I know this is normally the time I write about mummy type things, but the most exciting thing happened to me this week, it had nothing to do with being a parent and I just can’t not write about it.
I don’t want to generalise, but guys you might want to switch off now, because hey, I’m gonna talk about shopping. And in particular shopping for clothes. Whether your opinion is “arrrggghh, shopping” or “mmmm, shopping” at some time or other we all have to buy new (whether they are new to us or not) clothes. For me, it’s been a while.
I’ve had a rocky relationship with clothes shopping for many years. I love it, I really do, but sometimes it just doesn’t love me back. Having been a plus size for most of my adult life, I have come to know which stores cater for me and which don’t. I know which town centres are worth me going to and which are not. Basingstoke stores carry plus sizes, Guildford stores do not. Partly due to my location and party due to lack of funds I have withdrawn further and further away from the high street. The little I have bought in the last few years has been online, either through eBay (a great source for buying plus size clothes cheaply), or from the websites of plus size retailers such as Evans, Simply Be and the Inspire range at New Look. I’ve become used to buying what fits, rather than what I necessarily like. It stopped bothering me that my clothes shopping was this restrictive.
I know I found myself in this situation because of the choices I made. Through the decisions I took. No one else gained and held on to that weight for me. Believe me this is not a post berating the lack of plus size retailers, or critising the high street for not catering for me. Sure I would have loved the only plus size retailer in Guildford (Evans) not to close the week I moved to the area but this is not about then. This is about now.
As some of you may know, I recently took stock and changed my lifestyle, attending Slimming World and losing just over 3 stone so far. Others of you may know that I just inherited a little money. Some of you may also know that my birthday’s coming up 😉 . So last Saturday all these things conspired together and I found myself with a fitting appointment at the Guildford branch of Rigby & Peller – corsetiere to the Queen. There are certain garments no lady can be without and mine have seriously needed replacing for some time. And if you really know me you know this is not good. Not good AT ALL!
I wont linger(e ;)) on my purchases, needless to say there were two of them (one was a birthday present from Ben) and that I am much more supported than I was. I blooming love them!
So anyway, all fired up by such a positive experience, I decided to try hitting the high street. Just to see, you know? I have no idea what size I am anymore. Maybe I could try on some “normal” sizes. Just to see.
I went to M&S. A good staple for basics I always find. But when I got there the weirdest thing happened. I couldn’t even begin to look at the clothes. I walked straight past the things I wanted to look at. I wandered around. I honestly didn’t know what to do. I ended up buying wrapping paper and cards! What the…..! I gave myself a talking to and went up stairs (up the stairs!) to look at the nightwear. I found myself going straight for the children’s section! Its been so long since I shopped in a store for myself, I honestly think I’d forgotten how to!
I came out of M&S with my paper, cards and a five pack of pants (same old style just one size smaller) and sat down on a bench. I was all a drift and felt slightly odd. I ate my Special K crisps in something of a daze. What had just happened? Was I really this bad at shopping? It was almost as if I wasn’t allowing myself to shop. I spent so long turning my face away from the disappointment of finding nothing to fit, that I was finding it really hard to turn it back. What could I do? I saw that I had two choices; slink away and feel confused and sorry for myself or straighten up, hold my head high and just get on with it.
So, I headed over to Gap, a store I haven’t shopped in since I was in my early 20s. I scanned the rails, and checked myself for feeling “in the way”. Then I picked up a lovely silver jumper. I took it to the fitting rooms and it fitted. I cried and cried (quietly to myself). I was so proud.
It didn’t really suit me, so I didn’t buy it. That felt even better – I had the choice not to buy it just because it fitted. I had options.
I felt a door had opened and I spent the rest of the day running round this new world. The changing room attendant in Next commented on the amount of stuff I had to try on. I just smiled. I didn’t stop smiling. I didn’t buy heaps, a couple of long sleeve t-shirts in Next and one in Gap, some socks, some make up, you know “normal” stuff. I smiled at everyone that day.
It was getting late and I was just about to head to the station, when I saw Monsoon over the road. I needed a dress for Ben’s Christmas Party and had seen some lovely ones on the Monsoon website. Again, not a shop I’ve considered in years. I only went in to see if they had this one frock, so I could look at it up close. They did and buoyed by the days successes I took it into the fitting rooms. I couldn’t quite do it up all the way on my own and didn’t want to force the zip in case I bust it. How embarrassing would that be?! An assistant came in to help me and I heard the zip slide smoothly up. It wasn’t tight in the slightest. I looked back at myself in the mirror. The dress had a real Mad Men vibe. I just knew Nanna would be thrilled to see me looking so elegant so I decided there and then to use her money wisely and to get it. I didn’t say anything, just smiled. As the assistant upzipped me she said “Well done”. Weirdest thing to say I know, but she was totally on the money. I left feeling like I’d won.
I’ve still got far to go but I feel like a really significant corner has been turned. in my mind as well as physically. Maybe clothes shopping and I might be getting on a little better from now on?
I can’t wait to find out!