Off to Market

Monday, March 15, 2010

Thinking about the places I shop, either frequently or infrequently, I notice that I go to these places out in the market because they resonate with my style. I have a very eclectic yet classic look. I don't buy too many trends, just ones that truly speak to my fashion heart and that can creatively express who I am. I have a shopping habit that was born out of the hyper 80's, where Consumerism reigned over everything. Now, with SO many consumer (or consumption) choices, shoppers can get lost in the sea of shops out there. Whether it be a brick-and-mortar store or an online haven, shoppers can't lose sight of what the focus is in the market: to get your dollars. But how do you give up your dollars and still keep yourself? You do it with style. I came across a memory that was poignant and indelible, and exactly about this.
It goes something like...

When I was fourteen years old, I literally stumbled upon a little store in downtown San Diego called GT General Store (or something of the like) where I found a pair of perfect white straight leg denim jeans by then uber-hot label Guess? Jeans. There was nothing wrong with them, in perfect condition, and only cost me $15. A friggin' steal! And it was well within my 14 year old allowance budget. I wanted to tell all my friends because I thought: "1. how cool! Guess? Jeans!! 2. oh my goodness, how awesome we could all match in our jeans! 3. NO! this is my secret, just for me. What if they get acid wash blue jeans in and then EVERYONE will get a pair and my size would be gone?! 4. oh no, I can't tell anyone that I got my jeans for $15! They'd think I were cheap! They can't know. 5. who's ever heard of GT General Store anyway, especially my baby yuppie friends? 6. they'd know I ventured to downtown and wonder why my parents would let me go down there by myself, or worse, my Mom actually took me there herself. 7. the store put my jeans in a plastic bag. Yes, definitely not something I'm telling anyone about. 8. eeew, there was actual sawdust on the floor. 9. i did get a bag of cinnamon bears by the bulk with my jeans so *score*! 10. General Store? Um, isn't that Old West? I'm definitely "New West", this is gonna be MY secret.

I remember wearing those jeans to school and feeling all of those thoughts and a few more racing through my head. The most prevalent was how cool and great it was that I found a deal in the most unexpected place (and bulk cinnamon bears). A shopping seed was definitely planted. Now, this discovery took place in 1987 by a upper middle class ethnic baby yuppie kid from liberally conservative San Diego (that's a mouthful) who thought they were the crust and epicenter of all things fabulous, who's peer group resembled a gaggle of teens straight out of "Clueless" and "Heathers" (probably why I LOVE those movies because I see my young self in them), who, as I recall, would get dropped off at the mall (Fashion Valley) with our parents credit cards [(and permission note). oh goodness, if you remember having to use those then, touché!) and consume all things cool and anything befitting our (parents') economic stature (we ourselves didn't have any but we thought we did). In those early days, I was heavily influenced by luxury and designer retail. It was back then that I started collecting back issues of Vogue Magazine from my school's library, given to me by the librarian for my hard work and dedication to the school library (ok, I was in it for the Vogue) and began devouring the fashion knowledge found inside those hallowed pages. I kept a "fashion scrapbook" and cut out ads from the Sunday San Diego Union Tribune newspaper of ads for shops found in the mall or even better, in chic La Jolla. I aspired for myself to solely be a designer/luxury consumer. When I had my stumble and fall at GT General Store, I fell into a reality: fashion is about style, not about its substance.

When it comes to going shopping today, I am so thankful for having my consumer stumble and for not ignoring or burying it. I cannot imagine getting stuck in a buying rut, only patronizing one mall or one store to supply my look. In today's consumer market, there is an over saturation of choice, yes, but this saturation actually is about freedom. Freedom of choice, freedom of style, freedom of your wallet. How cool is it still to find that elusive bargain, or to discover that great vintage piece in the most unexpected place (online), or to find a dream designer piece at a clothes swap party, for free?
When it comes to shopping with your style, it should take you to as many places that it deems right within it. Whether you have a minimalist or an eclectic style, then you will go where that style dictates. You have to allow yourself to go to wherever your style leads you, no matter. If GT General Store were still open today, you can betcha bottom dollar I'd be frequenting that place. Whatever cool treasure I would find there, I'd happily mix it with any of my designer duds, to show it off in better light. And I would share my secret so you can have that feeling of style discovery too!

It is true, there is nothing like having that feeling of discovery.  And how good does that feel? It really is freedom. So go forth off to market and SHOP on!


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