I first heard this phrase--Retail Therapy--while on vacation in New Zealand, maybe ten years ago. The meaning was explained to me as shopping to cheer yourself up, to make yourself feel better. I suppose the phrase is somewhat self-explanatory. And people do engage in this behaviour, some more than others.
I don't go to shopping malls much anymore. Somehow the endless trudging under artificial lights, burden down by my outside coat becomes tedious before much time has elapsed. I must also admit that as I became older, the models in the clothing store windows no longer reflected me in style, size or appearance. That didn't help. Nor did the changing room mirror should I venture to try on a garment.
I do recall the pleasure, almost a thrill, of finding the perfect item, preferably at a perfect price. Waiting in line only enhanced the anticipation. I suppose the height of pleasure came when the item was wrapped in tissue and placed in the store shopping bag. You'll noticed I skipped over the part about paying.
I used to have the habit of purchasing clothing for the lifestyle I thought I had, or perhaps wanted to have. Maybe it was the one reflected in the women's fashion magazines so widely available. Hung in my closet the item might wait anxiously for some time, longing for just the right occasion to be debuted. I might even receive the credit card bill before I'd even enjoyed the admiring comments that I secretly expected would occur. I would pay the bill right away to remove the connection between expense and the garment. Too gauche to consider money where such loveliness was concerned.
But hanging in my closet with the clothing that received regular rotation, some of the bloom dissipated from the rose. Perhaps, just perhaps the outfit wasn't me, a little voice whispered. It was still lovely--wasn't it? But it wasn't quite me. Could I change myself to be more like the outfit? Would my lifestyle be upgraded in the near future?
After a year I was forced to face reality. I had worn the item three times and I'd had to make myself do it. Yes, there had been a couple of compliments but had they been preceded by a raised eyebrow? It was true the fuchsia tone was a shade on the bright side. Yes, I loved fuchsia but realistically, in smaller doses. I forced myself to face reality. Navy blue would have been more useful; I wasn't comfortable with the attention a bright colour could attract in winter.
That was the bitter truth: Retail therapy, despite the negative affect on my wallet, had not delivered long term happiness. But there was a treatment, if not a cure. The outfit was placed at the back of my closet where it could no longer laugh at my foibles on a regular basis.