Friday, December 28, 2012

The Pleasures and Perils of Boxing Day

Or, a Story of Online Sales Shopping

Boxing Day; Happy Feet + Enchanted + How to Train your Dragon (the BBC really pulled it out the bag for the under 10s this year, I obviously include myself in this category, some great films); browsing the post-Christmas sales from the comfort of my sofa.

It was a heady combination and I possibly got a little overexcited... Also, as I get older and increasingly grouchy and misanthropic I can't be doing with the crowds and emotional stress of actual sales shopping. I would rather bring the shopping experience to me - order twenty things, try them all on with realistic lighting and the rest of my wardrobe, send back the nineteen things that look awful and keep the one thing I like. No cruel mirrors or screaming children, just fancy dress in the comfort of my own home and some precious extra free time.

Anyway, some lessons learnt and re-learnt:

1) The reason you place a big order is because there is a high chance that, at the very least, some of it will be unexpectedly bad. Often most of it will be bad. In this case I was quite lucky, lots of stuff didn't suit me but in predictable ways. Things to be wary of - fake pockets (THE WORST), poorly finished collars and hems, enormous clunky lumpeness not adequately displayed on the model, general feeling of cheapness.

2) Cheap shoes are always a false economy. This is one my mother will appreciate. These shoes look cute and it is hard to argue with £13.50 but you should argue. Five minutes of wearing these around the flat made it abundantly clearly that they would fall apart in under three months, giving me blisters in the short term and all sorts of podiatry problems in the long term.

3) Delightful as they are, cable knits and Aran jumpers are not for everyone. A tragic lesson that I apparently need to relearn every time it gets chilly. They just look so cute and snuggly. On a certain (admittedly slim) lady they even have a casual, nonchalant sexiness to them. These two charming numbers lured me in - navy cable knit for £14! and black/pink cable for £22. The navy jumper is a bit puffy at the back and the pink one is very cottony (which I like but isn't to all tastes) but generally they're sweet jumpers, particularly for the price. However, they make me look like a dumpling. Not even a delicious dumpling - a stodgy and round and lumpy and middle aged dumpling. Sad times.

4) Ditto, logo/slogan/image t-shirts. I know better. But it was grey and reminded me of my youth and was reduced to £10 (now out of stock) and I thought it might be different this time... Obviously it wasn't. My chest does not do the Nike logo any favours. There was warping, that's all I'm going to say. Also, are men's torsos really that long? Is this enabling them to wear their jeans too low? If we hemmed all of their t-shirts to the correct length one night would they be forced to pull their trousers up? Worth thinking about...

5) Just because you like something it doesn't mean you should buy it. Counter-intuitive but there you go. There are lots of things I like about this Bellfield coat which is currently reduced to a pretty reasonable £48. The blanket print is rather lovely, it looks warm and it actually is (unlike the almost entirely unlined coat above) and it has an olde worlde charm about it. Yet it did not really bond with my wardrobe... I am not a fan of organised or coordinated wardrobes in general but this is a coat. I am seduced by pictures of it but then I try it with things I actually own and it looks a little bit wrong with everything. In as far as a coherent concept of stylistic 'me-ness' exists it is not very 'me'.

 6) Resist the styling. Just because the model is wearing the burgundy New Balance kicks you really want it doesn't mean that buying the coat will magically endow you with the trainers. Disappointing truth.

7) Sales are an excellent time to re-buy. Newsflash, I know. The grey version of this shirt has already proved its worth. Not too sheer (seriously, why would I want to see my bellybutton through my clothes??Gross. Zara, I'm looking at you...), flattering drape, looks good tucked and untucked, suitable for work and home. I picked up the black version in the sale and I know I'll get loads of wear out of it. It's the only thing I'm definitely keeping! I would have picked up the Cerise and Rust colours too if they'd had my size.

Now I just need to decide what to do with these two. I want a more structured, non fluffy navy jumper so definite points to this ribbed number but structured is not 100% flattering and can I justify another jumper? Can you ever have enough jumpers? I'm picturing this with black bottoms and gold jewellery for work. I know it is supposed to be verboten but I have a soft spot for navy and black. I spend so much of my life in an office at the moment that it seems wanton and frivolous to buy anything that isn't work appropriate but these Nike tracksuit bottoms are calling to me at the moment. [N.B. I do have a bit of a Nike fixation at the moment - I need to check that they've improved their ethical practices. Anyone know?] With the correct accouterments they could be all cool and urban but they are walking a fine line. My concern is that they're so comfy I'll never take them off and I'll slowly slide into a haze of trackies, baggy, motheaten jumpers, dirty hair and no make up. It is a slippery slope and it would be so easy... No one would invite me to parties but I would be blissfully comfortable and warms. Choices choices.

 Anyway, not that I need encouragement but has anyone seen anything good in the sales? Did anyone get anything good for Christmas? I got a festival of cookbooks and a beautiful YSL lipstick that I'll try and share at some point. I just need to work out how to get this lot to the post office to return it all...

Chuck x


  1. I am insanely proud of myself as I am yet to order anything in the sales

    I get a gold star for that, right?

  2. I've ordered a couple of things from Urban Outfitters and Cos I had my eye on, hoping they will look good on me but won't be such a bad thing if I have to return a few items.

    Those burgundy New Balance are amazing, I still regret not buying them when they were in stock at Urban Outfitters (and I get a staff discount, WHY OH WHY DID I HESITATE?!)

    I am also really loving Nike right now but haven't bought anything because of their reputation for poor ethical practices, but I haven't looked into this recently so should as if they have improved that would be great news (although not for my bank account). Will google and let you know if I find anything....

  3. I love your practicality! You definitely understand why things don't work--I can't bear things that aren't sewn right or look cheap, and would rather have less, although when I was younger more was always more. I hope you get those trainers :) Wishing you a very happy New Year!

    xo Mary Jo

  4. I am nowhere near this disciplined. On Boxing Day I spent all of my January pennies on two pairs of shoes - one very high and suede, the other technically flip flops. You will be my inspiration next year!! Never again.... X

  5. I've only bought a pair of jeans full price. Nothing in the sales really tempted me this year. Love your list of tips and also love that Nike t-shirt!

    Happy New Year! xx

  6. does she happen to be wearing mens size new balance too? they look like cruiseliners on her.

    i picked up some clarks originals but that's all

  7. Really good things to remember about shopping online. I need to remember the whole part about "just because it looks good on the model does not mean it will fit your body type" - some times I just conveniently forget that part

  8. Nice selection :) Really like it!