14 May How to Break Habits and Shop Again.
April 27, 2020: Today marks the start of our sixth week in quarantine with an estimated four to six weeks more to go. Yet, I find myself anxious at the thought of leaving the familiarity of our new normal. Is it possible that I have adapted to quarantine life already? In the last six weeks I’ve created many new routines and habits that could prove difficult to let go once “real life” resumes. If I’ve formed new habits during the past six weeks, then I could also break old habits from my pre-pandemic life.
By definition, a habit is a settled tendency or usual manner of behavior which takes 2-8 months to form and requires a person to be out of their comfort zone to break. Essentially, the Covid-19 quarantine created the perfect conditions for us to confront and let go of old habits, and consciously create new ones.
The retail landscape has been severely disrupted during quarantine. Physical stores are closed, and online shopping is limited. Because of this, we have involuntarily been forced to break our shopping habits. I say, why not use this opportunity to rethink our approach to fashion and reformulate how we shop? If not now, when?
“Buying is not a meaningless act. I know the next product that I buy has to be relevant.” Natacha Ramsay-Levi, Creative Director, Chloé
Here are a few bad shopping habits I’ve been able to break and new ones I’ve replaced them with.
Question: “What should I do today?” Answer: “I know, I’ll go shopping!” I used to see shopping as an activity like going for a bike ride or out for dinner with friends. It was something to do. And most of the time it was not with a specific item in mind. Frankly, most of the time it wasn’t even with a general item in mind. This often led me to purchase items I never intended to get or even liked. Because I was only able to repeatedly shop like this at fast fashion stores, the shirt I bought for fun was only worn a few times before it stretched out of shape and was never seen again. Over time I realized this approach to shopping wasn’t creating a wardrobe of substance. My new habit: Shop when I have a need to fill and buy the best quality I can afford.
I used to feel motivated to keep up with the trends and often bought items that were on trend but didn’t really suit me. I was still discovering my personal style. As I’ve reflected on what garments I love wearing and have kept in my wardrobe for years I’ve been able to carve out a look that’s my own. It is liberating to understand what you like and what works for your personality, physique and lifestyle. My new habit: Do you, boo.
No Shoes, No Shirt, No Outfit
I used to cobble together my wardrobe from isolated shopping excursions. I often purchased items one at a time and without a strategy for my seasonal look. Or, I would try on an entire outfit then only buy one piece of it, not considering that I wouldn’t be able to recreate the look at home without its counterparts. Consequently, I owned many pieces that didn’t work together. Now I prefer to shop in complete outfits and I am more familiar with the details of my wardrobe. If I buy a piece in isolation, I already know what I can wear it with. My new habit: Shop head to toe.
Keep Your Friends Close, and the Sales Staff Closer
I used to avoid sales staff for fear that they would try to persuade me to buy something I didn’t want. This habit really worked against me. I didn’t have a friend on the inside. No one to let me know when new items arrived or when my dream designer item went on sale. I also missed out on the opportunity to learn more about the inspiration behind a collection. I could have walked away with a backstory to share when someone complimented my outfit. Now, practically everyone I know is in retail and it’s fantastic. My new habit: There is no “i” in shop.
I am an emotional shopper. My mom still has a questionnaire I completed in Grade 1 in which I was asked: When you’re not feeling well, how can your family and friends cheer you up? My answer “Buy me things.” I think I was supposed to respond with “Give me a hug.” When something fantastic happens in my life, I want to buy new clothes to celebrate the occasion. When I’m going through a tough time, I want to buy new clothes to lift my spirits. Admittedly, my emotions still drive my desire to shop but I’m working on it. I guess some habits just take longer to break.
Honest self-reflection is always a helpful tool to spark change. Ask yourself, what are your bad shopping habits? Or shopping habits you would like to change? Is your approach to shopping really working for you? Do you have a wardrobe that supports who you are?
While we have this time to reflect and reconfigure our own approach to shopping, we should also ask brands to do the same. This is an opportunity for them to break their bad habits in favor of more sustainable practices. By being more selective and intentional with our shopping choices we can vote with our dollar to support brands and businesses aligned with our values.