By Jo Elvin
Published: 18:35 EST, 2 June 2013 | Updated: 05:25 EST, 3 June 2013>
Some people pay therapists thousands of pounds for that one rare, crystallising moment of self-awareness. Mine came free, one sunny Saturday afternoon, in the back of my own wardrobe.
I was into the second hour of what was becoming my weekend ritual - tidying and (failing at) organising my ever-growing mountain of clothes - when it happened.
While searching for my beloved cream Stella McCartney blouse, long lost in the cavernous jumble, I stumbled across a pair of trousers that made me look at myself in the mirror and actually say out loud: 'Good God, woman, this is disgusting.'
Fashion victim: Jo Elvin (left) and model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley at Glamour Magazine's Women of the Year Awards
It was not because they were some ancient fashion horror from the Eighties - far from it.
They were from one of my favourite designers, the French label Carven. Grey, cropped, wool - exquisite. I'd been thrilled to spot them in a Net-A-Porter sale, marked down from £400 to £100.
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No, the problem was they were languishing in that black hole, price tags still on, because I had completely forgotten I'd bought them.
A pair of trousers that were 'just what my wardrobe was missing', untouched since I dumped them in there months ago.
I shouldn't have been surprised. The fact is, my closet - hell, my house - is being overrun with my clothes. My husband jokes that he'll happily burn the lot for me.
Glamourpuss: 'You cannot do my job if you don't love fashion'. Jo in the front row at the Antonio Berardi show at London Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2012
Well, he used to joke. Now, with his patience at an all-time low - and his own clothes space relegated to a small section of my daughter's wardrobe - I need to hide the matches.
It's not lost on me that the instant high of a purchase is quickly followed by feelings of guilt and shame. I can't help but feel as if people judge me every time I buy something new.
I'm sick of the excuses I dream up, too ('Oh, it's a gift' or 'It's a present for a friend').
'Shopping is also my emotional response to most situations. Bored? Shop. Anxious? Have a nice ten-minute stroll in Zara. Achieved something great at work? Go treat yourself!'
It would be nice to be able to say to my husband: 'No, it's not new and you have seen it before,' and actually be telling the truth.
In my defence, you cannot do my job if you don't love fashion. I am the editor of Glamour, the biggest-selling women's magazine in Britain, which is, frankly, a shopaholic's dream - or nightmare.
From approving the rails of designer clothes to be worn on our cover by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba, to meeting designers and retailers who are keen to show off their collections, a normal day in the office can unleash the shopping beast within.
The perks are hard to resist, too - like being able to order clothes you've just seen on the catwalk, or designer sample sales where last season's collections are slashed in price and another Prada dress at 50 per cent off its usual price seems a brilliant investment.
Fashion overload: Jo laden down by her addiction to bags and shoes
The temptation is everywhere, and working with about 30 other fashion-loving women - and men - tends to whip up the frenzy.
Forget fashion cattiness, we look forward to seeing what each other wears. In that environment, too much shopping is almost applauded, and we've lost perspective on what 'normal' is.
On top of all this, I can have moments of intense insecurity about fashion. Sitting in the front row of a show, beside a style icon such as Alexa Chung, seems to bring out my old teenage neuroses.
As a teen, I was too tall, too painfully thin; there was no shop on Earth with quite the right fitting clothes. So the jeans were always too baggy or too short.
Plus, my parents were going through a very bad financial patch, so watching my friends getting fashionable jeans and trainers bought for them, while they laughed at my nasty knock-offs, has left a mark.
I'm not asking for sympathy - it was all character-building - but it's played a part in hard-wiring me to want stuff.
Shopping is also my emotional response to most situations. Bored? Shop. Anxious? Have a nice ten-minute stroll in Zara. Achieved something great at work? Go treat yourself!
After one office drama, I left the building to clear my head and found myself in Selfridges. I stumbled across a lovely Sandro top and the solution to the work problem at the same time.
'When I recounted this story to a friend, she said: "'Wow, it's like Selfridges was your church.'"
When I recounted this story to a friend, she said: 'Wow, it's like Selfridges was your church.'
I have to face facts: this is an addiction.
And Melanie Davis, head of the addiction treatment programme at The Priory Hospital, North London, seems to agree.
'It's difficult, because we can't go without shopping in the same way that we can't go without food.
'Abstinence from it is impossible. For the editor of a fashion magazine, going to the office is a bit like an alcoholic going to work in a pub,' she says.
Nevertheless, it was time to stop. I knew my bank manager would thank me, too.
