If you are looking for advice on how to dress (appropriately, stylishly, thriftily) — there’s a lot of guidance out there. A common theme in these books is the need for discipline — list-making, budgeting and dressing-room tactics — and it’s good advice. I’m dispensing some of that advice on this blog. But here I’d like to make the case for indulging impulses periodically, too. Some of the best purchases I’ve made were impulse buys.
What, exactly, do I mean by “impulse buy”? Because the Internet has changed the time-scale of our lives, the answer requires a little thought.
When I was a child, shopping meant getting into a car, driving somewhere between the hours of 10:00 and 5:00 p.m. (maybe 6:00 p.m.) during the week (independent stores were closed on Sunday) and buying something on the spot with the understanding that: (1) if you didn’t buy it then, you might not have another opportunity to come back later and (2) even if you had the time to come back, the item might be gone.
Today, you can shop from the comfort of your bed at any time of the day or night. So, there is no time or place imperative forcing quick action. Under these circumstances, I would say that an impulse buy is chiefly a purchase that you had no intention of making until you saw It and It captured your fancy. An impulse buy is also anything you buy while on vacation, particularly if you are rushing to calculate the exchange rate, and make a horrible error in doing so. (More than once The Directrice has returned to her hotel room and said, Wait a minute, I thought the dollar was worth . . .)
To be clear, I am not encouraging you to exceed your income or to fill your closet with distinctive but not terribly useful garments. I am only recognizing that impulses are triggered by instinct and emotion, and in the realm of dressing oneself those guides deserve a little deference.