What I Bought–I Mean Did–on My Summer Vacation

Now I’ll give the long-awaited answer to the question: What did I end up buying on vacation?

The answer is: Wait for it…

Nothing.

Yes. I’m just as shocked as you are.

See: There were a couple things I contemplated, but I found myself mired in an existential discussion with my Really Irritating Internal Voice (RIIV), about whether I actually wanted to have these things, or whether I just wanted to buy them. This is, of course, a broad and, may I say, extremely tiring question. I mean, I certainly didn’t want to buy something just to buy something. On the other hand, some of my most-worn items are ones I bought on vacation or at some other time when I just felt like buying something for the pleasure of buying something.

Anyway. First, I almost bought a ring. It had a simple, gold-plated base and a round piece of red/pink sea glass. It was not at all expensive and Mom was like “just get the effing ring,” though she said it more politely because she’s a mom. But it was only the second day of vacation. What if I found something I liked more?

Over the next day or so I did think about the ring, and planned to go back for it, but I got too busy doing such vacation-y things as lying down, reading, drinking wine, eating, and lying down again.

Gone fishing - Herringbones Design Shop

The shop where I almost bought (yet another) bag. I may call and ask them to send it to me. Will I like it as much now that vacation is over?

In a different store, on the last day, I found a super-cute fabric/knit tote bag, with all my fave colors (black, maroon, olive, grey), and lots of little pockets inside. It was a great end-of-summer bag, and everyone knows you can never have too many bags. But again, doubt raised its ugly head. Did I want THIS bag? Or did I just want to go home from vacation with a souvenir?

I decided to ignore my RIIV and “just buy the effing ring.” But, when I returned to the first store (stay with me here, I know it’s getting confusing) the ring had been sold. Suddenly, I really, really wanted it. “And you’re sure you don’t have one in back, right? What about online? The Portland store?” The saleswoman was fairly unsympathetic, conveying a kind of “you snooze, you lose” attitude which seemed fair enough, since the day before, when I had been about to go back to the store, I had actually fallen asleep.

However, now that I’m home I find myself thinking about that bag. I’m even considering calling the store, giving them my credit card, and asking them to send it to me. The problem is, will I like it as much, now that vacation is over?

Shopping Rule #436: Everything Looks Better on Vacation

Courtesy of the Boston Public Library

What to Buy on Vacation? How About Everything. 

A friend once mentioned something in passing about wearing her “vacation dress.” I figured she meant a dress that she had bought FOR vacation: Something cute yet comfy, that would, in fashion-mag parlance, “make the transition from day to evening.” But no. She was talking about a dress she had bought ON vacation. Something she would probably not have purchased had she not been rested, relaxed, and in a shopping mood.

You Can Tell Me: Share Your Favorite Vacation Purchase

This little exchange popped into my head yesterday, since I happen to be on vacation. And you know you’re on vacation in a New England beach town when you go a-browsing in a shop you would give little more than a haughty sniff to back home and fall in love with absolutely everything in it. Flowered skirts. Earrings with smiling whales.

Even non-clothes: A red ceramic butter dish with white polka dots? Love! Birdhouses made of wine corks? Sure–years of trauma wrought by my viewing of The Birds— totally a thing of the past.  Even placards with such inspirational quotes as “One day can bend your life” (though not surprisingly I read that as “A single day can END your life” which makes more sense).

All this to say I am on vacation and a little antsy to treat myself to something.

Tell me about a piece of clothing you bought on vacation that you probably would never have bought at any other time.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want & You May Not Want It Anyway

I am not a fan of stealing other writers’ ideas—especially because I think I should be the only one generating all the good ideas.

However, The Sartorialist recently wrote about that thing that sometimes happens, where you fantasize about owning a certain piece of clothing; then, once you buy it, it sits in your closet unworn.

Reading the 600-plus comments on The Sartorialist post, many of them quite touching, I was surprised at how common this experience is.

Blame it on Your Brain

I began mentally perusing not only my current closet, but the ghosts of closets past. I thought back on the grey and pink Lululemon gym bag with the polka-dotted lining and all the little pockets that I just had to have, then ran out and bought as soon as I received a small raise.  I use it every once in awhile but not as much as I thought I would, and it still looks new.

I thought back to my strapless, black lace Betsey Johnson dress. I wore it once but always felt a little too exposed in it. I would try it on every once in awhile just for fun. Then one time I found I could no longer zip it up all the way. I know I should consign it but I keep thinking I’ll suddenly lose my perpetual  ice cream craving or develop a tapeworm and suddenly be able to fit into it again, and feel great in it.

A quick, albeit clumsy Google search with the phrase “psychology behind not wanting something once you have it” yielded this article in Psychology Today, which says (and I’m summarizing it very simplistically) that one part of the brain controls the experience of “liking” something, and a totally different part of the brain controls the feeling of “wanting” something, so you can want something you don’t ultimately end up liking.

Whoa.

At least I don’t feel so bad about that Betsey Johnson dress anymore; I mean, it’s not taking up too much room in my closet, and I still want it. Maybe soon I’ll even like it.

Some Purchases Are Meant to be Burned

My New Blouse
I’ll keep this story short, as I really don’t need to relive it.

A couple months ago I picked up a very thin, peach-colored, French Connection cotton blouse at Loehmann’s. I figured it had ended up at a discount store because the batch had been sized wrong; even the smallest sizes seemed huge. Still, I figured it would go well with my olive-green linen blend Brooklyn Industries jacket, so for about $25 I figured what the hell and took it home.

Last week I decided to bust it out for running errands in the city. It was super hot and I figured I couldn’t go wrong wearing this flowy empire-waist blouse out and about.

It turns out, I could.

The Bad Good Samaritan
There I was feeling pretty cute if I say so myself until I got on the subway, found a good standing place, settled my Trader Joe’s bags between my ankles, and a woman offered me her seat.

You already know where this is going, don’t you? Continue reading