Don’t Let Purchases Haunt You

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nothing haunts us like the things we didn't buy

Have you seen this quote floating around Pinterest? I have and every time I see someone I know pin it I cringe.

I believe in the power of clothing. A great outfit can be a suit of armor that helps you feel confident during a stressful or difficult situation. Wearing a certain type of clothing can show respect to your workplace, to a house of worship, for the deceased, or those hosting an event. And sometimes just the right cut of a dress can take you from schlump to sex goddess.

However there isn’t a single purchase you can make for your closet that will change who you are. I don’t care what name is on the label or how amazing it makes your boobs or ass look, it’s not going to change your brain, your heart, or your soul. And maybe I sound like your mom, but it’s what’s inside that counts.

clothing is only the book jacket to your life novel

Clothing is only the book jacket to your life novel. Choosing clothing that fits and flatters not just your figure but your lifestyle and personality help better represent your novel and may attract more interested readers, but they don’t affect the plot or the outcome.

I’ve caught myself many times doing what I know many of you have done – shopped for a new self. This year I’m going to wear more power colors, I’m going to embrace my femininity, if I start over with a new minimalist capsule wardrobe my life will be simpler, I’m not going to be “that” mom, “that” corporate drone, and yes “that” blogger.

And the closet gets new additions, but one’s core, one’s self is unchanged. Because money can’t buy happiness, and it can’t buy a new soul. It’s easier to throw money at a closet than do self-analysis and work to improve our selves, but it doesn’t work. You have to do the work, not your wardrobe. Life is more than clothes, don’t let purchases define you, don’t let that which was unpurchased haunt you. You’re so much more than what you buy and own, so much more precious and interesting and beautiful. Believe that, and remember that a book jacket is just marketing; the plot of the novel is what really matters.

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. Yes, I’m currently struggling what to do about this one jacket that I recently bought. It’s got a bit of moto styling and you can google pictures of Steve McQueen wearing them while motorcycling. Once I saw them, I felt a bit of a poseur and no longer certain I should keep it.

  2. There are people, mostly women, who post every their new buy on social networks and there are their friends who want to keep up with them. It’s a constant marathon of buying and posting and looking hotter than anybody else. The fear to be left out, not to be considered stylish and successful enough, to be thought of as poor or dull in the condition of having nothing worthy to say or to share pushes many women to buy more to fill in those hollows and to try to create a better picture of themselves in new clothes, shoes, with new bags, ecc. not to feel miserable.
    I myself love shopping for fashion and I did a great wardrobe reboot last year after my baby was born (thanks for the tips you provide in this blog Allie!) and I just felt like a new, better person but I reminded myself I had to improve my inner self even more. Because people do see who you are, no outfit can dress emptiness and shallowness.
    I think the remorse is triggered by not knowing what you want and illuding yourself with the idea of becoming someone else in a new outfit, so people can take a missed chance to buy something for the chance to make a change in their lives. This is where this pinterest quote comes from I believe.

    1. As a personal style blogger, my income comes from getting people to buy. The more I can convince people they NEED some purchase in their life, the more I get paid, and the more opportunities come my way. And the more I spend that is new, the easier it is to link just to that item and get other people to click and buy it. I see the reason this quote is popular – we HAVE to buy to look like these women on social networks, and these women on social networks need people to buy to support their shopping habits. I know I am part of this problem, but I hope to balance the shopping posts with other content that may help women make better shopping decisions. You can own the same exact wardrobe as your favorite social media/blogger woman, but you still won’t be her. And truthfully, we all edit our internet lives to look as good as possible or to create a certain persona, so one may not even WANT to be like the person they admire on the Internet!

  3. Allie,

    I agree with the other folks about being more likely to regret things I did buy.

    I’ve been thinking about what actually haunts me. They are:
    1. Unexpressed love.
    2. Missed opportunities – sometimes connected with #1 and sometimes not, as in turning down a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.


  4. This is why I keep coming back to your blog…so perfectly said! I had to read the quote a few times to make sure it didn’t say the opposite (the way it should be). I have regretted far more purchases than things left in the store. Especially things bought when I’m shopping in a funk, trying to improve my mood. The high never lasts long, no matter how great the item.

    1. I must say when I first read it I thought it said the opposite too. Then when I got it, I wondered if it was put out on Pinterest by shopping bloggers or affiliate programs to guilt people even more into buying off blogs. You’re right, the high never lasts and you keep shopping to achieve some sort of perfection that doesn’t exist.

  5. The haunt quote seems to encourage purchasing to avoid regret. I may have lost out on a few items not purchased but I don’t even remember the exact items and they certainly do not haunt me. I am sorry that this quote is so popular and so far away from the original intent. The stores try to get us to buy as much as possible which is their business. I don’t mind the commercial angle but it bothers me that so many on pinterst see something of value in the quote.

  6. Thank you for this! I remember not too long ago I had it in my head that if I had the perfect wardrobe then my life and myself would become what I wanted it to be-fun, interesting, etc. However I found myself dissatisfied no matter how much I bought. Then I realized that it wasn’t my wardrobe that needed an overhaul- it was myself that needed the overhaul. I needed to grow and change as a person in order to attract the things I wanted. It’s been tough especially being in a city where image is everything but I know that it is necessary. I still try to dress as best as I can but I know that it’s not everything.

  7. It’s a sad and telling slogan, isn’t it? If not buying a particular item is the major thing haunting a person, imagine that shallow, empty life–what a waste!

    1. Agreed, I’m shocked how popular this quote is. It’s some weird adaptation from Mitch Albom’s “Nothing haunts us like the things we didn’t say.” Not saying goodbye, not saying I love you, not saying I’m sorry… THOSE are things worthy of not being able to sleep at night, not jackets and frocks.

  8. What a great post! And no matter how great a piece makes me feel or look, if it’s not money I can afford to spend, THAT is what will haunt me!

  9. Thank you! When I saw that you had posted this pin, I cringed and wondered how you were going to address it since it seemed totally against what you advocate. Honestly, I’m more likely to regret things that I DID purchase than things that I didn’t!

  10. Such a great post. It really does not matter what piece of clothing you buy or own, but more the person you are wearing it. You can look ravishing in a find from a thrift store. Clothing is a way of communicating who we are, who we would like to be and where we see ourselves belonging in the world. In the past, I always had buyer’s remorse especially when I bought something to make myself feel better. These days I find it easier to be thoughtful. Also thanks for the mention on Facebook!

    Accidental Icon

  11. Well said. Actually I look in my closet and regret what I did buy. It’s too easy to get a buzz from shopping and buying something you think is wonderful and will totally change your wardrobe if not your life. I get a bigger buzz from returning it and not wasting my money. I’m on a “shopping diet” until all the “not that greats” are out of the closet. And I may not need to buy anything new once I can see what I already have.

    1. I love this – “until all the ‘not that greats’ are out of the closet.” I think I’ll steal it – ok with you?

      1. Love it. Steal away. I’m currently trying out different looks each day and what didn’t work is hitting the go away box. Nothing is going unworn or at least tried on.

  12. That your clothes reflect you is true – to an extent. Of course we feel good when we feel like we look good. But ultimately, that hard work you mention, the work to improve ourselves? Ouch. It’s so hard it hurts. As one who’s wandered Target and even grocery store aisles to settle down or even – in a misplaced way – to center myself, well…I’ll just leave it there. I know better, but it’s so much easier said than done.

      1. I hear you…it’s so easy to get sucked in. H and I had a big “we just buy too much stuff” conversation tonight. We’re all going to pay more attention.

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