Róisín Ingle on ... falling for a shop

Block colours. Beautiful cuts. Classic yet cool. Clothes it’s clear a warehouse full of thought had gone into. Clothes for Every Woman, everywhere my eyes landed.

Block colours. Beautiful cuts. Classic yet cool. Clothes it’s clear a warehouse full of thought had gone into. Clothes for Every Woman, everywhere my eyes landed.

 

I spent the guts of an hour talking about Tiger, the discerning person’s pound shop, with a group of women recently. It was one of those meandering lunches where the chat veered from Greek debt to the mystery of why boring old duct tape doesn’t come in gingham or polka dot patterns to comedian and author Tara Flynn’s excellent Armagayddon video which is well worth a Google if you fancy a giggle.

We also talked about Dress For Success, Sonya Lennon’s organisation that helps women back into the workplace, coaching them on interview techniques and kitting them out in clothes that will make a good impression, give them confidence. (If you want to help them, go out and buy a Bobbi Brown “Pretty Powerful” pot rouge. All proceeds of that lovely little pot go to Dress For Success.)

Dressing for success is not something I can say I’ve ever consciously done but I can see how in a lot of situations the clothes maketh the woman, or at least they maketh the woman feel better about herself and her place in the world. We don’t ask for much from clothes, do we? What I really mean is, we ask a lot. I do anyway.

Here’s what I want: I want them to fit me for a start which being on the larger side is quite a big ask in most clothes shops. I want them to evoke aspects of my personality: a “sometimes loud, occasionally introverted, mostly messy, likes to do her own thing, approachable lone ranger” type of vibe. But while when I know Tiger is the place where I will find those important items to put smiles on my children’s faces or cheer up my house or make me look like an effortlessly organised parent at birthday parties, the holy grail of clothes shops has been annoyingly elusive. Until now.

“Why didn’t you tell me about X*?” I whined to my mother. “I thought you knew all about X,” she said. “Everyone knows about it.” (It’s bad when your 75- year-old mother is more ahead of the curve than you. Really bad.)

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Now I came to think about it, I had heard about X a lot but I just decided it was like Y and Z and even though people raved about the place, it wasn’t a shop I could frequent. A shop that fit the criteria above. A shop for people like me.

I used to walk past X finding the minimalist window displays slightly intimidating. (By now, a lot of you will know the shop I am talking about. Some of you knew a paragraph ago.) I thought these were clothes for female characters in House of Cards, for people who lived in houses with uncluttered surfaces. They were “modern” and “functional”, which makes me think of a high-tech washing machine not a person, but they didn’t speak to me. Or if they did speak to me, they said, “Come back to us when you are a proper grown-up.” So I ignored X for ages.

And then, in another of my horribly frustrating trawls through Dublin shops, growing increasingly sweaty and self-critical, I walked past X. “Sure, what harm?” I thought. It looked like a calming place and as soon as I stepped inside, I had an inkling that I’d found the holy grail. “A uniform,” I thought as I wandered around, touching fabrics, admiring elegantly shaped – and yet still cool – dresses. “What I need is a uniform. I just never found a shop that sells The Uniform in sizes that will go near me.”

These were clothes that would make most women of all shapes, sizes and sensibilities look good. Block colours. Beautiful cuts. Classic yet cool. Clothes it’s clear a warehouse full of thought had gone into. Clothes for Every Woman, everywhere my eyes landed.

I went out that night dressed from necklace to dress to scarf in stuff from X. I got a slew of compliments. But it wasn’t about how I looked in this gear, it was about how I felt. I felt like myself only more comfortable. Like myself only cooler.

It turns out X inspires a kind of fervoured passion in a lot of women. Women like me and women unlike me. I think I know why.

This shop thinks very seriously about women, about what they wear, and what they need and then, instead of slavishly following trends, it goes its own way with that information. If you are at a loss for Mother’s Day presents for the discerning mother, you’ll find something there, I promise. It turns out I am in love. With a shop.

roisin@irishtimes.com

*You probably know this already but it’s a three-letter shop. The first letter is C. The last one is S. I’ve said too much.