Bethan Holt | Contributor | Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Here's A Few Reasons Why You Should Go Clothes Shopping WIth Your Gran This Weekend

The Debrief: Ditch your mates, and take your nan to the shops this weekend

In recent weeks, fashion has become all about celebrating women of a certain age. Hedi Slimane tapped 71 year-old Joni Mitchell - she whose vintage image appears roughly 153 times a day on my Instagram feed - for his SS15 Saint Laurent campaign, and Alber Elbaz heroed iconic mothers and daughters like 70s supermodel Pat Cleveland and her daughter Anna. 

As for me, I recently acquired two new pairs of enormous dark sunglasses as a direct result of being overexposure to Celine’s advert featuring 80 year-old writer Joan Didion looking gloriously chic in a polo neck, and bug eye sunnies. Though my purchases obviously came courtesy of ASOS - rather than Celine boutique - they made me realise the impact self-assured and fabulous older woman can have on the style choices of an inevitably less worldly twenty-something, aka me. 

You see, while my own grandma might not know Phoebe Philo from the next woman, she often offers me invaluable tips on how to get dressed. And the best way to trigger them to divulge all this knowledge? Take them on a shopping trip. 

Here's seven reasons why shopping with your Grandma (or anyone else's failing the availability of yours) is a must-do:

She knows how to scour a charity shop

Thought you knew how to sort the wheat from the chaff in your local chazza? Just wait until you see the modus operandi of the woman who clothed herself in the style of Jacqueline Kennedy and Grace Kelly on mere shillings. If you’re in her home town then her friend Marjorie probably works behind the counter so she’ll have exclusive first dibs and back room access. Your grandma will spot a quality classic kilt, trench coat or statement jumper from a mile off and have the vision to see how it could be styled to look good as new. And anything with a dodgy stain which you would have discarded, well, she’ll have a genius idea about the vinegar/ bicarbonate of soda/ lemon juice concoction you need to get it looking as good as new again.

She will make you see sense in your impulse buying tendencies

I remember when I was 13 and my Grandma accompanied me to my favourite high street shop of the time. I was so excited to show her their gorgeous wares at great prices. I was so sure she would be thrilled by the buzzing excitement of the place and the plethora of jazzy dresses on the rails. Instead she looked straight at the seams in dismay showing me how badly finished they were. The flimsy fabrics 'won’t last two washes' she decried. Although it saddened me that she didn’t share my love of the place, it taught me a valuable lesson about not hopping on bandwagons, that clothes should have value and that 'throwaway' is definitely A. Bad. Thing. 

She’ll regale you with tales about 'in her day'

My favourite bit about shopping with my Grandma is when we see something which sparks a memory for her. I love to hear about the way she would spend her Saturdays running up dresses from Vogue patterns which she would then wear out dancing with my Granddad. Pretty much any story which involves the word “courting” is bound to be brilliant.

She will give you the confidence to try things you’d never thought of

My Grandma was once, according to legend, 2 hours late for an important cocktail party because she was dyeing her shoes and HAIR to match her turquoise dress. Now it had never really crossed my mind to commit so wholeheartedly to matchy-matchy but this really got me inspired and I proceeded to go all-out baby pink for a party a couple of summers ago. There are more subtle styling details too which I feel come via my Grandmother; the way she wears velvet ribbons around shirt collars, her ingenious placement of a brooch or the way she has a vast collection of little scarves which she ties jauntily around her neck. 

Expect thrifty customising tips galore

Not so long ago, we were perusing the sale rails of Zara when I came across a dark floral printed slip dress at enormous discount which was v Courtney Love-ly. It fitted perfectly except for the bit around the bust which was a tad tight. Ordinarily, I’d have discarded said dreamy dress but of course Grandma was having none of it. She inserted a couple of black lace darts into the seams  and ta-da, it was perfect. This kind of thing happens all the time with Grandmas; they’re the ultimate problem solvers. Equally if something in your current wardrobe doesn’t quite work, she’ll have a solution. 

She’ll lead you to the best bargain knitwear

In general I’m not an M&S person (apart from the Percy Pigs, obvs) and would most certainly walk straight past the fuddy-duddy looking display of plastic covered pastel-hued cashmere on a normal day. But when my Grandma wanted to track down a lilac crew neck, she knew straight where to head. I’m now a convert to the jaw-droppingly soft yet washable knits though I opted for the navy and grey options. I’m still coming round to The Edinburgh Woollen Mill but must admit there was a very good Stella McCartney-ish cream aran polo neck for £60. 

There will be much tea and cake involved

My Grandma insists on frequent stops for sustenance on shopping outings despite the fact that she’s a very spritely 80 years-old. I have found such breaks to be highly conducive to an enjoyable day out. Do try the Victoria sponge at M&S and the scones at John Lewis. These pensioners really have got their priorities right. 

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Picture: Aurea Tolo 

Tags: Getting Ready, Shopping