Browse until I... drowse?

A lot of you know I’m not really a shopper. I just get so frustrated because I seem to be shaped weirdly, so not much fits. Here’s my beef: you take your Saturday and you tell yourself you need three things. The goal is to get at least one pair of nice jeans with a flattering cut and that cost less than $75, black heels for work that must be at least 3 inches tall or you’ll have to re-hem your pants, and capris that don’t look like clamdiggers on you. Five stores and 10 pairs of jeans later, you’re crying in a dressing room, cursing your hips and vowing to wear sweatpants as long as you live. You then decide to forgo the search for capris because what’s the point when you know they won’t fit you. And you’re never going to get these two hours of your life back. And now the lock is jammed.

Ok so I’ve never been locked in a dressing room but it could happen. What I don’t like the most about a specific shopping trip is the pressure to buy something to make the trip worth your time. I get these expectations built up that I’m going to come home with the perfect pair of shoes and I’m crushed when I don’t find them (or they’re too expensive to even consider). And in my book, I better be absolutely in love with a piece of clothing (or at least have plenty of faith in it) before I’ll drop the cash and bring it home.

I think we can conclude that “shopping” stresses me out, which brings me to my new lunchtime obsession: browsing.

In my mind, browsing is very different from shopping. I browse with the intent of getting ideas, learning what the new fashions are, and letting my mind wander while looking at pretty things. If I’m browsing, I never intend to buy. That would pressurize the browsing session and stress me out (“I wasted my lunch break looking for shoes and now I’m still hungry and still shoeless!” I can also try on things I might never try on in a “real” shopping session: a crazy fashion fad or a super-expensive pair of Coach shoes. “Real” shopping sessions usually consist of a targeted effort for specific items, so why would I want to waste time trying on things I’m next-to-positive I won’t like or that I’m not looking for in the first place? If I’m browsing, I know I’m not going to buy the item, so I may as well try it on and at least get a feel of how it looks or how it fits so I can prepare for the “real” shopping session (i.e. I already know Gap jeans don’t fit me so they are barred from the “real” shopping session).

I suppose you could argue that browsing itself is a waste of time if you don’t plan on buying but… it all makes sense in my head. I’m also not an impulse buyer, which is probably why I can browse for an hour and walk away sans a shopping bag and with a smile. I work next to the Southcenter Mall, so I’m never short on stores to browse. Popular haunts include Kohl’s, DSW Shoes, Forever 21, H&M, the ever-reliable Macy’s, and Nordy’s if I’m feeling ambitious. Non-clothing stores are not exempt and I can also be found at Cost Plus World Market or Borders. Browsing is just my way of taking my mind off work and getting out of the office for an hour. Browsing is Heather time. I sing songs in my head and flip through racks.

I’ve even carried the browsing outside the stores and onto the Web. I now have a “shopping” tag for my Delicious bookmarks so I can check the sites multiple times and see what’s gone on sale. Who am I becoming? It’s like I don’t even know myself anymore!

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