No returns, no regrets


THIS MAY come as quite a shock, but a recent survey shows that the overwhelming majority of American women 84 percent enjoy shopping for clothes.

OK, OK, so I wasn't exactly stunned by this revelation, either. The survey, conducted for Express stores, also revealed that more than half (55 percent, to be exact) said they hoped to find clothing inside some of those gift-wrapped boxes.

I guess it's time to say it out loud.

My name is Pat, and I'm Hard To Please.

My husband says shopping for me is the most agonizingly difficult thing he does all year. My family and friends long ago gave up on giving me anything in the clothing category.

Also, I really hate returning gifts. It's not the inconvenience, it's just that I feel guilty about it. I've kept things for years, tags still attached, before finally giving them away in a closet-cleaning frenzy.

I know I'm not alone. A colleague reports she, too, has kept clothing she doesn't like rather than deal with the self-inflicted guilt of returning the item.

But, by golly, we don't take them back, either. If that isn't proof of heartfelt appreciation, I don't know what is.

Maybe we should start a support group. Women Who Love Clothes Too Much And Also Love Surprises And Don't Like to Choose Their Own Gifts But Hate To Be Surprised With Clothes Chosen By Other People (but also feel bad about taking anything back). The Express survey doesn't really have a category for us.

It does, however, reveal the influence television wields when it comes to style. Fifty-seven percent, when asked to name a style role model, said they wear or would like to wear clothes like the ones worn by Candice Bergen, TV's Murphy Brown. However, Express also says the majority of women surveyed (53 percent) said they stay away from high-ticket designer labels.

I'm assuming some overlap between the women who covet Murphy's wardrobe and those who avoid high-priced designer labels. Which presents a problem. Bergen's duds are almost exclusively designer level and don't come cheap.

And finally, Express says that despite shopping regularly (49 percent shop for clothes at least once a month). More than a third (37 percent) said they shop for therapeutic purposes.

And suddenly, the light bulb went on. We Hard-To-Pleasers are obviously the women who embrace this shopping-as-therapy notion. We prefer to do our own shopping not because we are picky, but because it makes us feel better.

I guess we won't be needing that support group after all. A few good sales should do the trick.

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