Can anything put more terror into the average woman’s heart than the need to buy new jeans? I hate loathe and detest buying jeans – or any trousers for that matter – there are too many types – a plethora of types, styles, fits and colours.
I had been aware for some time that the seat of my current – well fitting, nicely coloured – pair was thinning and that I would need to do the dreaded jeans shop soon. Of course when I was out the other day there was a great rip and I had to make sure I kept my legs crossed on the tube and to waddle back to the flat so as to preserve my modesty, and not frighten anyone on the way home.
The only thing worse than needing to buy new jeans, is REALLY needing to buy new jeans and it being a damp Saturday afternoon. It could have been worse, I could have been leaving town tomorrow to go to a corner of the planet where there are no jeans and REALLY REALLY needed a pair.
I am tallish, a size 12 – 14, fairly curvey – I go in and I go out. My calves are probably the larger size of average and I know that I need to shop around a little to find high boots to fit me, so skinny jeans are a no no. I’d like to lose a few pounds, but all in all I am quite happy and content in my skin.
But despite my positive body image, jeans shopping makes me feel elephantine, miserable and totally unattractive. I have a nightmarish memory of jeans shopping as a slim teen, when I tried several pairs on that would not even go over my calves, then getting stuck, leaving me staggering around the changing room in a vaguely slap stick manner.
Usually after trying several pairs that cling to some bits and gape over others I feel panicked, trapped and want to escape the changing room, run to the nearest MacDonald’s and stuff as many calories down my neck as I possible can to comfort myself. Frankly, if others feel the same there is no wonder there is a pending obesity crisis in this country. Clothes shopping, unless you have a large amount of money is deeply depressing. I feel there is so much stuff for sale and really nothing to buy.
My last jeans came from Gap, bought last summer in Cheltenham. I tried about 30 pairs on. The shop assistant was charming, helpful, knew the stock backwards and was actually interested in helping me find a pair that would make me feel a million dollars, happy and confident. It took a long time, but I came out with the perfect jeans, and a sense of relief that maybe, as they were a Gap classic style, I had cracked it – and just maybe the next time would be easier?
NO. SUCH. LUCK.
Gap. Saturday afternoon, Kensington High Street. Bright lights and loud music bludgeoned my senses. I found the style and size, but in only one colour, a deep dark denim that is not to my taste. I rummaged. Not a sales assistant in sight. I stood, rummaged some more, still no offer of help. I took the jeans to the changing room and asked if they came in a slightly lighter shade? The staff member (I hesitate to say assistant) sighed, rolled her eyes, chewed her gum and shuffled to the shelf, barely bothering to lift her feet from the floor. “Nah” she said, “only the dark blue”. I asked if they would be getting more in. “Nah” she said again, handed me a skinny pair “these are lighter, get them?”
You really only have to look at me to know that skinny jeans will not fit so I declined and left.
I think, at not quite 40, I am becoming a grumpy old woman. I find having my senses battered by bright lights, loud music, lots of people and heaps of stuff deeply uncomfortable. I object to feeling I am in the wrong by asking someone to do their job. I increasingly believe that the shops think they are doing me the favour by letting me shop there rather than the other way round.
So shops please consider
- Turning the music down, or off at least one day a week. I do not want a loud beat assailing my senses. I do not care if it is the latest Lady RahGa or whoever it might be latest hit. I do not want the noise.
- Sorting out customer service – when did retail stop being a career and become a chore of a job?
- Hiring good pattern cutters – a size 12 is different proportions to a size 6. Not a bit larger all over.
- Remembering that we are not all size 8 any more
And for goodness sakes close the front doors in when it is colder outside than in. With the reduction in your heating bill you might save enough to be able to pay for decent staff and sell a little more.