The three hardest things to shop for are jeans, underwear and swimwear. It’s because those three clothing sub-groups reveal our bodies as they really are. And often that’s not something we want to confront.
But, of course, there is all manner of trickery certain jeans, or swimwear or lingerie can perform that will make us feel happier or more secure about the barely-clothed form that confronts us in the changing room.
And I sometimes read those guides in newspapers that go “If you have a large bottom, chose these sorts of jeans with those kinds of pockets,” or whatever. Then you completely forget the advice when you are at the shops, or none of the jeans at the shop you are at have those kinds of pockets. So you buy a handbag in despair and go home.
My advice to anyone who really needs to nail new, great underwear or swimwear or jeans is to commit some time to it and blitz it. You need to go somewhere where they sell a truckload of those type of clothes at a quiet time of day and sit there for an hour, two hours and just try them all on. Try them all on. And unless you find something that makes your heart leap, you go home and try again another time.
I bang on, privately, to readers who email me requesting advice about jeans particularly, about the styling service at John Lewis a lot.
It is the best thing. Located at Oxford Circus or Westfield (the best ones to my mind are at Westfield), the styling rooms are spacious, and cool and the stylists are not terrifyingly young skinny fashion mavens, they are women like you and me with children and lives and places to be and lumps and bumps they need to work around.
And, they are quite often not that busy as they have hired a lot of staff and also I feel that not enough people know about it yet – or people have had bad personal shopping experiences at, say Topshop or Selfridges.
You could probably book yourself in next week if you need to find anything – but particularly new jeans. New jeans are hellish to find. And it’s important in this new age of conscious consumerism that you find a pair of jeans that fits and flatters and just get those, rather than buying 8 pairs that sort of half-work.
New jeans are a numbers game, as I have said before, and the joyful thing about the styling service is that you just sit there, with a water or a tea or a glass of Prosecco while your stylist goes into the store and returns with armfuls of clothes. You can set the budget prior to your visit. They don’t work on commission. People occasionally leave with nothing and that’s cool with them – because more often people find something. Because how could you not?
After a very lengthy search off my own steam, (because I have the time and inclination to do ridiculous things like that), during which I rejected many, many pairs of almost-right jeans, I found my current beloved pair at a Levis Store – called the Mile High Cropped Flare and the colour is Late To The Game (a term that could not be more apt for me).
An almost identical pair, which are exclusive to JLP, is by Madewell and called the Cali Demi Boot. These are wonderfully soft and light and could easily be the perfect every day, favourite-jeans.
This is a cropped flare, which sounds utterly hideous and when you first put them on off the shelf the flare splats out to the side and looks mad, but with washing and wearing the flare will become more rounded-out and make more sense. I love these because my legs are slim but out of proportion – wide at the top tapering to freak skinny at the bottom – like carrots – so I need jeans that are a little wider at the bottom. I look horrendous in skinny jeans and do not lament the gradual passing of them.
But I am me! And you are you – these may not suit you. So what you must do is go in and find the jeans that do suit you.
Of course while I was in there trying on lots of different pairs of jeans I came across this And/Or blouse, which is a very good in-house JLP brand. I adore this blouse, especially the tiny little brass round buttons. I am trying to find a white peasant blouse at the moment, but every one I come across is either too frilly, or see-through, or both – so I have changed my affections to this one.
I think that a good pair of jeans and a beautiful possibly a bit OTT blouse is going to be trop stylé for this year for any smart/casual events.
I’ve just looked and the blouse is also massively reduced in price, I’ve got no idea why and I’m also a tiny bit furious as I paid full price for it in-store two days ago.
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This is not a sponsored post and I was not gifted any of these items. There is sponsored stuff over on Instagram if you’re into that.