How to… go clothes shopping // A survival guide for the average consumer

I’m a very lucky individual. My best friend in the entire world, the woman I generally do most of my clothes shopping with, hates it as much as I do. I mean, I quite enjoy buying clothes, just not taking the amount of time that some ladies seem to during the procedure itself.

We don’t muck about you see. Standing there ooh-ing and aah-ing over the same dress for 35 minutes before deciding not to buy it, that’s not our style. I’m aware of what suits me so I generally walk into a shop, see a t-shirt/top/jeans/whatever, pick it off the rail in my size, and buy it.
I take greater care choosing my coffee in Costa than I do choosing clothes, as coffee is of far greater importance in my life.

Saying that, I have learned a few things regarding clothes shopping in the various places I’ve visited over the years…I present a few tips here for you now, written in a humourous fashion (FASHION! HA!), as I find it impossible to take anything seriously. You may have noticed this.


Very high-end designer shops

I can only imagine what goes on in these establishments. The reason for that is: church mice actually feel sorry for me, know what I mean?
I assume everything smells like diamonds, and the walls taste like organic butter.
The clothes are manufactured by weeping fallen angels and…ok enough sarcasm. Who cares?
If you can afford to waste £7,000 on an outfit that’s generally made of the same materials as all other clothing, but is different to all other clothing because it has the name of some moronic white-haired, robot-faced, sunglasses-wearing arse on it, then good luck to ya.
Nowt to do with me, it’s your money.
*points and laughs*

What not to do:
On a trip to Paris, while walking in the Place Vendome (only because I wanted to see the Ritz following Di’s death – GHOUL), I noticed the Chanel jewellery shop. ‘I have to go in!’ I shouted, to no-one in particular.
I pushed the door, it wouldn’t open.
A very snotty looking Frenchman walked slowly over, and proceeded to UNLOCK the door. Yes…that’s how expensive it was. I felt the heat rising in my face as he looked me up and down too many times, clocked my battered shoes (I’d been walking a lot) and moved aside with a sarcastic smirk so I could go in.
What then followed was the most excruciating 78 seconds of my life as I walked slowly around possibly one of the most expensive shops on planet earth…in my ripped jeans, highly questionable coat and absolutely minging trainers.
I could feel the eyes of the immaculately coiffed women on the counter burning into my back, as I noted with horror that there didn’t seem to be anything priced below 250 million quid. There also didn’t seem to be any other customers.
All I could do was slink back to the door with my head down. Snotbag made sure to take an age to unlock the door before allowing me to exit. No words were spoken.
I don’t think I stopped running for two days…once I’d made it to Belgium, I felt I was far enough away from it to rebuild my life again.
I mention Belgium a lot don’t I? It’s weird.

Designer shops

A little more relaxed, but still not somewhere I’d naturally hang about.
For you see, upon entering such places as this, I have a terrible affliction in that I look at the security guards, and then immediately blush and drop my gaze when they look back at me. It happens EVERY time and I don’t know why I do it!
Of course, they then naturally assume I’m armed, or planning to go on the rob, so I get followed about closely. This makes for a very uncomfortable shopping experience that ends quickly with me exiting the shop, my arms in the air so they can see I have no concealed piece.

What not to do:
Conceal a piece and go on the rob. As my experiences have shown they can sense it, and they smell your fear…like ‘Multiple’ Miggs from Silence of the Lambs does.
Although he can smell something entirely different.

Department stores

I like the department stores. I think this romance stems from Saturday nights watching ‘Are You Being Served?’ as a child, because I’m still compelled to announce the items that can be found on each floor as the lift stops in a cheery voice. I wish I could say I do this in my head, but as friends will testify, I don’t. L
The best bit about clothes shopping here is the choice. Lots of different designers and prices to suit most people, even me. I’ve picked up many a fine item during the sales (they have about 75 sales a year), and never had to poke anyone’s eyes out in a frenzy. Department stores seem to be a lot more relaxed during sale time, eye poking is generally unheard of here.

What not to do:
Ask random customers for help, or how much things are. Both of which I’ve done. I’m sorry though, if you’re going to wear that much make-up and do your hair like Jayne Mansfield then people are going to assume you work there. It’s the ‘uniform’ of many department store ladies.
I’m not knocking it either, I think 50s glamour is due a screeching harpy of a comeback.


I try to avoid outlets as I have a tempestuous nature and these places seem to bring out the worst in me. This is where the Ugg boot brigade tends to congregate in their chattering herds. Hunting them for sport is strictly not permitted, unfortunately.
Surviving an outlet is very much dependent on your mood at the start of the expedition. I recommend the following:

1. Eat a doughnut – The sugar and lard will encourage happy hormones in your brain, making the violent thoughts less severe.
2. Get coffee – You’ll need to be alert, for navigation purposes. Because EVERY stupid fucktard will walk in front of you, and quick dodging will be necessary.

If you’re a dyed in the wool fashionista then outlets will be your idea of hell. ‘Clothes from last season? That is just SO last season!’ You need not read this.
For the rest of us who don’t tend to give a shit, these are good places to find designer bargains if you can bear to shop here. I got a great pair of CK jeans for about 99p. Plus 35 quid. Which is rather good.

