Style-wise

Yesterday, I finally did what I’d been threatening / dreaming of doing for ages: give my wardrobe a make-over. After my humming-and-hawing before, I arranged an appointment with Clara Halpin, the personal shopper for the Arnotts Department Store. DH came along too. She asked was I looking for anything in particular and seemed phased when I said I wanted to start from scratch. I can empathise – a blank canvas is daunting.

When we sat in her office she tried to tease-out more detail out of me. Did I like a layered look or more classic style? Do I wear dresses? What would be my basic colour? It was my turn to be stumpted! When I told her about how…

  • I’m not interested in fashion or what is “on trend”
  • I don’t buy “women’s magazines”
  • and how I hated shopping for clothes

… I’m pretty sure the blood drained from her face.

After we walked around the floor of the shop I realised that “layered-look” meant frou-frou, wafty-flouncy shite and quickly established myself in the “classic” camp. We – DH included – gathered a few possibilities off the rails. This was possibly the most challenging part for me because I went completely blank and couldn’t see anything I liked or wanted. Just as well I was doing what I was doing, eh?

So back to a changing room – with DH ensconced patiently outside – and I tried on a few things. It soon became obvious I needed help in the underwear department (I still wear my breast-feeding bras… three years after I need to!) and an expert was quickly summoned. She came back and fitted me in a cup-size I have never even dreamed of: Double D??? Are we doing vanity-sizing in bras now? Anyway, they’re pretty and comfortable so I came home with three bras and ALL breast-feeding bras have now been dumped!

From here on in, Clara did a fair stint at earning a saint-hood. I don’t know how many people she rounded up to help but shoes were arriving, clothes, underwear at regular intervals and all I had to do was try them on. I didn’t even succeed at that! One or two items I never got as far as trying out.

Clara had great tips for me that I can carry into the future when shopping for clothes:

  • I’m wider at my hips than at my shoulders so I need cap-sleeves or sholder pads to give balance to my hips
  • you should buy jeans in two different lengths: one for wearing with flats for running around and one to change into to wear with heels, should you decide to go for a drink later (I didn’t like to tell her that the chances of the latter we slim if not nothing but somehow ended up with the longer length!)
  • I’ve got great legs so I should wear heels – it’s so simple when she put it that way!

But this is quite funny, all in it’s own right. Behold, my new shoes (on top of the box) vs my old shoes (on the floor).

First up are my best pair of work shoes – for when I’m trying to dress myself up a bit. Note the height of the heel? Can’t see it? Yeah. I actually thought these had a heel. My new shoes are peep-toe. For someone who has always believed in keeping my toes to myself, this is pretty radical. Will I start painting my toes next is the next cliff-hanger of a question.

Compare now my “running-around” shoes of old and new:

At €90 this pair of Ecco was (previously) the most I’d ever spent on a pair of shoes. My new “running-around” shoes are comfortable even if I won’t be running at quite such a frenetic pace as before.

One big surprise of the two-hour session was Dresses!!! They were coming into the dressing-room at a fierce rate and – after a “slurp-me-up” had been purloined from the underwear department – they actually started to look well on me. I didn’t admit it to Clara, but I stopped wearing dresses when I started breast-feeding – we’re talking 2002 here! And I’d never got into it again. As Clara pointed out: dresses are great – one thing and you’re done! I came away with three – two of which (navy & deep purple) I’m not sure about keeping.


I think they’re too formal for work – no-one wears dresses there – and if I can’t get to wear them to work I have to wonder what’s the point in keeping them when they cost €550 between them.

The real find of the day was the “slurp-me-up” or “slurp-suits” as I’m calling them – “onsies” that look like bathing suits for Victorian men! These iron out all the ripples and VPL that I might have when wearing the dresses. I got two of them, in black and “skin”.

So part of the whole exercise was throwing out my existing wardrobe. Some items I’ve incorporated with what I bought yesterday but most I’ve quite happily sent to the retirement home, such as these – two pairs of torn jeans:

Some things that I have decided to throw out with regret. I reckon I should knit these again:

My comfy, orange cardigan – with interesting wrap-over fronts (the outer one is knit sideways) and my Fair-isle jumper.

Both of these have served me very well over many years and you might wonder why I should make such an extreme call against knit-wear – albeit shop-bought.

Well, here’s a close-up:

All the bobbles and pilling mean it really has served its time and has to go.
Oh, well, I’ve been meaning to knit a fair-isle jumper for a while…

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6 Responses to “Style-wise”

  1. Sinéad Says:

    Wow, that was a pretty intense shopping experience. Did you find it daunting having someone examine you so critically or was it a light bulb moment when you were logically told what suits you? I’d like to do something like this, but the lack of larger size clothes means I may as well walk around the one, possibly two shops there are.
    BTW, love the dresses. Never mind if no one else wears them in work, if you wear them you’ll look and feel great. One up for you, I think!

  2. Jenny Says:

    Wow, you did really well. I did the style council in Dundrum, but didn’t buy as much. It’s kind of a nice feeling when someone is just handing you things to try on, especially things you would never pick up yourself, and then they look great on. I had a few lightbulb moments too, especially re dresses. I don’t think it matters what anyone else in the office wears, as long as you feel comfortable. My office is the same, jeans jeans and more jeans and I’m a bit fed up of it. Keep the dresses, for a few weeks anyway!

  3. Bridget Says:

    This was inspiring, and congrats to you for going through with it!

    I love dresses. No one wears them much where I work either, but I’ve decided that I don’t care, and where mine when I feel like it. Good luck!

  4. sheknitupthat Says:

    I really really want to overhaul my wardrobe after reading this post!! KEEP the dresses. They are fabulous. And if nobody in your office wears dresses, so what? Wear yours!

  5. Mairin Says:

    Great post! Please post later to let us know how these new items are working out in real life, and whether you become the dress-wearing pioneer in the office.

  6. Crafty Blog Update 10th-16th April « Irish Knitting & Crochet Says:

    […] talks style-wise; how a project doesn’t cooperate; how to cheat at crochet and a stash […]


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