Don’t judge a book by its cover – that’s the moral to most of Aesop’s fables, Disney films, fairy tales, and the Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice. Alright Aesop, Walt, Misters Grimm and Miss Austen, your points are taken. I keep an open mind and an open heart as I embark on each day’s journey. But why, then, do I, and many others, shop blinded by the blinkers of our prejudices?
I only realized how prejudiced I was towards the end of last year at Laura Ashley. I’ve always liked Laura Ashley clothes and home wares, partly because my lovely AuntyC’s house embodies the Laura Ashley aesthetic, and partly because I am a sucker for anything floral and feminine. However, I’d remained a window shopper in Laura Ashley. Cost, certainly, kept the plastic in my purse, as well as the tendency for Laura Ashley clothes to be a bit soggy and loose around the waist. Also, as much as I liked the florality (my new word for the week) at Laura Ashley, the frocks always looked too English country matron. On my tall, bosomy frame, the overall impression was of a prettily upholstered sofa (Do sit down, Vicar, and how do you take your tea?)
One afternoon I was enjoying my window shopping when I spied something black on the rack. Something black, with a big chunky zipper, and a non-soggy waist. I immediately tried it on.
SHOCK. HORROR. This was a third date dress – sexy, sleek, not quite tits on toast but tits definitely present and accounted for – from LAURA ASHLEY.
And it was on sale. How could I not buy it?
Return trips produced two finds in a similar genre – one with short sleeves, the other in lipstick red. The joy (and compliments) I get from these dresses makes me wonder, though, why I didn’t consider Laura Ashley as a venue for anything other than florality. Like Elizabeth Bennett, my prejudice almost kept me from something truly wonderful, although, in my case, dresses rather than Darcy were my reward for taking off the blinkers of prejudice.
Another challenge to my prejudices occurred when I was shopping with MamaK at Blue Illusion, AKA, The Mum Shop. If you’ve been past a store, you’ll know what I mean - the demographic they are aiming for are well heeled ladies of a certain age, stocking an admittedly lovely selection of linen tunic style dresses and loose pants, beads, and drapey tops. Great stuff, if, as I said, you’re a woman of a certain age. While MamaK was trying on the tunics and drapey tops, I spied with my little eye some funky printed jersey dresses- one printed all over with red and white love hearts, the other with what looked like an abstract print but actually was blue and purple butterflies. As both were on an awesome special, they came home with me, and MamaK and I left The Mum Shop satisfied with our purchases.
The next day at work, my particularly stylish colleague, Seraphina Silas, stopped me to talk about my dress – the butterfly printed one from The Mum Shop. I told her the story of The Mum Shop, and she astutely pointed out that perhaps it was a deliberate strategy of providing something that the daughters as well as the mums would like at The Mum Shop, and, by extension, at Laura Ashley.
Be that as it may, though, it’s still something to consider when doing the rounds at the Canberra Centre this weekend. Whilst our prejudices are often based, to some extent, on the fact of market manipulation, they may be keeping us from that perfect dress for our date with Mr Darcy.