You know those ear worms? Songs that eat into your mind and play on an endless, soul-destroying loop. You’ll all have one. No matter what you do, the second you’re off-guard you’ll find yourself humming it. It doesn’t let you out of it’s melodic grasp.
Now swap songs for shopping and you will begin to experience the level of my obsessive behaviours. There is no over-counter-cream that caters for SHOPPING WORMS.
This is a long-standing affliction for me. It can be sparked by a colour, an image or maybe even a passer-by. But once it takes a hold, it worms its way in to my very core.
LIKE. WANT. NEED.
Let me elaborate. Let’s take my most recent parasitic episode. Green. Emerald green to be specific. And it has to be specific. This particular fashion worm took hold in Zara. I’d gone on a non-specific mission to find an outfit for a posh lunch. Posh lunches were a thing of 2019. It has been a while since I’ve even considered slipping my toes into anything other than flat boots or trainers.
I spied a blazer. Well-fitted. Pastel shades. A hint of Chanel minus the bouclé and price tag. It was predominantly blue but it had a thread of emerald green running through it. The worm took hold. Suddenly I liked green. I wanted green. I needed green. Green heels. Green top. I had to have them.
It’s like some kind of mist descends when the shopping worm takes root. We searched. A green top to wear under the blazer was procured. But what about footwear. In my head I had a vision of the perfect heel. And therein lies the problem. My worm-infested vision does not always equate to available stock and this season’s style. But when you want something that bad, it requires persistence, stamina and a little luck.
ON A MISSION
We blitzed the entire 1.6 million square feet of Bluewater. Next had green but the heel was kitten. This was a no. Linzi had the perfect colour match but a strappy sandal. In February. It was a no. Dune had a great heel but a mule. The mule was not part of the vision. Such is my level of commitment (or some may say, my high level of maintenance), we decamped to Lakeside – the other sizeable mall in the vicinity.
With one eye on the clock (we needed to get back for school pickup), it was like supermarket sweep around the stores. By this point the vision and all hope was fading. This was where I had to get creative. Plan B was necessary but do not think for a moment that the worm had been removed.
At this point in proceedings, I had to admit partial defeat. It was time to dust off the stilettos in the loft. My one-time work uniform had been retired once those two blue lines had expanded my ankles and then an ankle-biter had required more practical footwear. I had options to repurpose but it wasn’t quite the like, want, need that was now burnt in to my frontal cortex.
Needs must, so the next day I tottered off in my pre-loved shoes, Chanel wannabe jacket and somewhat placated by my green top. However, only I could choose the exact shade of green that the staff of The Ivy Grill wore as blazers. I’m just grateful no one asked me to show them to their table. I suppose looking like an employee, maybe I could’ve worked off the bill we wracked up.
BANISHING THE WORM
If I’m being totally honest, there’s such a thing as too much. Green heels. Green top. Green flecks in the jacket. I’d have been at risk of leprechaun territory. But by this point, I’d already fashioned at least ten other outfits that green heels were now an essential part of. Want. Want. Want.
With the zeal of Veruca Salt (the spoilt brat who wants the world and Wonka’s squirrels) and fuelled by a bottle of Chardonnay, my mission was far from over. As soon as I hit overground signal on the tube home, I attacked Google shopping like a woman possessed.
In the ten stops it took me to get home, I’d found the perfect height of heel, the right shade of green and the most generous of prices. My only disappointment was that it was from Shein, so the potential of next day delivery was minimal. On balance, I’d not been out for four months so the prospect of needing a heel again within four days was minimal.
NOT A ONE OFF
I wish I could tell you this was a one-off. That this demanding, diva-like need for a wardrobe ‘necessity’ was out of character. But much to the chagrin of my savings and bank balance, this is far from the case.
There was the gilet worm. Yes, I have a paper-thin, Primark, black gilet for running. No, I do not have a warm, practical black gilet for days that don’t quite require a coat. Yes, I did spend hours searching for the right model. Belts were a no. Hooded was shunned. Cropped? I’m 5”9.
I eventually opted for a Uniqlo number. I waited for a week for delivery only to be crushed when they cocked up the order. I got sent a pack of three face masks rather than the required body-warmer. When I finally got it two weeks later, there was no hope of zipping it over my buzwabs! Don’t even get me started on their returns policy. The gilet worm reared up in discontent.
A purchase, a return and another purchase in M&S got me to a point of 90% satisfaction… the worm was finally appeased. I am the proud wearer of a funnel neck, thick black gilet that has the required length.
I could continue. I could tell you about the desperate need for a pair of cream, knee length, rubberised boots that took three returns to pacify me. I could regale you with the hours I have spent trying to find a heeled knee length boot that matched the YSL version that tore my heart in two with its price tag. Let’s not even go there with things I love in different colours. My principle: if it works, have it in all the colours. Influence boutique in Loughton and Lorna Luxe for In The Style have a lot to answer for (Lorna, I’m still missing the green ‘Cherie’ appliqué oversized jumper to complete the set).
I may have taken a light hearted approach to this but quite honestly, I do need to reign it in. This isn’t a new affliction. Back in my single days in London, I was just as bad, if not worse. It was a recipe for debt.
Of course, I make sure Harry is catered for first but I’ve never been one for savings. Each month I’ll take it to the wire. I’ve started trying to ask myself do I really, really need that new top, those boots? On some occasions, I’ve succeeded and actually emptied my online shopping basket. On other occasions I’ve spectacularly failed. But in these times of fast fashion and exponential increase in fuel bills I need to work harder to squish the worms and practise gratitude for all that I have. Not what I like, then want, then convince myself I need.
It doesn’t mean I can’t covet things of beauty but I do need to think more about necessity. Even as those Spring/Summer delights begin to grace the stores… Begone worm!
It’s been a while. Writing my debut novel has taken all my words and energy. But do let me know if there’s any blog topics I can cover. Whaddya wanna know!
Such an amusing read Karen! Keep up the good work.
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