Stop Shopping for Your Imaginary Life

stop shopping for your imaginary life

I have a bad habit of shopping for my imaginary life: you know, the one in which I’m some kind of glamorous party-girl, rarely without a red-carpet to walk upon?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this, either. My problem, you see, is that I love clothes – and, more to the point, I love a certain type of clothes. Fifties-inspired prom dresses. Very high heels. Outfits that wouldn’t look out of place at a cocktail party – but which are VERY out of place in my home office, on a Tuesday afternoon.

Unfortunately for me, the life of a full-time fashion blogger doesn’t give me many excuses to dress up. Oh, I could if I really wanted to, I suppose: there’s no shortage of event invitation in my inbox and on my desk. The problem is, though, that, in addition to living in a small village in the exact middle of nowhere, UK, I’m also something of a homebody, so the thought of travelling to wherever those events are being held rarely appeals to me. Not when there are books to be read, blog posts to be written, and an ever-growing Netflix queue, anyway.

The result of all of this is that I’ve ended up with a closet full of party dresses, but nothing to wear to lunch with friends, or a Saturday afternoon’s shopping. I never need to buy something special for a party, and if I was invited to a wedding tomorrow, I’d be able to reach into my closet and pull out something appropriately. Anything even remotely causal, however, leaves me absolutely stumped, and I’ll invariably end up feeling horribly uncomfortable in whatever appropriately “dressed down” outfit I managed to cobble together from the very back of the closet.

Presented with the choice between an impractical-but-stunning dress, say, and a practical-but-dull sweater, I’ll go for the dress every time – then I’ll head out to that casual get-together in a shabby old pair of jeans, while the dress hangs in the closet, unworn.

I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember, but lately I’ve been trying hard to change. For the past year, I’ve been doing my best to resist the pretty party dresses, and invest in more “sensible” options, realising at last that “sensible” doesn’t have to mean “boring”. I’ve been clearing out my closet, getting rid of the things I know I’ll never wear (but was holding onto “just in case”…), and slowly but surely attempting to replace them with things I’ll get lots of use out of. It’s been slow-going, and I haven’t always been successful – sometimes those dresses and skirts are just TOO irresistible! – but I’ve been making progress, and will be ending 2014 with my wardrobe in much better shape than it started.

Next year, my aim is to continue the good work, and to keep refining my closet, selectively adding to it and, above all, shopping for the life I ACTUALLY have, rather than the one I just WISH I had. I don’t think I’ll ever have a true capsule wardrobe – I enjoy clothes far too much for that! – but hopefully I can make the wardrobe I DO have a much more effective one!

Anyone else trying to break the habit of shopping for their imaginary lives? 


  • +1
    I’ve just bought 3 very girly dresses.
    The problem is i am an architect, i usually go to building sites (jeans and safety shoes required) instead of glamour events where i could parade my wardrobe!

  • My aim for the next year is to clear (selling) all the shoes I’ve bought “just in case” of a fashion glamorous party, event, everything could justify the big amount of unwearable high-heel shoes in my shoe rack and all the most uncomfortable of them, which I can’t wear in my real – 12hours out of home – working life.
    So, hold on, and courage! 😉


  • I don’t exactly have a problem in buying too many dressy items, but I do have an overabundance of ‘particular’ clothes, with bright colors, bold patterns or with visible ornaments… I basically need to buy more basics, so I can, say, wear a cobalt blue knitwear with black trousers or skirt, instead of having to choose between the violet skirt or the green round midi skirt, or having to resort to jeans for the thousand time!

  • #mylifeproblem

    Seriously. I’m the same. Invite me to the opera, a wedding, a cocktail party, I’m ready. But coffee with the girls on Saturday afternoon? ARGH! They just know to expect me in heels with a clutch bag. It’s bad though when I get invited to a party at a friend’s place where everyone else is a stranger. Then I know they’re like, *snort* what is she doing here? Oh well.

  • I can totally relate to this! It’s always a struggle to dress down and find a casual outfit! I have been trying this year though to get some wardrobe staples rather than a pretty dress I know I won’t have an occasion to wear to! I can’t wear heels anymore and various clothes due to health reasons so have had to change my whole style recently. What I found the best thing for me to do was invest in a designer pair of sensible boots (I went for Jimmy Choo Yule boots) so that way I still felt glamorous when wearing an otherwise mundane outfit!

  • When I moved to Denmark, which is home of the ultra-cool Scandinavian people who always wear black jeans/black sweater/black Nikes I felt the same with my collection of big skirts and high heels. For a while I was really down because of it but after meeting a girl who wore £200 jeans around the house just because she loved those clothes so much I came to the conclusion that I simply don’t care anymore. Also the fact that I go to a Design+Business university helps – I always chalk it up to “fashion person” mentality.

    I agree that a good basic collection is very important as you can’t really walk the dog in Pigalles, but there’s no need to feel impending doom at the approach of the Casual Event. Rachel Zoe put it best “Being overdressed is not a bad thing at all. What’s the worst case scenario? You are the best dressed person in the room.”

    • There’s being over-dressed, though, and there’s being ridiculously over-dressed… I’m mostly talking about the latter scenario: I’m all for wearing what makes you happy, but wearing a cocktail dress to a causal lunch would make me feel really silly (And I doubt anyone would think I was the best dressed in the room, either – they’d just think I was someone who didn’t know how to dress for the occasion!), so I wouldn’t get any pleasure out of wearing that dress. I’d rather try to find a happy medium than spend money on clothes that are only really suitable for weddings and suchlike!

  • I do this with home goods. I finally stopped buying dishes and serving pieces for the life I wish I had and bought things for the life I do have. Having all those pretty things and never using them was depressing.

  • Ever seen those pie charts on the proportion of one’s activities in life? I like those for showing how much of each wardrobe type that I need. I’m currently building my postpartum wardrobe (the fourth trimester…) since my baby is coming in March, including active wear since getting inspired to work out at around 6 weeks after will be so important!

  • So true! I do this all the time too, but instead of shopping for a different life-style, I shop for a different weather: I own 50+ tank tops, when in Central Europe, you can only wear them like three weeks in the year!

  • I also must stop getting so many fancy dresses of which would be impracticable for work but sometimes it’s so difficult to resist. I own 1 pair of casual trousers and 3 t-shirts. And that’s it for my practical clothes…

  • Me. I keep buying heels, though I have a smashed knee and can not even stand for five minutes in them, let alone walk.

  • Heels. Oh heels. My job requires I be on my feet for eight hours a day. So I end up wearing the same three pairs of dull but super comfortable flats every day. But I love my heels and keep buying them, certain I can wear them on my day off, or at night, but I only end up wearing like a fifth of them every year.

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