This weekend I went to the mall, which isn’t something I do very often. Not because I don’t like it, I actually really do. I love people watching and walking around, and my brain loves how organized, clean, and beautiful everything looks on display.
My parents rarely ever took us to the mall as kids, maybe once every few years, so it still has this sense of novelty to it, which is probably helped by the ever-changing stock in each store. There is always something new to see.
As much as I love being at the mall, I don’t go very often because I know that just being there makes me so much more likely to buy something. Probably something I didn’t know I “needed” until I saw it.
This past Saturday morning I went to an escape room with a few friends and we got lunch after. Side note: If you’ve never heard of an escape room before, look it up! It’s super cool. As the party was breaking up, one of my friends mentioned she was on her way to the mall to look for some jeans, since her old ones no longer fit. I had no plans for the day, so I offered to join her. It seemed like the perfect trip: a definite goal item in mind + focused on her shopping = minimal temptation for me. So we set out.
The first stop was Maurice’s, a store more catered to her taste than mine, where I offered suggestions and opinions, but did not try on or purchase anything. Yet I still had a fun time looking around and helping her shop.
After Maurice’s, we got a drink and started walking around. She pointed out a top through a window, “I could see you in that.” It was in a store that I had never heard of before, Dry Goods. The display looked cute so we decided to go inside, and let me just say, I could have purchased everything in that store. I have never been to a place whose aesthetic is so close to mine. It was actually a very special experience because as a kid there were only a few department stores in town, and my family didn’t have a lot of money to buy new clothes often, so we mostly just got what we were able to. It wasn’t until I went to college in Cleveland, a much bigger city than my hometown, that I was able to start exploring my personal style more. But even then, in a location with more diverse options, I was still on a limiting college budget. So being in Dry Goods felt like an oddly important experience. Yes, it’s just a clothing store, but there was something about being in a place where you love everything available, the color palette, fabrics, even the flooring and decor of the store were just so me. It felt like it was designed for me. It felt like my taste was validated. It was just a super cool feeling. But that meant I had to practice some serious self-control not to leave with an armful of clothes.
I tried on 6 pieces and I ended up buying 2. I purchased two army green shift dresses: one is high-necked and sleeveless, and the other has 3/4 sleeves, a pocket detail, and is the softest material I have ever felt. I love both of them, but I struggled with whether or not I should buy them. After all, it goes against all conventional minimalist advice to make unplanned purchases, let alone two dresses in the same freaking color.
I was standing by the dressing room, unsure what to do. Just pick one, I told myself. I went over the merits of each in my head: This one is sleeveless and lightweight so it would be great for spring and summer. But this one has longer sleeves and is warm and soft, so it would be great in cold weather. I was torn. Then it dawned on me, of course I can get both. It seems like a silly purchase, but in terms of my capsule wardrobes it actually makes sense. Here’s why:
- The color. I love how it looks on me and it mixes well with other clothing I already own. I’m always drawn to army green items in stores, but I don’t buy them if I don’t completely love them, so I don’t actually own a lot of it. Green is my favorite color and has been for many, many years. (My parents have a poem I wrote in kindergarten that lists the reasons I love the color green. It’s precious, and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t rhyme at all.) I felt comfortable investing in these dresses because not only do I love the color now, but I know I will for a long time.
- The cut. The two dresses are cut similarly in that they are both an A-line, shift silhouette, which I think is very flattering and timeless. This shape is also appropriate for a lot of occasions (read: I can wear both to work and church and feel comfortable). However, they differ in their necklines and sleeves, which makes them unique from each other and offers the ability to style them differently.
- The two dresses are suited for different seasons, so they won’t be in my capsule wardrobe at the same time. I wouldn’t have purchased both if they were both very summery, for example. Since one is ideal for spring-summer and the other for fall-winter, I will be able to have a flattering, minimal, army green dress in my capsule wardrobe year-round — a fact I am very excited about.
- I wear dresses often. For some, dresses are reserved for special occasions. For me, they are everyday pieces, all-in-one outfits, and just darn comfortable. I love dresses, so I know I will wear these often.
I made up my mind and bought both. At the end of the day, I am really happy with that decision. But more than that, I’m proud that my first response to the idea of making unplanned purchases was apprehension. It allowed me to pause and really consider these purchases, which isn’t something that I would always have done. I was able to think things through and make the right choice for my budget and wardrobe. It showed me that I can trust myself to do a bit of spontaneous shopping without worrying that I will walk away with regretted purchases.
How do you practice mindful shopping? Share with me in the comments!
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