If I had to pick out my body on an identity parade I don’t think I could – I’m not that confident I’d even get my head right. First impressions have always put me off looking too closely.
My hair frizzes; my feet are flat – my knees cockeyed; my shoulders bony; my sight short; and my rump rounded – well-rounded. A quick glance always drives me back to the comfortable land of not bothering – bagged in by excuses – children, dogs and stuff.
Occasionally problems like me turn up in front of personal stylists. We’re normally dragged there by someone else. I was. Reluctant and avoiding eye contact I arrived in the boutique, to meet Florence.
Florence is French – as slim as a champagne flute, no frills, watchful and poised.
First it was a chat – a chance for her to have a quick look around inside my head – to start to snip away at my inhibitions. Then she sent me to walk around the racks of clothes to pick out what I liked. The instruction was to just choose what I liked at first glance and that she would do the same with me in mind.
In the fifteen minutes or so I managed a hesitant handful whilst she achieved armloads.
Next came cups of tea, ground rules and expectations. I was to trust her and to try. Then I was sent to the rail, where my choices now hung alongside hers, and told to take out the clothes I didn’t like and to put them on the stand behind me.
This I could do and I did it in a rush until it began to dawn on me that Florence had a plan …. but I’d realised too late. I spent the next hour trying on the reject pile and parading the result.
It was hard work but surpising and, due to low expectation of the reject pile, there was never any disappointment. I felt a bit as though I was on a stage acting all the well-dressed strangers who appeared in the mirror whilst costume designer Florence skimmed to and fro scanning finished arrangements, adding accessories and tweaking fabrics.
If I showed stage fright or nerves, if so much as a whimper squeaked out, or a bulgy bit was allowed to bother, I was scolded back to confidence.
Florence worked with me for about two hours before delivering her masterstroke – she allowed me to try on my choices. At least I would have if I hadn’t been shrivelled by her despair before I even got them off the hanger. It was as though I had tried to present a plate of frozen chips in a MasterChef final.
“That is baggy.” “That is hiding your shape.” “That colour is too strong.” “Could I not see that?”
I could. I didn’t dare put my head or rump into any of them.
Who would? The petite and persuasive stylist had transformed me from duck to diva, at least in my head, and that was where it mattered.
Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2018