Friday, August 14, 2009

Fashion Friday Focus: The Psychology of Shopping

by Jackie Walker

Recently on a trip throughout Italy I found that the one word that is universal is “shopping.” Wherever we traveled the quest to purchase something we had never seen before became the challenge. I would always go to the desk of the hotel and say, “shopping.” I immediately saw a smile of understanding, especially from the women, and was directed to the hot spots in town.

What is it about that one sport that satisfies every urge? We feel happy and we shop. We feel sad and we shop. Thin or a little bloated? Shopping lifts our energy and mood.

Retail Infidelity!

I found out one of the answers from a client that lives in Florida. I was constantly trying to keep her closets in order and yet from visit to visit I found new purchases that were not part of our plan. She tried to convince me that I had just forgotten when we picked these out together. I looked at her and said, “Phyllis, you are fashion cheating on me!” The answer came the next month when Phyllis’s daughter was visiting. She peered into her mom’s closet and said how nice it looked but how it would be filled again to the brim because of her mom’s sport. She explained that it wasn’t about the shopping or fashion that intrigued my client. It was the hunt.

The Answer to Why

What is the psychology behind your shopping patterns? Have you ever thought about it this way? When working with a new client I always ask this question. Many of them have to think about it as they never realized why. That is the first answer to clogging the closet with best friends or purchase errors.

Fact: On average women only wear 20% of the clothing in their closets.

Fact: Men shop for need and women shop for emotion.

Answer the following ten questions and see if they fit an emotional shopping pattern.

  • Do you shop because you are happy or sad?
  • Do you go out looking for specific items?
  • Do you have a list that will lead you to needed options?
  • Do you shop with others or alone?
  • Do you often return what you have selected?
  • Do you like to shop?
  • Do you wrap shopping around a social occasion such as lunch?
  • What percentage of what you buy do you actually love and wear many times?
  • Do you just shop on sale?
  • Do you have items with tickets still attached?
Is it on Sale?

Carol was amazed that she had purchased the same skirt three times at different stores. They were embedded in a mass of closet clothing and she never knew it. The first one was bought at retail and the second one was 25% off. The third and final triplet was 75% off. The amazing part of this story was she had never worn them outside of her bedroom. She told me that every time she tried them on she took them off. Why buy three you ask? The last two were on sale. How could she resist. This is the same client that has been known to buy shoes a size too small because the price was too hard to resist. She said that her feet shrink in the winter. She lives in Boca Raton, Florida. They have no winter!

It’s Up to You!

Take some time now to analyze your shopping habits and the telling reasons behind them. Shopping should be fun and it will be if the right intent is there. You will then wear all these options and delight in your shopping savvy. Ask yourself these questions as you hold the item and your charge card in your hands!

  • Do I love it?
  • Will it fit my current lifestyle?
  • How many ways can I wear it?
  • And if on sale would I pay regular price for it?
Now you are ready! Go Shopping!

Jackie Walker is the author of the best-selling book I Don't Have a Thing to Wear: The Psychology of Your Closet.

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