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May I have a word: A shopper’s chic repeats

Fashioning a coinage for those who serially buy the same clothes.

Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw in Season Two of "And Just Like That." On screen and in real life, the style icon has been a promulgator of the doppelhanger.Craig Blankenhorn/Max

Last time, I asked you to come up with a word for “unwittingly buying the same items of clothing repeatedly.” This had been requested by a Globe editor who confessed she had more than a few denim shirts in her closet.

Susan Erickson, of Maynard, wrote: “That act of forgetting what you have in your closet seems to be an issue for many of us. My term for this is closetnesia syndrome.”

Milda Contoyannis, of Concord, can relate. “I like a certain look and buy some things that I forgot I had,” she wrote. “I call it closet amnesia. At least I won’t run out of things I like.”


Marc McGarry, of Newton Highlands, proposed apparallel. Catherine Sickles, of Marlborough, N.H., figured that “the act of buying the same clothes again is apparepetition” and the condition itself is shoppernesia.

Celina Chalifoux, of Dedham, proposed dressmentia. And Dave Nugent, of Nashua, N.H., reported: “Before I could finish your column, rehaberdasher burst to mind.”

Ed De Vos, of West Newton, would prefer to call it amneedsia, as in “It was only with the purchase of my fourth plaid flannel shirt did I consider I might be suffering from clothing amneedsia.”

I’m the proud owner of four plaid flannel shirts from Uniqlo, Ed, and I wouldn’t call owning a bunch of such shirts an example of what we’re talking about unless they’re all the same plaid — say, MacDonald of Ardnamurchan Ancient tartan.

Ed added that a “common expression often associated with amneedsia is ‘You can never have enough.’” And indeed, Naomi Angoff Chedd, of Brookline, in response to my confession that I own at least eight pairs of black pants, assured me: “You can never have too many pairs of black pants.” Her coinage was repeatophiles.

Diane Tosca, of Taunton, wrote: “If you have that many pairs of black pants, maybe you’re attired-out.” She added: “Please consider donating warm clothes to the many immigrants who’ll be enduring much colder weather than they are accustomed to” — and thank you, Diane, for this public service announcement. Come to think of it, I have a green fleece pullover that I never wear, because I find it too warm . . .


Another cluster of coinages were based on déjà vu, which is, of course, the feeling that one has experienced something before. John Haneffant, of Boston, and Jeff Kimball, of Norfolk, both suggested déjà new.

Lisa O’Neill, of Groton, came up with déjà wear and confessed, “Long-sleeve black tees abound in my closet due to this phenomenon!” Katherine Lee, of West Newton, proposed déjà couture. And Laura McCarron, of West Newbury, wrote, “If you like the way you look and subconsciously want to replicate it, you must be experiencing déjà view!”

Jean Whooley, of Dorchester, observed: “My style sense (such as it is) and color preferences haven’t changed much over the years. I have duplicates, triplicates, even quadruplicates of certain items. The only difference is that some are newer than others. I suppose you can say my closet is home to my encoredrobe.”

Ellen Gaudiano, of Methuen, wrote: “This may not explain the habit but it is what the denim shirts become: hangers-on!” Howard Morris, of Needham, suggested the same word.

John Lane, of Falmouth, invoked doppelganger, reminding me that it means “an apparition or a double.” He continued: “Whenever I need clothes for an occasion other than day-to-day wear, I find several versions of the same outfit, often some with the price tags still on them. I call these items in my closet doublehangers.


And Dick Loring, of Upton, proposed doppelhanger. Both this and John’s coinage made me laugh out loud. So even though these evidently describe such items of clothing rather than the purchase thereof, I’m going to award John and Dick bragging rights. Well done, guys!

Now James Wadsworth, of Cambridge, writes: “This has bugged me for years: the teenagers who ring the doorbell on Halloween and aren’t wearing a costume — or at least they’ve made only a perfunctory gesture toward one, like wearing a sparkly New Year’s tiara. What can we call them?

“And at the other end of the Halloween continuum,” James continued, “what should we call people who give out full-size candy bars?”

Send your suggestions for these words to me at by noon on Friday, Oct. 27, and kindly tell me where you live. Responses may be edited. And please keep in mind that meanings in search of words are always welcome.

Barbara Wallraff is a writer and editor in Cambridge.