You’ve probably had the experience of something looking better at a distance. Perhaps one day you were standing on the shore, and saw something orange-y red in the sea. In your mind’s eye you imagined it to be a sea anemone whose tentacles were wafting lazily back and forth in the current. On closer inspection, however, you discovered that it was really just an empty soup can that someone threw over the side of their boat. Once you saw what it really was, did you still find it ‘beautiful’? Likely not.
Recently I’ve been noticing this “distance lends enchantment” effect in department stores. A phenomenon, I have to add, which should not be confused with “changing room syndrome”, where something is so different once it has been taken off its hanger and placed on our body that we are forced to question whether it is, in fact, even the same garment. No, the “distance” is much more insidious.
Suddenly the dress that drew your across the sales floor with, what you fondly imagined to be, a fabric composed of shimmering golden waterfalls against a coral backdrop becomes, on closer inspection, distressingly reminiscent of 1970’s pre-school wallpaper. The illusion has gone and reality is no longer appealing.
Going home empty-handed when the ‘retail therapy’ craving has not been satisfied is one of life’s most bitter disappointments. Fortunately, that pain can sometimes be assauged by making online purchases when you get home. If those items turn out less extraordinary than you expected, then at least the return process is easy.