It is well documented on this blog that Anthropologie is my favorite store.  I own a LOT of clothing from Anthropologie, and have spent way, way more money there than I could really afford.  While on my stuff diet, I’ve been monastically disciplined about not even going in to an Anthropologie, which for me, is easier said than done.  Especially right now, since I am in the midst of a teaching job RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET from an Anthropologie.

To avoid straying, I’ve just been avoiding it.  I barely even glance at the display windows for fear I’ll want to go in.  As I walk by, I repeat a little mantra to myself about how good it feels to be out of debt.  I remind myself that once I am debt free, it will be more reasonable to shop there again, and even then, only once in a while.

But last week, I found myself with a couple hours to kill after my class ended.  I was scheduled to be a storyteller that evening at Back Fence PDX, and I was already downtown and close to the venue, so it didn’t make a ton of sense to fight Friday night rush hour traffic back home before the show.  I wasn’t hungry enough to get an early dinner, so I found myself aimlessly wandering around The Pearl District at loose ends.  And like a little homing pigeon, I found myself standing in front of Anthropologie.

And they were having a SALE.

I hesitated in the doorway, mesmerized by the row of sale racks front and center as soon as you walked in the store.  I am a SUCKER for an Anthropologie sale.  Their regular priced things are so expensive you can sometimes reasonably talk yourself out of buying them, but the sale items?  Those are actually attainable.  I like attaining.  And I am currently starved for attaining.  Would I have the willpower to resist buying something if I were to go in and just browse?

I decided to test myself.  If I failed, I knew Anthropologie has an excellent return policy, so once I got home and the guilt kicked in, I would be able to undo the damage.  I went in.

I felt all the familiar rushes of my habit wash over me as soon as I walked in.  I immediately felt calmer.  Happier.  Excited.  Inspired.  Everything I usually feel when the potential of a purchase is before me.  But before I let myself start browsing the racks, I took a second to think about my recent closet purge.  Because there is a lot less in my closet at the moment, I am keenly aware of what is hanging there.  I know what I have enough of, and what I want to replace.  I even have a good sense of the colors, and what would go with what I already have.  I thought about the clothes I just got rid of, and why some of those items had been given away after having been barely worn.  As I started looking at things, I found myself being a lot more selective than usual.

As I perused each item, I asked myself “Do you LOVE it, or do you just like it?  Do you already have something similar?  Will it go with most of what you already own?  Is it easy to launder, or will you have to pay for drycleaning?  Can you see yourself wearing it for more than this season?  Will you be able to wear it on auditions?  Would you get rid of something you already have to make room for it?  If you bought it, would you be able to show it to Ron and explain why you had to have it, or would you feel inclined to hide it?”  Most items didn’t make it through this line of questioning – especially the last one.  And I knew that if I felt ashamed for buying it, and for how the money spent would affect the goals Ron and I have set for ourselves financially, it wouldn’t be worth it.

The employees at Anthropologie will usually see me staggering around with an armload of items while I’m still shopping and whisk them off to start me a dressing room.  They don’t have an item limit in their dressing rooms, so I usually lose track of how many things I’ve pulled till I get back to the fitting area and am startled by the huge pile of stuff I’ve accumulated.  But on this day, I was carrying so few things by the time I headed to the dressing rooms, no one had really noticed me.  I probably looked like a low sale customer.  Or, you know, normal.

I only took seven items in.  As I tried each thing on, I asked myself the same list of questions all over again.  In the end, there was only one dress that I really loved, but it still couldn’t pass all of my questions.  I hung everything back up, and walked out of the store empty handed.

Was I glad?  Eh, sort of.  Proud of myself, for sure.  A little wistful.  But not depressed or sad.  And definitely not guilty or ashamed.  I had walked into the ultimate den of temptation and walked out triumphant.

Round One:  Me – 1, Anthropologie – 0.  I’m sure a rematch will be soon…

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What I didn’t get.  Can you tell I like orangey-red?

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