Anna reflects on how it can be difficult to be go clothes shopping when you can't see very well.
The young are all blessed with beauty. I admit that beauty is a subjective judgement. I think that my god daughter, who is keen on an orange skin tone, is a great beauty, although I have not, until now, been a great fan of orange.
I wish I had known all of this when I was young and not at all bad looking. Now I have to remind myself that I will never be any younger or better looking than I am today, so I had better make the most of it, and making the most of it means shopping for clothes.
The challenge is how to shop if you cannot see to do it.
A blind woman I know is always impeccably presented. Surely it cannot be her husband who supports her in this. Left to the choices of the men I know I would be the owner of a double breasted mustard coloured blazer with epilates and half sleeves, a selection of synthetic zip up Scandinavian knitwear and some remarkably ambitious underwear.
The trouble with my female friends is their tendency to impose their tastes on me. What they know with certainty, because they can see what I can not, is what is best for me. What I know with total certainty, because I can smell a turkey at fifty meters, is that they never get it right.
My default position is to revert to what I know works. This will inevitably be a blue dress in the style of the many blue dresses I have in my wardrobe, which is now packed with blue dresses I hope to rely on over a life time of needing to dress myself.
Last year, during a blue dress pre-purchase try on, I overheard a voice I knew, but could not place, in the cubicle next to me. She was with her personal shopper. Obviously I solicited an opinion. “Buy the blue dress,” they said, so I did.
The challenge is now on to buy an outfit for my son’s wedding. I do not want to look like the Mother of the Groom. It is enough that I am his Mother.
At the very least I think that I have four blue dresses that I can fit into now that would probably get me through the day without disgracing myself. I probably have another four that I like a lot and wish I had not had taken in. I might even have another four that would provide coverage.
What I have also come to realise is that, just like crossing the road, this could end in a car crash. This is not a job for or any one of my friends, male or female, but rather, a job for a professional, and I’ve made a start. I’ve dipped my toe in the water and had my first experience of a personal shopper.
All I had to do was book it. No more searching the rails, no more bemusement, no more knocking things over, no more exhaustion with trying to see what I can no longer see, no more giving up and going home.
My personal shopper had an approach that encouraged me to trust her. Her job, she explained, was to give expression to the way I saw myself. What was in my imagination?
Not once did she say “I think you should try a bigger size,” or “what about orange?” or “actually I can’t take this anymore.” Or “definitely get the G-string.” She was there to facilitate and that stretched to helpful descriptions of fit and look and all the searching. All I had to do was say that I didn’t want anything in blue.
The personal shopper is a fabulous development. Every sight impaired person should have them as standard issue. Beyond the obvious advantage of being able to over ride their personal prejudices, in the choice of my clothes, they are a way of securing the longevity of my friendships with nearest and dearest as well as the promise of comfortable underwear.