Are You A Gateway Shopper?

When it comes to the ability to buy just the one thing, I’m rarely capable of that kind of restraint.
Publish date:
December 10, 2013

The last time I went shopping with my mum I saw a skirt and said, “Ooh that's lovely! And it would go great with those boots I saw in Zara, plus that t-shirt in H&M. If I wore it with that jacket from Topshop then I should definitely get these ankle boots to match.”

Meanwhile, out of the corner of my eye I could see my mum looking at me like, "This bitch is crazy."

I was 14. She’s refused to go shopping with me since. My mum is definitely one of those “in and out” buyers. She knows she wants a blouse, goes to the appropriate store, buys it and leaves. I regard that with the same awe I reserve for unlikely animal friendships. When it comes to the ability to buy just the one thing, I’m rarely capable of that kind of restraint.

I mean, I try to stop myself from gateway shopping, but let's be honest -- I do this. All the time. It's when you're just innocently browsing and see something that you just MUST HAVE. And you can afford it, so yay! Except for the one teensy weensy part where you could only absolutely wear it if you also had this t-shirt, or this jacket or these shoes -- that you don't own yet.

Sure, it would work without them but it would work so much better with them. And before you know it you've spent enough money that, you know Munch's "The Scream"? If your bank account were a person, she'd look like that.

I gateway shop on Oxford Street all the time. It's doubly dangerous there because anyone who's been will tell you that Oxford Street is such a slow-moving, tourist-filled vortex of despair that -- after having your day stolen by evil Topshop fairies -- spending more than two hours there will cause you to end up buying something purely out of defiance. After all, you need something to show for your suffering.

So is gateway shopping good or bad? After going shopping with the most stylish person I know (and watching her gateway shop like a boss), I have come to the very scientific conclusion that gateway shopping is, in fact, a good thing. My theory is the sense of satisfaction that comes in getting a new outfit that you love, even if you just planned to buy one thing, means you’ll be less likely to go shopping for a while, since you just stocked up on some lovely clothes.

Although, there are downsides. Let’s not even mention the amount of money you spent on that outfit you just had to get. I guarantee you that, as a bona fide gateway shopper, I still pull open my wardrobe from time to time so that I can dramatically declare “I have nothing to wear!”

Like a person peering into an empty fridge and then returning 10 minutes later to peer into the same empty fridge, I sometimes hope an outfit will just magically appear. Buying stuff an outfit at a time sometimes means you forget to think of what’s already in your wardrobe that would match the skirt you just bought. Why bother when you’re just going to wear the blouse you bought with it anyway?

So how do you know if you’re a gateway shopper? Come on, you know. But in case you really don’t:

  1. You didn’t even know you wanted that outfit until you saw it on the mannequin.
  2. You online shop. I tell you, ever since ASOS put that “get the look” button on their website, my wishlist has exploded with saved items.
  3. You go shopping with your friends. I love going shopping with my friends, and by that I mean I never go shopping with my friends. They’re always so supportive, telling you this or that looks great on you until you end up buying that shapeless sack you’re trying on, and getting shoes to match. If you go on a girl’s shopping trip and nothing gets bought, did it really happen? Sounds like a failed bonding exercise. Can’t we all just go for cocktails instead?
  4. You have a Pinterest account. The more beautiful items of clothing you pin, the more you want to pin to add to your virtual Pinterest wardrobe. You want it ALL within reason -- so that means all of it.

So are you a gateway shopper? What are your favorite gateway shopped outfits?