Being Londonized.

People in London dress differently than those back home in North Carolina and Virginia. There. I’ve said it 🙂

Add to this that the shops are ENTIRELY different. Add to this the exchange rate when we moved over (2 US dollars:1 Pound –we were spending dollars on purchases while on one income) and the crowds at Oxford Street and you’ve got the perfect equation to make a Kimberly HATE shopping.

During our first year here, I was scarred by disasterous long days of going from shop to shop. Either finding nothing that I liked, nothing we could afford or nothing that I could fathom how to put together into a fashionable London outfit. I began to buy single items as I found them. Finding entire outfits that covered all the criteria was impossible and I eventually gave up. I only visited the shops when I absolutely had to have a pair of shoes or other bits and pieces. I would often go to one store and venture to find something that would work to fit a particular need and not leave that singular shop until I did.

And because we were saving for our impending move during our last year before moving abroad, and my last two US jobs didn’t take me by my favorite store on the way home,all this means that the majority of my clothes were 4-5 years old. I couldn’t be bothered to update. But yet had nothing that could be paired up into a fashionable London outfit. I spent nearly 20 minutes each day in my closet trying to mix things around a bit to make ‘cool’ outfits. No hope. Impossible.

So, after I began to work again last Fall, I began to lament my limited closet. But because of all the points mentioned above, I just couldn’t bring myself to go out and fix it. I needed the inside scoop–or at least an insider’s guide to shopping in London. At times, I made comments to the tune of ‘if ever we were wealthy I wouldn’t want a fancy car…a huge house (believe me I don’t–especially after realizing the downside of having someone in to clean it!)…or even a permanent ocean view. If wealthy, I’d want a personal shopper and perhaps a hired driver for long distance drives’ (the Tube, Plane and the Train alleviate this need :)) We’re not wealthy….but…

G heard me and found a way to make it happen as a seventh anniversary gift. And now, after finishing both the wardrobe assessment and the half day shop, I can vouch that it was the best gift I have ever received (well–maybe not cooler than G’s jewelry gifts. But right there with them :)) An angel named Zoe swooped in last weekend and helped sort my closet. Over half went to Goodwill. It was SO much easier picking outfits this week. Zoe had helped me to put outfits together out of the remaining components so I just had to get up and grab one each morning. Brilliant!

As part of the gift, I had the budget for my average annual clothing spend advanced (the annual sum rather than monthly based on our budgeting plan) so that I could make the most of the half day shop. And for those skeptics (like me) who think the shopper would drag me from designer to designer, you’re wrong. If that were the case, my clothing allowance would have resulted in maybe 1-2 items.

Instead, my shopper Zoe started at M&S for good, solid basics (apparently the UK equivalent to Target though perhaps a bit more upscale). Adorable, comfortable, fashionable shoes. Leather, stylish, designer clutch purse. Trendy, comfy sweaters and jeans. Luxury blend T’s. A stylish, cute casual jacket. Yum! And all for a song!

Then, Clarks for a pair of fashionable and comfortable walking flats. And, finally, off to Selfridges (the ground floor) for a few ‘nicer’ things to fill in the gaps. Especially, nice ‘going out’ clothes for weekend jaunts with G. G’s so excited. And I’m so excited. In a 4 hour period, we purchased more clothing than I had dreamed we would and only spent HALF the budget! And it’s all stylish and goes together and a good value.

So. Zoe and G are absolute angels. No more idle staring into my closet on grey dark mornings. Now, for the challenge of how to work all my new stuff into rotation without others noticing them in one go 🙂

I know some were skeptical of a personal shopper’s value with my last post on the topic, but I’ll end this by saying. For any non-shoppers out there who have any of the symptoms listed at the top of this post, having a personal shopper is a good treatment. And a good value. And a fantastic gift! Thanks, G…

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