The shoes of salvation
Updated: Jul 2, 2021
What does a pair of shoes have to do with a Journey To You I hear you ask? Well, for me, quite a lot. Those shoes. What they really meant, it was the start of something. You could say they were shoes of salvation. That or that a Personal Stylist saved my life. Here's how.
What do you get when a non-shopper goes shopping?
Before we get to the how, let me set the scene.
It's April 2011. I arrived in my new home of Leeds three days ago. I've moved into a flat with none of my belongings as the removals are still on their way. I don't know anybody and I am still getting used to there being a positive balance in my bank account having lost everything to a certain ex-husband.
I don't know myself yet, I still on the Journey to meeting her, but I know I am letting go of what if's? They haven't served me that well so far. I also know I need clothes to wear for my first day at my new job. I force myself to go shopping (still my least loved experience).
Off I head into town, House of Fraser seems uninviting and I can't find anything, so back out to the street I go. It's unusually hot for April in the north. A lovely man, dressed in smart coat and hat, opens a door and beckons be into a glass plated, air-conditioned shop. I don't catch the name, I'm amazed anyone has seen me, he even says hello.
Hello, can I save you?
I take the escalators to the first floor where 'womenswear' is located. Me being me, I head straight to the heels, my safe haven, while I work out how I'm meant to tackle this.
The look of little girl lost must have been shining like a neon sign across my face. A man appears next to me, as if by magic, asking if I'd like to try the shoes on that I am practically hugging. My shoe of salvation. I agree.
This lovely man is a Personal Stylist / Shopper. He asks if I need help with anything else? Is it that obvious? I practically cling to him and my shoe for safety as he ushers me into the styling area and offers me a glass of Prosecco or orange juice. I start with orange.
A Personal What?
At this point, I don't really know what a Personal Stylist / Shopper is. What I do know is that there is a real, live, breathing person stood in front of me. He is asking me questions about what I would like. What I want. How I feel. He's listening to what I say, actually LISTENING, and giving me helpful advice.
Is this man an angel?
Kind of. Turns out a few hours with a Personal Stylist and being seen for what felt like the first time ever was what I needed to start living my life and seeing me. But back to those shoes.
A few hours later and only one glass of Prosecco, the man I am now convinced is my Guardian Angel has taught me about what clothes work for my body shape, brought me half the store to try and returned 80% of it. Moreover, he has made me feel more human and worthy than I have in my whole life. And that's not only the drink talking. But there is something about those shoes. I can't explain it. I want those shoes. They mean so much more than their red soles.
I also like the clothes. They make me feel like I am special, in a good way. I like how the material caresses and kisses my skin and the cut flatters even my least loveable parts.
I like the treatment and attention that Angel-Stylist gives me, how he doesn’t judge or push me to take any of the mountain of things I say no to. How he never once asks me to take my shoes off even though they've been on my feet since he gave them to me.
More humbling than that? He doesn’t judge this clearly clueless girl who hasn’t realised the monumentous difference between Harvey Nichols and House of Fraser. Who balks at the price tags. He instead helps her make sensible selections and explains how to maximise the now very capsule selection we are left with. Including the shoes.
Last night a Personal Stylist saved my life
Ok it was daytime, but I want you to sing that song too.
You might think it strong to say a Personal Stylist saved my life or that I'm really Elle Woods and I've been hiding all along. Neither would be right.
When I walked into that shop I was lost. I was on a cliff edge. I'd run from everything and everyone I had known. Antidepressants were very much 'a thing' and I questioned what the point of anything was and asked every what if? under the sun.
Two hours later, I was starting to break out of my old life. Starting to realise how my circumstances could change if I chose. That I got to create life from here on in. That this Journey was only just beginning.
Even though it was obvious I didn't have the money to be a regular customer, I liked how I was still treated as deserving as the women who did.
The women who owned a wardrobe of red soled heels. Of clothes that fit as though they were made for them.
I accepted that I wanted those shoes (and some of the clothes) and I had them.
I let go of fear, of how I was going to pay, of whether this was the most selfish thing I’d ever done and I held on to how those shoes and those clothes made me feel. How that Angel-Stylist-Shopper had made me feel seen, heard and worthy of the oxygen I was breathing.
I bought those shoes. They meant so much more than their red soles. They meant my life. A Personal Stylist really did save my life. My eyes were opened to this new 'me', or honestly, the real me.
If you've read this and are struggling right now, know I see you. I may not be a Personal Stylist but I am a fighter like you. You are worthy. You can live a life where you are YOU and you love you and so do other people. You can do anything you want and I believe in you.
With my red soled heels on, let me know, where can I send a friendly love note that can change your world for the better and have something to look at every day that reminds you of that? You can let me know here.
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