Wednesday, February 09, 2005

We're S.H.O.P.P.I.N.G

I have been shopping for clothes to wear for the wedding in Texas. I normally love shopping. Not today. First of all, I have to buy four different outfits, which sounds nice in theory but in practice is an absolute bloody nightmare. I need a ‘smart casual’ outfit for Friday Night Dinner, a ‘casual’ outfit for Shabbat service/lunch, an ‘evening wear’ outfit for the Rehearsal dinner, and a ‘formal’ outfit for the wedding. All fairly straightforward you might think.

But then you have to bear in mind that although the wedding is ‘formal’, it’s taking place at 11 a.m., so you can’t wear an ‘Oscars’ dress (evening if you can fit into one). Meanwhile, the Rehearsal dinner is at 8 pm, so perfect for a floor length dress but actually needs to be less dressy than the wedding. The ‘smart casual’ outfit for Friday night dinner needs to be smart but not too ‘office wear’. And the outfit for the Shabbat service (“no hats – trousers permissible”) is complicated by my tallit, which has grey and maroon stripes. They seemed like a good idea at the time, but there’s nothing worse than sitting in shul worrying that your tallit clashes with your shoes. (I know a woman who has a matching tallit for every outfit she owns. It sort of beats the object and possibly blows wind in the sails of the United Synagogue. But you have to admire her style). Anyway, I digress. Where were we? Oh yes, Brent Cross.

So, I’m wandering up and down the concourse in Brent Cross with a (very) vague idea of what I want to buy. This is compounded by the fact that I am a different size in every shop. The various members of staff explain this by pointing out that ‘we go by American sizes’ or ‘our clothes are cut very generously’ but it’s all very unnerving to the casual shopper. In the space of four shops I go from a 6 to a 12 to a 34.

The shop assistants in John Lewis eventually realise they’ve got a live one, and deign to offer some casual assistance (in a very similar manner to that scene in Pretty Woman. Only I’ve yet to buy something fabulous and tell them they’ve made a ‘big mistake. Huge’). They ask what I’m looking for and I mumble something about ‘wedding…texas….posh…dressy…casual…smart…tallit’ and they stare at me as though I don’t know what I’m doing or what I want. Which of course I don’t.

Every time I see something I vaguely like, I have to do a mental calculation – ‘great for the wedding but no good for the rehearsal dinner’ or ‘if I wear the grey for the Friday night I can’t wear the red for the Shabbat lunch’. Every outfit hinges on every other and I can’t run the risk of buying anything, even something that’s fabulous, just in case it upsets the whole smart/casual/dressy balance. Eventually of course I realise that what I want is a personal shopper who will be able to present me with a whole wedding weekend wardrobe without my having to wander aimlessly up and down the mall. But that’s not going to happen.

The nearest I get is some overly friendly assistants in Monsoon who tell me I look ‘fabulous’ in everything I try on, when I clearly bloody don’t. I know this because the mirrors in the changing room never lie. They are brutally, grotesquely honest. The assistants, on the other hand, are not. I tested them just to see. I tried on a pale pink (NOT my colour), A-line (makes me look like a rhomboid) V-neck (does nothing for me) taffeta dress. ‘Fabulous’ says one assistant. ‘Gorgeous’ says another. ‘Liars’ says me, and I leave the shop. I know they work on commission but frankly that’s just ridiculous.

I try Top Shop – well, you never know. But the place just makes me feel middle aged. It’s full of teenage shoppers, all of them Sienna Whatsername look alikes in turned up jeans, boots with pom poms and brown corduroy jackets. And the staff?? They’re all dressed like extras from ‘Rita and Sue and Bob, too’.

So I make a sharp exit, by this time rather frantically trying to find anything that vaguely resembles a glamourous party dress. I find myself muttering under my breath, “what would Trinny do?” like some meditative mantra and I catch myself weighing up the pros and cons of various dresses on the basis of Susanna’s rules.

In total, I visited 12 stores, tried on 18 different dresses, was lied to by 3 shop assistants, ignored by 4 and patronised by 2, and made a grand total of 3 purchases – a cup of coffee, a can of coke and a packet of neurofen.

Guess where I’m going next Sunday…..


Blogger bangedmyhead said...

i liked the pretty woman reference - thats my favourite bit of the film.

dont forget the good old rules of elegant simplicity and mix and match...

9:33 pm  
Blogger R.x said...

How many times do you think I said, "We'll remember it's here - we can always come back to it later"....remind you of anyone?

10:04 pm  
Blogger bangedmyhead said...

very true. Good call

9:44 am  

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