I previously wrote about my mum being perfect. Perfection is a subjective concept but my mum is definitely objectively stylish. She has been ever since I was a kid, when big hair and bigger shoulders were all the rage. My mum has made me promise never to write about her on my blog but she also doesn't read my blog, so you snooze, you lose Joan. Also everyone deserves to know Joan's time tested rules of shopping - the lessons that have kept her looking fierce, since before fierce was a thing...
EAT BEFORE YOU GO My mum's not a big eater. She's one of these, food is fuel, I forgot to eat freaks but before she goes shopping she will make sure she has something hearty - usually porridge. She gets well irritated with me because I want to stop for coffee and cake about eight minutes in; after stopping to snack, it's hard to get back on track.
SALE STUFF IS STUFF OTHER PEOPLE DON'T WANT Joan doesn't tend to mess with the sales unless it's a high end brand. On the high street she thinks it can get a bit jumble sale and being a size 10, she often finds they don't have her size. I love saving cash so I'm all about a sale rack but I have taken from Joan that there's no point buying something just because it's a bargain.
YOU CAN'T CARRY COLOURS IN YOUR HEAD You will be convinced you can. You will tell yourself that those shoes are the exact same shade of yellow as your new skirt* but then you will get them home and find the shoes are banana and the skirt is mustard and end up having to wear your ballet flats for the millionth time.
GO BIGGER. One of the beautiful things about humans is we're all unique but shops can't stock enough lines to accommodate all our lumps and bumps and sometimes you might find you are one size on top and another on the bottom or, like me, often feel you'd be more comfortable in a size 13. If this is the case Joan says size up rather than down. You will always look more stylish if you wear clothes in an unrestrained, insouciant fashion rather than if you wear trousers that mimic sausage casing.
NAVY IS ALWAYS CHIC. Navy can look less harsh than black. When properly cared for black is very chic but when you're a slob like me, black can look a bit teenage goth. Unless teenage goth is your thing try navy (think bags, shoes, trousers) it gives things a softer, vintage feel.
DO SERIOUS SHOPPING ALONE. Shopping with girlfriends is fun but think of it as that - a fun activity in and of itself. Shopping with any real purpose is better done alone. You need to be able to circle back on yourself; you can't afford to stop whilst your friend buys a new watch battery. Worst of all, said friend may convince you to buy something you don't really want. Just share your shopping success over a spritzer when you're done.
RETURN WITH ABANDON. Joan returns a lot, almost as much as she buys. If she is unsure of a purchase she will think nothing of having it hang at home for week to see how it feels in her wardrobe. Return unapolegetically - 'gone off it' is a perfectly reasonable reason to want to take something back.
MAKE THEM WORK. Sales staff might look like they're there to plan their Saturday night out but they're actually intended to help you. Feel free to ask for other sizes and if your size is not available get them to call other branches, other towns, other countries (okay not countries). Ask to see the manager, contact head office if you have to, nothing should come between you and the pursuit of fashion. Offset this by being ridiculously gracious to everyone that serves you and telling supervisors or store owners when you have received particularly good service.
WEAR THE RIGHT BRA. And pants and shoes. If you're going shopping for a white shirt don't wear a flourescent pink bra. If you know you're going to be wearing an outfit with heels slip some in your bag, you don't want to miss a great outfit because you're distracted by visible panty line.
MAKE A MOVE. A lot of people make the mistake of looking at themselves in the changing room mirror and thinking they're good to go but life tends to be more animated than that so try and replicate some real life scenarios - bending down to pick up some lego, sitting at a bus stop, doing the Dougie - whatever you find yourself doing most, give it a go because clothes were meant for living and with these rules you can shop like your life depends on it.
*Although I would question the prudence of pairing a yellow skirt with yellow shoes