A quick half hour time-grab found me in the changing rooms of M&S, trying on shorts (I was feeling kinda summery that day, clearly peaking too early).
The shorts fitted me, but the hateful rear and side view mirrors revealed I actually resemble Babapapa. And not in a good, cheery pastel pink kind of way.
It got me thinking about the whole shopping experience. Having just returned 90% of an online Boden delivery, all of it too small or too big, there I was trying on (and fitting into) shorts that were 2 sizes smaller than those returned to Boden. It’s all frankly, a bit of a faff. Even the resin bangle form Boden couldn’t fit onto my hand. And I don’t have freakishy large hands by the way, and at 5’9” I’d hope I’m in proportion. So who’s hands did they base it on? Barbie’s? (*disclaimer, I also have many other resin bangles. So I’m definitely in the average hand size category).
Anyhoo, I digress. So, returning online orders is a right pain and inconvenient – from filling in the necessary forms, to getting into a tangle with the parcel tape and returns labels, to trapsing to the Post Office, queueing for an lifetime, to send it all off. I’m embarrassed to admit that I have stuff in my wardrobe that has never been sent back just because I was a bit on the busy side, working and raising small people.
Then, on the other hand I hate actual real-life shopping. Changing rooms stress me beyond measure, from the physical claustrophobia, to my innate fear that a keen assistant will chirp a heart-stopping “How’s everything going in there?” which always makes me think they’re about to whoosh open the curtain with a flourish and I’ll be stuck midway in an outfit change, with a flustered puce sweaty face and my boobs/bum/stomach on full display for everyone in the entire shop to marvel at my cellulite and past-its-best tone.
Then, there’s the fear of getting stuck in a dress, especially when it’s over my head, claustrophobic breathing quickening, getting more and more clammy with terror that I’ll actually have to be cut out of it.
Rational thought seems to leave me in those moments, reducing me to a make-up disappeared, sweaty wreck on the verge of tears.
So; if I were to write a shopping manifesto, it would look something like this.
- We the shopkeepers promise to stop training shop assistants to ask “if everything’s alright in there?” Surely if it isn’t, someone will request help.
- We the makers of fashion and marketing people will start using a standard, uniform sizing template in the UK so we can spend less time trying stuff on (thereby avoiding altogether the hatefulness of the changing room), or returning stuff. I’m especially looking at you, Boden.
- Never, ever request to see someone in the clothes they are trying on, for a whole load of reasons. Those of us who are brave enough/confident enough to wander around to ensure loads of suggestions and compliments will do so without invitation.
- We the shopkeepers promise to destroy all rear view and side view mirrors. We accept that they are capable of ruining a perfectly good day.
And please, finally, if you see a woman’s pair of arms aloft above the cubicle for a longer period of time than is strictly necessary, refer to point 1 and don’t ask if everything is ok in there. Chances are they aren’t, and the fool involved is trying some deep breathing exercises to get on top of the whole situation.