WebMR: Do You Have Shopping Paralysis?

You don’t need to put on a backless hospital gown unless you really want to.



Shopping paralysis is characterized first and foremost by a psychological inability to purchase clothing, shoes or accessories. SP can manifest in both retail and e-commerce environments and can last anywhere from a day to a year (however, most sufferers don’t recognize the symptoms unless they’ve persisted upwards of a month). No demographic data has been collected thus far, however experts have noted an influx of reported cases just before and during seasonal transitions. Shopping Paralysis is occasionally contagious in tight-knit friend groups.

Symptoms & Types:

+Intense desire to purchase new consumer items
+Generalized dissatisfaction with one’s current wardrobe
+Compulsive scrolling and strolling through e-commerce websites and stores, respectively
+Continued placing of items in one’s cart
+Consistent failure to complete the purchase
+Unrelenting confusion over what the hell to buy
+Frustration with one’s own nebulous set of desires


Possible causes include an appetite to finally invest in quality items combined with a lack of funds, resulting in fluctuating urges to buy cheaper stuff to alleviate current needs. SP sufferers will then force themselves to relive the short life cycles of past fast-fashion purchases in an effort to recenter their focus on quality, however they’re soon faced with another reality: they cannot reasonably afford quality unless they choose incredibly wisely. This is a pressure they’re unable to handle, and symptoms then grow more severe.

Treatment & Care:

Many are able to break out of SP by:
+Evaluating the items in their closet that they truly covet and seeking out the qualities those items possess in their next purchase.
+Considering what it is they continually need when they are struggling to get dressed.
+Allowing their funds to build while suffering from SP, thus enabling more financial freedom.
+Purchasing items that not only spark joy a la Marie Kondo, but also speak to their own personal style rather than that of someone they admire who has a completely different body.
+Breaking the fucking seal.

Or maybe you buy way too much, in which case here’s how to clean your closet.

Collage by Emily Zirimis.

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  • Amelia Diamond

    I am so happy you write for MR but I wish you also wrote for Web MD

    • Leandra Medine

      I don’t know why we’ve never spoken about launching a column called Web MR?

      • Aimee Ortiz

        I think it would be great! The results wouldn’t be all “you’re dying from a really weird disease”

  • Alessia

    I have just purchased a Chloé Faye after about a year of SP and it sparks. so. much. joy.

    • ladybirda

      I did not need to read this right now. I have on-sale Chloé in my cart but even at 40% off it’s still so goddamn expensive. But it would look so purrrrrrfect on my upcoming vacation and it’s the last one in my size…. We all need some joy sparked after this shitbag of a year.

  • Alanis

    “Breaking the fucking seal”
    Love that line Haley

  • Caroline

    Here’s a pattern I’ve fallen into: halfheartedly buy mediocre stuff online>have the package stolen from my apartment lobby>not really care and get a refund>repeat. Dude I make no sense.

    • Haley Nahman


  • Abby

    I broke free from the chains of shopping paralysis this morning, when I realized that if I didn’t buy a new pair of pants soon I would have to go to work in my underwear. I love to see how far I can push the concept of an ultra-minimal capsule wardrobe before I hit my breaking point, and I get way more satisfaction from browsing for clothes without making the purchase.

  • nevvvvave

    also when you’re newly in between dress sizes and can’t decide if you wanna spend $ on an optimistic size 10 or get the sweet immediate relief of a cautious 12. And holiday season/blackfriday approaches. Godspeed 2 me and my confused wallet

  • chouette

    Me to a tee! That Chadwicks sweater is nowhere near as good or as purple as that Jacquemus one and in the cart it will sit.

  • 808kate

    I just call this “fake shopping” when I go onto websites I can’t afford, and meticulously pick out clothing for a lifestyle I don’t have, and put it in the in the shopping cart, and then don’t buy anything. This is a hobby of mine that I enjoy. Does anybody else do this?

    • Natasha

      Guilty as charged.

    • Abby

      I have capsule wardrobes for different seasons stashed in shopping carts I will never afford all across the internet. I love it though.

    • Mariana

      Oh God, I do some much of “Eye Shopping”.

    • KK

      Yes! An old coworker taught me this and it is life-changing. We worked in fashion and essentially window-shopped all day long. It was an environment where everyone encouraged each other to spend/splurge/treat yo self because dammit we deserved it. But that period of my life had SO MUCH buyer’s remorse. This angel goddess coworker taught me that just putting things in your cart still gives you the high of scoring new finds, but waiting an hour before purchasing OFTEN leads you to not end up pulling the trigger! Girlfriend saved me SO MUCH MONEY.

  • kristen

    I feel this on a molecular level. SP is very much a fiber of my being.

  • DeanaCal

    I will leave items in my cart for days,and actually check up on them each day just in case they go on sale, or clearance, or BOGO, and then eventually they are no longer available in my size. So I get subscription boxes instead. Auto-renew, something in the mail every month, and I don’t actually have to decide anything.

  • I’m suffering from the exact thing right now! Part of the reason I’m feeling that way is that I ordered stuff weeks ago and I’m waiting for it to get to Alaska. So I want new stuff, I’m online wanting to buy everything, but the stuff I really, REALLY want is currently taking it’s sweet-ass time on a barge. I should really time it better. . .

  • Autumn

    YES. ME. Thank you Fashion Dr. Haley.

  • Ambrey Rice

    Life of a college student explained in an article

  • Hannah Cole

    erghhhh this is my life. I’ve had so many blogging rants about this this year because literally can.not.shop.
    my solution is to buy a magazine instead. it’s at least a guaranteed joy that won’t break my wallet

  • molly_maureen

    really really scary how accurately this describes my current “shopping” habit