This week TWR had an emergency text from one of our favourite independent stores, Nom de Plume in East Sheen. "Help!" texted Pippa, 'what should I say to the MANY women who try something on, LOVE it, KNOW they look great but then say they can't wear it because they're too old".
We dashed round to assist (and before you ask, we had NO alterior motive of checking if perhaps anything new had come in AT ALL, we were just there to help……) and took TWR reader Ros, a very cany shopper herself, as a second opinion.
Pippa has run out of things to say to try and persuade customers that they really do look wonderful in the clothes they try on and is close to pulling her hair out over why they insist they are too old to wear things.
What are the triggers for going 'I'm too old' I ask?…..Often, says Pippa, it's a hint of a frill, maybe a flared skirt, frequently skirt length, even though Pippa reminds them that you can get away with really quite short skirts with the help of good opaque black tights and a pair of boots. Anything too 'girly' is shunned as inappropriate.
Ros says her two beautiful teenage daughters, who can wear pretty much anything and look amazing, make her realise many of the trends she'd love to wear look SO much better on them that she knows it's best to leave them to it. She acknowledges that she is a teeny bit jealous too, and I remember feeling SO jealous of the girls in the office this summer wearing little denim shorts with black tights, a look I would consider way too young for me but something I so very much wished I could do.
Another prohibitor for Pippa's customers is 'what other people will think' and she notes that most are still troubled by that horrible saying 'mutton dressed as lamb', which should be struck from our lexicon from here on. The really sad thing is that many of these women look really AMAZING in what they put on, continues Pippa, but nothing she says convinces them.
Both Ros and I wonder if it is not turning 40 but turning 50 that is a major un-settler for us. If you are happy and in reasonable shape, turning 40 hardly makes a difference to you, but as you approach 50, skin (around the face and the waist) really does soften, fat wont shift and there is no getting away from the gentle signs of age. Layer on top of that the weirdness and confidence-sapping effects of the menopause, which hits on average at 52, and it becomes clear to see that there is a particular period of time that women feel unsure about pretty much everything.
This coincides with something Pippa has noticed too, that often her older customer (those of 60, 70 and 80) couldn't give a fig about other people's opinions and are supremely confident in picking their clothes free of any 'ageing' inhibitions.And they look fantastic according to Pippa, often picking bold and fabulous shapes and colours to wear.
Is it because these customers have now happily got their heads around how they have changed and understand they can still wow with a great frock? While the 'danger zone age' of 48-55 is still trying to figure out what makes them look and feel good?
Perhaps it's worth focussing on this super-sensitive age, when we re look at our external image and wonder who on earth we are now? We all know we still think we're at least 15 years younger than we actually are, but maybe the on set of the menopause is a horrible reality check that shakes our confidence?
All of this was very interesting, but I'm not sure we really helped Pippa figure out what to say to those customers who can't see through all the issues. What do you think? Would anything make you stop buying something?If so what? And would a nice sales assistant saying the right things persuade you to change your mind? Comments please ladies!