Top Bags

I hadn’t realised until yesterday the actual extent to which I am crap at shopping.

In my own defence, I don’t get any practice really. My idea of shopping is to know what you want, go to the place that sells it, buy it and leave as fast as possible.

This works fine with everything except clothes. With clothes, I usually go to a shop, walk around and then leave. I find it impossible to look at that garishly patterned garment draped limply on a hanger and visualise how it could possibly look anything other than horrible.

Yesterday I went shopping with two pals, looking for a posh dress. It quickly became obvious that pal #1, M was a different woman when she’s on a mission. She’s normally has a quiet intelligent elegance which I would find impossible to pull off for the three good reasons that I’m none of those things. Taking the lead role in the expedition yesterday, she proved ruthless, efficient, had an unfailing eye for what might suit and what might not and made correct decisions with speed.

When a shop assistant approached her and said “Can I help you?” she answered “Yes,” pulled out two dresses and told her precisely what she wanted. “Is this available in another colourway – and have you got this dress in a 12?”

“Colourway.” I was gobsmacked. This woman reads fashion magazines, I thought. When anyone asks me if they can help I automatically smile with the briefest of eye contact, mumble “oh no thanks, just looking” and escape at the earliest opportunity.

Pal no#2 is the most experienced shopper I know with impeccable taste when it comes to her own stuff and jewellery, of which she has much. She is also a terrible piss-taker so when she says “Seriously, I would not lie to you, that does look fab” you have to examine her eyes carefully in case there is a twinkle in them somewhere.

I didn’t end up with a dress, although a clingy knee-length number looked ok, especially with the amazing heels they gave me to complete the look (not that I need extra height at 5′ 7” but who cares?)

“What about from the back?”

“Yes you look great. A different woman.”

I craned my neck around. The clinginess had indeed accentuated my waist but somehow made my ass look bigger.

A friend asked what colour it was. I’m not even experienced enough to be able to describe it..

“Er…gunmetal.” Although it was a kind of grey with a kind of purple cast in it.

“Like a battleship?”

“Well, yes” (mental picture of everyone in church watching big-assed battleship teeter uncertainly up the aisle) but purpler.”

“You going to wear a swastika with it?” There’s really no point in discussing fashion items with someone obsessed with Nazis.

Anyway, I thanked my pals and said, quite genuinely, that after looking around nine or ten clothes shops, including wedding shops, I am at least clear about what I don’t like.

Some of the wedding shops were a hoot. One had a model just inside the door clad in an eye-popping cerise dress with layers of gauzy.. oh I dont know, polyester, I expect… with big fabric black flowers and sparkly faux-diamond clustered centres. Very My Big Fat Gypsy wedding.

The hats, of course, had to be tried on. I like broad brims meself, set at a jaunty angle.  The kind of brim which obscures the few of the people in the two pews behind you.  My pals decided I would be best wearing a medium sized dinner plate made of stiff netty stuff dressed with colour-matched twisty feathers from exotic birds which had probably put up a fight, but in the end, had been electrocuted.

(Actually I did see a shift top hanging up in one shop designer hand-me-downs shop which was covered in real brown feathers including a bit of peacock or maybe mallard. Creepy or what?  Like wearing taxidermy.  Entirely unsuitable for anyone’s purposes except perhaps birdwatching.  You could sit happily in a hedge making pheasant noises and not be seen.)

I exclaimed out loud when I read the price tag on one outfit, thoughtfully packed in cellophane so you couldn’t tell quite what it was. Actually it was a boxy jacket in palest blue with a matching long voluminous dress.

“God. That’s £800!!”

“Oh the handbag and the shoes are included in the price,” said the assistant.

“I’d want a holiday in Italy thrown in for that price.”

I didn’t actually say that bit out loud.

Refreshed by large glasses of Muscadet and fish pie for lunch, pal #2 and I got a bit flippant about the whole shopping thing.  When she pointed out a shop over the road emblazoned “Top Bags” I thought we should have our photographs taken beneath the sign as a memento of the day.

Being stone-cold sober, M didn’t think that was amusing and shepherding us towards the shop with the dress that didn’t quite fit the bill for a second try-on.  It still didn’t look “wow.”  Well, it did, but in a kind of “wow, she looks like she’s out on the pull” type way.  It was still too clingy – tighter if anything, after that fish pie.

Of course, they banned me from going in a bike shop opposite one of the wedding shops. So unfair, especially as there was a spiffy racing bike in the window of by a manufacturer I’d never heard of. I just went back there today to see if it was open. It wasn’t.


About janh1

Part-time hedonist.
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14 Responses to Top Bags

  1. Darrel Kirby says:

    A woman who doesn’t like shopping? Your husband is clearly a lucky man!

  2. I think weddings are still going from strength to strength in the obscene amounts of money spent stakes – and probably will be exacerbated by My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding giving some people *ideas*.

    I hope you find your perfect outfit, including hat, handbag and shoes 😀

  3. janh1 says:

    I dunno. I would quite like it simple. They can run away and marry on a beach as far as I’m concerned.

    Thanks Sophie. Almost fell over in one shop yesterday finding a £900 price tag on one dress and little jacket (lots of them have little tiny shrug jackets) which I wouldn’t have touched with a barge pole. Did try on one promising dress though but not totally sure… indecision rules 🙂

  4. Myster Ron says:

    Perhaps Oxford Bags? Plenty of room for those wikid dance moves later Ron.

  5. janh1 says:

    You make me laugh Ron. You do Ron, Ron, you do Ron Ron. 🙂

    Oh goodness Oxford Bags would never do. I have this week trod on the thickest finest carpet in the poshest bridal shops where they inspect you before they let you in to look at the clothes, then you find you don’t get much change out of £1000 for an outfit that makes you look like a trifle.

    I’ve been looking for a week and I’ve had enough already. They should run away and get married on a beach at sunset with a steel band playing a soft calypso.

  6. janh1 says:

    ps – thanks for the link. Last time I was there, Rolyboy was Reserve Best in Show at SouthWestern Gundogs. Think I preferred that general vibe.l

    That bride looks as though she’s about to lob that ball in her hand. Thought it was the groom’s job to bowl the maiden over?

  7. Myster Ron says:

    And there wuz me thinking that you were a trend setter, not a fashion spaniel. It is within your power to learn shopping…and find your dream dress. Do people get married by moonlight?

  8. janh1 says:

    Wot’s that Nigel Havers going on about… “unconscious attractiveness”? I have that already. In fact I’ve been told I’m at my most attractive when unconscious… just before the drooling starts.

  9. Pseu says:

    You is shoppin’ in de wrong plazes, madam. 900 squid? Pull de udder one.

    (I have discovered Debenhams shopping service. It’s free. YOu book a slot and tell the girl your budget and what you like and she’s all yours to find it for you among the totally alarming choice. Like you, I don’t really like shopping. )

  10. jan says:

    Hi Pseu. Yes it’s an outrage. I could get a fab new road bike for that.

    Oooh a personal shopper! Nice one. I did all right today. Bought two summer tops, both of which actually look ok. I thought I lost my shopping mojo but maybe it’s just lying dormant.

  11. IsobelandCat says:

    A waist?
    You have a waist?
    I am seriously jealous now.
    And donkeys are among my favourite animals too.

  12. janh1 says:

    I do have a waist. But it doesn’t count for much when shop women tell me dresses look great from the back. Perhaps I should stand the wrong way round and look over my shoulder for all future photos. ;-(

  13. IsobelandCat says:

    I used to have a waistline. And a jawline. They remain happy memories.

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