People Share the Dumbest, Most Embarrassing Things They've Ever Bought

You don't have to be rich to buy stupid things, but it definitely helps.

by Zing Tsjeng
Jul 7 2016, 5:00pm

Photo by TRU STUDIO via Stocksy

If you want to look up excess in the dictionary, there should be this clip from Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette showing the titular queen of the film lavishing franc on petticoats, shoes, and endless petits fours while her country burns down around her ears. But crazed spending isn't just limited to French royalty—those of us with bank accounts significantly smaller than that of an 18th-century aristocrat are still capable of buying dumb shit. In the spirit of mindless consumerism, we asked several very guilty women about their most ridiculous splurges.


When I was 18, I went through a phase of dressing in a way that I can only describe now as "baby hooker." I got my first real boyfriend and started blowing my college loan in Agent Provocateur, culminating in what I can only describe as the apex of my baby hooker look: $260 zip-up, thigh-high leather boots, a $100 silk bra with the matching thong, and a garter belt with silk stockings.

I had the great and very arousing (personally speaking) idea of meeting my boyfriend at the subway station dressed like this. Off I went, a thrift-store raincoat thrown over myself for modesty's sake. I almost fell over in public multiple times and managed to rip my stockings ten minutes after putting them on. When I finally met my boyfriend at the station, I was so distressed from the whole experience that I just changed straight out of everything once I got home. That was the day I learned it is very difficult to do everyday, normal things like walk to the subway station dressed like a glamorous prostitute, and this is why glamorous prostitutes charge for their services instead of giving them away for free.

Read more: The Rise and Fall of the American Shopping Mall


Until recently, I was a Buffy addict—I think with Buffy there was something about the sense of ownership. I used to be too... jealous, I guess, to watch it with anyone else. I wanted to get lost in it. If something—anything—ever came on eBay, I couldn't bear the thought of not adding it to my insane collection.

So I spent an amount I am ashamed to mention on a lock of Sarah Michelle Gellar's hair. Or supposed hair. I feel ill writing this. It was around $395 off eBay. I still have it. It was supposedly from when she cut her hair for Buffy in season six.

It's very soft! It's somewhere in the many boxes of Buffy memorabilia I have. I had lunch boxes, stuff from the huge sell-off after the show ended (like UC Sunnydale football team shirts), Faith's knife reproduction, chewing gum, teddy bears, literature from the academic and non-academic conventions, autographs, photos with the actors. I'm going to have to dispose of it all eventually. My mental health is way better now.

Photo by TRU STUDIO via Stocksy


Probably because Nicole Richie had one, I bought a $1,000 Balenciaga handbag on eBay. I'd spent hours on forums researching it, but then I panicked about how it wasn't the right color and was too expensive so I left it under my bed for nine months before selling it for the same price (minus 10 percent eBay fees, ugh). It taught me that too much of a desire to buy ends up in being overwhelmed by actually buying: It seemed impossibly out of reach, which made getting it and realizing it didn't look or feel extra-special—or wasn't made out of stardust—very disappointing. Never buy your idols.


There is no purchase more ridiculous than the purchase you will make when your paycheck and your period arrive on the same day. This phenomenon explains why I own a pair of vinyl jogging pants that I have never worn because they smell like thrush, a framed, A4 print of David Duchovny, and, as of last week, a limited-edition replica of the hoodie Nicole Scherzinger wears in the Pussycat Dolls video for "Don't Cha," which cost $45.99 (plus $63.99 in postage, thank you Brexit).

I'm aware these aren't particularly extravagant purchases, but last week I used my credit card to buy an apple, so that should give you an idea of how much money I earn. On the upside, that hoodie is Victoria's Secret branded, so perhaps the thread count will bring me some comfort and warmth when my landlord evicts me for not making rent.

$64 on a hand-painted, ceramic dildo with a little smiling devil sitting on top of the shaft. Not intended for use—just to have.


I knew it was mad even as I was doing it. A posh litter box, for a cat we didn't own, costing $145 plus delivery. I remember asking myself these questions as I entered my card details: How posh can a litter box really be, if it's where your cat is going to poop? Do you really need a litter box if you do not own a cat? You could spend $145 on nice shoes—are you sure you wouldn't rather own nice shoes instead of a litter box for your nonexistent cat?

Two days later, it arrived. It was huge. My partner and I went to visit the cat shelter to see if we wanted to adopt. We did not "get on" with the kittens. We gave up and went home to our tiny flat and enormous litter box. For months, it sat in our cupboard, taking up space like a ridiculous metaphor for my pointless consumerism. Then I met a woman at a dinner party who was about to have a baby and needed a covered litter box. She took it home with her. I thought a good deed would undo the guilt. I was wrong.

Read more: The Broadly Guide to Shopping


$64 on a hand-painted, ceramic dildo with a little smiling devil sitting on top of the shaft. Not intended for use—just to have.


Last winter I had a UTI, which I mostly ignored. It seemed to have gone away—but a week or so later, I noticed that my vision was starting to get really blurry. I decided that I was losing my eyesight from natural causes and went to an eye doctor, who was like, "It is weird because you can read everything well, but apparently you are seeing it as though it's underwater, per your account." She gave me a really low prescription for glasses, and thinking I had to wear them all the time, I spent $600 on a Chanel pair. I had to look good!

It turned out that I just had a kidney infection from ignoring my UTI and when I took meds my vision returned. Now I have a $600 pair of glasses that make me feel extremely dizzy when I put them on.

*All names have been changed.