During some isolated, non-intentional conversations with teenagers and adults, I began to explore the various shopping habits that exist. People love "type casting" when it comes to labeling their own personal preferences (I recently read an article about one's sleeping position as indicative of one's personality). I believe the same thing applies to shopping. What kind of shopper are you? In a completely non-scientific way, I present my findings:
1. The "Type A" Shopper: Always in a hurry, this shopper likes to be as efficient as possible when it comes to shopping. The rich ones hire personal shoppers to do the shopping for them; the more modest ones aggressively utilize the expertise of sales assistants. They tend to buy staples in bulk, shop at the same stores, and refuse to browse.
What Thumbelina Thinks: This person sees shopping as a means to an end; it is not the item the person wants so much as the point of the item (coverage of body parts, prestige, societal expectations). This person does not like change, variety, or surprise when it comes to dressing. Shopping is joyless and more of a chore. I recommend taking some time to aimlessly browse now and again--when one has time. Multi-task by bringing a friend along to make the experience more enjoyable.
2. The "Entourage" Shopper: This person avoids shopping alone, and instead seeks out the assistance of friends, significant others, or family members to approve or disapprove of their purchases. They try things on in front of said persons, and buy or boycott according to others' opinions.
What Thumbelina Thinks: This person needs to find his or her own style and a sense of self. While it never hurts to have friends accompany you and offer feedback, it's still important to use them as guides rather than as ultimate authorities. After all, YOU have to wear it, not them.
3. The "Lone Ranger": This person always shops alone. Like a cowboy seeking out his prey, this shopper avoids distractions like small talk to secure what s/he wants. Shopping could be as short as a stroll through the woods or as a long as a trek through the wilderness, but ultimately, it's the person's own opinions and timing that count.
What Thumbelina Thinks: This person has a strong sense of self, and s/he knows what s/he likes. While this method works most of the time, it helps to get some feedback once in a while. (Perhaps you didn't really need another pair of black boots.)
4. The "Virtual" Shopper: This shopper buys everything online or through catalogs, finding this method to be more efficient, private, and comfortable than venturing into the world.
What Thumbelina Thinks: While there are many benefits to shopping this way, one does not experience the tactile nature of shopping. It's important to try things on and to see them in person; it's also time-consuming to return items that disappoint and are a waste of materials (think of all of those unnecessary cardboard boxes). However, one can reach a happy medium. Narrow down items of interest, try them on at stores, and then buy online when the time suits. Make sure that you are able to return items without additional costs.
5. The "Thrifty" Shopper: This person lives for sales and congratulates him/herself for purchasing items at a discounted price. Always the bargain hunter, this person shops at outlets, thrift stores, and sample sales with the zeal of the early bird who MUST get the worm.
What Thumbelina Thinks: While the thrifty shopper definitely saves money, s/he can also waste money on discounted items that are unnecessary. The "sale" label does not automatically justify the purchase. Ask yourself if that item is truly worth its closet real estate space.