I can’t count the times I’ve set off for the high street in search of sensible, flattering clothes and returned home empty-handed, with the suspicion that there was something wrong with me.
How else could it be that, with all that bountiful array on parade in all the shop windows, I couldn’t find anything suitable?
Shops wouldn’t stock clothes that people wouldn’t buy, so everyone else must be buying and wearing them. The problem must be me.
Maybe I was:
- Too short (extremely likely)
- Too stingy (likely)
- Too picky (maybe)
- Too prudish (really?)
- The only one
I’m very used to being different from the people around me so I accepted yet one more oddity and went on with my life in my tattered and worn clothes. Then I read this article
and this one
It was an angels-singing-in-heaven moment. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t ‘wrong’. I was just one of the ‘Claires’. I followed Claire around the shops with my imagination, and then I followed her home. I pictured her life, the challenges she faced, her worries and her dreams. So, here, meet Claire:
Claire is an ordinary woman in her later thirties or forties. She has a family and, likely, she has a job, but it’s not one that takes her jet-setting or demands the purchase of evening wear. It’s likely a job that doesn’t excite her and it’s been the fruit of her choosing family over career when the kids were younger.
She’s the family workhorse and this means that she’s got very little time for herself or for her husband/partner (if she’s got one). She wants to be a good mother but all that she’s read and heard has convinced that she’s doing a shoddy job at it and will never be able to rise to the challenge.
She’s saddled with so much guilt about being an imperfect mother, an imperfect wife/partner and an imperfect employee that she doesn’t indulge in treats for herself. She views dinners with friends, girls’ holidays or spa’s ladies’ trips like extravagant luxuries that she, always running against the clock, cannot afford (no time) and, possibly, doesn’t deserve.
Even finding time to go shopping for her own clothes is a struggle, which means that she only goes when she’s desperate. With a long list of ‘must finds’, her shopping trip is a gargantuan task rather than a pleasant pastime. Returning home with an empty boot and an unchecked list is a personal failure.
But finding clothes that Claire will wear is difficult: she’s borne children and does not want to show her wobbly midriff. She won’t part with her bra for the sake of a backless dress, and she feel much more comfortable with her shoulders covered rather than exposed (her tan only goes up to the sleeve mark). She doesn’t have time to take garments to the dry cleaners, nor to hand-wash them and lay them flat to dry. In summer, she doesn’t care for clothes which are suitable for a Majorcan holiday, because it’s the British weather she needs to face 95% of the time.
In the end, she returns home with a multipack of school shirts for her kids (these were also on the list), and goes online to buy again her high waist jeans, her favourite pair which she has unfortunately outgrown in the last ten years. Only to be incensed at the discovery that they’re out of production.
I think you’ve got the picture. I can recognise many Claires around me and, in most aspects, I’m one too.
Do you know any Claires?
Do you see yourself in her?
Are you so busy looking after others, absolving your duties, that you never make time for yourself?
Have you got a word of advice (or sympathy) for Claire?
[I’m so fond of Claire that I cannot leave her shopping misadventures without a happy ending. So here it is:
Claire’s teen daughter walks into the rooms. Peeks into Claire’s laptop (parents don’t deserve privacy).
‘Are you getting yourself new jeans?’
‘I wish. I can’t find anything.’
‘I’ve got a pair I don’t want anymore. Try it.’
Claire is desperate enough to try her daughter’s low-rise jeans.
‘They look really good on you, Mum!’
‘I guess, with a long top…’]