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Lifestyle:Shop to Live

Comfort in Shopping
Natalie White

'I will admit that at least a quarter of the purchases I make aren’t needed. I buy them because it makes me happy.'

The click-clack of stiletto heels on a tiled floor reverberates around the quiet shoe shop. She pauses before a full-length mirror and gazes at the reflection, turning her feet to get the full effect of the thin, leather straps curving around her foot, the three inch heel enhancing her petite size. At the foot of a stool, the floor is littered with tissue paper, boxes and similar shoes. For many women this scene may not be uncommon and it may not necessarily be a shoe shop, it could be the lure of the ever shrinking mini or the gorgeous packaging of a new perfume.

Comfort shopping or retail therapy, this is where many women take refuge. Boyfriend dumped you? Treat yourself to some new, expensive make-up. You’ve lost some weight? Buy a new pair of trousers. Going on a date, got a new job, brother’s getting married, you’ve got a headache; whatever the reason, women can almost always find one to go shopping and I am one of them.

Before I came to University, if I went into shopping at home I would usually be able to look at items and say, “If I don’t need it, don’t buy it,” but now the temptation of the city centre is becoming more and more enticing. Pop out for a pint of milk and I could end up coming back with five vest tops from TopShop. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration on my part but believe me there are some women who would.

It doesn’t stop at just going shopping either there’s the internet as well. There are several occasions when I’ve bought items over the internet if I haven’t been able to go out shopping through lack of time or there isn’t that specific store in town. I find it quite relaxing to sit at the computer, browsing the pages as I pick out items for my wardrobe, then clicking on the ‘Send’ button, knowing that in a few days time there’ll be a delivery for me.

I will admit that at least a quarter of the purchases I make aren’t needed. I buy them because it makes me happy when I get home, knowing I’ve got a new top, trousers or shoes to show off. I get a buzz from being able to walk around the shops, trying on countless items of clothing, shoes and make-up, taking items up to the counter and then handing over the credit card. The bills don’t come through for four weeks and then there’s another four weeks before they start charging interest.

Unfortunately, whilst I might find shopping therapeutic, a sanctuary to retreat into whenever I feel the need, it does have a downside. Since I’ve been in Portsmouth, I’ve probably spent more on clothes, shoes and make-up than I have on five weeks worth of food shopping but if it’s where I find my comfort why can’t I splash out a little?

© Natalie White November 2003

Natalie is a first year student at Portsmouth University

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