Tag Archives: shopping

The meaning of life

13 Jul

As an adult i’ve often struggled with what life is really about. Understanding what my priorities should be.  What’s important.

But i can tell you one thing it’s not. Shoes.

I remember being at a friend’s house once. I knew she liked her clothes. Fancy stuff. But i was still pretty stunned when she proceeded to get her collection of shoes out of the wardrobe to show me. Individually wrapped in velvet cloth in their original boxes. Unworn.  She stroked them like a soft kitten. Audibly purred.

Don’t get me wrong, i like shoes. I get a warm fuzzy feeling when i buy a nice new pair. I could go as far to say that i sometimes covet them. But this was different. Even more than an obsession even. It was like she was trying to find herself through shoes.

And it made me feel sad.

I was reading a magazine the other day. I’d like to point out that i rarely buy magazines these days, and when i do i am always disappointed. Ok, Hello – once crack cocaine , now total yawn material. Cosmo, Marie Claire – too much fashion and flounce. I need the equivalent of the Saturday Guardian Magazine in glossy.

Anyway, i digress. I was reading an interview with some fashion people in August’s edition of Marie Claire (if you care about this sort of thing), and all i could think was. “God, could you get any more v-a-c-u-o-u-s?”

Here follows an edited highlight (or lowlight) of a feature entitled “On my wish list”.  The fact it’s even called “on my wish list” makes me cringe and want to put two fingers down my throat. “You, like, take it all so seriously you spend time writing a clothing wish list each season?” Sorry to go all Twitter on you but #get a life.

Anyway, on we go with the highlights:

“I get my high-street hit at…COS. You may see rails and rails of jersey and wool, but then you find something really unexpected.” (Alex Styliandis) What, Alex, like polyester/rayon mix?  (and surely that’s not your real name?)

“My desert island shoe is…the YSL riding boots. I think every girl should be buying tan and brown shoes and bags.” (Bridget Cosgrave) Really Bridget, would that be before or after i’ve peeled the playdoh off the bottom of my sneakers and pampers wiped the snot from my (dangerously last season) shoulder pads?

“My lust-have bag is…the coveted PS1 satchel from Proenza Schouler…It’s ignited my passion for a hands-free lifestyle.” (Alex Styliandis) Umm, hmm, how so Alex? Does it double up as a bad ass machete to slice your MF hands off with?

Am i going a little bit over the top with this? It’s fashion after all, right? All light-hearted and fun….

For me it’s just crossed that line. Yes, dressing up is fun. Yes, i can dribble over a nice dress or killer heels with the best of them. But it usually knows its place in the pecking order. I just start to feel uncomfortable when people take it this seriously.

We live in such a capitalist society that we’re brought up with an over-inflated view of material possessions. It’s somehow ingrained. And i’m as guilty as the next person. But when we start talking about a handbag or a pair of shoes as if they’re our raison d’etre, the source of all our excitement, our sexual partner, then surely it’s time to reassess our priorities?

Friday 101 (shoe labels)

14 May

Once, when i was an impressionable, emotionally fragile teen a girl pulled me up for still having the labels on the underside of my shoes. I was about to go out clubbing with my sister’s friends. Grown ups. I was mortified. I felt like a pretender. A child.

Ever since then i am uncomprimising in my removal of shoe labels.

There is actually nothing more satisfying than removing a label perfectly from a shiny surface. Nudging back a corner, taking it between first finger and thumb and slowly, methodically peeling the white paper back smoothly and cleanly.

Problem is. Labels rarely come off like this. And certainly never shoe labels.

The sticky paper pulls back tantilisingly, before tearing, making it impossible to find a new corner to peel.

I’ve never really understood why labels have to be on the underside of shoes in the first place. What’s wrong with the inside?

Sometimes i let new shoes sit in my shoe box for weeks before wearing them, simply because i haven’t had the time necessary to carry out the complicated,
shoe equivalent of organ removal.

Regardless, I would never be seen dead with the labels still intact.

My sister’s friend was right to pull me up you see.

There is nothing more tacky. Nothing that looks as careless, trashy and cheap as walking along in brand new shoes with with a white label bouncing up to greet the person behind you as you clip clop along.

Perhaps it wouldn’t matter so much if it was Jimmy Choo or Prada peeping up to wave hello.

Unfortunately for most of us it is more likely to be Dorothy Perkins or New Look.

I’m all for cheap high st rip offs, but promoting yourself as a New look gal by your shoes. So not a good look.

So please girls. Be vigilant.

Friday 101: Part 4 (changing rooms)

7 May

Addendum: First past the post politics burnt on the bonfire first, followed by today’s 101….

The thing i would like to toss on today’s metaphorical bonfire (with a generous lashing of gasolene)?

Changing rooms in clothes shops.

My top 3 worst things about these cubicles of horror:

a) curtains that are way too small
b) three-way mirrors
c) total inconsistency in what i look like

So let’s take them in turn as all warrant a severe dressing down (ha ha, did you see what i did there?!)

a) I call them curtains but they could more usefully be described as a midget’s hand towel. Certainly, the only place they could possibly serve as window dressing would be in a child’s dolls house.

