Spent: Memoirs of a Shopping Addict by Avis Cardella

How living the Carrie Bradshaw life sent a former fashion editor to the poorhouse.

Because Spent is loaded with designer names and European spending sprees, it’s hard not to see it as a real-life Confessions of a Shopaholic. Avis Cardella’s addiction and hoarding behaviors are so glamorous that it’s hard not to be jealous of someone who amassed a huge designer wardrobe and only ended up $8,000 in debt–which she was able to pay off in full. Now, her relationships with men–built as they were around shopping sprees and Svengali-esque indulgences–clearly point to the toxicity of her attitude towards accumulation, and I wish she’d gone into greater detail about the emotional emptiness that she endured. I felt like she was still trying to put on a pretty face.

Avis’s attitude towards her things definitely reminded me of Stuff, which I read recently and found fascinating. In that book, the authors discuss how some hoarders collect things because they see more beauty in objects than most people do. That definitely seemed true of Cardella. In a way, I admired her ability to appreciate the high fashion items that she found on her shopping expeditions. Her attention to detail clearly helped her become a success as a fashion writer. And then it was fascinating to hear how much she hated her purchases after they were finished and the shopping high wore off. Even though I’ve bought things I ended up not liking as much once I got them home, I just can’t fathom buying something just to throw it in the closet with the tags still on.

I think this is an important conversation for women to have. Shopping and designer clothes and the celebrity lifestyle have been sold so hard to women that a major course correction is required. While Spent had its flaws, it raises some good points and adds substantively to the discourse on overconsumption.

Many thanks to Little, Brown and Company for the review copy.

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