I don’t shop for myself. Often.
Well, to be fair, I do (and it may be more than the average woman). I also have the advantage of being in the shops with clients frequently, so I often end up shopping for myself online, alone on my laptop. But it’s quite clinical, transactional. I know what I need, I consult my list, I consider my options, I buy or I don’t buy.
But I rarely get out to the shops, to simply shop, to meander, mooch, try on or not, and have a play.
So I was delighted last week to have a small window of time spare after a client shopping session. I grabbed that opportunity with the excitement of a 46-year-old woman who had an hour up her sleeve and headed to check out the shops nearby. Recycle Boutique (where I spied two things I already own – a fabulous Decjuba Jacket that’s five years old and a pair of Kathryn Wilson pink trainers, around three years old), SEED and Decjuba.
I managed to grab quite a bit to try on in each store too. A pink suit & three tops in SEED, a knit jumper in Recycle Boutique and two armfuls in Decjuba.
And that’s when things got a bit tough for the side of me that wanted to buy buy buy. *INSERT SOUND HERE (Imagine here if you will the sound of a record suddenly coming to a halt when the needle scratches across it’s surface.)
It was in the changing room that my stylist’s eye kicked in. That expert eye that helps my clients buy well suddenly turned itself on me. I had one hour goddamn it, let me buy something! But I couldn’t make it happen. I was having fun, but I wasn’t able to make a transaction happen.
No matter how much I wanted that pink suit. I’ve wanted one for years, a hot pink suit. I can literally see myself in the suit, sharp tailoring, great cut, relaxed fit and the superb option of having trousers and a jacket to wear as separates. But it wasn’t going to be this pink suit. No matter how many times I tired it on. The cut was wrong, it was just a little boxy on me. The material was lovely, but didn’t flatter my figure. The pink was not quite pink enough. NO matter what my inner voice was telling me (well she was yelling actually “BUY IT, YOU MAY NEVER SEE A PINK SUIT AGAIN”), I put the suit back and walked out.
At the next store I tried on three jackets, two great knits (I really wanted those knits) and two dresses. The jackets were lovely, but my boobs got in the way of them sitting well. The dresses were awesome but I couldn’t style them with enough things for winter to make it worth the purchase right now. And the knits were amazing. So amazing, I tried them on three times each. But in the end I looked like I was wearing a breast plate.
The knit that would go with everything. But it made me feel like I was wearing a breastplate and had a mono-boob.
So here comes the lesson. Yeah, you know there’s always a lesson.
Here’s what I know to be true:
- Shopping by yourself can be fun and quick, but you can end up being your own worst enemy.
- Shopping with others can be fun but also lethal on your wallet and style. Ever heard the phrase “that looks so good on you”, you buy it based on that recommendation but get it home and think “what the hell have I done?”
- Shopping with a close friend can be fun and helpful but sometimes even your bestie gets it wrong. See above.
And then there is the last combo, the combo of champions. After the shopping experience I had, I know this to be true more than ever…
- Shopping with a stylist IS fun, helpful AND fantastic for your wardrobe and budget. It ticks all the boxes and you learn so much about what works for you along the way that you won’t make the same mistakes twice.
So back to that whole thing about shopping can be fun by yourself. I totally agree with that. I enjoyed my own company and the pace I set. So what I truly learnt about this experience (aside from the fact that I am a good stylist :-)) is that what I enjoyed the most was the time to myself. No one expecting anything of me, I had time to consider my choices and the time to realise they weren’t for me. I was considered and calm, there was no rushing. I made the right decisions despite thinking I was in the mood to buy!
On reflection, I know that this is a great lesson for us all. Before acting on impulse, take the time to measure your thoughts, take a pause and then, always and forever from now on, shop with a stylist. We know what we’re doing, even if you really do think you want it, it may not be what you need. xx
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