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.
Make your Style Studio appointment today! Click here. It is a free service.
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.
LOVE that blouse! How does it size?
Where are your lovely trainers from?
new brand in JLP called Crime Scene!
Ayr jeans are the best thing to ever happen to me. The fit and quality are amazing and well worth the price tag. I get so many comments on all the styles I wear which is everyday. I LOVE THEM!!
oh YES I have heard things about Ayr jeans
Thank you Esther, love the jeans.
I looked everywhere for a white peasant blouse! Getting past my terrible divorce, I had a first date walking the dog in Battersea Park with a lovely chap, the sun was shining and I imagined myself in just that, with great worn-in jeans and – can I say it ? – slightly tousled hair. I ended up in an old APC smock thing and he just kissed me on both cheeks at the end, said how lovely to meet you and that was that. It could have been so different with the right top. 🙂 x
Sian this is a wonderful, terrible story
Clare Leah says
Sian, I think you’re wonderful and he was obviously an idiot
JLP price match I think within a certain timeframe. Even on their own sales. Always worth a bash!
Levi’s are wonderful at making your arse look high and firm and rounded. I also like H&M jeans but that could be because everything in H&M fits me just right (unlike say Zara or Topshop) so maybe not so good on everyone. Whereas, I think Levi’s are.
yes everything at h&m fits me too it’s weird. but also, let’s face it… handy
I like to romanticise the reason and tell myself that because of my north of Scotland heritage I have Viking blood so am shaped like a Scandinavian. Madness I know but every time I effortlessly fit into yet another piece of H&M’s finest, I look to the heavens from the changing room and give a little nod and a wink to my ancestors.
I tried those Levi’s and they are a good shape on me too. I’m an hourglass with the time running out and my legs are pretty solid all the way down, the flares look quite neat on me and sort of soften my ankle situation. Blouse is lovely and looks great on you.
I had a John Lewis (Trafford centre) personal stylist session just after Christmas to look for heans. I’m 5ft so finding jeans that fit is a bl**dy nightmare. The session was a revelation! And I came away with a pair of Madewell jeans that I love. Absolutely perfect. I’d recommend a stylist session to all. It’s just LOVELY. And free
That blouse is gorgeous I love the brass buttons
it is so so nice and feels really special
Have just bought the blouse 😬 (actually have a couple of And/Or pieces and love them so not being too much of a sheep…)
If you buy something in JLP and the price drops within 28 days you can take the receipt in store and they refund the difference (not well publicised but definitely true as have done many times). Sorry if others have already said this as I couldn’t get into the comments to read them.
Sarah Robson says
This post is so helpful. It strikes a chord with me as I am the queen of compromise. Firstly I avoid shopping in person as can in in a totally bonkers fashion aim to buy, say, jeans and end up either buying a pair which are definitely jeans but really aren’t what I’m looking for, just to appease the assistant (really?), to get something that at least is an approximation of the ideal which I’ve convinced myself are ‘fine’ or merely just to get me out of the shop. You’re so right about time. And I need courage. Gone are the days when I could merrily skip into the communal changing rooms at say Top Shop & strip down to my underwear without a second thought. Here is the reality of facing me in mirrors on most sides, harsh lights, pounding music, Saharan temperatures & no room to swing the proverbial cat. So… I will be making that appointment and thank you – as ever – for making me laugh and for keeping it real. (Don’t get me started on mail order……)