What not to do:
Kill everyone. Dead. Stabbed countless, countless times as blood sprays everywhere and runs down your face, cleansing you of your sins and forever ridding the earth of their…well, it’s just not the done thing, however much you might want to. So don’t do it.

High street

You don’t need me to tell you how to shop on the high street. We all do it the same way. Dressed head to toe in black, screaming, and armed to the back teeth, right?
I thought so.
If you’re anything like me, make a list (mental or written) before embarking so you can dip in and out quickly. The faster you get through this, the quicker you can reward yourself with a coffee and some kind of sickening pastry. The class system of clothes shops on the high street goes from good quality to lasts-5-minutes-shite, it’s up to you where you go depending on budget, and how much children working in sweatshops bothers you. Only kidding! They probably have air conditioning nowadays so I doubt they sweat that much.

What not to do:
Anything goes on the High Street. I’ve even seen horses shopping there!
Well, it could have been Sarah Jessica Parker, but anything goes.

Charity shops

There is a decorum here that must be followed. Do not make eye contact with the two elderly-ish women who will be standing at the counter folding bras, and discussing sexual positions for the over 50’s. Make no sudden moves. These women may look gentle and sweet, but they’ll be up in your face asking if you need help before you can say ‘stress-related incontinence’. If you’re not careful, they’ll have guilted you into volunteering 2 days a week before you’ve even perused the rails. I did a full day shift at a Samaritans once, and no I AM NOT joking.
Charity shops are great though, you can find all kinds of treasures in there, plus they smell interesting.
You never know what you’ll turn up in a charity shop. My friend and I frequent the ones in the very posh end of Wirral, we’ve seen Dolce & Gabbana, Dior and Vivienne Westwood before now. I don’t know what they were doing shopping in the North West though.
But seriously, you might just find something completely one-off if you go to the ‘right’ kind of charity shop. The ‘wrong’ kind of charity shop is the one that puts those bullshit bags through your door, pretending to be a charity when in actual fact they sell the clothes on. Give your unwanted items to proper charities, and use those plastic sacks like I do. As free bin bags.

What not to do:
Making remarks about ‘vintage’ while picking up hideous cardigans and shouting ‘ooh, is this a CHANEL!?!’ to your friend, is apparently NOT funny madam. No.
Similarly, picking up 70’s cookery books and loudly announcing such recipes as ‘English Cheese Party Pyramid’ and ‘A Black Forest Feast of German Sausage’ while pissing yourself laughing is also frowned upon.

The market

Cor blimey! Everyone lavs a bargain dahn the market me owl china!
Let’s not panic even though I appear to be channelling Sir Richard Van Dyke, there is just something so cockney about markets. No disrespect intended to any cockneys reading this, it seems that everyone (and by everyone, I mean me) gets warm and fuzzy feelings about Del Boy, and those people dancing with pig carcasses in Oliver, while they step daintily through a market.
Cor blimey bargains aside, market clothes can be landmines.
First of all, they’re usually made of materials so attractive to fire, that simply swinging your arms while walking can cause painful sparks in your armpits. For men, this WILL set their armpit hair alight, as modern deodorants have rendered sweat obsolete.
Secondly, they’re all seemingly made by people named Sergio. Sergio Ballanetti, Sergio Lucca, Sergio Roma, or my own personal favourite, ‘Molto Sexi’…by Sergio.
For you see, the market is where the darker side of Milan proudly resides.

What not to do:
DON’T try and bargain with the traders like you’re in the Moroccan souk. Apparently ‘that shit don’t fly’ in Birkenhead. I came away from the personalised printing stall without my ‘Computer Geeks Do it…with Mice!’ t-shirt, after trying to barter for it.
“Do you want this fucking thing or don’t you?” he spat angrily
“I’ll give you £5 for it.”
“Its £9.99, you knew that before I printed the bastard! The cost of the t-shirt, plus the print, is £9.99. You chose it, so you buy it!”
“£5.85 is my final offer, and I should call the police because you’re robbing me blind.”
“Fuck off dickhead.”

So there we have it. I doubt you’ve gained any kind of helpful knowledge from this piece, but if you have, I’d like to remind you that you can’t sue me for any event that may occur as a result of you putting said knowledge into action. Also, I can take out super-injunctions until the cows come home.
Happy shopping!


  • Comments

  • avatar

    HAAAAAA. Literally CANNOT stop laughing at the Sarah Jessica Parker comment. Incredible.

    • avatar

      It’s true! Matthew Broderick was on her back wearing jockey silks. No whip though, thankfully.

  • avatar

    It’s too fucking funny. TOO. FUNNY! The department stores bit made me piss my pants, a bit.

  • avatar

    You pissed your pants a bit?
    *sees Natalie in a new, and slightly unflattering light*
    (don’t sit by the radiator though x)

    • avatar

      Oh yeah, but it was nothing to do with this post. More, an after effect of my poorly appendix. Your jokes, Chrissy, are so lame, you could befriend an incontinent person safe in the knowledge they’d never have any ‘accidents’…. JOKE! < see? I can do funnies too! Hello? HELLO?! WHERE DID YOU GO?!!!

      • avatar

        Bwahaha 😀 x

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