It all starts off so promisingly. I was child-free, spare hands and everything, perusing a shop rammed with fashion. I scan the space like I’m Gok Wan or Fern Cotton searching for the latest cutting-edge/tomorrow/forward thinking/collaborative/trend-setting pieces. As if I’m going to cleverly put them together, mixing-it-up, classic, edgy and faux-vintage spun with aplomb and worn like a goddess. As opposed to the mentalist I caught sight of in the mirror who was clacking through the rails looking for her size and a version not covered in foundation; with a slight sweat on. I have an occasion, I have funds; limited yes, but actual sterling for spending. How hard can it be? I know my body; it’s limitations, the bits I’d rather disguise then the part’s I’m planning to showcase (ankles; well sculptured and completely devoid of cellulite). It’s a trendy shop (most un-fashion-forward phrase you’ll ever hear…) and I’m drawn in by the ‘club tunes’ (who am I?), the sparkles, colours and patterns and I haven’t even reached the accessories! I’m selecting, de-selecting, my brain in overdrive as it draws up versions of myself wearing whatever’s in my hand then encouraging me to ‘pop it back love, no amount of constructive underwear is going to help you carry that off’! I’m not discouraged though; barely visible under the weight of my choices, I’m wrestling jackets over dresses, kimono’s over camisole’s safe in the knowledge I’m also getting a free work-out for my bingo wings!
At the accessories; I’m using my good eye, whipping down necklaces, chokers and earrings. Holding them up to the outfit, to me, to the outfit, to me…like a fashion Chuckle Brother who’s missing his mate. Finally knowing I can carry no more I stumble towards the Changing Room where the young assistant is waiting to give me a dose of reality. Standing before me wearing the same shiny jeans I’m about to shoe-horn myself into but in a smaller size, she might be smiling broadly but her judgement is evident as she wrinkles her perfect little nose and raises her HD brows at pretty much all of my choices. “You alright?” she ventures; “never better” is my retort…well other than when I was ten years younger, with less responsibility, more money and a faith in life that I was infallible, sexy and had a bright future ahead of me…but I leave that bit out. Sensing my arms are fucked she carries my outfits to the changing room and then gives me wide-berth as I enter.
What the hell? Standing in front of the mirror I’m suddenly horrified. What the fuck is wrong with the lighting in this place? I have cellulite on my chin; I haven’t even taken my bloody clothes off yet. And the cubicle is too small; I can barely move in here and I’m a short-ass who weighs less than 9 stone. Like a scene from a disaster movie I feel like the walls are closing in on me and I’m to be buried alive under polyester. “Is everything okay?” what the fuck? Can she see through walls! “Ahem, yes thanks” I respond after mouthing ‘fuck you small child’ at the door. Right I can do this, how hard can it be I’ve simply got to try on some bloody clothes and decide if they look nice or not?! So I strip off down to my pants and kick everything into the corner along with several balls of fluff and my handbag. Oh Dear God. I look like Mary Berry; or at least one of her pavlova’s. Surely these changing areas are not condusive to sales? I’m under a microscope, every pore, freckle, spot and vein super-highlighted, like a Blue Ray version of my body I’m now debating buying a cat for I will surely end up dying alone. Luckily my positive side kicks in reassuring me that some fake-tan is all that’s needed and cat’s make lovely companions.
I decide to pop the top on; cover at least one half, there’s no good that come of me standing looking at both. Okay; it fits and the colour is good, I’m looking good! Now for the shiny trousers…yeah, these reach my knees before I decide the effort of actually getting them on is too great. Ten minutes later I’ve managed to extricate myself from them. Didn’t anticipate sitting on the floor; contorting my body into positions a yogi would be proud of to achieve this but no matter; onwards and upwards. Next the dress; not bad! Oh it’s got a zip; is it necessary to do it up? It’s under my armpits; shit they need shaving, shit it’s stuck, in my body HAIR… Ten minutes later I’m back in my pants though now look like Mary Berry after a psychotic episode involving a balloon; who knew my ‘fine’ hair could reach such epic proportions? Fuck it; I’m getting dressed. Back in my clothes I lick my hair into submission and gather up a pile of foundation-covered clothes I’d rather eat than put back on the hangers. With the sassy, young assistant otherwise engaged helping some hipster choose between socks with squirrels or pugs on I dump the lot in a pile and carefully replace the plastic tag in the appropriate place.
Next stop Starbucks; there’s nothing like a flat white with fruit toast to erase an unfortunate event and restore order. Also the mirror in the toilets there shave ten years off me….speaking of ‘shaving’…