It was Samuel Johnson that said ‘when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’. After a recently underwhelming trip to Oxford Circus, I’m tempted to write to the fellow and request if he add an addendum to this;
'When a girl is tired of Topshop, she is tired of life.'
This shop which dressed me almost exclusively for the latter half of the Noughties did not inspire the usual pulse-quickening, arm-tiring euphoria that usually accompanies a browse of the London flagship when I stopped by on Wednesday afternoon (I’d been home for the last week and I nipped up to town for official business). Thoughts on the train home put this down to a number of reasons.
1. Being in France. When scuba divers come to the surface, they take it gradually to avoid decompression sickness. Maybe I should have taken a leaf out of their book - months of living on the continent has got me used to puffa jackets, and neutral colours, and jeans, and practical shoes. Perhaps I ambitiously headed for the mothership of Cool Britannia and the antithesis of French style too soon, and should have decompressed myself gradually via Zara and Mango.
2. Sizing. I’ve mentioned this before about high street sizes, but in my opinion Topshop is one of the worst offenders. Friends/anyone who’s seen me in a bikini will vouch that I am no Pamela Anderson or even David Hasselhoff boobie-wise. Similarly my waist is nowhere near that of Karlie Kloss’. Two Size 8 dresses proved to strain across my chest like the Hulk mid-transformation and then sag depressingly from the ribcage to mid-thigh. This means a Topshop 8 is roughly 31-27-37, as opposed to 32-25-35. Must do better, cutters.
3. Textile and prints. Bile reflex. It’s not even mid-February and most retailers are falling over themselves to flog sundresses, shifts, kaftans, blouses, camisoles etc. in an array of eye-assaulting prints. SOMETIMES they can look fantastic, Zara have certainly come up trumps (a friend having already snapped up the exquisitely floral suit trousers - dammit), especially if you’ve seen them on the website or styled correctly in a magazine. But already sifting through racks of daisy-festooned poly-blend, hanging raggedly half-inside out from it’s hanger like a drunken slapper falling from a taxi? Must I?
Zara on the other hand: love me some sequin Aztec.
4. Branding. Think of the last time you saw a Topshop campaign. Was it the grey marl t-shirt dress and simple studded necklace you so coveted? Or was it the impossibly beautiful, porcelain skinned waif staring out with all the insouciant disregard of that cool girl in VIth form who made you hate all of your Tammy Girl wardrobe? All shops sell a lifestyle rather than just the garments - look at Abercrombie/Hollister for a lesson in how a hoody will have you snogging a lacrosse player on a beach in Maine - but Topshop just seems to me more apparent. They stand out from the Euro-centric Aryans-in-monocrhome-with-a-price-tag-next-to-them Mango/Zara/H&M brigade and the catalogue-babe-with-a-boyfriend-in-blue Dorothy Perkins/Next/Debenhams, but I think in a way this rather sets you up for disappointment.
I will never look this cool. Even if I did fit into this.
5. The brilliance of the clothes. Almost exact copies of catwalk dresses are always big news, and Topshop is universally famous for this. I love affordable fashion. I would not love buying it and everyone recognising it as a copy and as something they too splashed £45 on and subsequently got tagged in on Facebook. Er…
So if you’re reading this, Sir Philip Green, please redesign your successful, billion dollar franchise to woo me back. I don’t think it’s much to ask.