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September 1, 2006

The Swim (Don't Sink) Guide To Shopping

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THE CLOSET CONSUMER
Emily, 27 photo editor
"I'm not trying to spend all of our money, but I don't like being monitored."
While I love shopping, I feel like I'm being accused when my husband points out that I'm wearing something new. We have been married for just over a year. We each have our own bank accounts, but we share a credit card--and a closet. He encourages me to use the card for purchases so we can earn frequent-flier miles, then he usually pays off the bill (he earns much more than I do). So, technically, using the card is spending his money.

On the rare occasions that I do charge something, I'll go online and pay that amount right away, from my bank account. But he sees the statements. I'll say, "Well, these jeans were $200, but that just means I have to wear them 20 times and then they basically pay for themselves." It has become a little game we play. He'll ask, "So how many times do you have to wear those shoes?" I guess it's sort of silly, but it makes it a little easier when I have to own up to my latest buys.

We recently had a talk about money and decided to buy fewer "frivolous" items. A week or so later, he spotted my new J.Crew pumps in the closet. I had actually bought them before the argument, but I hadn't brought them home until recently. I told him they were old, but who knows if he believed me? I think I've developed a complex: Shopping is still a pleasure, but now, it's a guilty one.

THE WEB BROWSER
Alexandra, 30 writer/producer
"I often spend more than nine hours at a time shopping online."
I visit my favorite shops at least 10 times a day--online shops, that is. I shop so much and so often that going to physical stores would be impossible. The Internet is faster and easier. I have 24-hour access, and there's never a sales clerk breathing down my neck.

My favorite sites are bookmarked on my computers at home and work: blaec.com, shopbop.com, factory people.com, anthropologie.com, neimanmarcus.com, bloomingdales.com, and saks.com.

I spend most of my free time--my lunch hour, after work--shopping. I recently saw someone on the street wearing a great pair of jeans. I asked her where she got them, and once I found out, I was obsessed. I woke up at 2 a.m. haunted by these amazing jeans, so I went online and bought a pair. I probably spend $1200 a month. I receive so many packages--at least two a week--that it's like Christmas all year round. My mailman thinks I'm crazy. I have to track my packages online, too; I once realized a pair of shoes I had bought were still missing four months after I ordered them.

I did venture into H&M for the debut of Stella McCartney's line. I was trampled and pushed, all in the name of fashion. Prior to that day, it had been almost a year since I'd purchased an item in a store, and the experience was enough to scare me back to the Web for good!


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