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Today I did something which I haven’t done for years: I went shopping in Miss Selfridge. I used to like Miss Selfridge when I was about 16, but of course the fashions then were a lot different from now. Two Miss Selfridge purchases during my formative years which particularly spring to mind were a long, flowing skirt with flowery print, and a baggy denim shirt with white press-studs up the front. Lovely!
Well, times change, and so did Miss Selfridge – quite drastically in fact. For years I was put off going in there by the hoardes of 12-16 year olds who congregated inside, the sparkly T shirts with slogans like “Babe” on the front, and tales of communal changing rooms – bad enough at the best of times, but even worse if your fellow changers are cellulite-free stick insect teenagers!
Anyway, today I was forced to enter Miss Selfridge by a friend who regularly shops there. Not only did I go into the shop, I went in there on a Saturday. Yes, I braved the crowds of teenagers and took the plunge. And, on the whole, I was pleasantly surprised!
Yes, the shop was crowded with the usual Saturday groups of girls in their short skirts, platform shoes and too much make-up, chattering excitedly into their mobile phones. Yes, there was an awful lot of tacky stuff in there. But there was some nice stuff too.
I would say that the clothes are aimed predominantly at the 14-25 market (I have to say that so as to include myself in there for at least a couple more years!), but anyone who is fashion conscious and on either side of that age bracket would probably find quite a lot they liked in there. Indeed, anyone who is not fashion conscious could also find at least the odd garment which suited their taste, because there are the odd few classic styles and a few good basic garments.
The Bournemouth shop is fairly well laid out, with casual clothes at the entrance (hooded tops, plain sleeveless T shirts, knitted jumpers, jeans and casual trousers) , “smart” clothes in the middle (tailored trousers, various styles of black skirts – no suits though, and nothing lined, so not really suitable for the average working woman!), and “going out” clothes at the back (sparkly tops, dresses, tiny little skirts and sparkly trousers). There is also a shoe section, selling mainly boots, strappy sandals and platform shoes, a sale rail with reductions and various accessories and make-up. Some quite dubious accessories were available, including rainbow leg warmers, school ties and a selection of pin badges with various “slogans” on them. I made a mental note to revisit the accessories section if I was ever looking for the finishing touches to an outfit for a fancy dress party.
Prices are very reasonable. On my visit – yes I DID buy something – I managed to pick up a pair of bootcut jeans in a lovely soft denim for £22.50, a hooded zip up sweatshirt with “Harlem” logo and little rhinestone detail across the front (it’s nicer than it sounds, honestly!) for £25, and bargain of the day a warm winter three-quarter sleeve jersey top for £10. The quality appears to be good and is comparable with most shops at the lower end of the High Street range.
The changing rooms are no longer totally communal and there were around 6 cubicles. However, they let in an unlimited number of other people to change in the area in between these cubicles, so do prepare yourself for the sight of people stripping off when you enter the changing room, and if you are brave enough to join them in the communal area, prepare yourself to be in close proximity to them as it is quite cramped. At the age of 23 I felt ancient when I walked into the changing room, and on a future Saturday or school holiday visit would seriously consider buying and running, and trying things on when I got them home, to be returned if not suitable. Fortunately I was able to get a cubicle this time.
I was pleasantly surprised by the sizing. As I had thought that the shop catered almost exclusively for teenagers I wasn’t expecting great things as far as the fit of trousers was concerned. I assumed that at worst they would be designed for people with no waist or hips, and that at best I would end up wearing a size larger than I do in shops such as Next. However, as you already know, I was able to buy a pair of jeans, and was happily able to fit into my normal size 10, so full marks there as well.
The shop had been doing well in my estimation until I came to pay, and this is where it really loses points (although not too many as hopefully it was a one-off unfortunate incident). The sullen teenage assistant rang up my purchases, swiped my credit card, gave me the receipt to sign, which I did, then took the receipt away said “Oh, it hasn’t gone through, I’ll have to do it again”, screwed up the receipt and put it in the bin! I immediately queried this, as I had no proof that it hadn’t gone through and that I wouldn’t get charged twice for it when my credit card statement came through. She very grudgingly went to get a manager for me, who basically just explained the same as the assistant, but to her credit did give me the old receipt and wrote her name and phone number on it so I could contact them in case of any problems, before putting my purchases through the till again. However, the whole incident left ME feeling uncomfortable for having made a fuss about it, and now I will have to wait until I receive my statement before I can be sure whether or not I have been charged twice.
As I said, that was hopefully just a one-off incident, and I won’t let it put me off shopping at Miss Selfridge. I think, for me, the casual clothes were the best thing in the shop, although I might consider looking in there on the rare occasions that I have a night on the town planned and am desperately looking for something fashionable to wear, although I have to say there are a lot of things (tiny tops, micro skirts) which, fortunately for everyone else, I wouldn’t be seen dead in! As with the majority of lower price high street shops, the smarter clothes did look a bit cheap and nasty, so I wouldn’t ever buy anything like that from here. It’s closest competitors are probably New Look, Top Shop and possibly River Island.
I can’t wait for my next shopping trip, as a whole new shopping opportunity has arisen for me and I will definitely be making a regular visit to Miss Selfridge when I go shopping from now on!
(Please note that despite my general enthusiasm, on averaging out the ratings I am not able to give any more than three stars, but I would still recommend the shop, so long as you don't expect TOO much from it!)
I think now in 2007, the clothes are very different! I used to hate it as the clothes seemed a bit "chavvy" to me but I'm impressed with it lately! x
e.j.kingham 19.07.2005 19:35
I think they need to update their logo... and possibly the name gives them a teen image too. My mum was shocked too when she went in before Christmas and bought numerous fine knit cardis and tops that are great plains for work. She also pleased to be able to use her mature student card. Some of the going out clothes are very modern but the basics are great for a wider age range.
MissSurfer 08.05.2004 12:31
I like Miss Selfridge and I am surprised to hear people's comments about it being full of teens. I'm 14 and I always go to my local House of Fraser where they have a Miss Selfridge - there's usually only a few other teens there. I think most people seem to like New Look and Tammy. My family isn't too wealthy but I'd rather save my money and shop in places like House of Fraser where you get better quality clothes. Ok this comment has turned a bit off-topic now so I'd better shut up...great op anyway misssurfer xx