Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Photo Evidence of a Genius Window Display

Liberty has the best Christmas window displays in London: FACT. I love the theatricality and the determination to combine Christmassy warmth with a dash of cool. I do not, however, love the service in Liberty - I decided to treat myself to a sheet of wrapping paper (I know, last of the big spenders... but it did cost me a fiver and it's a beautiful old map of England) and could have honestly received better service in Primark. What's more, the guy in front of me spending £400 (yup, I was eavesdropping) got the same indifferent treatment, at the same snail pace. It's lucky for Liberty that their visual merchandisers are working harder than their sales assistants, because it's displays like this one which will keep customers coming back rather than defecting to other department stores, or indeed online shopping. Much as I adore their window displays, I'm not sure I'll be going back to purchase anything in a hurry.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

We are not all one size. We do not come from moulds.

After lusting over leather dresses for weeks on end, I finally took the plunge and headed to the changing rooms of Bershka to try one for size. Many people have been sceptical about leather dresses, seeing them as a step too far in the leather trend and verging on overkill. I was determined to prove them wrong and team mine with minimalist pieces and make that dress the ultimate statement. However, I fell at the first hurdle when I put this one on: it was clingy in all the wrong places and strangely baggy at the neckline and back. Being synthetic, it was also boiling hot within 2 minutes of being zipped up, and I could feel myself panicking about leaving the dress dripping with sweat and running make-up in an effort to extract myself from it (luckily it was quite easy to remove). The dress I tried on was a size Large, although I can honestly say that it wasn't made for a woman with hips or a chest and it tried desperately to skim over both these features with little success. I do expect to be a bigger size in a Spanish retail chain, because traditionally they seem to cater for smaller, more birdlike women - it's just one of those things. But I don't expect to find the 'L' labelled dress like a sausage skin, whether it's in faux leather or cotton. I should be able to move my legs and not feel my circulation being cut off.
Undeterred, I found a simple but edgy jumper on my second look in the store - it was khaki with elbow patches and I knew it was going to end up in my wardrobe. But, after browsing through a pile of at least ten jumpers, I was dismayed to find that every single one was a size 'Small'. I returned a week later with fresh optimism, only to find the same problem. I won't lie; I already felt a little insecure about expecting to buy a Large, or indeed Extra Large, but seeing row upon row of garments in 'Small' around the store, I didn't find myself excited about the jumper any more. I'd expect to see a full size range catered for in the high street, especially when the size 'Small' equates to a 6-8, because it's hardly appealing to a diverse range of customers. I love the fresh and interesting designs available in Bershka, but this has left me reluctant to visit regularly if they are quite happy to place a size 12 customer in a 'Large' category and consistently not stock anything beyond 'Small'. I will never have a size 6-8 figure, even with a severe breast reduction, and I don't want to feel as though it's wrong to be a size 12. The leather dress was just the catalyst for me in realising that some retailers in Britain target a scarily exclusive size market.
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