(if it takes any longer than fifteen minutes, you’re gonna have a bad time)
I had to buy some nice clothes yesterday, for a fancy-pants ball I’m going to tomorrow, because apparently writery, Englishy-type people do that sort of thing. For the record, I’ll be wearing a dark grey jacket, black shirt, black trousers that are neither jeans, trackies nor suit trousers, and some brogues I got for forty quid, but don’t expect pictures because I’m unphotogenic as shit and I’m not breaking my current eighteen-and-a-half year streak of not taking a selfie.
But to prepare for this occasion, I had to spend five hours in the big M&S on Oxford Street, and it was the most tediously depressing afternoon of my life. First I needed my neck and chest measured, which only revealed to me that two jackets in the entire store would fit me because I’m so small and, apparently, thin; I was seriously considering shopping in the kids’ section after the annoyingly helpful shop assistant shoved a whole two jackets in my face, asking me to try them on as if I couldn’t already decide I wanted the black one over the blue one because, well, it was black.
Then looking for shirts was fun, as I trudged around the racks of neatly-folded pieces of cloth and superficial judgement that for some reason cost like twenty quid a pop, making constant unintended Spinal Tap references to myself as I asked ‘could this be any blacker?’ to every dark-coloured shirt I encountered, before finding one appropriately close to the colour of purest despair itself. This wasn’t helped by the fact that my neck is apparently as thin as a pencil, and so like 90% of the shirts in the store were too generously-necked for one such as myself. And I don’t mean to stress the look-how-thin-my-clothes-are angle too much here, but there are three types of cut of shirt and jacket at M&S – regular, tailored (smaller) and slim (the smallest); all of my clothes came from the, apparently limited edition, ‘super slim’ range, that didn’t cost any more than their larger brethren, but did make me feel a bit like an ant shopping in a store designed for buffalo.
Next came the belt, which was a surprisingly easy decision considering there was literally one belt in the store that would fit me, and then the shoes, which were basically a ‘buy the first thing you see’ job, which I then complicated for myself by texting a picture of said shoes to my father for approval (for he knows how to play this game better than I do) only for technology to tell me to piss off and refuse to send the picture, creating an unnecessary faff over a pair of shoes that are themselves unnecessary, considering I can see literally one instance in my life when I will wear them.
All of this, of course, was prefaced with the ‘aesthetic’ discussion, a marathon series of texts between myself and my father in which he told me that I needed to buy nice clothes, and I said no in increasingly angsty and immature ways, before two half-hour phone conversations about what to actually wear (types of clothes, colours, whether to wear a tie or not, etc) and the daunting price point of 400 quid for this escapade, that my dad was happy to pay for but still scared me, and the final, four-hour Facebook Messenger chat with my friend who is also going to this party, who is indeed wearing a tie (oops) and is spending eight pounds on his getup (400 my arse), which just confused me to hell and back.
Then there’s the actual process of picking clothes, which consists largely of holding up pieces of black and dark grey cloth to a colour-confusingly yellow light in a perilously small changing room that, without so much as a bench or a window, looks more like the cell Saul Tigh was held in on New Caprica, and seeing which makes you look like less of a twat; and spoiler alert – you’ll look like a twat whatever colour’s covering your ugly body. There’s also the pricks milling around you taking a genuine interest in all this garbage, and the festive music pumping weakly out of the ceiling like the voice of some god of capitalism, and the fact that the guys on the checkout, after watching you limp through their store all day like Jesus spending 40 days in the desert, ask ‘how is your day?’, and are surprised when you tell them to shove their coathangers up their c*nts as you’re being dragged away by store security, forcing you to repeat the whole awful experience at the New Look next door.
But I don’t get fashion, so that might just be me.