I’ve realized just how well retail therapy works on me. As a college student, it used to be a tube of nail polish at the end of a particularly hard day of classes, or a particularly gray streak of winter days. (By graduation, my nail kit needed two hands to lift.) Three or four dollars and an instant antidepressant was mine. A new shade of the rainbow now in the palm of my hands, I’d turn the tube of glass over and over again in the pocket of my winter coat on the walk home, savoring the feeling of it in my fingers while dopamine surged through my body.
Years later, lifestyle creep has reared its ugly head. First, I treat myself to an expensive lipstick every few months, maybe a pedicure. Then it’s a shiny trinket in the “sale” section of a website that I just have to have. A $40 thrill. A $15 tiki cocktail in a novelty glass on a weekday, and then another. An expensive sundress that isn’t on sale at all. (But oh, it takes my breath away when I slice open the package on my doorstep. Linen and the promise of a better version of myself.) And still, it’s not enough. There’s always another bad day.
1. I don’t need a new dress for every wedding that I attend. I love buying a new outfit for a wedding. I take it as a style challenge, painstakingly crafting a new aesthetic for each event. A seaside wedding is an excuse for a coral off-shoulder A-line dress and pearl drop earrings, while the hip industrial loft reception means I pretty much have to buy a pair of vintage gold block heels.
I’m 25 – I attend a lot of weddings. Five this year. That’s five $50-$100 dresses, not including the one I had to purchase as a bridesmaid. That is insane. Someone else’s wedding is not a red carpet event. This weekend I attended a lovely, intimate New England wedding. I could have used that as an excuse to go full Moonrise Kingdom on Modcloth, but instead I wore one of the beautiful dresses already hanging in my closet — and I felt great.
2. There is no miracle skincare product to end all skincare products. Reading about the skincare routines of my favorite actresses and bloggers is one of my guilty pleasures. Suddenly, I’m talking myself into a Vitamin C serum, a turmeric scrub and a bee venom face mask that I ‘m convinced will take my glow to the next level. (Can I just say: Whoever started stealth-marketing face masks as a guilt-free purchase in the name of “self care” is a goddamn genius.)
3. Paying $100 for prescription-less glasses. This is especially hilarious because I am still paying off my LASIK surgery. That’s right. I don’t even need glasses anymore! After years of coke-bottle lenses that warped my facial features and gave me headaches, I’m dying to pick a pair of glasses that are actually cute for autumn. I will not buy $100 frames just as an accessory. I held out for a sale on eyebuydirect.com, and purchased two frames for $40.
4. Fancy airport meals. I have started to treat an overpriced airport lunch with two glasses of wine as a necessary expense of traveling, instead of a fun treat for myself on vacation. I travel a lot, both for work and for play, and I want to recommit to my thrifty student travel days — pack snacks, and save the booze for happy hour.
5. Fall candles. Wood and spice scented candles are my kryptonite, and they are everywhere. I am still burning through some from last season! I won’t buy anymore until I’m out of the candles I already own, or unless I pay off all my credit cards in full this month.