Friday, 29 July 2011

A Daughter's Plea to M&S

Dear Mr Marks & Mr Spencer

I don’t believe you’ve met my mother - or indeed any 84 year old lady (size 12 and approximately 5’ 3’’) who wants to look stylish rather than fuddy-duddy or mutton dressed as lamb.

If you had, your stores would be catering for them - and they’re clearly not.

Which is strange really because most M&S branches seem to be filled with this particular breed of older lady.  Admittedly, they appear to be walking around with a slightly dazed look in their eyes - but this has nothing to do with dementia and everything to do with the fact that you’re not supplying them with the type of fashion that appeals to them.

They can have as many crimplene, non-crease, stitched seam, half-elasticated waist trousers as their little hearts desire, as long as they don’t mind them being totally shapeless (e.g. a size 12 waist with a 16 hip - flattering!)  They can team these with cheesecloth cowboy ‘blouses’ with sleeves fit for an orangutan.  My mother is short and, thankfully, has arms proportionate to her body size - if her arms were the length of your sleeves, she’d be walking around with her fingertips dragging on the floor.  Old age is tough enough; please don’t inflict that on her as well.

Then we have the ‘stylish’ necks on your T-shirts.  I can’t deny you’re filling your shelves with attractive designs in summery colours to tempt older customers but I don’t think you’re considering the décolletage of the older lady.  After a certain age, some women have no desire to reveal cleavage or excess of skin.  Your overly scooped necklines not only leave them flashing the flesh, but also their bra straps and thermal vests.

Trouser lengths can vary from the sublime to the ridiculous - on a good day my mother can purchase a standard length without a hitch (literally!) - on a bad day, she’s swamped.  I myself am 5’ 9’’ so would usually go for the longer length, but in your linen trousers I need short.  I can only begin to imagine what my mother would look like in a pair of these.

Aside from the clothes, your lighting is atrocious - and I don’t mean from a vanity point of view, I mean migraine-inducing.  If you turn too quickly, you’re hit Gestapo like with the full force of a spotlight.

Our large local retail park store has only three mirrors for customers to view your wares.  I don’t deny my mother needs to exercise but, at her late stage in life, she gets this from gardening and shouldn’t have to schlep around your stores looking for something as simple as a mirror.  An hour’s shopping can end up feeling like a marathon for her.

But I must admit you gave us a laugh when we used your disabled changing room.  A pleasant, roomy cubicle with a padded seat which looked a little commode-like, slap-bang against the full length mirror!  My mother would have needed to mount the chair and shuffle backwards to stand a chance in hell of getting a look at herself.  Needless to say, she declined.  So, if you should have a sudden influx of returns, it will be from all the ladies who were unable to try things on successfully before giving up and heading for the tills.

On the upside, I generally find your staff polite and helpful.  I’d prefer it though if they said “Sorry to keep you waiting” instead of “Thank you for waiting”.  What’s our alternative, shop-lifting?

But still the continuing drama of finding mother-suitable attire continues.  It seems a shame.  She lived through a war with no money to spend on clothes and now, when she can afford to treat herself, there’s nothing you have to offer her - and she’s not your only elderly consumer.

So, Mr Marks & Mr Spencer, if you’re ever looking for a buyer for the older lady or a realistic body size, my mum’s the girl for the job.  She’s supported you enough over the years so I think it’s the least you can do!

Yours truly,

Mummy Misfit (Daughter of the Mum in Misfit Clothes)

Diary of a Mummy Misfit is available on Amazon for Kindle. Now also in paperback at Lulu.

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