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Why Shopping Is Actually More Pain Than Pleasure

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I am a terrible shopper. In fact, whilst I love clothes and fashion, I really dislike the process of getting them. I cannot stand changing rooms (mirrors are too damn close for comfort). The times I have tried stuff on has been, more often than not, humiliating. I remember one day I was in a cool store in Paris, The Kooples. My beau, the style guru, had persuaded me to try some stuff on. It was painful. Skin tight trousers made my butt look like a watermelon more than a peach. Everything I tried looked hideous. I left empty handed and depressed. So we went for afternoon tea. That day shopping not only made me grumpy, but also fat.

I also can't bear trawling around shops for hours or humming and ha-ing about the colour, fabric, length of skirt. You start seeing white light and needing a lie down.

I also get REALLY irritated when sales assistants start asking you a million questions about what you want. No matter how many times you say you are fine and just looking, they try and break you down. You end up agreeing to some rubbish scarf or t-shirt just to get rid of them.

Nor do I like the concept of shopping with a girlfriend -- it makes zero sense, as you usually like the same things, so end up looking like the pair from Single White Female. Or there is that awkward moment in the changing room when your mate asks if you she looks good in the lime green slinky dress and you daren't tell her she looks more caterpillar than butterfly.

Online buying is as painful -- less physical effort, but without any of the pleasure of seeing or touching. Its like pressing your nose against a shop window when it's closed.

There are some exceptions to my shopping phobia. Galerie 66 on the Champs Elysees is about having fun, not just purchasing. It does not feel like a store, more a giant lounge. Everyone's cool, no one hassles you and the changing rooms are so big you could have sex in them. Okok. Almost.

Fundamentally, when it comes to finding the right things I believe in instinct -- if you are drawn to something buy it straightaway. There and then. If you're not, it wasn't meant for you. I have friends that
take pictures on their iPhone before they make a purchase -- to see if it will match their current wardrobe. They then return a few days later to seal the deal. Of course, it often means they miss out, as their size has gone.

However, the downside of being a snappy shopper is that I often make a mistake. Multiple mistakes. I get home, open the bag or box and have a total meltdown. Heels too high, skirt too tight or, more often than not, something just does not look right. I then shove the rejected garments at the back of my wardrobe. Probably secretly thinking they will make good recycled presents for others. A few weeks later I come across them like abandoned pets and seeing the triple digit prices I have an attack of guilt and trundle back to do an exchange.

To be honest, it is the same effort, if not more, than the 'cautious' buyer. My favourite exchange was a pair of Hermes boots my beau had given me. These were rather too S&M for me, with zips all over. After a vigorous night out dancing one zip obviously broke. After trying to fix it, they handed me a credit note. I had a stash of euros to spend!

I waltzed around the store like a kid in Santas grotto. I spotted a beautiful limited-edition bangle -- art deco purple pattern on a metal band. Then I tried some of my fave perfume. This was all in the first five minutes. Then I remembered I had some presents to buy. Birthdays were looming. For my brother-in-law, a quick and easy cologne. My beau was trickier to buy for. Hard to buy for someone that is not actually that materialistic. I spotted a cigar ashtray all spanking in gold with a stylish logo. But I could not quite see it all dirty with ash. I plumped for a cashmere scarf, grey and navy. It was a wonderful feeling to make all these purchases without spending a single euro. I suddenly realised my beau had actually bought his own birthday present. His money originally. Oh well, its the thought that counts. One pair of boots transformed into two yummy presents for me and two for others. Shopaholics make way -- for the new exchange-aholic!