Happy hunting ….

There’s something about autumn leaves falling and all the colours of the outside world changing that brings out a yearning in me. I suppose I should say it’s for poesie by the fire side, or at least for apple crumble or a bonfire or two. But in fact it’s simpler and more elemental than that. I want a new handbag.

I suppose I should clarify. I want a new handbag, shoes, a few dresses and probably a coat too, although the coat cupboard door is about to explode off its newly-painted hinges.

It’s not very lyrical, is it? Yet it’s a yearning that it would be madness, sheer madness, to deny. I have, for instance, been watching Mary Portas’s show, Mary Queen of Frocks, with Child Two. Lovely Child Two probably sees it as further proof, as if it were needed, that all women over 40, and particularly her own adorable mother, are completely deranged. She likes the interaction with the daffy sales assistants. She likes Mary’s vision, and admires her oomph. I’m hoping she will become an entrepreneur on the strength of it. But I’m afraid I see it myself as one long commercial for Mary’s frocks.

Even though I know full well that Mary’s palette, of strong, rich colours teamed with black, does nothing at all for me, I couldn’t resist dragging Child Two to see Mary’s flagship in Oxford Street. I didn’t try anything on, though I was sorely tempted, because the clothes, though lovely in the flesh, as it were, were even more obviously not me close up. I think it’s plain that Mary has designed everything to suit herself – the mannequins even have her signature bright red Vidal Sassoon crop – and unfortunately she and I are not twins. Alas. I’d love to wear the lot. But better not to tempt myself by pulling on the ‘No-brainer’ dress and fooling myself, even for a moment in the changing rooms.

It was great seeing the real life Mark – the chap who turned up late on his first day – and the super-efficient blonde manageress, both seeming exactly as they do on the screen. No sign of the uber-dippy assistant, though, which was a shame as she is our favourite. The shop-within-a-shop is lovely, with a charming young man offering coffee (I’d prefer tea but it’s not available – no prizes for guessing that Mary is a coffee drinker) and a seating area near the changing rooms, what a brilliant idea.

It made me think that the only way, probably, to get the clothes you really, really want, is to design them yourself, as Mary did, or take up needlework and make them yourself, or occasionally – very occasionally – strike lucky. Every now and then, possibly once a decade, I find a garment which suits me, fits me, and which I then wear to death and wish I’d bought 20 of. There’s one coat which I bought from Alexon in Brussels eight years ago. A pair of boots I stumbled over in John Lewis once upon a time. A handbag from Louis Vuitton, which sadly is a little too streamlined for my less than aerodynamic lifestyle these days.

Now that autumn is here, I feel the need to add to this tally of three loyal, dependable items, which actually suit me, out of a not inconsiderable wardrobe. I want to make it four. Oh, who am I kidding? I want to make it five, six or even, recklessly, seven. It’s going to take a lot of hunting. Wish me luck.


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