I hate to admit it, but I find the new song by Carly Rae Jepsen “Call Me Maybe” really fun and catchy. And I may or may not have listened to it on repeat the other day while working out. Which made me start thinking about guilty pleasures and how we hide certain other behaviors in order to craft an image of ourselves we like to project to others. This also translates into where we buy stuff. Would you ever admit to shopping at certain stores or wearing certain brands even though they are not really ‘on brand’ with how you want to be perceived?

In my case, it’s not as much about being ‘on brand’ as it is my general guilt about overconsumption. I blame the bargain basement culture we live in that allows us to buy lots of stuff on impulse and not bother to return it because, well, going back to the store wouldn’t even be worth it. But mostly, I blame myself. I get all wrapped up in buying the latest trends and instead of spending more on buying a few solid pieces and supporting local designers, I buy 5 pairs of this and that at discount prices and end up wasting both my money and mother nature’s gifts.

So…in order to be completely transparent (especially after admitting to Call Me Maybe), here are my 5 Guilty Pleasure stores I’ve been known to shop at…even though they aren’t really cool* to shop at:

1. Express

I’m pretty sure they hire child labor in order to keep the prices so low. And pretty much everything I’ve bought for $9.99 has fallen apart after wearing it once or twice, but they occasionally have pieces that are pretty on-trend that I don’t have to dish out much $$ for. And, yes, I will admit to lying and saying I can’t remember where I bought that sweater even though I know full well I bought it there.

But come on…this crochet tee IS pretty cute, right?

And it’s only $39 (I betcha I can wait a week and it will be $14.95!)


2. Payless Shoes

Once again, I feel guilty about shopping here because of the cheapness of the products – both price and quality. The worst part about Payless is that I buy and fail to wear the shoes after I wear them once and they cut into my feet or they break somehow. Looks like they are carrying some okay brands now and it isn’t quite as bad as they used to be, but I know I should be spending more and buying less when it comes to shoes.

At one point in my life, I had 43 pairs of pointy toed colorful shoes – most of which I didn’t wear more than once. The guilt comes more from an overconsumption drive I get when I see shoes like these really cute colorblock cork wedges and think, “Sure, I have 2 pairs of yellow shoes already and have nothing to wear with these, but they are only $24.99! I have to have them!” Then I wear them once or twice and they either fall apart or hurt my feet so much I don’t wear them again until they end up in my Salvation Army bag at the end of the season.

3. Ardene

There is a theme here. Super cheap stuff that I mass consume. Only Ardene sort of forces it. I go in to buy a hat or a hairclip and there is this big sign that says 3 for $9, then I look at the price tag and it says $9.99. Wait?! What?! I will spend less if I get two more things I don’t need? I should really avoid going into that store, but I end up going in because they often carry those odd hair accessories that I can’t find elsewhere (or are way overpriced at the drugstore – see below). But I go in. In fact, I need a pack of clear hair elastics and I know I can get them 4 for $5 at Ardene. Yet I only need one bag. Argh. This is a tough one, because it’s not an area where I can go to a nice little local place to get this stuff. It needs to be mass manufactured.

Anyone have a recipe for making clear hair elastics at home? ;)

4. Urban Outfitters

This one doesn’t look like the others because it’s not about cheap consumption, it’s about high end hipster items. And really, the stuff is SUPER cute, especially these shoes that I completely fell in love with about a month ago (they also come in yellow, green and blue). But something else bothers me about Urban Outfitters and it’s totally a store I love to hate and hate to love:

They aren’t very friendly. No women on their board. They steal indie designers’ stuff constantly. They are culturally insensitive. And the list goes on. And the problem isn’t that they make these gaffs, it’s that they know that these are going to be gaffs and they do it anyway.┬áReminds me of another company I stopped shopping at eons ago because of the way they advertise *cough* American Apparel *cough*. Seems like they aren’t learning from the many time nearly bankrupt AA and realizing that stealing, co-opting and being sexist isn’t cool.

p.s. I didn’t buy the shoes. I was SUPER tempted, but I stuck to my principles. Doesn’t mean I don’t think about those shoes every single time I walk by the store, though.

5. The Drugstore

Any drugstore, really. I don’t know what it is about me and drugstores, but I tend to go in to buy a tube of toothpaste and end up dropping $50+ on cosmetics and magazines and junk I don’t need. I have about 10 bottles of barely used hair products in a box as we speak that I was sure were going to make my hair thick and strong and lovely and shiny (it is not – it’s baby fine) that I used once and didn’t work (or worse, made my hair feel awful). I have nailpolish and lipstick and skin creams and room scents and all sorts of other beauty products sitting around in a Rubbermaid container that are used once or twice that were complete impulse items. I look at all of this stuff and feel sad.


So while I can listen to a sugary pop song and feel some guilty pleasure without really┬áhurting anyone or anything (I still buy plenty of good indie music and support rising artists), my guilty pleasures to do with shopping are really part of the bigger problem. I throw out way too much when it comes to clothes, shoes and beauty products that were bought ‘because they were SUCH a good deal!’ And I definitely need to start thinking about this behavior.

What are your guilty pleasures? And if you don’t have any, how do you resist this stuff?


*by ‘cool’, I mean, ethically more than anything.



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