Rosemary Mac Cabe

Hemlines, heels and haute couture – your daily dose

What a difference a face-to-face makes

I have serious issues, of late, with shopping in Topshop‘s real-life store (as I become more and more consumed by the internet, I begin to define things in terms of “real life” and “online” – my “real-life” friends, my “online” …

Wed, Mar 31, 2010, 17:09


I have serious issues, of late, with shopping in Topshop‘s real-life store (as I become more and more consumed by the internet, I begin to define things in terms of “real life” and “online” – my “real-life” friends, my “online” friends, and so on). A little like Crawdaddy of a Thursday evening, it’s teeming with teenagers looking hipper than I could ever hope to look, but, more importantly, the mark-up made during the sterling-euro conversion process would make a grown man cry. Or a grown woman, even. A pair of shoes, purchased for £65 cost €93 in the store, and surely the highest of import taxes couldn’t justify that kind of leap.

But today I went for a ramble around Topshop, in the throes of sourcing clothing for a shoot, and found a bag that had a £40 price tag on it, converted to . . . €46. Well, knock me over with a feather – things are looking up.

Then I began looking around in earnest, and found that the store – especially the one on St Stephens’ Green, which is huge – has a lot going for it that the website does not (and then it descends into a discussion of online versus “real-life” shopping . . .).

Firstly, there’s the possibility to touch and TRY ON the items. This has become a bit of a novelty for me, because (and here’s a little secret), I don’t love shopping. I love purchasing, and there is a careful difference. The act of shopping requires effort. You must browse, you must try things on. The act of purchasing, on the other hand, is an impulsive one. I see, I find size (roughly), I buy. But then the torture begins. I bring home, I realise that I have nothing to go with it, it doesn’t fit, it is entirely unsuitable for my lifestyle / bike / body shape. THEN it languishes.

[As an aside - and an excuse to use square brackets, no less - I currently have, upstairs, languishing in my room, two pairs of shoes, one of which is the wrong size, the other of which is, um, horrible; a pair of jeans that is the wrong size; a skirt that I will never wear; and a dress that looks like something I might have worn to my 10th birthday party, had I been particularly fashionable.]

Secondly, there is a much bigger selection instore than there is online. If I think about it logically, it doesn’t make that much sense – but the store in Dublin has at least double the number of dresses, for example, as the website.

Thirdly, you get to see things merchandised. Urban Outfitters and Asos do a great job of this on their websites, but other sites are lacking in showing you how to wear things. Of course, some people are naturally gifted at styling and know exactly what they want to wear, and how – but for others, it helps to see items in their natural habitat, so to speak, alongside other items and accessory ideas.

So what’s the advice? Head instore. Take a gander – try things on. But check out the euro-sterling exchange rates on the labels, and compare with the website before buying to make sure you’re getting the best value.

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