Gosh but it has been such a long time since I last wrote, I feel like I haven’t really had much to say.  Actually, that isn’t true, I always have something to say.  I mean I am always the one who has ten conflicting theories about everything.  What happened was I had a deep crisis of confidence and suddenly thought nothing I had to say was interesting enough.  And now?  What has changed?  Well nothing apart from the fact that I have decided that I am not that bothered.  If you are reading, thanks. And if it is really boring, stop reading and go and find one of those truly woke blogs that remind you daily that you are a heinous underachiever who is single-handedly responsible for destroying the world we live in – and you can fix it – one goji berry at a time.  

Continuing in the slightly frivolous but hopefully amusing theme, here is something that happened to me a while ago.

A friend of mine, M’s firm organised an event at a designer store in Central London.  She invited me along.  I asked D if she wanted to join me and off we went. I went to support my friend and because D thought it would be fun.  I have no interest in high end fashion whatsoever.  I really believe that it is the modern embodiment of the Emperor’s new clothes, and am constantly amazed at the things we will wear in the name of fashion. (Not a popular opinion – I am aware, thanks)

So we are near Green Park Tube in those little roads that seem to be made up entirely of residences with doormen in fancy dress and art galleries.  The Art Galleries house important ‘pieces’ and all look as if they are large rooms with one item on display within them.  And then there is the designer store.  It is all understated elegance, cashmere, silk, soft supple leather and massive price tags.

The format of the evening was a Q&A with the designer herself, followed by the opportunity to spend money.  She was launching a lifestyle brand.  The store was set out over 2 floors and boasted a beautiful staircase.  This was a while ago now, but I do remember that staircase.  Typically, there were designer clothes and handbags everywhere and I noticed the décor and a lovely kitchen.

So after the (massively awkward) Q&A session during which the guy asking the questions came down with an acute case of foot-in-mouth-disease, we were told to have a look around.  Throughout the ‘interview’ the designer was talking about how inclusive her exclusive designs were.  She was careful to mention that all sizes were catered for, all price ranges etc etc.

Anyway, we stood around and listened and then it was time to ‘shop’.  We wandered around, and there were some beautiful clothes, and lovely items.  At some point, D saw this blue furry floor length opera coat, and wanted to try it on.  Designer lady materialised from nowhere and was stroking D as if they had known each other for years.

“Doesn’t this feel amazing?” she asked D.

“Mmm yes,” said D happily twirling and stroking her hands up and down her sides.

“It’s [insert animal here].”

D stopped stroking immediately.

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Designer lady lingered.  D realised that she wasn’t going to leave as long as there was a chance someone might buy the floor length navy blue real! fur coat.

D took it off and gave it to me to hang up while she put on her (no animals died in the making of it) coat.

Designer moped off.

“Hey D,” I said, looking at the label in the coat. “Guess how much this coat costs?”

“I don’t know, a few grand?”

“Bit more than a few…”

“5?”

“Higher”

“7.5?”

“More”

“10?!?!”

Ladies and gentlemen, the coat cost £20,000.  My car – brand new – was not that expensive.

We immediately got the giggles about how nonchalantly D had swished around in the coat before she realised it was real fur and silly money expensive.  Just then my friend came over to chat to us.

“What have you been doing?”

“We have been trying on a down payment on a flat!” we replied.  I mentioned that there was a coat that I really liked.

“You should try it on!” said my friend.

“No, it’s ok, it is massively expensive and they only have it in a size 8, 10 or 12.”

I have mentioned this before, I am a size 22.  That is a big leap.  Anyway, I thought nothing more of it until the sales assistant came up to me and said:

“I hear you like this coat!  Let me see if we have it in a bigger size.”

I immediately wanted to find my friend and place my hands lovingly around her neck and squeeze.  Hard.

Anyway, the woman went off and came back with a size 14.

“Don’t worry she said, it comes up really big.”

For those of you who are not, or never have been plus size, I will explain.

‘It comes up really big’ is every big girl’s nightmare.  First of all, it always accompanies someone holding an item of clothing which is not in your size.  And usually we are only talking about 1 or 2 sizes down.  But in this case, we were talking 4 sizes too small.  But also associated with this statement is a lot of subtext: Come on girl.  It’s fucking huge.  You must fit in here. My entire family fits in here and we could have friends over for dinner.  You should be able to get your (admittedly enormous) arse into this.

And then something inexplicable happened.  Instead of me resorting to my tried and tested fat girl comedy routine, along the lines of:

“Oh good you found a 14.  Let’s sew it to the 10 and maybe we can have ourselves a party”

I came over all embarrassed (which I was) and tongue-tied (WTF) and let the woman bully me out of my (size 22) coat and into the size 14 coat.

So here is the scenario.

She has me put my arms in the coat.  And then tries to lift the coat onto my shoulders.

All that happens is that the coat is now wedged half way up my arms and I am standing there in bloody Stuckupistan trapped in a coat with my arms behind me and my face rapidly turning redder and redder.  A small crowd is forming.

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The woman kept pushing.  I genuinely don’t know what she was trying to achieve.  I started trying to speak.

“I don’t think…. I mean maybe we should try and…. Can you please take it off?”

My sister, Bless Her, realised immediately that things were beginning to stray into meltdown territory.

“It doesn’t fit,” she said quietly to the sales lady, “Let’s just forget it.”

“I don’t understand” said the lady loudly,” they come up really big.” She was beginning to sweat with the effort of trying to bend my body to the coat’s will, “You could go online and order the 16, I’ll give you the link.” The 16 I should have pointed our is still 3 sizes away from nirvana.

At this point she decided to release me from the coat.

But here’s the thing.  She had pushed the coat so far up my arms, and so tightly that the coat didn’t want to leave me.  I had now braced myself against the attack and had unwittingly adopted the running man pose like the statue in Athens.

runningmanSo there I was struggling to get out of a coat while the lady pulled ineffectually at the sleeves and I tried turning my wrists this way and that. I could hear the Bagpuss mice:  heave… heave… I was bloody stuck in that coat for what seemed like 20 minutes but was probably only two or three.

Finally, one big heave and I stumbled forward while the lady stumbled backwards coat in hand.

I was mortified,  embarrassed, ashamed, angry and red-faced. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

And the lady carried on.  “We go up to all sizes here, but this coat only goes up to a size 16 because it comes up so big…. Hang on a minute” – she disappeared and came back with an iPad. “Look I can order it for you now in a size 16, and it will be at your house in two days.  You get a 10% discount this evening.”

By this point any passing interest or positive feeling I had for the coat was dead and buried.

“Thanks, but no, I think I will try and find something that is actually in my size, but thanks.” I said hurrying out of the door, D in tow.

So.  There you have it.  High End Fashion 1 – Maria 0

A typical, but not entirely unexpected outcome given how I have been performing in the High Fashion leagues for the last 45 seasons…

Lessons learned:

  • Assert yourself. It is ok to say no to stuff.
  • Never tell M anything.
  • It comes up really big doesn’t mean that it actually is bigger.  It just means that you will feel even more embarrassed when the person trying to convince you to try it on is amazed it doesn’t fit you.
  • A juicy burger and a laugh with your sister makes you feel instantly better and helps you see the funny side.

 

 

 

 

 

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