Overshopping Overseas

According to Trinny and Susannah, the two stars of ITV1’s reality fashion show, now in its second season, Brits spend 30 billion pounds every year on clothing, much of which is never worn. In an effort to help British women who are compulsive buyers learn to spend their money more wisely and stop buying things they will never wear, they’ve opened a store and work with shopaholics right in the store. (By the way, if you’re wondering how they’ll ever make money this way, they also work with shopophobes and help them buy!). They also give master classes in creating a basic wardrobe, in an effort to prove that a handful of carefully selected, what they term “cornerstone” items yields many beautiful outfits.

Try on clothes before you leave the store.

An early episode followed Grethe, an avowed shopaholic, who never tries on her purchases before she leaves the store. Trinny works with Grethe, who picks up armfuls of clothing and is ready to purchase them. Under Trinny’s watchful eye, Grethe has to admit that half of what she’s chosen doesn’t suit her, leading to the realization that she’d save a bundle if she tried on her purchases before she made them.

Do you need the clothes now?

Susannah also questions her on some of the specific items, in this case, a bathing suit. It’s fall and Grethe has no vacation planned. Susannah to Grethe: “You don’t even know if you’re going on holiday yet. You’ve decided that you’re going on holiday so you can buy this haven’t you? You’ve thought, ‘I really want this bikini so I’m going to go and spend three grand on a holiday.’ You do it the other way around, you decide you’re going on holiday then you buy the swimsuit.”

Why am I here? How do I feel? Do I need this? What if I wait? How will I pay for it? Where will I put it? These questions are superimposed on a bunch of giant, colorful question marks.

But do these measures really work?

Under the experienced and loving tutelage of Trinny and Susannah, women are clearly getting something important. While the principles of “smart shopping,” crucial when shopping is in fact necessary, are certainly helpful and useful, every shopper must be wary.

What is smart shopping?

Don’t let the supportive connotations behind “smart shopping” validate compulsive or unnecessary purchases! A fail-safe technique to minimize overshopping is to ask yourself the following six questions and answer them, preferably in writing, before you buy.

1. Why am I here?
2. How do I feel?
3. Do I need this?
4. What if I wait?
5. How will I pay for it?
6. Where will I put it?

By Carrie Rattle

Carrie Rattle is a Principal at BehavioralCents.com, a website for women focused on mind and money behaviors. She has worked in the financial services industry for 20+ years and hopes to inspire women to better prepare themselves for financial independence. Read More