Is there anything quite so sweet as heading out shopping with a particular item in mind and – just once in a very long while – finding exactly what you want? Honestly? It’s a kind of ecstasy. And it happened to me on Sunday.
I wasn’t even remotely expecting to find the shoes. Once I had found the skirt to go with the shirt (and I found the skirt on Saturday), I knew what I wanted in the shoes, but I didn’t think there was any chance that the shoes would appear so hot on the heels – please excuse that dreadful pun – of the skirt. In my experience, wish fulfilment rarely arrives in an avalanche of smiling good fortune, so I thought I’d used up my retail ration for the year. I didn’t even think there was any point looking for the shoes. My luck had run out simply on the law of averages.
Or had it? As it turned out, no. And what was especially crazy was the efficiency with which both the skirt on Saturday and the shoes on Sunday were procured. How many times have I been that doleful, defeated shell of a woman skulking home empty-handed after a humiliating and fruitless ordeal on the high street? Plenty. I have been that disappointed hapless shopper too many times to name. And it’s usually precisely for the same reason the weekend’s bounty was such a rousing success: I knew what I was looking for. That dooms many an expedition before you even reach your first change room.
Not last weekend, though, for reasons I simply cannot explain. All I can say is, the impeccably dressed gods of retail (and I imagine them as the Sex and the City girls, I do) were in my corner. And they didn’t waste a single minute letting me know that my ship (or size) had come in. First I needed new black trousers. I haven’t owned a new pair since 2004 and they’re a winter wardrobe essential, so you can just imagine the state of my last pair. I found the new ones in the very first store I entered, and reasonably priced to boot (Country Road, for the record. They must have a new designer in there, don’t you think? After being so shit for years I stopped even bothering to walk through, they’ve suddenly got some really good basics again… and good basics can be hard to find, so it was a happy day in there). They were the only trousers I tried on. Mission accomplished. On the other hand, all their skirts (and I was looking for a black skirt specifically to go with my Mr Rose shirt) were unbearably awful on me, so I wasted about twenty extra minutes confirming there was no way in hell I was buying a single one of them. That done, I mooched into the Strand Arcade. I tried one black number at the Scandinavian store – Funkjis? – then cruised upstairs and into Alannah Hill. I’ve never bought AH before… too girly, frilly, frou-frou for me a lot of the time, so I don’t really know what directed me into the store on Saturday, but I’d been there under two minutes when my beady little eyes spotted a short black silk skirt. This was a good start, because my Mr Rose shirt is silk too. Mmmm… I thought, ensemble. The style was also good, as was the length, having satisfied myself earlier that the original idea of a pencil skirt was perfect only for someone who looks nothing like me. Nope, I needed it above the knee (you probably don’t care, but I can tell you it’s because all the length in my legs is in the thigh; I have stumpy little calves so pencil skirts don’t work and also make my hips look gigantic). In I went to the changeroom clutching my prize, and sure enough, GOLD! I literally scrambled out there, hastily paid and fled home before anything could go wrong with this wondrous day.
Sunday, Llew was hung over from the Buck’s Night. I was bored, so I started detailing for him as he tried to sleep through the entire day the shoes I wanted to go with my skirt and shirt. “It’s sort of almost like a tap shoe,” I said, “but with a much higher heel. Rounded toe, possibly even patent.”
Llew was naturally enthralled by this description. He lives to listen to my droning on about accessories when he’s come home trembling after a night on the piss. I could tell he was super excited by the way he lay there prone and snoring.
After he’d finally wasted the day away, he emerged – he’s alive! – and we decided to go for a walk to catch the dying light. When we got into the village, we walked into one store – one – and there in the McLean and Page boutique (another place I don’t usually shop because it can be too pricey for this little freelancer) were the exact shoes I’d described in such minute detail to Llew. They were even patent, and I don’t think I’ve owned a pair of patent shoes since my First Communion. I gulped loudly and asked the salesgirl how much. She said “Oh, I think they’re four hundred and something,” and my heart sank. “Let me just check,” she said, and wandered off. Llew looked at the bottom of the shoes. “They’re made in China,” he said. “They can’t be four hundred bucks.”
And Llew was right. They weren’t. They were a hundred and something. Certainly not giving them away, but juuuuuuuust affordable enough to come to Mama!!! My perfect shoes! My lovely, ideal shoes! I was beaming from ear to ear for the rest of the night, actually blissing out about these shoes. I still can’t get over them. I just like to look at them against my shirt/skirt ensemble laid out on the bed (tell me I am not the only one who does this). I almost can’t stand the thought of wearing what is now the Right Outfit. It Works. It doesn’t happen very often, but on the weekend I experienced Total Wish Fulfilment and a state of retail grace. And that’s it. I’m quitting while I’m ahead. No more shops for me until I need a pair of basic black trousers in about four years.