It usually takes me at least 10 minutes to work out whether the right or left opening is best sacrificed to peeping toms and / or whether i can hold the thing shut with one hand while simultaneously standing on one leg and hopping about like an unbalanced pogo sticker trying to get one trouser leg on.

b) I know women are vain, but women are also daydreamers, fantasists, especially when it comes to their own body image. Why an earth do we need 3 mirrors, all placed at different angles so that we can see our bodies in all their 360 degrees of glory?

When did we say we wanted to see our bottoms straight on? Our wobbly arms from the full benefit of front, side AND rear view?

Why can’t you leave us with the one remaining fantasy we cling to that our rear view is actually okay? That in motion it doesn’t really wobble as much as it feels like it does?

And the worst thing about it is that they’re so carefully positioned that you can usually see the reflection of the reflection of the reflection of your bottom in each mirror. Why in god’s name would i choose to have my fat arse tesselated like a screensaver in tile mode?

c) If mirror=reflection, why do i look different in every mirror i see myself in? The real problem here is that i always seem to visit the shops with the thinny mirrors first. I get lulled into a false sense of security. Then each shop after this seems to offer a progressively fatter image of me.

My typical shopping trip goes something like this.

Mirror no.1) ” Wow, I actually look okay in this. Maybe i haven’t put on as much weight as i thought”

Mirror no. 2) “hmmm, that’s not so good, ok maybe this is just an unflattering mirror”

Mirror no. 3) Jesus Christ, ive really let myself go,…No, not the rear view, please not the rear (exit sharpish and head straight to Starbucks to console myself with a quadruple chocolate muffin).

Still, I expect it could be worse.

I remember the days when all changing rooms were communal. You had to put up with all those skinnies feigning disgust “Oh Juliette, i just look sooooo fat in this”.

I was young then, and i didn’t like it.

Thank goodness privacy won over, even if i do have to make do with a piece of kitchen towel to hide my modesty.

Flash forward

5 Apr

I occassionally have flashforward moments. I don’t mean of the losing consciousness variety aka the Channel 5 series featuring Joseph Fiennes. I mean when you suddenly realise that life isn’t always going to be like this.

I had one the other day when I was queuing in Sainsburys. Having shouted, warned, bribed my way round the shop, i was at the final hurdle and paying. I only had +50% extra shopping i hadn’t intended to get (believe me that’s good) including two chocolate caramel bunny things intended to lure them back to the car without further incident. All was good.

Suddenly i realised i had forgotten the one thing i’d come for in the first place. Aaaargh!

I thought about leaving the boys in the trolley, strapped in of course. Would anyone notice? I’d only be quick. …..would i get tutted at, bad mouthed? I looked around at my fellow customers trying to see if anyone looked suspicious. Would my children be stolen?

And then, the flashfoward moment.

One day i won’t have this problem. One day i’ll be able to say “pls can you go and get mummy some milk darling”. And off he’ll trot. Okay maybe trotting is a bit opimistic and i’m sure there’ll still be a bribe involved here, perhaps the latest Emo album, or a can of cider. But the point is that i won’t be totally stuffed.

You get so bogged down in the here and now, the moments of drama, that you forget things won’t always be like this.

One day you might not be quite so exhausted. One day every moment of every day won’t involve negotiation. Whatever decision you make won’t always be the wrong one despite the fact it was what they wanted yesterday.

Flash forward moments are these moments of clarity, a rainbow in a dark storm, a sigh of relief where you imagine a day when things are simpler. A day when they’re older, more independent. Christ a day when they’ll wipe their own bum.

Now, don’t get me wrong, i’m certainly under no illusion that other ages won’t bring their fair share of challenges. The teenage years are going to be fun for sure. And i did wonder last night when i was giving the eldest the lame bribe that the easter bunny only visited boys when they were asleep, just what i will do when he doesn’t fall for it anymore.

But surely it becomes a little less – well – relentless? You get to go from A to B with relative simplicity. You get to do something each day that doesn’t involve a tantrum, a drama of some kind?

My current flashforwards:

  • i have to wake the kids up in the morning because they’ve slept in again
  • i don’t have to carry two children down the stairs because one can’t walk, and the other is threatening the world’s worst tantrum if i don’t.
  • i don’t find they’ve taken their shoes off when we’re running late for school AGAIN. (or in my case finding they’ve taken all their clothes off and are running around shouting N-U-D-E-N!).
  • i don’t have to bribe and coax them down from the parcel shelf by threatening that maybe i’ll just take the other one to granny’s later.
  • having arrived back in the car, the kids unstrap their own seat belts, open their own car doors, close them nicely and walk quickly and quietly into the house.
  • i leave them at home while i quickly pop to the shops to buy a bottle of wine. It’s 7pm, i’ve had a rough day and just realised there is no booze.

Maybe i AM burying my head in the sand a bit. But isn’t that how you get through the worst moments? Like a bad recession, if you can just get through, things will be easier the other side?

I certainly know other people used this tactic on me when i first had a baby. “Oh, things get easier at 6 weeks.” and then when they were 6 weeks it changed to “Oh, things will be a breeze at 6 months”. Soon you suspect there’s a bit of carrot dangling going on.

So, maybe i’m dangling my own carrot here. Even still, a girl’s allowed to dream isn’t she?