Thursday, 15 April 2010

To buy, to have, to own

Today's NYT featured an article about the current enthusiam New York consumers are showing for colours and prints. Apparently ethnic, animal and graphic prints as well as florals are making women go wild and spend money on them. The article talks about the recession, and how "people are sick of not shopping", and how the enormous flow of colours and patterns is awakening women's pent-up desires for new and exciting things. The fashion director at Neiman Marcus says that new prints and colours are "things [women] don't own yet". This statement got me thinking about the reasons behind buying new things.

I can only speak for myself here, but when seasons change, I feel a strange inner urge to renew my wardrobe. Spring and autumn are the seasons when I buy most stuff. I often wonder how much of it is learned behaviour - either because that is when the fashion magazines and the ad campaigns push that feeling of renewal, or because that is how it has always been for me. Even as a child, just before school started in mid- or late August, my mom would take my sister and me shopping for new school clothes. Same for after-Christmas sales, or just before summer holidays. I wonder how far I could trace the feeling of wanting, or even needing, new things. I distinctly remember getting a pair of new MicMac jeans with a Minnie Mouse print on one leg when I was 11. I couldn't wait to wear them to school, and the fact that they were new was the key issue here.

There are a lot of bloggers out there who focus on buying new things every week - that should tell us something about how obsessed we are about getting something new. I think a lot of women are mood shoppers, i.e. they buy because it makes them feel good, but why is it that buying new clothes and accessories makes us feel good in the first place? Is it just that we like to surround ourselves with things that are pretty, is it because we are greedy, are people hoarders by definition, or is it all about the novelty factor, and if so, why is new automatically exciting? Perhaps it gives us the chance to experiment and express our inner wishes in a way that we haven't before, which leads me to think that maybe we are just emotion-junkies.

I have actually bought quite a few items in the past weeks, and I don't think the fact that I buy second hand makes any difference from the standpoint of wanting to get something new. I explain to myself that I have to get new things for spring because I had planned on bringing a lot of my spring/summer clothes from Finland, well, right about now, and currently I am stuck in the US with a wardrobe full of mostly autumn/winter clothes. I don't think this explanation is all that relevant though, because it is definitely not the whole story. I just have this strange craving I can't explain, and I would have it anyway, even if I could have access to all of my summer clothes in Finland this very instant. I feel like a child just before Christmas, the little me who just had to have the Peaches'n'Cream Barbie. Just had to. Except now the distinct Barbie is replaced by something undefined, as long as it is new to me.

As you can probably tell by now, I don't have any idea as to why I buy things. Rose told me yesterday, as we were pulling to the parking lot at Salvation Army and I was busy telling her how much I am into prints right now, that "well, that's very now, right?" And grudgingly I admitted that she was right. I haven't always loved prints, but I do now. How much of that is the influence of current trends, I don't know. I thought I was inspired by seeing other bloggers look gorgeous wearing prints and colours, or just seeing things that were somehow different to me. The option to experiment with prints, ethnic vibes and colours had been lurking in the horizon for some time for me. And there it was, staring at me in the face: these were things I hadn't owned yet.

Until yesterday I had never owned a skirt that reminds my husband of a gypsy orchestra, but I do now. Salvation Army, $2.49. I bought a new thing, and it made me very happy. Not the buying, but the having, the owning, and with it, the possibility of wearing it.

In case you were wondering, my hair is driving me crazy, hence the random solution of wearing a scarf around it. I was counting on being able to get a haircut in Finland, and am freaking out because I don't know how to go about trusting any hairdresser here in the US. I have been going to my Finnish hairdresser for at least six years, and haven't had a bad haircut since. I don't know whether to take a chance, or just wait and deal with "the mop" for now.

This is what's going on with the gardening project - I am the proud care-taker of four zucchini seedlings (above), and a couple of tomatoes (below)!

And one more thing: there are some really interesting comments in the previous post regarding style identities and What Not To Wear, including a wonderfully insightful comment by Tigerteacher, who reminds us why programmes like WNTW matter, and why they are important and meaningful, even if they are not perfect.

Blouse: H&M (from almost two years ago, and this is the first time I am wearing it!)
Skirt: second hand / Salvation Army
Shoes: mom's old Gabor
Vintage brooch: gift from Lynn
Scarf: second hand / flea market, I think


Franca said...

This is something I've also been thinking about: why do I have this urge to buy new stuff (even if it's from charity shops)? Why am I not happy with what I have? I have a massive wardrobe full of things suitable for all seasons, but still I want something new

In addition to what you've said, one reason I can think of is that it's maybe to do with celebrating. For me, it being spring makes me want to go out and do things (in winter I just hibernate and become really boring) and I feel like wearing new things makes the things I do more special.

Oh, I know this doesn't make sense written down! It does in my head!

a cat of impossible colour said...

I am completely freaking out about losing my hairdresser when I move. Silly, I know, but she's the only person I trust with my hair!

Teenysparkles said...

