Hello, my name is petite and I’m a fully recovered shopaholic.
The New Year sales started at an unfeasibly early hour yesterday morning here in Paris (which felt odd, considering some had begun before Christmas in the UK). I for one will be scrupulously avoiding any form of retail therapy for the duration. I can think of few things worse than braving the Galéries Lafayette or Printemps department stores only to have to fight my way through hordes of middle aged women in tasteless (fake?) fur coats and trowelled-on make-up to ferret out ‘une bonne affaire’. I observed, with detached amusement, the women in the Monoprix next to my office sourcing and even trying on items on Monday and Tuesday in preparation for the hallowed opening day on Wednesday 12 February. But I realised I had no desire whatsoever to join them.
BT (Before Tadpole), shopping was a hobby which took up a fair amount of my time. The whole point of Saturdays was to spend hours scouring my favourite shops with Mr Frog for items of clothing and shoes to buy. We shopped at an eclectic mix of stores: from H&M to Kiliwatch, Zara to the Agnès B, as well as in Dior, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton private sales (when I worked for a luxury goods empire and could get hold of invitations). We were young(er), on decent salaries, mortgageless and had nothing better to do than spend money frivolously. The sales were an opportunity to lust after reduced (but still obscenely expensive) Marc Jacobs ballerina pumps or Miu Miu handbags at Kabuki.
Mr Frog possesses a quality rare in men: he likes shopping. Not just for his own clothes (where he is fastidious to the point of being impossible to buy for), but he actually enjoys shopping with me/for me. He would give me advice on what to buy, and tried to take all the credit for my gradual transition from a doc marten wearing grunge goddess (when we met) to whatever I have now become. I did on occasion have to be firm, because being a woman I instinctively know when something which looks very attractive on a coathanger will be ill-suited to my hourglass figure. On the whole though he excelled in his role of guru and partner in crime. This is an unusual quality to find in a heterosexual man (I have always joked that if he left me, it would be for a man), but I wasn’t complaining. It was good fun shopping together.
It was the arrival of Tadpole which cured my shopping habit overnight.
I can now no longer endure weekend trips into central Paris, knowing that this will first entail negotiating several flights of stairs with a pushchair, then ramming said pushchair into fellow traveller’s shins in a crowded, airless metro carriage. Several more flights of stairs and long underground corridors later, we will finally emerge onto a congested, and often dirty pavement where the crowds do not magically part at the sight of a pushchair. And where hundreds of lighted cigarettes are brandished at Tadpole’s eye level.
Although I had never noticed this previously, I can count the number of Parisian shops equipped with a lift on the fingers of one hand. To my amazement I have shopped at several stores where infants’ clothes are located on the first floor, accessible only via a single flight of stairs, with neither a lift nor an escalator in sight. Should we need to make a Tadpole pit stop, restaurants with baby changing facilities or high chairs are few and far between. So shopping with a child is only for the ferociously motivated. It’s a parcours du combattant I can well do without.
The alternative is a relay-race dash to the shops. First I snatch my couple of hours while Mr Frog entertains the Tadpole, then I pass the baton to Mr Frog and it is his turn to ride off into the smog on his Vespa. It’s not half as much fun as shopping together. I miss Mr Frog’s company and feel a pang of guilt at squandering some of the precious time Tadpole and I have together, which means that leisurely browsing and actually trying things on has been replaced by a one-stop lightening visit to Gap every few months from which I bring back every item I like in my size, fervently praying it will all fit.
So, if you came here expecting extensive coverage of the glamorous Parisian sales, sorry to disappoint.