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Book Club: The Shopping Diet
Not so easy to swallow

Hi, my name is Bianca and I have a shopping addiction. Whew. That felt good. The first step is admitting it, right?

I know that I shop too much and buy things with the magic plastic card in my wallet because it feels practically free. Everyone tells me that I have issues with stores and sales and should probably try to curb it just a smidge. So I buy books about saving money and shopping less. Ironic, no?

My most recent purchase (not including shoes or clothing, mind you) was The Shopping Diet by Hollywood stylist and fashion commentator Phillip Bloch. You know…the guy who grabbed Scarlett Johansson’s boob that one time. In the book’s summary, Bloch promises to help me look great for less and give me practical solutions to the problem of overspending.

Let’s get something straight: I love books. All kinds of books. I love books so much that I refuse to use e-Readers because nothing can compare to the feeling of a heavy, library-smelling page turner in your hands. That being said, some books are just huge wastes of money. A book telling you how to magically stop eating and lose weight for instance. Or how to get the perfect complexion. Or how to bury the need for new cigarette pants deep down until you put that money towards a better cause.

Bloch gives it an earnest try, but falls short on one major aspect: he leaves the important stuff to the near end. It isn’t until 147 pages in (for a book of 259 pages) that he actually provides tips on smarter shopping and budget setting. Instead, Bloch lists so many ways to cleanse your closet and rework pieces that haven’t been worn in a while. Countless pages are spent discussing various body parts and the best cuts and styles for each one. I bought this book hoping it would bitch slap me into ceasing my spending, not to learn that if you’re showing cleavage you should probably keep those legs covered.

When he finally does get down to the nickels and dimes of the problem, it’s actually very interesting. Not only does he advise on how to find expensive store outfits for cheap online but goes on to list the best discount stores, catalogs and designer depots. However, even embedded in the useful advice, Block veers off course to let us know what to scrutinize while shopping for pants, lingerie, shoes, and bags.

Wrapping it up in the end though is a only slightly useful list on how to stick to the diet, even though the actual diet is mentioned ridiculously infrequently. Examples of what else we could be doing with our time are on hand (although most still include things that will cost money) as is a silly list of mantras we should repeat to ourselves to help with the feat of saving money.

Examples: “Your closet is so clean an organized now – don’t do anything that will mess it up!”… “You’re an interesting person who has more to explore in life than the shoe department at Saks.” 

I read through this book, then reread through this book and each time found myself scoffing at its pseudo helpfulness. Thank you Bloch for detailing all the things I could do besides shop and then including a 43-page clothing/jewellery store directory. How hypocritically helpful.


Bianca Teixeira writes about style for Toronto Standard. Follow her on Twitter at @BeeLauraTee.

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