Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The "Art" of Shopping

A few days ago, the fabulous WendyB blogged about a topic that hit me right at the very heart. Read it here or else miss out on this life-altering piece of information!

Guilty on 3 counts, that's me. My closet, to this day, is a constant reminder of my previous life as a hoarder of cheap stuff. If it's 70% OFF, nevermind if I don't need it, nevermind if it's the bazillionth (insert any item that you already own a bazillion too many) item in my closet, I gotta have it.

Price is primary. Style is secondary. Quality is... what quality?!?

As much as I love my old ways, it didn't really work for me. After all the shopping and hoarding, there was not a single piece of clothing and not a single pair of shoes that stood out. Nothing was special. None was a favorite.

My closet was screaming for change. (Don't get me wrong though, I am not wishing that only designer pieces would ever touch my skin! ...On the second thought, won't that be completely fabulous?!? )

I still have the same shopping budget as before. I still go thrifting and consignment shopping. I still, and will always enjoy hunting for treasures from the clearance racks - be it at Marshall's, Neimans or Saks! Asking me to stop buying sale items is like asking Monet to stop painting water lilies! He won't because he's mastered the art of it (pun very much intended)!

Monet's Water Lily Series at l'Orangerie - October 2009

monet - moma
Monet's Water Lily Panel at the MoMA - March 2007

monet - dorsay
Monet's Water Lily Pond at Musee d'Orsay - October 2005

The only big difference is that now, before I pull my credit card to pay for that SALE merchandise, I ask myself these questions:

  • Is the piece truly worth its original price? Or is the marked-down price should have been its original price? Intrinsic value! Determining it is an art unto itself!

  • Can I come up with at least a dozen outfit ideas with this piece? My closet is a prime real estate. Storing one-hit-wonders is not the best use of that very limited space.

  • Will I lose sleep if I walk away from it? If I have to stalk an item for weeks just to test if I truly like it, I would. I did it here.

  • Does it fit me perfectly? Or will it fit me perfectly after a minor alteration? This last is very important. Had I asked myself this, I would have saved me from a few years worth of wasteful spending. I bought a lot of clothes that fit me perfectly if only I'd lose 20 more pounds or undergo liposuction. That's no minor alteration! Sure enough, they all went to Goodwill at the end of the season, tags and all, and in the same shopping bag they came in with.

Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam - January 2008
Me: If it doesn't fit, don't buy it.
Van Gogh: If the ears don't fit, get a knife.

So now, if someone asks me how many favorite pieces of clothes and shoes do I have, my response would be this: As many artworks as there are in the Louvre!

mona lisa
Mona Lisa reproduction at the Louvre gift shop - October 2005

Well, probably not as many as 35,000. Just 57 to be exact and all painstakingly documented in a few of my posts in this blog.

I know that none of my blogged pieces here will be in my neighborhood Goodwill anytime soon. Not to worry though, I still have LOTS of things to sort out that will keep them in business for years to come!

Price. AND style. AND quality. Gotta have all three now to make me happy...

Change has come! My closet will soon be my masterpiece, my Obra, the by-product of my artful shopping that will hopefully stand the test of time!

venus de milo
Venus de Milo dating back from the 100BC. Certainly something that has stood the test of time!

End of melodrama. Thanks for listening! Now allow me to slip back to my usually calm self in 3, 2, 1...


  1. great post!i learned a lot. ;)

  2. Love all your art photos. So cute! I have to disagree with one thing: "Can I come up with at least a dozen outfit ideas with this piece?" I love one-hit wonders that don't get worn very often. They wind up lasting for decades and they make the most distinctive vintage.

    If you wear a black top to wind up with something generic that's not even fit for Goodwill.

    Just playing Devil's Advocate ;-)

  3. Happy sweet thursday
    to the sweetest girl fom Minneapolis called "GG" Grace ;)

    "Guilty on 3 counts, that's me" - had to smile about it ;)

    It´s such a sweet idea to compare art with fashion and it´s so sweet, the second, to see some older photos from you. First time seeing you with shorter hair but one thing is always the same: YOUR CHARMING SMILE ;)
    Remember when I was first time in the Louvre to see Mona Lisa I was so disappointed about the small size of it, but like you she has a one-of-a-kind smile!

    You are soooo right... just to talk about "all the most beautiful clothes that fit me perfectly if only .... yeees... if only ;))

    Hope the weather is not so bad as it´s here in Germany since weeks and you can enjoy the sunshine... and that your day is filled with lots
    of sunshine in your heart ;)

    Sending you million-trillion hugs & kisses!!!

  4. I loved reading this and I actually made this my New Year's resolution this year - to purchase really special items. Not just a bunch of stuff. This is a great post!

