Wednesday, March 28, 2007

nightmare on Chapel Street

Other than not being able to sit in the corner demurely and look pretty, the other feminine gene I seem to be missing is the joy of shopping. Sure I can spend hours in Books For Cooks, Artisan and some stationery stores but when it comes to apparel it is rarely a pleasure. The quest is on once more – trans-seasonal clothes, a new jumper, trousers, shoes. Should be easy living in this shopping metropolis?

Lets just say I have a ‘non standard’ body. I am not a beanpole for whom even a hesian sack would make me look like a goddess. Some bits are not in proportion to the others (narrow shoulders, generous breasts), no arse, short stature. I’ve given up on the idea of every finding a dress that accommodates such anomalies. Then we add in colour (the tyranny of ‘what’s in” this season rarely corresponds with anyone’s actual complexion), material (everything is synthetic) and the feline factor (cat hair just loves certain fabrics and anything black has to be removed the minute I walk into the house).

Then there is sizing. On any given day I can comfortably fit items in my wardrobe that range over 3 sizes, from flattering to depressing. Trying on an item means finding the same piece in the same colour, in at least 2 different sizes to drag into the fitting rooms.

After a few weeks at the coalface of Melbourne fashion here are some pet peeves about clothes shopping.

shop assistants: A good one is a marvel and drawcard to return to the shop over and over again. But the ones that get up nose are those who are – snooty (don’t acknowledge you are there, let alone offer assistance), lazy (stay chatting to their friend on the phone or are entrenched on a seat even when you are clearly gathering garments to try on), liars.

Before I take an assistant’s word on anything I tend to watch her (and yes its always a her) relate to another customer first. If a client is wearing something that looks obviously hideous on her, yet she gushes about how great it looks, I know to ignore every word she says.

change rooms: No mirror! This is to drag you back out into the shop to humiliate you, for other clients to snigger and for the assistant to try to make the sale. Too small. Not enough hooks. The pick of the week are 2 places that sold clothes (amongst other things) with no change room and you were to take your kit off out the back in the corridor piled with stock as members of staff wandered in and out.

sizes: I have a size 6 1/2 foot and no matter how much I’d like it to change, a 6 is too small and a 7 is too large – regardless of how much an assistant lies to the contrary. I’m at the point that I almost cry entering yet another wonderful shoe shop that fails to stock a single half sized item. Am considering having surgery to slice a centimetre off the top of my big toes so I can fit Campers.

Clothes that have been designed for an anorexic model then grudgingly upsized to comply with that of the average sized woman will look crap on them, unless the pattern has been altered to take into account their curves. I used to think a designer was arrogant if they didn’t make their clothes in anything larger than a 10. Now I get it.

underwear: Thumbs up to lingerie makers who realise the average bust size is on the rise (all that hormone filled chicken?) so now there is actually choice in a DD bra. I used to have to schlep across town to a specialist store to get one treasured, black, French beautiful bra – now they are abundant. On the downside – it’s getting impossible to find pretty, 100% cotton knickers. Haven’t they heard of thrush?

I dream of being saved by Trinny and Susannah. I’d swallow the humiliation if they could just find me some stylish, flattering clothes and shoes that fit!



Blogger GoAwayPlease said...

The key to Good dressing, is to know a neighbourhood dressmaker ...Who measures you and makes a pattern whic fits you properly, with 'ease' in the right places.

After that, it's just fabric and making up, ad infinitum.

Have you noticed mega-rich Jeanne Pratt always wears the same style?

oh and ... so you weren't pushing and shoving at Target to get those Stella McCartneys that are all on ebay now ?

10:58 am  
Blogger lucy tartan said...

You're braver than me. I have given up shopping at all in the kind of place where they don't put a mirror in the change room (and at my skinniest I still really loathed that.) I only just realised on readin gyour post how long it's been since I bought a garment not from the opshop or somewhere like Sussan.

7:45 pm  
Blogger sublime-ation said...

I'm with you on everything, in particular the dressing rooms. A mirror in a dressing room should be mandatory by law, or something.
As goawayplease suggested, a dressmaker is not a bad idea. A Fahionista friend of mine suggested this to me, when you find a dress you like that fits you well, you can take it to a dressmaker and get it made up in a variety of fabrics.
I don't think I would ever do this as I actually like shopping, despite its drawbacks. It's like a gallery of clothes for me, and I don't know what could be better, except if they also served food and drink.

1:14 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

I've definitely thought of finding a dressmaker. Any one know of a good, affordable one over my way?

PS: Lucy - buying new shoes counts :)

1:47 pm  
Blogger Boysenberry said...

I guess that is really one of the big upsides of being a fella - not having to deal with that kind of service too often. That said, when you have size 15 feet, life becomes much simpler. You buy what's available :| And being a touch over 6' 5", yep, specialty shops become a must.

6:34 am  
Blogger obtuse-a said...

wow, i hear ya, lady! those shops are evil vortices.

get lambswool shoe inserts and size 7 campers should be fine.

nothing ever suited my figure which sounds similar to yours, so i taught myself how to sew, modify, customise. And I stay away from anything shapeless like empire lines. Good foundations, as you know, and tights with lots of spandex in them work wonders. Anything with a nipped in or shaped waistline will make you look glam, 50s, buxom, vavavoom. dont be afraid to show some cleavage. A great hairstyle will be your best accessory.
work out when your figure was historically fashionable, and adapt the silhouette, but try to stick to the 20th century, and not be too literal.

1:54 pm  
Blogger JahTeh said...

I have three favourite dress patterns and since I don't usually put on weight across the shoulders,they still fit when I drop a few kilos. I love my bond's cottontails and can't imagine why anyone would pay big money for two bits of lace playing at being knickers.

5:00 pm  
Blogger Justine said...

Its really nice to see someone talk about this.

As far as solutions go (not that you asked), I'm with Crystal.

This might be way off, but you seem like the sort of person who might take a trip to Vietnam. For better or worse, as you would know, Vietnam was a French colony and as a result have a lot of really good tailors.
When I was there, I saw a tall Australian woman with huge boobs, belly and bottom getting fitted and she looked divine. She nearly cried with joy - she had exactly the sort of body that nothing off a 'wrack' would fit and flatter at the same time. But I swear to you, she looked AMAZING.

You figure, by the way, sounds lovely (even if its is difficult to fit). I would love to have small shoulders and a generous bust. But I'm just the ooposite! :) which is also perfectly OK...

7:38 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Justine thanks for your sweet comments and travel idea. Am very tempted to jump on a plane this moment to get tailored to perfection :)

Obtuse - I think I am most suited to corsets -squeeze in the waist and pop out the tits. Just perfect. I wore one a few years ago on New Years eve which got many positive commentsbut it's not quite right for wearing to work.

1:35 pm  
Blogger LisaPal said...

Ah, another thing we have in common. I despise shopping for many of the same reasons as you. And also because when I actually DO find something I like, it's way out of my price range.

I have no tailor, but I do have an impressive collection of funky fabrics just waiting for the good fairies to show up and whip them into the outfits of my heart's desire.


6:42 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Nice to see you again Lisa :)

10:20 am  

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