Shopping Misadventures or “What was I thinking?”

shopaholic1Less often than a blue moon, my compulsive globe-trotter (and now, entrepreneur, too) friend Achala Srivatsa decides to kick off her shoes, snuggle comfortably in her large First Class seat, and pull out her featherlite Apple Mac Air to write a post for me on a Singapore – Bangalore flight, thus preventing my blog from tumbling into total insignificance. And THIS is what she comes up with.  



Every now and then, I will read these articles on “How to Simplify your Life”, “The Bare Essentials”, “10 classics every woman over 20/30/40 should have” and have an epiphany. Yes, I say, if I throw out all the non-essentials in my wardrobe, I shall achieve a Zen-like sensibility, that elegant, minimalist classic Audrey Hepburn look that will make other women shrivel up with envy and men gape in awe. I shall have only classics in my wardrobe. Tomorrow is a new day, Operation Wardrobe shall start tomorrow.

This is usually a very, very bad idea because as I sift through my clothes, I am confronted by the Ghosts of Sartorial Misadventures past and present, which instantly drives me into a self-loathing spin. Some of the horrors I uncover display a level of wishful thinking, which borders on the delusional.

  • Delusions of Glamour – That Ao Dai bought in Ho Chi Minh is a prime example. After two days of Vietnam, I was seized with a need to shop. Every woman around me had on these flowing Ao Dais that were stunningly elegant and instantly this voice in my brain went “Buy this and look slender and stunning. People will gasp as you pass them… go now…” I rush into one of those charming little stores with bales of lovely silks that are designed to turn your mind into bubble gum. Yes, yes this brilliant green is so me… maybe this subtle shade of blood clot red… I remember forking over the doubloons and rushing out clutching my Ao Dai. It was only after I returned to Jakarta and I stood staring at a long flowing garment in bilious green, that I wondered what had possessed me to buy something that only a colour blind Vietnamese woman with a 14 inch waist and a 20 inch chest should be wearing.
  • The Slimness Delusion – I will also invariably find one tiny little black pencil skirt, one pair of stylish cropped pants that are 2 sizes too small both bought on an entirely unfounded conviction that I can drop 2 dress sizes over the next 2 months. In my defence, there was a time 20 years and 20 pounds ago when I used to live in these things but well, here we are. These will inevitably be reluctantly handed over to slimmer friends 4 disillusioned years later.
  • The Trend Train Wreck– Every now and then I will also find one truly bizarre item and, after racking my brains will identify it. Ah, a reminder of the scrunchy phenomenon of 1990, or the acid wash jeans of the ‘90s (horrors!)
  • The Cuteness Craze – –which happens when women in precious pale pinks and corals and baby blues surround me. Instantly my mind flashes the message “Go Pink and look adorable”. Shortly after, one putrid pink top bites the dust – or in my case cleans the dust off my bookshelves.
  • Delusions of Tradition – Half a dozen ridiculously heavy kanjeevaram silks (bought during my pious swadeshi phase) that I now almost never wear. Full Disclosure – just did this 2 months ago, but seriously how could I pass up a black and white kanjeevaram – umm that I most likely will probably never wear.
  • A corollary to this is the true Swadeshi phase of the early ‘90s when my friends and I went on a Fab India/Gurjari kick. Shapeless kurtas that blanched at the sight of water and mirror work that blinded everyone.
  • The Crisp White Pretension – Every now and then I will buy a super expensive white shirt in the fond hope that it will confer upon me a cool sophistication – a feeling that dissipates like dew in the sunlight as I stare at the 3 turmeric stains on it. Damn you Rasam!!

The Footwear Foolishness merits a whole new page:

  • My Sturdy Shoe Phase – Black and brown Batas and Scholls of hideousness unparalleled, the salesmen swore these would be the most comfortable shoes I’d ever wear. In my case, I’d ever buy and not wear.
  • My Delicate Shoe Phase – As a size 7, really what was I thinking? The things broke before I could leave the shop.
  • The Sling Back Syndrome – 4 pairs of black sling backs and 5 pairs in assorted colours including – I am not making this up – lime green.
  • The Mystery Shoe – Every now and then I will come across a pair that looks perfectly lovely and go “Oh I wonder why I’ve never worn these lovely peep toes? Let me wear them today!!” 2 hours later, I stare at my bleeding foot which the upper part of the shoe has viciously cut into, thinking – “Yup, that’s why I don’t wear them.”
  • The Bling Bungling or the Metallic Craze – Three pairs of blinding metallic slippers and sandals all blinged up and nowhere to go.

I could go on but you get the picture. I blame most of my hasty decisions partly on all those size zero sales personnel who stand outside the fitting room giggling and going “ Maybe an XXL?” In sheer mortification, I walk out with as much dignity as I can and say, “No thanks I’ll take the Medium,” and walk out wondering whom I can gift the top to.

Meanwhile, let me get on with my wardrobe cleanse. I still need to figure out what I’m going to do with all my low cut sequined tops (The Diva Delusion of AD 2000).




8 thoughts on “Shopping Misadventures or “What was I thinking?”

  1. Santulan

    I have some outfits from yester years when I was slimmer, and some purchased later.. The idea is that I will get motivated into slimming down and be able to wear them again. Such high hopes

    1. Rickie Khosla

      Oh, me, too! I used to weigh 58 kilos once. Those slim fit tiny waisted pants still sit in my closet and mock at me each day! I keep thinking – it can’t be that hard to go from 32 to 28, can it? Well…

  2. alkagurha

    Ah Achala, I know what you mean. Those pencil skirts and pencil heels create great turbulence in my happy state. To think that there was a time, I carried them so well.

  3. Ruch

    Ah Achala, you’ve touched a tender nerve here. Half my almirah is filed with Stylish pants a few sizes small that I bought in the hope that I will work hard to fit into them.
    And don’t get me started on the tacky sea shell earrings and mirrored purses I end up buying on holidays that later get doled out to unsuspecting friends and relatives !
    Great post as usual !

  4. Achala

    Thank you so much Ruchira… Fortunately I have not pierced my earrings – otherwise I am pretty sure I’d have these sea shell earrings too:)

  5. purbaray

    Achala, I think there’s a name for it. It’s called impulsive shopping, ably supported by a forever obliging credit card. The vibrant colours, slinky fits, reflect our state of mind at that moment. So don’t blame yourself, blame your vacation euphoria.

  6. Rachna

    Achala, that was such a delightful read that every woman will identify it. Luckily, I spring cleaned my wardrobe a few months back and with “dil pe paththar” gave away stuff from past glory/horror days. Sarees, I love them! But I wear them perhaps 2-3 times a year. My husband has put his foot down now. You will not buy saris till you wear the stuff you’ve already bought. Skirts — I still have a short number that I never wear but am loathe to give it away *sheepish*. Can go on and on :D.


    heheh such a lovely post. I could relate sooo well. I have bought so many shoes just because they looked pretty with their high heels..and now I dont get a chance to wear them.
    I have one saree..that too taken from my moms 😛


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