Girls Own Annual: Art of Shopping

What is it in shopping which so attracts the feminine mind?

It must be admitted that the sterner sex are, as a rule, indifferent to the charms of such expeditions, and will suffer much, rather than accompany a lady to a round of shops.  Others will go shopping, as they wrongly call it, simply to look in at the windows on the chance of seeing something pretty and cheap, when they rush in and buy it, and go home rejoicing and boasting to all their friends of the bargain they have lighted on.

Some advice on the art of shopping according to GOA (1880)

1. Never buy a thing simply because it is cheap because it will be laid aside getting dingy and out of date, and when at last a use comes for it, its freshness is gone and you will wish you had never bought it.

2.  If ribbon (for example) is cheaper at a shop some distances from your home, consider the effort of getting to the shop (eg transportation) so what is gained by the cheaper ribbon is lost by the transportation and time (and exhaustion).

3. Cheaper imitations may be economical in the short term, they are in the end not cheap, but dear. A poor thing, of bad material or badly made, may pass muster for a little time, but very soon its outside gloss of respectability begins to fade, its true self shows through and everybody can see that it is nothing but a sham.  And rightly too, for they are the very essence of vulgarity.

4. Buying a good thing, and besides lasting ten times as long as the inferior, it will look good and respectable, and unspeakably more refined.  

5.  Never pay more than a thing is worth, though it may be on sale at the best and the most old-fashioned shop in the world.  On hearing the price, if you thinks it excessive, you should say so, quietly and straightforwardly, not in hope of getting it reduced, but to explain why you are not purchasing the item.  The truth is much better than a number of foolish groundless reasons.

6. Unless one can afford to fritter away an amazing amounts of money, it is well on entering a tempting shop not to think: "Now what shall I buy, what do I want?" but to keep in mind the query: "What can I do without?"

7. A prudent shopper will: keep her eyes from straying onto temptations and turn a deaf ear to the  shopkeepers chatter about the "special cheap line of gloves".

What is interesting is that this information (from over 130 years ago) is still quite relevant today.  I have bought cheap imitation and it doesn't always last as long (not sure about its vulgarity!) and how many times have I traveled to buy a bargain and the cost of petrol and time is more than the bargain. (not on every occasion).  And temptation - I fall into this trap more than I will admit and like point 1 the bargain is often stashed away for another day where it looses its "freshness"(!!).   Point 6 is a good one - what can I live without!!  Probably a lot of things. 

~Happy shopping~


  1. oh, this is great, Jo! Some things really are timeless - and I agree about the cheap things sometimes not being worth it. And yet because of our day of disposable goods, sometimes it's NOT worth the money to get a "better" thing because sometimes they last no longer! I guess it comes down to figuring it all out and getting the cheap things where appropriate and spend the extra when needed for something that really does do better! :) Really enjoying these GOA posts! :)

  2. I like point 6 too. But then I don't like shopping at all. I have been looking for a way for years to survive without eating thus reducing the necessity of visiting any shop other than a book shop. Shopping for books is different. ;) Food for the soul. ☺

  3. Good advice and still very relevant for today.
    I love my 1889 GOA - such lovely images and writings!

  4. Jo,

    It's surprising that the advice given in 1889, in regards to shopping, can still have relevance for today.

    Since we have become a one-income family, my temptations for shopping have lessened over time. I tend not to go to the shops "just for sport," but out of necessity.

    Yes, I still have my "weak points" from time to time, but when you have less money and need to be on the conservative side, the "joys of shopping" seem to gradually fade away.

    -Lady Rose

  5. Ganeida ... I'm not a fan of wandering around shops and I strongly dislike fighting for car parks so I am fan of internet shopping and do most of my shopping (minus food, shoes and some clothes) on-line (which I can do at any time of the day or night). I am a BIG book shopper (and running out of space), but these I buy on-line and rarely from a bookshop.

    As for food I have started to bulk buy some items (non-perishables) so I don't need to go to the shop as often, especially when I see specials. This does help to a point.

  6. Lady Rose . . . avoiding the shops is a great way to save, what you can't see you don't buy. I use eBay for some items, heaps cheaper and on some occasions recycling second-hand goods. I use to work near shops, working with women who saw the need to “shop” a couple of times each week. Now I work in a location away from shops and I find I don’t visit the shopping centre anywhere as much as I use to.

  7. I do not need cheap gloves; I do not need cheap gloves; I do not need cheap gloves!!!

  8. Are you sure about the cheap gloves Jeanne!!!!!

  9. This was fun for my daughter and I to read together. She has recently enjoyed a couple shopping trips and we had a great discussion after this list.

  10. I am so glad Mrs Santos that your daughter enjoyed the list as much as you did. Things haven't really changed much in 100 years have they!!


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