Topshop. What does that name conjure up for you? Crammed rails, hyper teens, sweaty changing rooms? Me too. So the thought of spending a day trawling the rails to look for something for myself wasn’t something I was overly enthused about! But, Nick and our content editor, Jayne decided that this would be a good experiment – can women of my age still shop at Topshop? I don’t mean picking up the odd thing here and there - we all do that – but properly picking through clothes and choosing whole outfits, from head to toe, in a shop aimed at girls my daughter’s age.
Now I don’t think I’m a frump and I’m also not a snob - the reason I haven’t spent longer than ten minutes in Topshop is because it’s normally too busy, too noisy and too hot. Oh, and too filled with teenagers - and as I’m normally following behind my own, waiting for them to either make a decision to get the hell out of there, there’s not been much of a pull to get me in. Until now. So, how did I get on? My point of view, I have to say it was an eye-opener.
We went mid-week, mid-afternoon, during school hours, so it was quiet. That’s a big tick from me.
The second big tick was we had so much stuff they let us use the stylist room, so we didn’t have to cram into the changing rooms, tiptoeing out barely-dressed to swap sizes. We didn’t ask for this, or get special treatment (trust me, the staff were kids, they had no idea who I was) so it was great to have space, and a seat. Us oldies like both.
I had no say in the outfits. None. Nick and Jayne swooped round the shop like Gok Wan and Gok Two, grinning and picking things off the rails that I wouldn’t have looked at once, never mind twice. The colours made my eyes water. The patterns made my head spin.
Their mission, and they didn’t just accept it, they made it up and thrust it upon me, was to get me out of my favourite off-duty uniform of black jeans and jumpers and into something a bit more colourful. And fashionable. And young. But did they succeed…?
“I really like this, it’s already the kind of thing I’d wear. These JAMIE jeans are much better, more flattering. Although they are VERY tight, and I did have to undo the top button after a while so I could breathe”
Top tip: If black is your go-to colour, start off with small introductions of print and colour to your look. The easiest way is a nice top with jeans. Or a jumper. For some reason, knitwear doesn’t seem too scary in a brighter shade. You can also add flashes of colour with a cute handbag – note how we picked one in the TGIOF orange! – or details on boots, like the rock and roll snakeskin ones.
Top tip: Coats are a great way to inject colour and pattern into your wardrobe, after all, we pretty much live in them in this country! With a check one like this, pick out contrasting colours in the check and wear one item in this shade. It will instantly make you look much more ‘together’.
Top tip: Have a look at some Instagram accounts that inspire you and take those photos with you when you go shopping. Also teaming something more formal – the pleated skirt – with a more casual top like a jumper or sweatshirt – looks very modern, and means you can’t more wear out of your smarter items of clothing.
“No, no, no. Big, baggy, unflattering, falls in all the wrong places. Nope.”
Top tip: When shopping somewhere you don’t normally, make sure you try on a variety of sizes. Don’t worry if you have to get a larger size than normal, shops like this are aimed at smaller teens, so don’t cater for our older, curvier figures. Ignore the number, look at the fit. In this case, Andrea probably needed to size down – lucky girl! Topshop also do many of their products in regular, petite and tall so there’s lot of choices for everyone.
“Yes, yes, yes! I LOVE this! It looks incredibly expensive and decadent and not at all what you’d expect from Top Shop. I don’t want to take it off. I just need a flight to Barbados and a yacht to come with it and the outfit is complete.”
Top tip: Hate patterns? Hate colour? Then monochrome is the way to go. For some reason, black and white patterns don’t feel so in your face. Plus, choosing one in softer materials such as this dress, makes the patterns feel more feminine. You can also get more wear out of a dress like this by wearing a polo neck underneath and sticking on opaque tights.
Full on colour
“I love the colour and fit of the top. The trousers are a bit ‘out there’ for me. I’m not a fan of patterned trousers and these have a tinge of American golfing gear about them, but they are actually OK.”
Top tip: Try stuff on that you wouldn’t normally go near. Yes, it may look like a horrible mess, but you also might surprise yourself!
So, the result. Can a woman my age find what she wants in Top Shop? Well, of course I think you should be able to shop wherever you damn well please, so there’s no ‘should’ or ‘can I’ about it.
But did I find something that I liked, and will I be back again? Yes and yes. And unfortunately for my bank balance, this little experiment turned out to be an expensive one. I think I’ll just call the new jeans, boots and coat early Christmas presents… for myself!
Andrea, Jayne & Nick xxx