More than just shopping

So last week was a bitch. Apologies if that offends you but I seriously can’t think of a better word to describe it. I’m not sure if it was that Oscar was struggling with being off preschool. The week before had been half term and while he seemed to cope ok with that, this past Monday he had to miss it again, while he had his Speech and Language assessment at my favourite place, Royal Surrey County Hospital. So maybe it was that? Or maybe he was just sick of the sight of me and bored out of his mind. Either way the pair of us just seemed to spend the week miserable. By the time Friday rolled around and it was time for him to go back to preschool we both cheered as we arrived. One day I hope to enjoy my child’s school holidays, but for now I enjoyed it most when it was over.

So anyway last week left me feeling completely battered and in serious need of some time alone. It just so happens that next Saturday we have a weekend away in Devon to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of Ben’s maternal grandparents, and blow me if I didn’t need a new dress for the occasion. It’s been a while since I went actual clothes shopping. I mean yeah I got my new jeans recently and the occasional top, but it’s mainly been online or a ‘run in run out while the boys wait in the car’ job. And while it can achieve the same objectives, it just really isn’t the same.

So Saturday morning found me up and ready pretty early. I got the train to Guildford and made the decision on the way, to challenge myself. Since losing over 6 stone, clothes shopping has become much more fun that it ever was, but I do tend to gravitate to stores I know and feel comfortable in. And while I don’t think this is wholly unusual, I decided on Saturday that enough was enough! I was going to go in AND try things on in at least two shops I’d always been too scared to go in before. I mean it sounds rediculous. Who was ever afraid of a shop? I admit I was. But no more.

My first stop was a new Phase Eight store that has opened since my last trip to Guildford. I would never normally go somewhere so dressy, but it was a dress I was looking for, plus I’ve never been there before making it the first of my two ‘new stores’. While their stock was lovely, some of it was much more mother of the bride than I was looking for. I did try a black and white shift dress on, however even in the 18 it squashed my boobs flat – no mean feat in itself. I left, but not disheartened. I was thrilled I’d gone in and tried anything on at all. Sad I know!

The second shop was faithful old Monsoon. You may remember I got my dress for Ben’s Christmas party 2013 there, when I’d been losing weight for less than 6 months. I was thrilled that day to fit into a size 22 and wore that dress with such pride I was bursting (and not out of the dress!!) This time however I tried on a beautiful lace dress in a size 16! I was just as proud, but this time knew I had more possibilities to try. That while this was a beautiful frock, what if there were others out there I could fit in to? Other beautiful dresses still to try on. I left it behind the counter, just in case, and carried on.

The socks really set this Monsoon dress off dontcha think?

The socks really set this Monsoon dress off dontcha think?

Took me days to notice, but my sister in law pointed out how clear my collar bone is

Took me days to notice, but my sister in law pointed out how clear my collar bone is here!

And carry on I did. I checked out Jigsaw and Jack Wills, having been in neither shop before, although I didn’t try anything on as neither had anything that spoke to me. I then tried on three dresses in my beloved Joules, but none were right. I remained too scared to go into LK Bennet, but I think that had more to do with the price tag. What if I fell in love with something and just couldn’t afford it? I decided it was just best to move on!!

I’d been in Anthropologie several times before, in fact I discovered it in the States in 2008 and bought a beautiful leather handbag there, but I’d never bothered to look at their clothes. The biggest size they’d had in anything was a 16, so I’d never had reason to. Before now. Granted a lot of it was not my style. A bit on the Hipster side. And very expensive. I did find one dress in a print I adored, but luckily they didn’t have my size (I just couldn’t have justified the £148 price tag).

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Dress in Anthropologie. Not in my size luckily

But I did try on a couple of things. A grey midi dress with a slash neck and long sleeves (just not me at all) and this shirt. Oh my god this shirt. How gorgeous is this shirt? At home I’m Mama Bear and here I was depicted on a shirt with my Daddy bear and cub! I loved it. And had it fitted better on the bust I’d have paid the £68 they were asking for it. In fact the more I think about it the more I’m tempted to go back and make it fit 😉 !

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The cutest shirt. Damn you big boobs!

It seemed my bust was just against me on Saturday. Nearly everything I tried on was scuppered by my double Fs. I tried on a gorgeous spotty dress in Cath Kidston that, even in a 16, wouldn’t go anywhere near me. Clearly Ms Kidston cuts her clothes for those with a much smaller cup size. I didn’t leave too disheartened though. I did purchase 2.5 meters of the cutest fabric. I’ll have me a Cath Kidston dress even if I have to make it myself*

(*I’m not making it, my amazingly talented husband is. Is there anything this guy can’t turn his hand too. Website one day, summer dress the next!)

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Can you see me in this print?

So taking into account the boob situation I decided to give Pepperberry another whirl. You may remember last year I had no luck at all in the store where everything is cut to fit different chest sizes. Either nothing fitted or the styles were all wrong. But I’m all for second chances, so went in and grabbed a couple I liked the look of. I tried the first one on and that was that. I just knew this was the one. It made me giggle and smile and well you just know don’t you? It’s smart enough for a celebration meal, not not so smart that I look like I’m going to work, fancy enough to feel special, but not so fancy I look like I’m off to meet the queen and sassy enough to suit me, but not so sassy I look inappropriate! And the best bit was the size, a 16, but cut generously over the boobs. Means it can be fitted, but without restricting my lung capacity!! And I already have shoes and a bag to match, so all in all it’s perfect!

I promise I will post a picture of me wearing it after the event, but you know me, I like to keep a special dress for the special day. If you really can’t wait, here’s a picture of the dress on the Pepperberry site.

I spent the rest of the afternoon, well just happy, I guess. Relaxed and a little bit giddy at the same time. I bought a couple more bits in some old faithful shops. Jeans and sweater for Oscar in Next, some soap and shower gel in Lush. If you follow me on social media, you’ll now how much I lamented the come back of 90s fashion everywhere. Man, I wish I’d kept all my teenage wardrobe, I’d be making a killing on eBay right now. And if you ever wore a choker back in the day, guess what, they’re in again. Dig them out, you’ll be right on point! You shouldn’t laugh, but I couldn’t help myself! I went in Topshop for the first time in 19 years and funnily enough very little had changed! Did you know DUNGAREES were back in fashion, god love us!

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But then I realised I hadn’t technically achieved my goal for the day. I’d been in new shops and I’d tried on clothes in familiar shops for the first time, but I needed to bring the two together one more time to complete my challenge. Which is how I came to try on a fabulous coat in Mango. In fact I liked a lot of the stuff in Mango and despite it being a shop I have literally never been in, I definitely would again. Ahh well, next time.

(And did you know Mango had a plus size section on their website? No me neither! Wonder if it’s new. Typical, now I don’t need it!)

Not normally into text on t shirts, but I really liked this

Not normally into text on t shirts, but I really liked this

I may not have had a great week last week, and my weight loss motivation may have been stalling recently, but a day alone, fitting into clothes I’d never dreamt would fit, in stores I was too scared to go in, well it’s cheered me up more than any cake could do. And the feeling of achievement I came home with has seen me through this week too. I wish I could afford to do it more often! I just can’t wait to wear my beautiful Pepperberry dress on Saturday.

I’ll let you know how it goes down with la familia.

xxx

Mama and More

 

 

Til you drop (a dress size)!

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!

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By Appointment

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.

Selfie in the Gap changing rooms

Selfie in the Gap changing rooms

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!

Winner!

Winner!