  5. @Jing & Christen - thanks!!

    @WendyB - I knew you're going to say that! Tell you what, as soon as I conquer more closet space and invade my husband's, I will surely start collecting future vintage pieces! =)

    @Martina - yes, I did have a shorter hair before! But for the past 3 years, I've been growing my hair long! Lots of hugs to you!!

  6. I love these abstract, composition Art pieces !! Very thought provoking :) Mon Mode Blog

  7. So true! I try to keep classic, unique, and wearable in my mind when buying now. Price is such a temptress though right?

  8. wow awesome, i feel ashamed saying this, but i;ve been to paris like 3 times and not once gone to that museum...NEXT TIME. hah
    ---blog of fashion illustrations, music, art, film----

  9. this is how i shop too...
    in college, we'd go on this thrifting trips and buy skirts that are too long or shirts that have potential, all because i was overwhelmed with how cheap they are! but i'd end up with unfinished projects and a closet full of unusable stuff...

    now i always think whether i'll wear the stuff again or whether it's a classic and a good investment..:D

    ♥ vanilla ice cream ♥

  10. Gosh, I'm so guilty of buying anything cheap. There is this article I was reading on the internet before, You know you're Filipino when you buy things on sale even if you don't need it, something like that.

    Thanks for sharing your old and some latest photos. You're so cute in short hair. I'm thinking of having a short layered hair.

    The paintings are breathtaking. I like going to museums myself and looking at art.

  11. I am in love with this post for several reasons. The pictures of all the art work is crazy fabulous.
    Second, I really agree with you on all points. It's hard for me to go through my closet sometimes because of all the unused stuff I've bought from over the years. It's so wasteful, which is one thing I really hate to call myself. What's worse, is that I buy things that don't fit either; I have a weird body shape (well, no, I just don't have off the rack wearable body), so any dress or coat has to be altered, and I have maybe 20 things that need major alterations if I'm going to wear them and look decent, and not like I'm swimming in my clothing. It's a pain, and I never get around to doing it. But you know what, your post has inspired me to stop doing all that and just try to find pieces that really work with my body right now. it's less wasteful, and I'll actually get use out of my clothing! Great post!

  12. I can so relate to this post. I had a zillion pieces in my wardrobe, and am currently in the process of getting rid of most of them.

  13. Guilty ME!I love hoarding. It's both a sickness and a passion.This year though I promised to buy a few items and of a much better quality, that I hope! ;)

    The only time I got to see a Monet painting was when I visited the Thyssen Museum in Madrid. Now I don't recall if it was a Monet or a!

    Your so "nene" in 2005, you look like 18. ;)

    Happy Hearts Day, G!

  14. Great Pics! I am also guilty...once upon a time. I think as we get older, our shopping habits are wiser. Have a wonderful day

  15. oh my... that is too wonderful for words! i learned a lot. i'm still in the process of mastering my art in shopping.


  16. Oh, I used to be a horrible shopper. But I think a lot of buying random stuff at huge discounts is part of the learning process. And when I was much younger, I didn't really know what my style was. I think the older you get (i.e. once you get out of college and start work) the more you'll know what really suits your personality and the less likely you'll be to wind up buying silly pieces. But I agree, sales are particularly dangerous, even if you have a clear picture of what you need. You get so caught up in a bargain, you just have to have it!

    What helps me know is if I actually go through lookbooks and catalogues at the beginning of the season and determine what I might be interested in buying. Once sales start, I'll see if it's still available and until now I've been pretty lucky at getting these things. That way, it's no longer an impulse buy and I've had enough time to think about it. It just gets really tricky if you end up buying your sensible item, but suddenly see a million things that would go really well with it ;-)

  17. I used to do that with handbags, isn't that weird? Never really with clothes.
    But nowadays just trying to be more frugal and really cause I don't NEED another blouse/sweater/pair of jeans, I have to ask myself "do I LOVE it? or do I LIKE it?" Gotta love it before I take it home.

    Oh and if you ever tire of know where to send them over :)

  18. GREAT post!!! I NEEDED this advice... I feel like it should be common sense but I need to be reminded sometimes. :) I will go shopping tomorrow with your words of wisdom in mind :)

    Love the Monet paintings by the way! He's always been one of my favorites!

  19. "Can I come up with at least a dozen outfit ideas with this piece?" My no. 1 rule when buying new clothes. I'll make an exception every once in a while, but it's basically the only rule I have.

  20. Hi, I tried posting from my office, but the comment forms are acting funny. I think my comment got missed.

    Well, I have loads of clothes and shoes and hand bags, most of which I don't use. But now I am done with all that. I just want to keep what's useful, beautiful, and loved.



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