Friday, 18 August 2017

Bicester Village: Pretty Woman for the Modern Age

Bright Red Hair Feeling Thoughtful in Cheltenham Montpellier England

As plus size women in 2017 we’re pretty remarkable - curves are cool and we have role models to remind us daily that we can do anything, regardless of the number on the label. But one of the things that still strikes fear into the hearts of many a larger lady is going shopping in “normal people territory”. 

You know the scene in Pretty Woman where she walks into a shop and the assistants tell her that nothing in the shop will fit her? If you don’t know it, I’ll link it but that’s pretty much what happened to me when I visited Bicester Village at the weekend. 

Bicester Village is an outlet shopping centre that carries more high end brands than your normal outlet, like Dior, Celine and Gucci. It’s long been held as the holy land of fashion, where no blogger could take themselves seriously if they’ve not made the pilgrimage at least once. So, of course, I had to go on the way home from visiting family in Milton Keynes but perhaps I should’ve taken note of the fact that all these bloggers excitedly singing the centre’s praises were not my demographic.

Gucci Outlet Store Bicester Village Handbag Selection

I’m lucky to have incredibly thoughtful parents who knew I wanted to go, so drove me to Bicester on the way home even though it’s not their thing (although they did disappear off for lunch and left me to shop!). When we got there, one of the first shops I was greeted with was Gucci, along with the rather sizeable line outside. You kind of have to wonder why this place is so exciting, so I queued up and went inside. 

When I got into the Gucci store I felt immediately uncomfortable; just like when Julia Roberts walked into the store and everyone stared at her - I felt exactly like that. I had a wander round, mostly interested in the accessories (because let’s be fair, like anything from Gucci would even cover one boob). I saw a handbag I liked and despite standing there for several minutes, the shop assistant looked at me multiple times and carried on cleaning. I know it could’ve been my fault for not catching her attention by speaking to her, but another (decidedly more slim) lady walked up instantly being greeted by the shop assistant and asked if she needed any help. 

Mulberry Outlet Bicester Village Store Oxford

Ego a little bruised, I walked over to the wallets because that’s mainly what I was looking for, but once again was greeted by the same frosty reception. I waited at the counter only to be ignored by staff yet again. Then when another customer came along she pushed in front of me and was greeted instantly. By this point I was pretty irritated so said “Excuse me” as she’d just bashed me out the way. The shop assistant just looked at me as if I was speaking a different language, then continued to charm the woman with the sharp elbows. It’s at that point that I decided even if I had the money they wouldn’t be seeing a penny of it and walked out.

Unfortunately I think places like this breed wannabe style icons and maybe the shop assistants are given a sense of self-worth that’s a little more elevated than a regular person by being surrounded by such beautiful pieces, as I also received the same silent treatment in Dulce and Gabbana and then later in Mulberry which I was particularly disappointed with because I’ve loved the brand for a long time, and having received such an amazing reception in the Knightsbridge store, this was a bit of a come down.

Coach outlet store high end designer shop Bicester village

I think as plus size women we are always a little more conscious of our surroundings and the treatment we receive because this kind of situation isn’t unusual, but it really saddens me because while I have the confidence to laugh it off and carry on with my day, many others would be really shaken up and it would put them off shopping there again. 

There were a few exceptions to the rule though - every person I spoke to in Kate Spade was warm and welcoming and more than happy to help. I thought it could’ve just been a price tag thing, like the shop assistants think you can’t afford to shop in their store, but the place I received the best treatment by far was in Celine. From the minute I walked in, I was greeted by a really kind lady with a warming smile who when she asked me how my day was, it was said with genuine care rather than the “I’m paid to ask” attitude. But a lovely man called Vamilly was the person who really made it for me. We stood at the till chatting for a good 15 minutes and despite being surrounded by clothes and accessories worth 4 figures, he chatted to me like he was greeting a friend with absolutely no pretence of “does she look like she can afford to shop in here?”

Kate Spade outlet Store high end designer shop Bicester Village shopping centre purchases

In the end, there was nothing that caught my eye in Celine but I did end up coming out of Kate Spade with more than one shopping bag, and the temptation to do a Julia Roberts and go back to Gucci to wave my purchases in their faces was almost unbearable. 

Conclusion? Bicester Village is great - as long as you walk in dripping in designer labels and you’re not above a size 14. If not, don’t even bother looking at Gucci, Dolce or Mulberry; they won’t be interested in speaking to you, no matter how many zeros you have in the bank.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 

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