Dawn Gay /
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A year in retail rehab

March 4, 2013

March marks an important personal milestone for me – it’s two months since I gave up clothes shopping for a year. No rummages in TK Maxx, sprees at Braintree Freeport and binges at Bluewater. It’s divorce with Designers at Debenhams and a hiatus for House of Fraser. This girl has gone shopping cold turkey.

When I first announced my idea to girlfriends last December my proposed new year’s resolution was met with laughter, shock and disapproval. My shopaholic sister physically baulked with disbelief. One friend is so determined that I’ll fail that he has put money on it. I have to say I have had serious self-doubt and a near-wobble in the January sales. But two months on I feel quite virtuous and a little less poor.

It’s been a hard habit to break – I love clothes and I adore the High Street (Top Shop, Miss Selfridge, River Island and especially Reiss), not to mention the whole stratosphere of equestrian fashion. But years of clothes shopping have left me with a wardrobe (or three) packed with samey, badly finished garments – mostly black – and fads that have come and gone before you can say Victoria Beckham. Who really thought that bat wing jumpers and leggings would last? They were bad enough the first time around.

I’m hoping my year in denial is also helping me reflect on my post-forty fashion identity. Until now, I have been bloody-minded about visits to Top Shop. With sheer determination, I have continued taking trips to my favourite fashion Mecca regardless of age, squeezing myself into skinny jeans and forcing my size seven feet into tiny pumps like a possessed ugly sister.

But when I return from my retail fasting in a year’s time will I feel even older and get walked off the premises by the fashion police for being ‘over age’? The thought of stepping across the age-fashion threshold to Per Una and Next feels me with fear and dread. Classic cuts, slacks, frocks and pastels. No thanks!

Working at home means I live in casual clothes (unless I have a Skype conference call or Google Hangout where I might smarten up my top half).  So, I don’t have the daily wardrobe dilemmas of an office girl and I have to admit there’s quite a smooth transition from jodhpurs to pyjamas some/most days. I don’t really need new clothes.

Thank you Sue Waymark for your inspiring idea – I’m afraid there’ll be no visits to Clarks Village Outlet this year for me.

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