As a marketer, I spend hours reflecting on how the fashion industry so masterfully molds our minds to think we always need to be wearing the latest trend. They introduce a new dress length, or new colors, or wider pants each season.
Have you ever been arrested by the fashion police for not wearing the latest fashion, or, for wearing white shoes before June? Me neither. As a matter of fact, I still have all of my friends too. They haven't left me because I wasn't wearing the latest of anything or everything.
So why are we compelled to go spring shopping, and spend money we sometimes don’t have? Or spend money when the shoes from last season are still perfectly great? It could be a self-esteem issue driving this money behavior. And we all suffer from it – just some more than others. I’m betting most women in North America have uttered at one time or another, the phrase” I don’t have a thing to wear” – as we prepare for a special event or meeting.
The MUST HAVE ITEMS
I love this phrase. Some bright marketer invented it to tell you exactly what you should buy. If you flip through the newspaper every day (those online don’t have ads), after a while you become brain washed that those “IT GIRL” sandals by some really expensive brand name in the ad at the bottom left corner of page two are a MUST HAVE ITEM.
So let me ask you a few questions if I may. What clothing did you buy 10 years ago? Did it change your life? Make you new friends? Not likely. New purchases have the power to make you feel great about yourself, but that feeling wears off pretty quickly as soon as the next NEED TO HAVE item comes along. So much for budgeting.
Support the Fashion Industry or Yourself?
Let’s try a small exercise. Just make a mental list of all the clothing/shoes/accessories you’ve purchased for yourself since January. No exceptions – you need to list them all! Calculate 75% of that cost (since clothing does wear out and we need to buy some things you probably needed to spend 25%). Since January to April 2014 is 4 months, multiply that 75% x 3 to cover the whole year. What could you have done with that money instead? Paid down a credit card? Added to a college education?
Don’t follow someone's agenda. The fashion industry makes a ton of money, and playing on our insecurities is exactly how they do it. You are great just the way you are and don’t forget it.
Carrie Rattle is a Principal at BehavioralCents.com, a web site for women focused on the psychology of money behaviors. She has worked in the financial services industry for 20+ years and hopes to inspire women to better prepare themselves for financial independence.