While I'm careful to spend within my means - my tastes are generally more High Street than designer - I still shudder to think what I could have spent the money on if I'd stopped buying so many clothes.
Fashion no-no: Jo at home with her wardrobe
I could possibly have paid off a chunk of the mortgage or maybe bought a better car.
So I set myself the modest challenge of not buying a scrap of clothing for one month. Yes, I know it's not much, but it was quite the personal Everest.
My husband and my seven-year-old daughter burst out laughing when I told them - not because of the time frame, but because they didn't believe I'd be able to do it.
This only made me more determined.
So I told my PA, Medini - who takes receipt of my thrice-weekly internet purchases - to tear up any sample sale invites and fill my diary with lunch meetings so I couldn't be tempted by the two giant Zaras a stone's throw from the office.
The first morning of going cold turkey there was an email from J Crew offering an extra 30 per cent off sale prices on its website - making a £40 necklace I'd spotted last week less than £30.
I held off, so my assistant editor bought it instead. No shopping ban for her.
The rest of the day I felt like I had a maddening itch I couldn't scratch, but to cave in on the first morning would have been pathetic.
For the next few days, 'being strong' involved deleting emails from Net‑A‑Porter, ASOS, Matches and Whistles as soon as they pinged into my inbox.
The instant high of a purchase of high heels is quickly followed by feelings of guilt and shame
It was infuriating to think I might be missing out on the perfect piece that would complete my wardrobe.
But I had an inner yell at myself because, of course, the very idea was ridiculous. Those forgotten Carven trousers proved that point.
At lunchtimes, when I could think of nothing else but shopping, I'd stay in the office and ask someone to get me lunch so I didn't face temptation.
The most annoying day was when I sat alone at my desk with a sandwich while the rest of the office went on a 'team outing' to a Rupert Sanderson sample sale.
I consoled myself by adding up the cost of every purchase I'd denied myself.
'I decided to test myself by perusing a few shops one lunchtime. Dangerous, but I did it.'
A £90 J Crew shirt, Lulu Frost earrings half-price at £70, a pair of Sam Edelman wedges at about £200 and some MiH jeans at £200 also. Oh, and the necklace. It spurred me on.
I nearly caved in on the second weekend at, of all things, a local food fair. I was overcome with dread when I spied the annoyingly good rail of vintage clothes.
'Just a look,' I told myself. 'Looking is not buying. This can be a test and you will pass.' I found a Biba-style Seventies dress that would look hideous on me, but gorgeous on a good friend.
I texted a photo of it to her. It was £30 and I had every intention of buying it for her. Luckily, I'd already left the fair by the time she replied, so went home empty-handed.
Not shopping was like fitness training. The first time you might manage one lap of running around the park; the next day, two.
Similarly, my resolve muscles were growing stronger. I started to look forward to acknowledging, then resisting, those ingrained urges.
I decided to test myself by perusing a few shops one lunchtime. Dangerous, but I did it.
'You don't need it, became my mantra. 'Oh my God, it's gorgeous and would look great with those navy trousers! Yes, but you don't need it. It's only £20! But you don't need it.'
Too many handbags can be too much to handle: These are just a couple of Jo's many bags
There was one little stumble. I discovered some Boden gift vouchers in my wallet. A forgotten present from my in-laws. A taunt from the shopping gods.
But I used them to buy clothes for my daughter, so it felt like a bent, rather than broken, rule.
She grows like a weed; she always 'needs' something or other. And it wasn't my money. Will you give me that one?
One falter aside, by the third week, some of the other positives of not shopping were dawning on me.
With my brain not so engulfed in online shopping, I'd found more time for reading. I'd also stopped feeling as stressed and anxious - possibly because I hadn't been dragging a ton of new stuff home and then working out where on Earth to put it.
My house was tidier because I'd been slowly paring down my wardrobe and giving most of it to charity, (I donated bags of my clothes to a Glamour charity sale for Oxfam, where we raised £5,000).
I was hoping I'd feel richer, but I've used the money I've saved to calm down my credit card bill.
Although, to be honest, if I was faced by a pot of cash, I'd probably still want to use it to 'treat myself'.
It's impossible in the world we live in to never shop. And my self-imposed ban won't last for ever.
I know it will always be hard to resist a sprint up Regent Street. But I'm relieved to know that, if pushed, I can exercise a bit more self-control.
Then again, I'll have to start planning what I'll wear to the next fashion shows quite soon . . .
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2334819/Confessions-clothes-aholic-Emotional-dependence-clothes-shopping-spiral-worryingly-control.html