I'm not sure the assistant has many customers in who have to approach the long mirror in lots of different ways before deciding whether to buy a jacket. But for me it's the only way to be sure it's the right choice.
Five ways to approach a shop mirror in a new jacket (and if you're pleased with the result each time, it's the right jacket for you):
1. The 'Hide behind a display of clothing then suddenly leap out in front of the mirror' approach. This one gives you the same impression as when you suddenly spot yourself in one of those brown-glassed shop windows in the street when you weren't expecting it. If you can stand yourself in the jacket this way, it's a winner. If the sight of yourself has the same effect on you as when you first watched Chainsaw Massacre, put it back on the hanger. And self esteem is a fragile thing. Go and have a coffee and a cake before you let that moment get to you.
2. The 'Stroll past the mirror casually and smile winningly' approach. This one helps you to see what you'd look like to everyone else when you enter a meeting or a party in your jacket. It also helps you to check that it matches your teeth. If they're yellow, and the jacket is white, your teeth will look brown. If they're white, and the jacket is yellow, you'll find out exactly HOW white, or not, your teeth really are. If your teeth are brown and the jacket is brown, and it's a perfect match, ditch the jacket. This isn't something to draw people's attention to by having them perfectly coordinating. Ditto the whites of your eyes.
3. The 'Walk in front of the mirror and hold your arms up in the air' approach. As I explained to the shop assistant, a teacher has to check what happens when she reaches up to write on the whiteboard. If the jacket rides up the body as the arms are raised, but doesn't come down again, you end up with a lot of material around your chest and thirty amused spectators as you try to rearrange it all with dignity. Not a good place to be in when you're trying to teach the possessive apostrophe. (Not just for teachers: this tip also works for Pentecostals, shelf-stackers and Scout leaders pointing out constellations.)
4. The 'Skip past the mirror' approach. If, when you've skipped past the mirror a few times and you come to stand in front of it at last, the jacket looks as though there's a tsunami struggling to get free from beneath the buttons because your flesh hasn't stopped moving, the jacket is too big. You need a tighter one that holds all the excess more securely. Think sausage skins. Either that, or buy the jacket, and then go straight to the corset department. Either that, or walk the 16 miles home rather than picking up the car from the car park. Then walk back into town. Then back home. Then back into town. Then back home. Repeat until desired effect achieved, or death occurs, in which case no need for jacket.
5. The 'Have your Back to the Mirror then Suddenly Swing Round' approach. This one shows you what you'd look like in the jacket should an old friend you haven't seen for ages greet you from behind when you're out in the town or at a social event. If, as you swing round suddenly, the jacket refuses to settle back into place and lands on all your protrusions and curves awkwardly so that you look like an unmade bed, don't buy it. Or, buy the jacket, but keep calm when someone says, 'It can't be! No, it is!' and turn round very very slowly. Claim knee trouble, or vertigo. Or just ignore the person. You've managed without them for long enough, so why sacrifice a smooth appearance just to reacquaint yourself with an old friend? Life's too short. Make the most of a great-looking jacket while you can.
|Mirror, mirror, in the shop. Do I look a minger in this top?|
I'm not going to tell you whether I bought the jacket or not, just in case you see me and think, 'You mean, THAT jacket passed all the tests? So, what's with the minor earthquake I can see happening behind the top button as you shake my hand?'
I'm no fool.