Thursday, 25 January 2018

I am 30 and I don't know where to shop

 A few days ago I stood in front of my wardrobe, stared blankly at the clothes looking back to me, and uttered those famous words:

‘I have NOTHING to wear.’

The difference between this time and every other occasion on which I’ve uttered that phrase (usually two glasses of white wine deep on a Saturday night, red in the face with every dress I own screwed up in a ball on the floor behind me) was that for once, it was true. I have just started a new job and I literally cannot seem to find a single thing to wear.

This seems to be occurring more and more - I just don’t know where to shop anymore. I cannot find a shop on the high street that caters for a working girl of 30 (and by working girl I mean a girl with a job, not a prostitute, which would actually be much simpler).

All the way through university and my early twenties, this problem never reared its ugly head, because I shopped primarily and almost exclusively in New Look and Primark. If I couldn’t find it in one of those shops, it could be reasonably assumed that I didn’t need it; excepting unusual occasions like summer balls, which would lead me to awkward moments in the Debenhams dressing room pulling yards of chiffon over my head. I liked a lot of denim, short dresses with cutouts and anything that would make my Dad say 'Has a tiger got at your trousers?' (Honestly - if you want to feel victimised, try wearing ripped boyfriend jeans to a family event).

That was fine, because this is also what everybody else was wearing; but at 30, I feel like I don’t always want to wear a top that is so low cut my boobs fall out every time I bend over. I feel as though I have grown out of these places; I know they aren’t the best quality, and I want something a little more long lasting, something more – dare I say it - mature. But tell me -  where can I find this?

I like shopping in places like Hobbs and Karen Millen, but I am aware that I enjoy it exactly as I would have at sixteen, if only the shop assistants had treated me as they do now, rather than hovering beside me watching with eagle eyes lest I leave sticky fingers prints on a silk blouse. Now, I realise somewhat bemusedly, these same assistants have been fooled by my age into believing I might actually buy something; they are complimentary, they make suggestions, they proffer shoes to try on with dresses in softly-lit, carpeted changing rooms.
I like to try these dresses on, to briefly pretend I am another person entirely – a woman who not only has somewhere to wear a linen, knee length tea dress in off white, but who is also prepared to pay £139 for the pleasure. I admire this woman, but I am equal parts afraid of her and her presumably suburban, alarmingly calm existence; and besides, my husband would murder me and I would only spill ketchup on it anyway. I put the dresses back with a lame excuse (so inexorably British I cannot possibly just hand them back and say ‘No, thank you,’ – I have to add something insane, like ‘I don’t have a hat to match,’ or ‘I just don’t have the shoulders for it’) and run to New Look to recover and feel young again.

Some girls look blank when I explain my conundrum, and tell me they buy all of their clothes in Topshop. If you are one of these girls I have two questions: firstly,  do you have a job? Secondly, if you do, what on earth do you wear to work? Surely you don’t all work in cool, designery-fashiony jobs where pin striped shorts  and jumpsuits are considered appropriate office wear? When I type 'work wear' into the Topshop search engine I think the people who run it must 'work' on another planet. Unless I lived at Glastonbury, I cannot conceive how I could possibly shop exclusively in Topshop – all the clothes, apart from being invariably tiny and making me feel like a gigantic elephant for being a size 12, have cut outs in peculiar places or a ruffle stuck where you don’t want one or a giant zip down the middle for no fathomable reason. How anybody could only shop there and not spend 99% of their lives looking completely mental is beyond me.

Zara is another one everyone talks about but I have never bought anything nice from Zara; it’s as if I have a gene missing or something, but none of the trousers will even go round me and everything else seems to be made out of cheesecloth. Also you get stuck with this stuff forever because returning something or even speaking to a member of staff in Zara is an ordeal; they clearly went to the same training school as doctor's secretaries and the people who work in the post office. Is there a secret? Do I need to whisper a code to the salespeople and then they’ll get all the good stuff out? Please, show me the way.

Shopping online is the obvious answer but I can’t work that out either, without spending a huge proportion of my time in the post office sending things back and roughly half my wages on next-day delivery costs (because I am not the organised-Hobbs-woman who realises she has three weddings this year and buys one investment piece that can be worn to all three; I am the disorganised flustered one who realises on Wednesday that she actually wore that blue dress to the engagement party so she can’t very well wear it to the wedding on Saturday; and oh god is Wednesday-Saturday ‘3-4 working days’ or not? Better pay next day delivery, it’s only £6.95, and I'll have to get it in three sizes to ensure it fits, which in the great scheme of things is…well, it's insane, actually, but it's too late to do anything about it now). 

And therein lies the rub; I am out of options. If you can enlighten me on how to dress in a way that is appropriate – not too old, not too young, not too ‘borrowed this from a tramp,’ then please do let me know. I’ll be in New Look. 

1 comment

  1. I've never found anything food in Zara either, I'm so glad you said it!
    New Look or H&M for the win! x


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