A personal shopper helping a lady choose an outfit
A personal shopper helping a lady choose an outfit

It’s been ages since I’ve been shopping.

Proper, serious shopping, with a friend, getting into town early and admiring outfits in shop windows, flitting from store to store, trying things on, getting the friend’s opinion on how it looks, stopping for coffee and lunch, and heading back out to continue with the important business of updating a wardrobe.

And the reason why it’s been ages? I can’t bear shopping. At least, clothes shopping for myself, that is.

Now, Christmas shopping is an entirely different matter – I love buying presents for other people and often begin my Christmas shopping in August, much to my husband’s dismay. (Here is a man who has been known to do his Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve).

Unlike most of the women I know, I hate all the dithering and indecision that comes with clothes shopping. Maybe I’m an oddball, but traipsing around town all day with someone else trying on clothes is my idea of hell. Most of my clothes are instant decisions – you might call it impulse purchases. If it grabs me in the first few minutes, I’ll buy it. If not, I probably won’t like it any more if I bring it home.

And this may be the reason why I’m struggling, as reported recently in this column, to maintain the essential ‘capsule’ wardrobe of 30­ odd key pieces (including bags and shoes).

I am one of those people guilty of holding on to clothes for sentimental reasons. Contrary to the new year’s resolution I make and have been making for what seems like every year for the past decade, I never quite manage to declutter my stuff enough.

I had a good excuse for keepingthem when I was working on television – where else would you wear a bright coloured jacket except perhaps to a wedding? But the TV days are long gone and even news presenting has become more of a casual affair with the two piece power suits mostly replaced, and rightly so, by a softer image, at least for the women on screen. Male newsreaders have yet to catch on.

Anyway, this week I went shopping to find an outfit for an important upcoming event.

On the way, I ventured into Top Shop, just to see what was ‘trending’, mindful of a story I once heard of a woman, around the same age as me, who was worried she was too old to even be in there, and walked around expecting a tap on the shoulder from one of the staff, with the words “Now now madam, wouldn’t you be better off in Marks and Spencer?”

I made my way out the door sharpish and the answer came to me. I made an appointment with a personal shopper at a city centre department store.

Amazingly, they don’t cost anything extra.

They know the stock off by heart, they know what’s just in, how to wear it, what jumper or shirt goes with which skirt and which key piece to accessorise with to bring you bang up to date and ‘on trend’.

I did this once many years ago and it was the best few hundred pounds I ever spent because the handful of items I bought saw me right through that Autumn and winter and well into the springtime without the stress of having to shop.

So hooray for Sheila and Margaret! I’m sorted for my event and will be back to see them for that capsule wardrobe, faster than you can say “That outfit is soooooo you!”