26 September 2011

UK Shopping and Me: A Minefield Revisited

I wrote a post last time I visited the UK, that I just have to share with you all. As you read this I am somewhere on the other side of the world, probably asleep, maybe dreaming of all the adventures ahead of me tomorrow and the next day, in Ireland, Scotland, Newcastle and the Midlands. Or maybe I am tossing and turning in a cold sweat, as I contemplate that most traumatic of events... CLOTHES SHOPPING IN THE UK FOR A GIRL WHO'S CURVY....

From My Original Post:
I always knew that being in the UK would present a body-image challenge to me. Every time I have come here I have always ended up feeling big and frumpy.

Even when I was dead skinny (just after I got married) I still felt large when shopping here. Maybe because I'm automatically a size larger in England. Maybe because I am self-conscious meeting all Mr G's friends and family and being under the microscope.

Yes, I have my insecurities about the way I look. But somehow at home in my comfort zone surrounded by my lovely friends and familiar places I feel OK about myself - on the curvy side of average. I haven't felt any great urgency to rush out and diet or exercise madly. My lazy ways have seemed perfectly fine until now.

I had decided, based on previous shopping experiences in trips-gone-by to not shop for clothes in the UK at all. But after spending a day clothes and shoe-shopping for Mr G (a.k.a Mr Imelda Markos) I was feeling a bit left out. Kind, supportive Mr G said, Why don't we come back tomorrow and go clothes shopping for you?

So the next day we returned to town, armed with our credit cards. Mr G said the aunties had given him some advice on where to take me. We walked past Primark, Next and Marks & Spencers. We entered a shop called Evans.

Hmmm, seems to be a few older women in here... I was looking for jeans, and headed for the nearest rack... which on closer inspection seemed to start at Size 18.

I felt a prickle of horror go up my neck. Surely not?? My husband has taken me clothes shopping in... A Big Girls Shop???

The skinny 20-something salesgirl smiled condescendingly at me (middle-aged Big Girl that I am). Did I need any assistance??

No! I wanted to get out of here!

Mr G didn't understand my distress, and insisted I try on the size 18 jeans. Of course they swam on me.

Get me out of here!!! I demanded through clenched teeth.

Out on the pavement I ranted through my tears: How could you do that to me?? Am I that big that I need a Plus-size shop?? Is that what your relatives think?? Did they tell you where to find clothes big enough to stretch over your wife's jumbo backside?? I was mortified, horrified.

Mr G explained the misunderstanding. He'd innocently asked advice on some good shops to take me. He mentioned my paranoia about the clothing size difference here. They suggested Next and M&S... but if all else fails Evans has a wide range of sizes (apparently from size 14UK, but I never saw any smaller sizes).

OK. I felt a little better. I forgive you Mr G. So they don't all think I'm a blimp??

(Well, I have had three big babies; I really was huge with Scrag and he's left me with a bit of a jelly belly, so you can understand my paranoia?)

We headed to Next and the first pair of jeans I tried on fitted like a glove and looked great (UK size 16 = NZ size14).

I also got a way-cool jacket and a gorgeous M&S dress. I left satisfied. But I think I've had my fill of clothes shopping now. Way too traumatic.

Maybe just some perfume or new shoes...?? I don't have any issues about my feet, after all.

All the things I said in this post remain true for me. My paranoia and phobia about British clothes shops still haunts me.
I still live in horror of walking into a dress shop and realising that nothing here will fit me.
What I want to know is where do Trinny and Susannah find all the cool gear they dress their various sized-and-shaped clients in?
Where are all those clothes? Which shops were they?

I'm just really not a shopper, even at the best of times.
So my plan is to treat myself with some Duty Free Perfume.
And maybe a trip to the fabulous Bravissimo. Find some swimmers that will support "the girls" adequately so I can do away with my burqa long-sleeved rash top in summer.

Oh and Clarks shoes. Apparently Clarks have boots that cater for chunky calves and cankles like mine.
And if I happen to wander in to Next and spot something divine, I'll not be silly about it.
I'm just glad I can still fit those clothes I bought last time - so I know I'm roughly the same size.
And I don't need to darken Evans' door.
Wish me luck.

P.S. Anyone want to see what I actually bought here in the UK? Let me know and I'll try and do a follow up post with pictures and let you know how I've gotten on...

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Anonymous said...

Oh god you need 10 years at least before you know where, how, why to shop in the UK. ANd always remember, the people you see out and about when you are shopping - are the skinny fashionistas that spend their whole time shopping. Those normal ones of us are too busy, well umm, in the pub to get out to the shops.

Hope u enjoyed ur stay


Kiri said...

Don't bother too much with the High St, although GAP, and Monsoon have some great bits for UK16! If you don't want to wander around and around, head straight for a John Lewis - they have lots of stuff for all budgets, plus most of the high St concessions. They have a massive shoe section, although if you love shoes then Selfridges have a whole floor of them from budget, to top end. It is amazing. Have fun! Kiri

Amy said...

I got some cute stuff from Asda supermarket, cheap and cheerful, and other stuff from Wallis, and Dorothy Perkins, H&M and Monsoon. Good luck and enjoy!!! The photos look lovely, hope the break is just what you need. x

Cat said...

hot hot hot mamma!
that dress is gorge!!!!!
you are beautiful Simoney
inside and out!

have fun♥

love and light

dearfutureme... said...

Oh dear, Im off to England in a month - better get dieting!! Ive got a curvy girls body too! Would love to see what you brought! Show us, show us, show us! Love the jacket!

Tall Pipi said...

I think you look gorgeous - especially having had three kids! I know what it's like to shop in other countries - so disorientating and yes the size difference does make you feel HUGE! We just have to remember that the people who make and size clothes are bonkers! I would love to see your purchases.

Tall Pipi said...

I think you look gorgeous - especially having had three kids! I know what it's like to shop in other countries - so disorientating and yes the size difference does make you feel HUGE! We just have to remember that the people who make and size clothes are bonkers! I would love to see your purchases.

Amy said...

Hey Simoney! I so understand your loathing of clothes shopping. I HATE shopping for clothes. A successful venture is one in which I do not end up in tears in the changing room. And the irony of it all is that everyone says "Oh, I wish I was your size" because I'm tiny. They've obviously never tried fitting tiny into average clothing! And no, I don't fit girls clothes well either - I have somehow developed hips! And what sucks is that my husband can walk into a shop, pick up something, glance at it, and buy it! Me, I try on 20 tops and come home without any. I've asked God that you find something special just for you on this trip! The things from your last one look fabulous!

Rachel Kate said...

'the girls' hehehe had a wee giggle over that :) try bra shopping - i reckon it's even worse than clothes! a nightmare. hope you are having a fab time! xo

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