I’ve tried, I promise I have. When I have a day off in the middle of the week I’ll think “Ooh how nice to take a leisurely, no-pressure stroll round the shops to see what I might find.” But then I get bored, and lonely, and lose all sense of perspective about what’s nice and suits me in the changing rooms, because I am useless at shopping alone.
Some people are the total opposite – they relish the solitude and freedom of solo shopping, preferring to go at their own pace, taking as long as they like deliberating over seemingly identical tops, going off for a coffee, thinking about it and then returning to dither some more. Others whizz round at high speed, swooping in with forensic accuracy on the items they’d already decided to purchase, ruthlessly sticking to a pre-planned itinerary.
The happy ditherers and the speed freaks should probably stick to shopping alone, but for me I need company and advice – someone to encourage me to buy something pricey because it’s beautiful and a wise investment, but I don’t have the confidence to make a decision on my own.
My best shopping companion is always my mum – she’s honest and fair, and always encourages me to take the plunge and buy good-quality, timeless stuff that I will love forever, while steering me gently away from trendy tat that I'll regret buying the second I hand over my card.
Equally, I am a good shopping partner – I actually like sitting outside changing rooms (as long as there’s a chair, I really don’t love sitting on the floor) and giving advice – you can take as long as you like, I don’t mind! I get a vicarious thrill from participating in the shopping process without actually having to spend my own money – the equivalent of smelling delicious food but not eating it (although clearly I never do that – I just eat the food.)
Since people started shopping online more, an email equivalent of ‘shopping with friends’ has evolved, involving multiple back and forth emails with links to various items on asos.com, net-a-porter.com etc. “What do you think of this?” is a common subject line in my inbox.
What’s your shopping style? And on a side note, which are your favourite changing rooms? Mine are in Banana Republic – I could move into that place, seriously, it’s like a swish hotel or something, all dark wood, elaborate flower arrangements and proper doors rather than skimpy curtains. Amazing.