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September 1, 2006

The Swim (Don't Sink) Guide To Shopping

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Allison, 24 pharmaceutical-sales rep
"I live with four other girls. There are always comments on my clothing."
I shop alone, and with good reason: When I try on clothes in the dressing room, I spend at least 10 minutes with each item. I like to see how the clothes fit from all angles. I'm also a picky shopper, so I end up trying on a lot of things but buying very little. My friends don't have the patience to shop with me, but the feeling is mutual: I don't like to hear what they have to say about my choices.
br/>I plan my store route before I head out, which can be difficult when shopping with others. I don't spend hours planning my purchases, but I may have in mind a certain top or a particular pair of jeans I've been eyeing. The first place I usually head is Pookie & Sebastian, a small chain of boutiques in Manhattan, where I almost always find something great. I sometimes ask for strangers' opinions when I'm there-- they tend to be more helpful than my friends, because they don't have a biased opinion of me or what I've chosen.

I look forward to shopping. I use that time to relax and focus on myself. Though I enjoy helping others find things for themselves, when I'm buying my own stuff it's nice to be free to go wherever I please, on my own schedule, and shop at my own pace. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Emily, 26 studio manager
"There's too much pressure to find the right thing."
Shopping is very stressful for me. I like thinking about discovering new clothes, and I like bringing new pieces home, but it's getting the clothes that's frustrating. If I set aside time specifically for shopping, I don't come home with anything.

I often see something and think I like it, but I'm not sure, so I carry it around the store for a while--maybe an hour, sometimes two--trying to figure out whether I should buy it. The questions set in: Do I really like it, or do I just like the price? Is it a waste of money? Will I like it next week? Would I like something else better? You could say that I have a hard time making decisions.

I'm embarrassed by my indecision, but I can also laugh about it. I warn every sales person ahead of time by saying something like, "I'm sorry. I tend to be indecisive and can take a long time." It does make me uncomfortable sometimes; I feel like some sales people get annoyed and think, Just make up your mind!

I went shopping for cowboy boots last year and tried on about 40 pairs. I narrowed it down to three. I had been there for about an hour. The salesperson was ready to lock up, and I still couldn't make up my mind. I felt guilty. Still, I continued to pick them up, look at them from every angle, walk around in them. He said he needed to close the store and would give me 20- percent off if I decided on the spot. It got to the point where I thought maybe I didn't want any boots at all. But I ended up buying a pair--and I wear them all the time.

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