Saturday, 29 December 2012

On a Wing and a Prayer- Boxing Day Sales

When she said Boxing Day sales, this wasn't what I had in mind

It's that funny time of year again. Queues of bargain hunters forming outside Oxford St shops. At 6am. 

The mere occasion of the Boxing Day Sales is a new phenomenon itself; a sign of the tight times. Traditionally before 2012 we had to wait until New Year's. But who has patience for that? Savvy consumers have left shopping till the last minute for early Christmas discounts, then in a single premeditated, eagle-eyed swoop go in for the cull once the clock strikes midnight. It's an indulgent ritual myself and many others are guilty of.

Kudos to those braving the chilly, rainy weather, but for me it was the toasty indoors of Kent's Bluewater all the way. 10am, with five hours on the clock and a lean budget to complete my mission of the day- a sensible skirt, jacket and shoes. Advised nonetheless by my Dad, who'd worn more shades of grey long before it became 2012's colour Du Jour- so that's saying something. What's wrong with coloured jeans, jumpers and Converse?

'Twas the first time I'd shopped at Forever21 outside its central London branches. The giveaway is the sea of cute, fluorescent pink shopping bags and this time, shop assistants, both male and female disturbingly dressed in onesies. Despite this, no matter how old you are you feel like a princess there. It boasts sumptiously spacious changing rooms illuminated by chandeliers fit for a palace. I was helloed by Hello Kitty graphic jumpers and a Choka Cat pillowcase/bedsheet set, both in-store exclusives. The fetish of all things Sanrio re-flooded childhood memories, as well as Nicola Formichetti's recent #Fantasia cover for Dazed, drenched in Nicopanda x Hello Kitty. Luckily I managed to resist the urge and only bought that sophisticated, work friendly skirt I really needed.

(Chiffon Skirt, Forever21)

Next stop- Miss Selfridge.  As disciplined as I am, or think I am, I rarely find what I actually need in the sales. Yet it's ridiculously easy to buy lovely things I never knew I needed in the first place. They're not classified as 'impulse buys' since

a) I think long and hard beforehand
b) They are rather lovely things

Case in point? Torn between a 1960s style shift with a scallop hemmed bodice, a plunging green number similar to Keira Knightley's in Atonement, and a structured teal tea dress. I tried them all, the last one being my favourite, but deep green isn't a perfect match for a washed out yellowish complexion. Common sense prevailed, telling myself I'd grab it at the end of the day if I didn't find the others on 'the list'. It was an admittedly juvenile act that seemed completely reasonable, if not brilliant at the time, to hide it behind some full priced, similarly green coloured dresses. Only for just a few hours.

BBC One's Paradise- Shopping was so much more civilised back then

The love-hate dilemma with sales is that you can find good pieces at rock-bottom prices, but only if you're willing to rummage through the jumbled war zone of the packed rails, whilst trickily navigating the inevitable casualties of clothes piling up on the floor. I always feeling sorry for the shop assistants and end up literally apologising every five seconds for every shoulder accidentally I bump into. I doubt the inside of Colette is anything like it. 

Topshop x J.W. Anderson was one of the most exciting collaborations of 2012. Spotted amongst the rails were his belted trench with unusual asymmetrical shoulder detail, and his quilted silk paisley skirts that were high fashion but a tad '1970s psychedelic oven mitt' for me. Speaking of collaborations, my fantasy of snapping up a H&M x Maison Martin Margiela re-edition (i.e. non-diluted to suit commercial tastes) sadly never materialised.

Next, shoes. I'm not your typical shoes person but even I couldn't resist a nosey into Office. Years ago, I remember a BTEC Art & Design  college friend of mine who always wore the most fabulous shoes; a different pair for every day of the week. She was obsessed with Office, working at a shoe shop on weekends even whilst at university. Shoes from Office are a high street anomaly- well made, fashionable but affordable. I made a beeline for the grey suede brogues, timeless loafers and patent boots (in bright red or floral print nonetheless). Unfortunately they weren't  in my size. It was still delightful for a granny like me to discover Mel's irresistibly soft jelly flats, 100% vegan despite an uncanny resemblance to rubber cheese slices.

At the end of the exhaustive shopping exercise I returned to Miss Selfridge in the hopes my secretly stashed frock would still be there. It was gone. I searched the entire store. Three times. The sales rails had been efficiently stripped within hours. Either it wasn't meant to be, or it was karma for playing dirty. Ultimately I'd spent less than one seventh of my budget, but left the shops feeling fully invigorated and positively giddy. I bought two pairs of brightly tights and a meteorite necklace from New Look on top of that Forever21skirt. Just don't ask me if I bought the jacket and shoes. 

Images from top
William Marshall Craig, Buy A Bonnet Box, 1804,Watercolour , V&A
The Paradise, BBC

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