How to Join
the Fashion Spot / the Finishing Touches / Shop Till You Drop
FAQ Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Rules Links Mobile How to Join
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
04-01-2006
  1
arndom
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
Gender: homme
Posts: 2,580
Acquiring Tastes - NYTimes article
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/04/st...b23b8c&ei=5070


Acquiring Tastes
By LYNN HIRSCHBERG
Published: December 4, 2005

Somewhere between the sixth floor of Barneys New York and the first, I realized that I had not completely licked my problem: I was still a shopping bulimic. Years ago, I would spend and purge - buying up shoes and dresses and a vast array of sweaters at establishments that fully refunded any purchase (as opposed to the dreaded store credit that many small boutiques extend). I would satisfy any craving - cashmere cardigans in every color, an alpaca fedora that had nothing to do with my wardrobe, a purple silk evening gown that was wildly out of my price range - and then, the next day, I would return everything. I was disciplined: I never wore the clothes out of the house, and I never snipped off price tags. There were, of course, items that I kept - a Comme des Garçons gray wool dress that falls in long folds and remains the most avant-garde garment I own, and most of the shoes (long since discarded) - but the majority of the clothes went back to their store home.

Skip to next paragraph

Based on original artwork by Barbara Kruger/Mary Boone Gallery, New York
Although I had desperately wanted to buy whatever it was when I first saw it, I did not miss my purchases. I do not mean to trivialize bulimia, which is a horrible affliction, but I relate to the impulse: you want the taste without the cost. I was usually satisfied by my temporary ownership of all those clothes:

I liked to wander through a department store with an intent to buy. I wanted the frisson that accompanies a purchase, but I did not want to pay the price. So, except for some embarrassing experiences with irritated sales clerks ("What is the reason for the return?" they would ask as they studied the garment in question. "Oh," I'd say, "it was a gift for my sister, and she just didn't like it"), I always felt relieved when the refund was issued.

In the early 90's, because it was then much less expensive and much more interesting, I began wearing only vintage clothes (except for shoes and underwear). My shopping bulimia was no longer an issue, since there are no returns of any kind in the vintage world.

But as vintage dressing has gained in popularity and great pieces are becoming increasingly scarce and ridiculously pricey, I have returned to stores like Barneys and designer labels like Lanvin and Marni.

Actually, it was a Miu Miu coat that reminded me that we all have our shopping quirks.

A few months ago, I bought the tweed empire coat with the fur collar on the sixth floor of Barneys and realized that it was not for me before I hit the street. I promptly returned my purchase - the sales clerk didn't even ask for a reason - and I fled the premises, fearing a return to my old ways. As I began to reproach myself, I thought of my friends and how they navigate the shopping universe. If you believe, as I do, that purchasing a garment can change your life (especially if you actually keep the life-changing garment), how you make these decisions is revealing of character.

The majority of shoppers buy by trend. They figure out which bag, shoe, skirt length, jacket shape is exciting that season, and they buy accordingly. These sorts of shoppers usually meander through a store two or three times for their fall wardrobe and then two or three times again for spring.

They are sometimes frivolous but mostly sensible, and while I admire this kind of shopping, it is nothing I really understand.

Instead, I gravitate toward the shopper with a particular eye and a unique technique. Like my friend, whom I will call David. He has a look: a tailored, narrow jacket with a strong shoulder, bold fabrics, loafers. "Aren't these beautiful?" he will say, holding out a pair of sleek, shiny leather shoes that are identical to the pair he is wearing. David likes company when he shops, but I have never seen him purchase anything. After the joint expedition, he returns surreptitiously to the boutique and buys everything he's surveyed. A day later, you'll be in his office, and he'll say, "Look in that bag." It's the shoes, or a jacket that looks remarkably similar to the one he has on. He doesn't want you to see the point of sale, but he's like a child at Christmas, anxious to show off his new toys. The consistency of his style makes the new items almost invisible to even the trained eye, so David likes to announce a new acquisition. It's shopping with a mission.

David moves through a store with great speed, which is how all true shoppers shop. Someone once told me that "great design hums - you can hear it," and clothes definitely exude a clarion call. Or not. If David is the stealth solo shopper with a need to confess his purchases, Tina (another pseudonym) is the I-never-shop shopper. Like a person who will not reveal a favorite recipe, Tina won't tell you where she bought the perfect linen sheath she's wearing. "Oh, this," she'll say. "I've had it forever."

In fact, the dress usually hails from a tiny boutique in a part of town that is just becoming gentrified. And she bought it last week. Sooner or later, a designer label is exposed, and the truth emerges.

