Thursday, 29 July 2010

The Shop-Hating Girls Survival Guide To Shopping

It is a foregone conclusion isn't it? If you are a girl, chances are you like being pampered, love having your hair and nails done, enjoy browsing mac counters and spending your day endlessly picking through sale racks filled with clothes made for a 6"2 size 22 lady with 32AA breasts, wondering why they don't look right. Funnily enough, not every female knows their Matalan from their Moschino, so here are a few survival tips for those who just have to find their feminine side, even if they don't really want to.

Bullet-proof vests at the ready

You know the ones before you enter. Jeremy Kyle cast-offs standing at the door, sharing fags with their herd of children as they discuss the GUM clinic. Inside, it matters not what time of day you choose to peruse, the outcome will be the same. Hours will be spent considering whether £1.50 cashmere will make you itch, rubber shoes make your feet sweat and how long it will take for the 'gold' necklaces to help you resemble the Grinch, and you will unashamedly try things on on the shop floor regardless of how many people are there. Armfuls of bargains and hundreds of conflicting thoughts later, you will make your way to the counter, pleased with your savings, knowing you have clothes to fill three wardrobes for less than a tenner, to find that the queue gently snakes around three floors of screaming children, couples fighting and elderly people wondering if that parallel universe stuff is true.

Think happy thoughts... just keep your eyes open

Cheapo Shops Survival Tips:

1. Take your ipod, it creates an almost inner peace, like meditating with your eyes open. You can pretend you are in a happy place and ignore the riots breaking out around you.

2. Don't go at peak times. Find out when the next delivery is, arrive first thing if possible, the clothes are less likely to have spent the past week sleeping on the floor and sizes that fit will actually be available.

3. If there is a childs floor, or mens floor, the queues for the counter are usually shorter.

4. Avoid hot days, people are more likely to be grumpy and therefore start fights in the queue, fight you for that dress etc.

5. If you get claustrophobic, are impatient with teenagers, toddlers, and casual shoplifters, try and limit the visit to once a year for essentials, IF ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

oooh exciting

'Nooo, not again' I groan as I gingerly step into the make-up section of a department store. My mother insists on using her hand as a pallette for an array of overpriced, unnecessary and, well, pretty boring little tubs of powder. It's not that I don't agree with make-up, or that I don't like wearing it, I'm just not interested.
'You should like this, it's like painting,' she reassures me flicking through the brochures of endless diagrams of how to paint oneself. Then the girl comes over.

She always manages to look like she's getting ready to go out, architectural rules of her face are carefully shaded in specific ways to encourage her eyelids to be wider, eyelashes darker, mouth poutier, cheeks higher etc. She's always so smiley too, like she wants to be your friend really as she eyes up your make up free skin, which she secretly views as a bit androgenous.

Emily Haines doesn't need make-up!

'I don't like too much make up' I insisted, 'it makes my eyes itch. That's a nice colour though.' I spot a dark green glittery eyeshadow on passing. Nice because it's shiny, and I quite like Emerald green, not because I really wanted my eyeballs smothered in it. Before I could get out of it, I was perched on a stool in the middle of this rather white and brightly lit department as a group of shiny haired women peered over my face oohing and aahing about the length of my eyelashes and how I should get them professionally curled, how make up should be ruled by season and that this particular brand couldn't be more natural if it was an organic carrot. A short makeover and some nice chit chat later and a mirror is thrust in front of me for my opinion of my newly glittered face. 'Oh it's lovely,' I tell the nice girl as I consider that I look the same, except my eyelids are green. 'I'll have a little think.'

Make-Up Counter Survival Tips:

1. Ask for a sample, if you don't like the whole 'lets put it on you right here' type of approach. You can always ask later whether it's meant for your cheeks or your lips.

2. Ask friends and family for opinions. What makes do they like? What would suit you? Can they come with you and can you leave as soon as possible?

3. Avoid admiring the pretty colours distractedly as you walk past, or soon you too will have the joy of spending an afternoon on a stool, chatting about combination skin.


A friend recently regaled 'the most embarrassing moment of her life,' so like all good friends I'm sharing it over the internet. What could be that embarrassing? Mistaking your boyfriends bed for his parents? Realising that someones watching as you unhinge a wedgie? Finding youtube footage of your tequila-driven self proposing to the waiter in front of your baffled and sober colleagues at the Christmas do?

But no, this disasterous moment was the second that she, having spent all month at the gym, all day at the hairdressers, tanning, nail painting and earring planning to come face to face, with someone more tanned, more toned, and (impossibly) more coiffed than she, wearing the same dress. 'It was such a cringe!' she exclaimed, blushing at the thought. 'Why don't you try vintage shops for clothes?' I said, my high street lover friend was unconvinced. 'Second hand clothes?' she replied, horrified. Of course it might help to have a prior interest in alternative clothes or times gone by, but on taking a rare trip away from Per Una, even my ma found some nice things, and for a hater of the high street and a lover of recycling, I'm always in my element.

Vintage Shops Survival Tips:

1. Don't know where to start? Google is your mate.

2. Look for vintage fairs in your area or going to your uni. Quite often they will be open to haggling and have interesting stories about the items.

3. If the shop is large, or a warehouse, don't hesitate to harangue an employee for what it is you are looking for specifically. It is what they are paid for, and will speed up your seach and make the sifting process less painful.

4. Custom designs. Ask within the shop if the customise items on site (or know anyone who does.) In my opinion the best vintage shops are the ones that have employees who turn that rank floor length 60's dress that makes you look like your grannies granny into a one of a kind shift with a bit of chop and change.

5. Ebay. Ebay. Ebay. Sit at home, grab a chai, type in a keyword and buy. My favourite.

I should have more tips, I'm still learning on this one...



  1. Thanks for the tips, especially for someone who has also had the terror of trying to shop in the Bullring. Now, however, I'm across the pond and the shops are just as tiresome a prospect here as in the UK.

  2. I used to work in the Bullring and my friends were surprised that I didn't go shopping all the time, instead I would arrive, ipod in and blinkers on there and back, trying to avoid eye contact!