pitfalls of online shopping as self-care.

My first week with my new capsule is going well (with the exception of getting a cold, which has made me want to wear the same cozy Buffalo check pullover two days in a row).  I'm taking this first week to experiment and refine.  I removed a few things that I realized I wouldn't actually need and swapped out a burgundy turtleneck for a black one to wear under said cozy pullover. 

I've decided the 3 month season is arbitrary and doesn't really match the weather where I live, so I am doing a 2 month early spring capsule and will check in again May 1st with a revised capsule. I'm dedicated to not buying anything online or new for the next two months.  I will still keep my thrifting dates with my husband (once or twice a month) but I've made a plan to stay focused on searching out wishlist items, mostly to build my late-spring capsule. Now that my clothes are organized, I feel pretty vigilant about not permitting "closet creep" and I have continued to consider and cull the storage drawers for additional things to donate to my upcoming "Naked Lady" party.

In this process, I realized something I have known in the back of my head for a while. When I am stressed out and I want to unwind, I use online shopping as self-care. I realized this when I was getting some new casual layering options - I was online shopping a lot right before I started this capsule... and some of the purchases were really calculated and conscious, while others were made spur of the moment - with a panicky scarcity feeling that I would miss out on something or I just "needed" something - anything, in that moment. 

This resulted in two purchases that I tried on and hated immediately.  One was an oversized black tee on ebay from China, which I would normally *know* better than to buy... but I was stressed and using online shopping to relax, so I wasn't thinking rationally.  Buying fast fashion from China on ebay is 99.9% terrible.  I usually filter my search results to North America only to avoid it... but when I was shopping for self-care, I wanted the "high" of getting something and I thought that $9 would be a good gamble.  What I bought with my money was a vaguely-positive & quickly-fleeting feeling and a hideously ill-fitting shirt made of cheap fabric that went straight to the donate pile. 

My other mistake purchase was a sweater from Charlotte Russe online.  I've never shopped there before, but I found the perfect navy/white stripped longsleeve trapeze dress on that site.  It happened to be on sale, free shipping. Yay! I should have stopped there.  But I got suckered into their big sale mentality & that feeling that it was a limited time opportunity to buy something, on which I would otherwise miss out.  I felt compelled to find something else to buy, even though I didn't really need anything else. So I bought a tunic sweater that ended up fitting terribly.  Fortunately,  I think I can take that one back to the mall and return it - but that, in and of itself, is a waste of time & I will have to weigh whether I want to trek out to the mall to take it back for $9 or just give it away at the Naked Lady party.

(At one point in this round of shopping madness, I actually had 5 more things in my 'cart' because *of course* the sale got 'better' the more you bought. I felt nervous and nauseous trying to decide what to buy.  This is not healthy! Thank goodness, I partially came to my senses and only bought one mistake garment.)

The bottom line = online shopping is not self-care.  Since getting interested in the capsule wardrobe or curated wardrobe concept, I've been reading a lot of minimalist style blogs and I find that this kind of research (put into action) is actually self-care.  When I go to get dressed and my clothes are in order - I feel really good.  I feel more stylish throughout the day because I like what am wearing.  I also enjoy the creativity of picking a few wildcard items for my curated wardrobe - like more pants and blouses - to push myself to experiment with new things or use previously un(der) worn but well-liked items and figure out how they can work for me. 

One of my favorite blog discoveries is Greater than Rubies.  The author of this site is a thrifting stylist who took a whole year off of shopping and "shopped her closet" instead.  In the process, she blogged about it and built up a ton of resources about how to get the most out of what you have and consciously develop your clothing to create your personal style. 

I love her approach because it isn't just a uniform-style list of drab neutral separates. She embraces women's individuality and gives tools to make the most of your own creative style.  She gives great guidance on how to use Pinterest to get fresh ideas and create mood boards too.  Her Pinterest has a bunch of boards on how to wear particular items, like vests or cardigans.  While not all of her boards match my style, it showed me how to search Pinterest to get ideas for what I already have, like "striped maxi skirt outfit" to see a bunch of ways to wear a piece I already have. 

Once I played with Pinterest for a while, I went into my closet and played with the clothes that I had and came up with some fun new ideas. While I was exploring, I ended up organizing my tights and socks with brilliant results.  This was SO much more fun and productive than buying some awful shirt from China on ebay. So much so, that I decided to make a list of stuff to do in lieu of random recreational online shopping. 

Putting a stop to recreational online shopping should be a boon for my budget and it makes me all the more excited for when May rolls around and I spend a finite amount of time consciously shopping for quality things I really want.  Till then, here's my alternative unwinding self-care list.

Fashion-related alternatives to online-shopping.
  • Pinterest for fashion ideas to create moodboards and get ideas about different combinations.
  • Style blogs on minimalist fashion, shopping your closet, thrifting, vintage, etc.
  • Knitting and watching something on Amazon Prime (when my hands are up to it.)
  • Trying on clothes and experimenting with new outfits, aka “shop your closet”
  • Organizing fabric/craft collection and planning capsule-related sewing projects.
  • Continuing to KonMari and organize jewelry, hair/beauty products, etc.
  • Document, analyze, and blog about closet (hanger challenge, where it came from, etc.)
*Only when I have a really strong idea about something that I want and I have tried to look for it at thrift store already, would it then be appropriate to window shop online and pin some possibilities for purchase at the change of season or in preparation for the next capsule.*

Other alternatives 
  • Reading books & studying other personal areas of interest
  • Restorative yoga session
  • Mani/pedi at home
  • Painting, sewing, beading, etc.