Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Minimalism, infomercials, and my first purchase of 2012

Inspired by No Signposts in the Sea's post about her 2011 clothing expenditures, I've decided that I'll document every piece of personal clothing I buy this year, not including what I purchase for others. I'm a bit uncertain about how I'll like this, actually, since like any addict I skulk around hiding certain purchases that don't really fit into the way I'd like to think that I spend or acquire clothes.

She goes on to write about consumerism, as many others have as well. I've been thinking about that when I've been thinking about the blogosphere, but especially about what Jenny of Fashion for Writers wrote in her post about authenticity and this focus on the exterior that blogs encourage (coincidentally, I just sold her the Lover blouse I bought last year on LOGE).

It's so easy to get caught up in superficiality, images, and obsessions with fashion, especially when your life isn't going the way you want. At least, I find that I begin to fixate on things when I feel unhappy and out of control with my life.

For the same reason I used to watch informercials during bouts of insomnia in my teenage years, I am drawn to the idea that an easily consumable product could remedy some hurt or ailment, some deficiency that you didn't even know you had. I know that makes me a perfect consumer of marketing messages, but I never said it was all rational.

I still get such a kick out of appliances dedicated to doing one thing perfectly, like my Zojirushi rice cooker with its "fuzzy logic programming" and dimpled rice paddle that has for years turned out perfectly cooked pots of rice.

Perhaps that's why I like the minimalist ethic, though it seems so opposed to single-use living. It has a similar idea of there being some square hole for which you have the perfectly shaped square block, and once filled, tada. It's done. Minimalism organizes the clutter of the world by manipulating the environment of one's imagination.

But to conclude with the original intention of this post: A few weeks ago, I purchased a pleated Orla Kiely skirt in dark pink. $1.50 at the thrift store. Probably not an investment purchase, but it allows me to try out a brand I've been curious about for very cheap. Even though I've been limiting my thrift acquisitions, you have to be willing to pull the trigger when it comes to thrift shopping.


  1. I've been keeping track of every clothing purchase in an iPod touch note for the past two years along with the price. I'm happy to report that my 2011 list was shorter than my 2010 list. If you are embarrassed about your purchases, just keep the list private.

  2. Haha, this sounds like a kind of shopper's rehab. You have to write down every single piece you buy! I didn't track every purchase in 2011, so I think I bought more that 20 pieces.. (and I had purchased under 10 pieces the year before, lol) I don't know how that happened apart from that I didn't plan my purchases and had too much free time after dropping out of university..

  3. Thanks for the shout-out; I'm glad that my experiment has inspired others. I've also been trying to figure out what constant shopping is all about, and why we are so preoccupied with superficial things, and what style blogs really mean in the bigger picture. My shopping addiction started when I was unhappy, but it kept going even when I found balance, happiness, love... all that good stuff. So who knows. Perhaps escapism haunts us all, even if there isn't really anything we'd change. You know, the whole "grass is greener"-argument. And I don't know why new stuff is so appealing, I honestly don't, because the clothes I love the most are the ones that I have had forever.

  4. OMG! You will never believe it, but I have a draft post regarding this very same thing... that is sharing every single fashion (and possibly beauty related) purchase with the whole entire world... (well at least the people who read my blog :) ).

    Anyways, I think that sharing all purchases is a brilliant idea and I will read your shopping 'confessions' with anticipation. I think it offers insight into the people we really are... rather than who we are trying to be. I think I've pretty much figured out that I'm a tight a$$ who indulges on the occasional luxury shopping binge and that my style reflects multiple personalities :P

  5. Perfectly timed for my state of mind:)

    And yet recently, I have begun to blog more and to enjoy compiling inspirational collages as a result of shopping less. Perhaps the resulting mental space brought about the change, I don't know. And I have this hunch that the unconscious motives to shop are maybe more potent and insidious then those which we are actually already aware of, lulling us into a false sense of security just when we think we've got it covered!
    I love your passage about minimalism. This is so precise, so perfectly imagined. There's something about the slowing down, I think. That sense of coming back to the self after periods of frenzied distraction.

    I have the feeling that enjoying fashion and related blogs does not have to result in the shopping urge. It's nice to get beyond that, to simply luxuriate in the imagery and ponder the words and ideas that people throw out there. Whilst any addiction will suggest an imbalance of some sort, I like to imagine that we can indulge in the fantasy of fashion (as well as its associated 'literature') without it becoming a dependency or a signifier of something being wrong.
    But the path is unpredictable, and a passion for fine things (we are human after all!) will perhaps always overwhelm us on occasion.

    I often wonder about why I chose this particular subject as a means of self exploration (I utilise art, too, only differently)...... A fascinating concept in itself. And one which I will take away with me now.....

  6. I think I should record all my purchases because I've spent horrific amounts on clothing in past years and am trying to rectify the situation. As you mention, consumerism presents itself as a panacea for life's ills--and combine that with the visual allure of the clothes and sometimes I'm lost. Yet I don't wear a lot of what I've bought and then I find that I still need certain basics like shoes/boots/sandals. I'm happier with recent purchases because I try not to have as many illusions about the beauty of garments and instead think about need/use and what I actually wear.