, I just work on one of my hobbies. I have quite a few--even if it's just reading a book, I was able to find something to do to replace the shopping as entertainment.
Q. Did you find another way to "treat" yourself during the freeze (like massages or pedicures or special foods or something)? I treat myself with shopping; how do you treat yourself, Rachel?
A. I know that shopping and buying new stuff is a treat (for me too!), but I haven't done other things to make up for it.
I do maybe one or two mani/pedi's a year (usually before a vacation) and have never had a massage. I've just been doing without the "treats," I guess, and really been trying to focus on appreciating what I do have. I've also done a few fun things like my clothing swap, and I've done lunches or coffee with friends rather than shopping. :)
Q. Any last words for the rest of us?
A. If everyone did a freeze, they’d think more about what they buy. After all, it's just stuff. Join us in our freeze....if you dare! *laughs*