Beware the... Perils of pick-me-up shopping | Daily Mail Online

2021-12-24 07:46:35 By : Ms. Paulina Yang

By Liz Jones For The Daily Mail

Published: 17:24 EST, 22 December 2021 | Updated: 17:24 EST, 22 December 2021

We’ve all been there. Left home at speed, after a quick glance in the hallway mirror, feeling absolutely fine, ready to face the world and then . . . Bam!

In the bright winter sunlight, we notice our black jacket is looking a bit… shiny. Our once-white shirt has a slight pasta stain on the front. Our opaque black tights have gone a bit bald at certain pressure points.

And then we catch sight of our silhouette in a shop window. What we had thought was slightly Carrie Bradshaw — mannish jacket, big skirt, on-trend cowboy boots — suddenly looks more bag lady. We spy the perfect outfit on a mannequin in Reiss/Whistles/M&S and we know we have to have it. Now.

We enter the shop sheepishly, batter our elbows in the telephone box/changing room, type in four digits while saying a silent prayer to the Bank God and emerge, just like Superman! Transformed in seconds and deliriously happy (apart from the big bag of old clothes we now have to cart around). But still. We are as new.

Heather Mills, 53, succumbed to a fix of pick-me-up shopping in Chelsea earlier in the week. Pictured: Heather before replacing her sweater dress with a white maxi outfit while Christmas shopping

This is what happened to Heather Mills earlier in the week. The 53-year-old was wandering aimlessly around Chelsea. She looked mostly fine, if truth be told, sporting a red slash of lipstick when most of us by this stage of the year have a mouth stained only by toothpaste.

She didn’t even have mad bedhead hair. She was in decent footwear when we are in either Uggs or slippers. But she was wearing one of the most dreaded garments in the history of womankind: the sweater dress. It sounds OK on paper, promises to ‘take you anywhere’ while being ‘warm and cosy’, but the truth is it soon sags and bags.

It will adapt to your contours and pretty much stay there, your mince pie tummy imprinted in its weft like the Turin shroud.

Heather might have been married to a Beatle, but she realised, probably having glanced in the snooty shop window of Joseph, that she is mortal. And she succumbed to a fix of pick-me-up fashion and emerged, like a butterfly, all new and box-fresh in a white (at this time of year?) maxi dress.

Grab-and-go fashion, bought on the hoof and put on immediately? It’s like pasting a plaster on your soul. Fashion stores are designed to seduce us. The billboards and videos of beautiful young women cavorting suck us in.

And we believe we will look like that. The Gap sweater won’t shrink and bobble, it will take us skiing in a winter wonderland.

I won’t just have a new outfit, I will have a new life in a George Michael video. As soon as we finger a price tag, a pretty assistant is poised to pounce, telling us how much it will suit us, even though it’s a size six and we overdosed on turkey.

As we lift the hanger, we feel spoiled. We justify the price in our head: it’s only twice the one in John Lewis and I will wear it all the time, and who needs to eat in January? I deserve this.

The adrenaline as we wait for the little machine to say ‘Approved’. The careful handing over of the stiff carrier bag. No ‘I’m just looking, thanks’ for us! We’ve arrived! We belong!

Liz Jones admits she has made impulse buys many times. Pictured: Heather after replacing her sweater dress with a white maxi outfit while Christmas shopping

It has happened to me many, many times. An expensive, and urgent, pick-me-up was once the order of the day while I was waiting to board a plane to Turkey at Heathrow. I was in a small group of fashion editors, being shepherded by a PR, accompanied by the designer himself. Each and every one of them was perfectly suited and booted. Brand new Connolly iPad cases. Vuitton scarves and travellers. Prada jackets and unidentifiable floaty things.

Me? I was in jeans, a jacket that was admittedly by Dries van Noten but had had a button chewed off by my collie that I only noticed once in the taxi, and a pair of battered biker boots gifted to me many seasons before by Fiorentini and Baker.

Bikers give a bit of height and are comfortable enough to negotiate the miles of walkways to the departure gate. But there is no sight designed to lower the endorphins more swiftly than a gaggle of Gucci-clad style writers clacking in their high heels, no one bitchier and more judgmental than a male fashion designer.

I imagined they were all live-Instagramming me as we mwah-mwah’d, and so I made my excuses and headed to the nearest first aid station: Jimmy Choo.

I spied a pair of knee-high stiletto boots. I swapped my bikers for a pointy pair that cost £900 and would surely require the services of the little airport buggy usually reserved for the old and infirm, and reappeared, transformed, as Wonder Woman.

Liz (pictured) said she spent £900 on boots from Jimmy Choo while waiting to board a plane to Turkey at Heathrow accompanied by a small group of fashion editors

The only fly in the ointment was the sales assistant, who hurried after me with my discarded bikers, holding them at arm’s length.

I relieved her of them, depositing them in the nearest bin, and staggered, Dick Emery-fashion, towards my little group. ‘Hang on!’ I heard a security guard yelling. ‘You threw these away. We can’t have large items in bins.’

I soon discovered, once in Istanbul, that a ‘pick-me-up purchase’ — what used to be called an impulse buy or, in the language of husbands, ‘utter madness’ — is something we haven’t thought through properly. I’d forgotten Istanbul is full of mosques which, on our first day, we were escorted around to give us something to do. As footwear isn’t allowed, at the portal of each one it took three nice men to wrestle the boots off me, then later to act as props as I put them on again. My fashion group enjoyed many, many glimpses of my Wellington boot socks with holes at the toe.

Because, however box-fresh Heather Mills appeared as she headed towards her Bentley, a rush of blood to the head near a till is never advisable.

Boutiques, no matter the handsome doorman or the proffered glass of champagne, are not the fourth emergency service.

When my Havaiana flip-flops broke while running to conduct an interview with a film star, the nearest shop was Marks & Spencer, not lauded for its footwear. I emerged with that most heinous of objects: the ballet pump.

Liz (pictured) revealed she once spent £3,000 on a Jil Sander cashmere duster coat on her way to a post-Oscars party 

The film star failed to take a journalist in ballet slippers seriously. When I finally took them off, they curled up, like a long-dead spider, never to darken my feet again.

Other impulse buys? A £700 Dolce blouse from shopping complex Corso Como in Milan as I had, moments before, had my head turned by the catwalk show (I’m not even a ‘blouse’ kind of person); I think my discarded M&S white shirt is still stuffed behind a radiator. A £3,000 Jil Sander cashmere duster coat (it’s not even lined!), bought from Barneys in LA as I was on my way to the post-Oscars party having just glimpsed my upper arms — I was in a slip dress — reflected in the pool of the Mondrian hotel.

A plant-based Stella McCartney wallet to brandish on a Swiss press trip as I realised my little group contained a writer from a rival newspaper who might out me, a vegan, for brandishing a leather Smythson card holder, which was a gift.

A £350 black Stella T-shirt with embellished neckline from Browns on London’s South Molton Street bought to impress a man I never clapped eyes on again and who had probably never heard of her.

I re-sold the Jimmy Choos on eBay, of course I did. My preferred method of shopping these days is to fall in love with a garment on the catwalk, then visit it in store or gaze at it for hours online until it is either sold out, not available in my size, or goes hopelessly out of fashion. Surely the most eco- and budget-friendly shopping method of them all.

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