Essays & Confessions

The Unhealthy Shopping Habit I Developed From Post-COVID Positive Thinking

By Wednesday, July 07, 2021

“I didn’t care. It was my way of giving the miserable year I’d had the middle finger…”

My rekindling for Sex and the City reruns on HBO Max didn’t exactly come at a good time — for my checking account. But honestly, I don’t just have Manolo Blahnik product placement to blame for what happened to my finances over the last few months. And also, I don’t think it was entirely a terrible thing. Let me explain. 

I started rewatching Sex and the City sometime in late winter. There was no new TV, I was sad all the time, and Sarah Jessica Parker had just announced the title of the upcoming reboot, And Just Like That.  So, *I couldn’t help but wonder* could rewatching a show about the (yes, unrealistic and at times cringeworthy out of touch) lives of four women looking for life and purpose in the city of New York help me with my own?

Couldn’t hurt.

I started at the very beginning with season one, when some of the characters were still breaking fourth wall via random man-on-the-street interviews  (a style I’m so relieved they abandoned pretty much right away). Not to mention, Miranda sleeping with Carrie’s guileless friend Skipper. 

By March of this year, I was well into Season 3. I was savoring the episodes as treats, but weirdly enough, once the vaccine became more readily available to the U.S. and people started going out more, I actually continued to stay in and watch SATC. Subsequentially (and consequentially), instead of going out for drinks with friends and planning a summer vacation, I started buying shoes. They looked so, as Samantha would say, fabulous, on the SATC women, that I thought they’d make me feel fabulous, too.

Spoiler alert: I was not fabulous, I was floundering. But to celebrate an end in sight for COVID, I continued to buy designer shoes, mainly from The Real Real (a luxury consignment shop online), but I splurged on a couple of brand new heels that were on sale, too.

“My 30th birthday last year was so depressing that I wanted to do every little thing right this year, even if it was over the top…” 

To date, I’ve spent about $1,500 on heels alone. It was my way of giving the miserable year I had the middle finger, and also a way of telling myself that someday soon, I’d be wearing these heels out to a restaurant, bar, or club.  That my new, sparkly Jimmy Choo peep-toe heels would look incredible with a black dress I’d wear out to dinner. And that, no matter what, there would be a lot of people around me who’d see them. Who’d see me.  

my fabulous, post-pandemic designer shoe haul

It, of course, didn’t stop at designer shoes, although they were the most ostentatious purchases that felt the most off-brand. I bought a fleet of summer-ready dresses from Banana Republic (40% off!) During a Memorial Day sale, I got a short Ted Baker dress with poofy sleeves. I got two new lipsticks from Glossier’s new collection because I could finally envision a future with no masks (although, who knows at this point with the Delta variant?)

“If I looked put together, then I would feel put together, and if I felt put together, then…I struggled to justify the thousands of dollars I’d spent on myself and came up a bit short. Why exactly was I doing this? “

Regardless, I’ve spent around an additional $1,000 in the last few months on my new post-COVID wardrobe. That’s $2,500 total — much more than I’ve spent on myself in a year, and honestly more than I’ve spent on myself in a long, long time, even before COVID.

Was it Carrie’s love of Manolos that was making me feel like I had to play dress-up in order to embrace normalcy and happiness? Was it the classic fake-it-till-you-make it situation applied to my post-pandemic life? If I looked put together, then I would feel put together, and if I felt put together, then…I struggled to justify the thousands of dollars I’d spent on myself and came up a bit short. Why exactly was I doing this? 

At first, I felt overwhelming guilt. Why did I buy a bunch of expensive, uncomfortable heels? Will I ever wear my new dresses? What if I got laid off again? What if we went back into lockdown? The “what-ifs” made a neat little pile in my brain until I realized a) I needed stop shopping so much — there would literally just not be enough occasions in a lifetime to get my money’s worth out of all these purchases, b) I actually really loved my new shoes and dresses and lipsticks, and c) Maybe the worst would happen again, but this time, I’d be ready. And I’d be okay. Because even though 2020 was devastating, I’d been financially smart and resourceful — and while splurging on unnecessary goods isn’t a habit I’m going to hold on to, I’d done enough planning to make it possible. And look, the shopping made me feel happy and hopeful for the first time in a long time. 

“Maybe the worst would happen again, but this time, I’d be ready. And I’d be okay. And look, the shopping made me feel happy and hopeful for the first time in a long time.”

I wore my insane golden sparkly Jimmy Choos on my birthday. This year, my husband and I rented a pool in someone’s backyard via an app called Swimply — it was just a lot cheaper and easier to plan without worrying about our two dogs if we booked a night at a resort —  and then went out to a nice sushi place. I put on a new dress and my heels, I did my hair, and I felt…fabulous. I did. I got myself the most sugary birthday cake on the planet and blew out candles even though it was just the two of us. I didn’t care — my 30th birthday last year was so depressing, that I wanted to do every little thing right this year, even if it was over the top. 

Don’t worry, I’m not buying any more shoes, but I also don’t regret my shopping bender. (I also took on a lot of extra freelance work on top of my full-time job, so I knew I could afford the splurge, just FYI!) It’s been a hard year for all of us, and if I’ve learned anything, it’s that I’m allowed to be easier on myself, it’s okay to be impulsive within reason (as long as you stay accountable), and if you do ever have the urge to treat yourself to some designer heels, try to get them used (they come broken in that way). 

Gina Vaynshteyn is an editor and writer who lives in LA. You can find more of her words on Refinery29, Apartment Therapy, HelloGiggles, Distractify, and others. If you wanna, you can follow her on Instagram or Twitter.

Image via Unsplash

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