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Melanie Morris: The sweet little lies I tell myself so I can buy what I want (and admit it, I'm not the only one)

My current wish list on Net-a-Porter reads like the perfect synopsis of the fashion season ahead -- jewelled Lanvin sandals, new Prada sunnies, a Celine drape dress, a Burberry Prorsum trench, a lace Philip Lim frock, a Bottega Veneta clutch... And so it goes on.

While most are pieces I know I'll never own (Balmain silk georgette camouflage top, price €2,673 anyone?) there are one or two items I'll spoof myself that I can afford, and then go to whatever lengths necessary to make them mine.

I don't think I'm alone in this. I think women are magpies and just can't help swooping on a spotted treasure. What's entertaining, though, is the ridiculous monologue that goes on in my head to justify the process.

When the urge strikes in the designer clothes stakes, there are two maths equations that immediately spring to my mind. Firstly, Cost Per Wear. Everyone knows this one, the price of the item divided by potential number of wears, thus, in outcome, making the garment/item a bargain.

The second is a slightly more complicated process, but applied when the purchase goes into the 'silly money' category.


Known as Magic Maths in IMAGE Towers, it works as follows -- take the price of item and subtract the amount that you'd realistically spend. The amount you're left with is the cash you've got to sacrifice from another area of your life.

So, as an example, if a pair of shoes is E650, and you'd tolerate spending E300 on them (I know, I know, but let's face it, we do actually spend that sort of money on shoes), then you have to pull the remaining E350 from potential future spending. So, whether that is 7.5 blow dries at the hair dresser (priced at E40 each, including parking and tip), or 106 cappuccinos from Starbucks, or 30 taxi rides to/from work when feeling lazy ... whatever it is, you have to sacrifice exactly this number of these things until you've addressed the balance.

The mind-gymnastics going on here is kind of like 'the off- side rule' for girls.

That's all well and good when it's the luxuries in life we're sacrificing, or putting on hold, but it's not always so. And as my boyfriend Trevor calmly says when hearing me bleat about another new dress. "It's not that you live beyond your means, Melanie, I just think sometimes your priorities are slightly askew. Let's pay the utilities first." Gulp.

I hate to admit it, he's right, and (statement) belts may be tight right now, but it's hard to teach a seasoned fashion- addict new perspective.

The ridiculous thing is, and I'm sounding like an old person here, often the objects of my desire are so challenging to wear, they take all my energy to do so. Like the Anna Sui dress that requires such structured undergarments I could never dream of peeing or pulling in it.

Or those six-inch YSL 'Tribute' shoes that I almost have to be carried around in. Thankfully, as regards the latter, we ladies rarely go out without a change of footwear for when the going gets tough. I was particularly impressed by a Westlife wife I was out with once, who'd not only brought ballet flats in her bag, but also a mid-heel pair, just to keep up standards for as long as possible. When it comes to shopping, I try to work within self-administered rules. I refuse to buy clothes online on a whim, or late at night. It's all too easy to click a few buttons and find one's credit card suffering because of the indulgence.

Equally, I have to 'visit' an item in a store a few times before legitimately succumbing to its call. It builds up momentum and the anticipation of the purchase and cuts out the shame of impulse shopping.

I also believe there's no such thing as a false economy. On the (rare) occasion when I've been super-thrifty and bought the 'bargain' version of an item I've been longing for, I'll usually end up returning to the scene of the crime, dissatisfied, and ready to fork out for my original little gem. Might as well be hung for a sheep (skin) as a lamb, eh?

Just as Mr Avon once claimed, and I paraphrase here, he doesn't sell solutions, he sells hope. So be it with all the trinkets and outfits and gadgets I find myself longing for. The next dress will be The One of dresses, the next skyscraper heels might just be comfortable, or I'll buy a hat for the races that I swear I'll wear more than once. All the while, the utility bills gather dust ...

Melanie Morris is editor of IMAGE Magazine