Secrecy is a common shopping strategy - nobody likes to be considered profligate. One friend is attracted only to black clothing. It is hard to justify the purchase of your 10th black coat or another pair of jet-black shoes. She can, however, see the subtle differences in shading and dimensions. And everyone needs to impose a shopping discipline. "Black limits the field," my friend explains. "And everything matches."

It is interesting that most of the idiosyncratic shoppers I know are men - perhaps that's because shopping-as-pastime is now an accepted hobby for men in a way that it wasn't a generation ago. Another friend I'll call Louie is a precise shopper with excellent taste, but he is also an audience shopper. Meaning he likes to have present at least one person, preferably a woman, to admire him while he browses, makes his selection and studies his reflection in the three-way mirror.

The focus must remain on Louie - no personal shopping allowed, even if it's in the same department. While he's not a preener, Louie does love attention, from the seamstress pinning his jacket, to the salesman who compliments him, to his guest. Since I always love a point of purchase, I enjoy shopping with Louie. I don't even mind applauding.

My mother has always followed a simple shopping philosophy: if you like it, buy two. This can be dangerous - after all, if you like it, buying three or even five can also seem like a sound policy. But my mother has trained her eye to recognize when two would be better than one, and four would be excessive. But then, my mother also eats properly and never snacks. She would never buy anything with the distinct possibility of returning it the next day.

I was once in love with a man who shopped constantly and never bought anything. He was perpetually disorganized, with piles of newspapers and books clogging his office, and he liked to visit stores during his lunch hour. For years, I would accompany him as he studied the rows of silk ties and neatly stacked cotton shirts. Attracted to this ordered universe, he'd try on a suit or an overcoat, or he'd hold up an argyle crew-neck sweater to examine the fit. I would compliment him, and he'd stare a second and then return the item to its place. This went on for years, and he never bought anything. Not even a tie. He wasn't a secret shopper - he just liked to contemplate the alternative reality that the clothes might represent, but he was unwilling to make any kind of leap. As someone used to instant gratification, it was very frustrating for me, and after way too many years, I fell out of love. Our ways of shopping would never be compatible, and sadly, that was a metaphor for so much more.

  Reply With Quote
 
04-01-2006
  2
V.I.P.
 
Caffeine's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: North Williamsburg, NY
Gender: femme
Posts: 3,704
It's very interesting and I enjoyed it a lot.
Thanks for sharing the article nqth!

  Reply With Quote
04-01-2006
  3
V.I.P.
 
susie_bubble's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: London
Gender: femme
Posts: 4,070
Great article nqth

Can't say that I personally relate to any of those case stories but I do know ppl who shop like that. Especially the secret shopper strategy! I never understand these ppl coz when ppl ask me where I bought something I'm always happy to tell them. I practically map out the directions to the shop for them!

__________________
'A fashion that does not reach the streets is not a fashion.'
Coco Chanel.
MyStyleDiary
My blog - Style Bubble - http://stylebubble.typepad.com/style_bubble/
  Reply With Quote
04-01-2006
  4
Of too many minds
 
PrincessImp.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Gender: femme
Posts: 6,684
^ That sounds like what I do susie!

Personally..I think I a "shop-without-a-plan" shopper..which is dangerous as I just buy things that instinctively appeal to me.
A lot more restraint and sensibility is needed in cases like mine...

__________________

{*princessimp.blogspot.com*}
  Reply With Quote
05-01-2006
  5
rising star
 
aerin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: San Francisco, CA
Gender: femme
Posts: 129
Interesting article! I really relate to the shopping bulimia thing. There was a time last spring when I bought and returned 6 or 7 pairs of shoes within the span of a month

__________________
"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative." - Oscar Wilde

my StyleDiary
  Reply With Quote
14-01-2006
  6
flaunt the imperfection
 
softgrey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: downtown...
Gender: femme
Posts: 50,674
i think i am a 'binge shopper'..
something i made up...
i go for long spells without even being interested...
and then suddenly i scoop up everything in sight...

once the urge is satisfied, i stop again for awhile...
until it hits me again and it's time for another binge...

:p

__________________
"It is not money that makes you well dressed: it is understanding."
ChristianDior



  Reply With Quote
Reply
Previous Thread | Next Thread »

Tags
acquiring, article, nytimes, tastes
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

monitoring_string = "058526dd2635cb6818386bfd373b82a4"


 
All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:14 AM.
Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
TheFashionSpot.com is a property of TotallyHer Media, LLC, an Evolve Media LLC company. ©2014 All rights reserved.