Oh, I'm with the view that wanting new things is to do with a primal urge based on means of survival; and that we just haven't evolved it out of our systems yet. At one stage the acquisition of things was essential to survival. Now we are just excessive. If I consider "not buying" it is because I don't like to waste on fashionable trend items I won't wear for the next few years, or because I am actually trying to save. Also, I totally agree with what you said about the emotional element of consuming. Sad state of affairs when you break it down isn't it. Cute skirt though, and also love how you have your hair in that scarf.

SnapandPrint said...

The haircut/hairstylist situation. I found that when is ee a woman with grat hair , I ask them where they had it cut or styled and what the stylist's name was.

It always freaks me out when I move to trust a new stylist with my hair but, I find asking women with great hair does help a bit.

As for buying new things, I find I do this when bored or feeling blue because it makes me feel happy. I am trying to curb this impluse because I am getting ready to move and need the money for that. It is a hard habit to break I find.

Modesty is Pretty said...

Maybe because I have long hair I don't worry about who's going to cut my hair anymore, last time I even trimmed it myself! But hopefully you'll either find a good stylist or can wait til you go back to Finland. About your post I can definitely relate to it, since I am one of those bloggers that has to buy something "new" every week, even if it's as small as a single pin. I've thought about actually being addicted to thrifting, like a thriftaholic and I've been trying to go less and less and til now have kind od succeded, I've been there but don't buy anything (most times). Starting next month I'll be on a strict budget and we'll see how that goes. I think I buy more since I started looking at blogs and stuff like that, seeing how cheap and how nice they put things together makes me want to go and do the same, find something cute. Sometimes I thrift because I'm stressed and I want to do something to relax, or to not get home to total boredom. I once met a lady who I see at thrift store all the time, she told me she rather be thrifting then at home with her husband and her problems, it made me feel so bad for her and that's when I kind of made the decision to change, although I haven't been completely successful, anyways, I'll quit or my comment will be longer than your post. I love your outfit and that skirt is awesome, totally different from what you usually wear, your style has slowly been changing since you came to the US.

T said...

I was videoskyping with a friend from Moscow who had moved to Geneva, and I commented that her hair looked better than usual. It's very fine, often lays limply on her head, and she hadn't really had a very flattering haircut for the 2 years that I knew her. But this time, it had volume and really framed her face well.

"Oh, I got it cut by some Japanese guy on 10th Street when I was visiting my dad (in NY)," she said.

"Wait a minute... it's not Kino, on 10th and 1st?" I asked.

"Yeah! How did you know?" She was incredulous.

Who would have ever thought she would have stumbled into -- and got a fabulous haircut from -- my hairdresser for the last 8 years?

The guy's a genius, I tell you.

Toshi Kino
241 East 10th St. (bet 1 + 2 Ave)
(212) 475-6826

Rad_in_Broolyn said...

Another great skirt and great question. This is the big motivating factor behind my shopping "diet" lately. I can't figure out, for all my critique of high consumption society, why I need more and more clothes. I don't feel that way about music, food, friends, or books (I'll happily eat the same thing, listen to what I've got, go to the library). I don't even like prints and florals but I see all the trends around me left and right and I think, "That's cute. I want it." My fella seems completely immune to this. I'm not a kid anymore and my self confidence is not based on having what others have (I think), but I find it difficult to find the urge to accumulate (and hoard) new clothes.

Anonymous said...

well first off, your new skirt is lovely! i like the length, and teh circle shape, and the colors and print. it was a great find.

i think a lot about why i like buying things. i definitely go through periods of buying a lot of stuff, and then not. but what i realize is that, actually, i'm always buying something, but what it is changes. at seasonal changes, i buy clothes. in between, i buy other stuff- usually for a hobby- craft supplies, yarn or fabric, ingredients for cooking something new-to-me (hello last week's truffle oil purchase). i start to realize that i'm one big consuming machine!

lately i realized that the feeling of new-ness comes not just from buying, but tailoring things myself (making long pants short, or hemming a dress a few inches), and swapping too! i would like to do a lot more of those things. because it does feel good, for whatever reason, to have something new. ~joelle

tigerteacher said...

Wow! Thanks for the props! :-)

I adore that skirt! And it's just the sort of shape and length that I'm always searching for in stores but only seem to find in thrift shops this spring - things in stores are either short or maxi these days. This is a fashion peeve of mine and a reason I turn to thrifting so often - it seems that stores really play it safe in what they stock and, at a time when short skirts or maxis are in, that's ALL you'll find. I experimented with shorter lengths in the fall with tights but just don't think they are the comfiest for me with bare legs this spring. I love having the variety that thrifting brings!

I'm actually at the beginning of a non-thrift shopping moratorium when it comes to spring/summer clothing but I'm not sure how long I'll be able to last. I recently bought 2 new maxi dresses (which I'm adoring for this spring) but otherwise my plan is try to really get more use out of the clothing I have and to try to make it feel new by mixing things differently than I have previously...we'll see how long that satisfies my urge for shopping! Reading fashion blogs such as yours is a great inspiration for me in thinking of my existing pieces in new ways, which I think will help me on my shopping break.

Michele said...

I don't really have an opinion on this since I so rarely buy new stuff, but I just wanted to say that this is a really pretty outfit! I love that brooch.