Even with back-to-school buying, it looks like retail sales are still down, and while this doesn’t bode well for the old recovery, let me just ask this: Would it really be such a bad thing if excessive shopping came to an end?

Even with back-to-school buying, it looks like retail sales are still down, and while this doesn’t bode well for the old recovery, let me just ask this:

Would it really be such a bad thing if excessive shopping came to an end?

I mean, at what point should enough be enough?

I know a woman who was throwing her pantyhose away after just one wearing. I have known many a man who was trading in his car as soon as it stopped smelling new. I know plenty of Boomtime Floridians who got to feeling so flush they were selling their homes to buy new homes the minute the carpets began wearing.

Of course so poorly built were some of these homes that by the time that carpets did start to wear, the wood was also rotting and the plaster was buckling.  

Now my kids tell me I’m forever fingering their outfits and yelling things like, “They call THIS a finished seam?” So does this mean that clothes are made with a similar shoddiness?  

If so, there’s one explanation for the crotchety look on the faces of most of the shoppers you see pawing through the racks at the department stores. (“I know I want something but THIS certainly isn’t it!” this look seems to say.)

Or maybe they’re sore about how rapidly fashions change, which I can totally see as a person whose mother forced her to wear the nasty OLD Civil-War-style Catholic school uniform for a full six months after the whole rest of the student body had switched over to the kicky NEW uniforms with the short-sleeved blouses and the sporty little string ties.

Really, though, I don’t think it’s any of these things.

I think we got spoiled. We saw so many shots of those “Sex in the City” girls with their arms full of shopping bags from all the “best” clothing stores we started telling ourselves we should just get to have everything we want.

To see if attitudes have changed since the bottom fell out last fall, I turned to the newest issue of the slick fashion mag Marie Claire, whose cover is graced by the face of one of the Olsen twins, the young ladies who after a childhood spent looking like baby monkeys now look like huge-eyed lemurs. Or meerkats. Either lemurs OR meerkats if you put them on very strict diets.

Inside its pages I expected to find the old message: “Buy this! Throw away that!”

But no. Instead I found a full page of tips from a book by Nina Garcia called “Style Strategy, a Less-is-More Approach to Staying Chic and Shopping Smart,” which suggests among other things that you make an actual list before you shop and stand before a mirror with your hair done and your makeup on and try combining in new and pleasing ways the clothes you already own.

Then there was this header: 

“From slicked-back hair to bowl cuts and fake bottom lashes, which of the fall trends can YOU pull off?” a blurb whose assumptions I find heartening.

Because if we just have to make our eyes like clown eyes and wear our hair either the way we wear it at the gym or the way our mommas cut it when we were 2, then this is a very good sign.

All that’s left is to match up those stirrupy stretch pants with that faux-fur Sonny Bono vest and we will be ON THE ROAD to a new way of living!


Write Terry at terrymarotta@verizon.net or care of Ravenscroft Press, P.O. 270, Winchester, MA 01890, and enjoy her blog and leave a comment at www.terrymarotta.wordpress.com.