Dear Tom Singh
A bit of background: I am not the kind of person who lusts over clothes. On the rare occasions I am on the lookout for a specific item, I will just wander round the shops and see what catches my eye. I don’t pore over the pages of fashion magazines and take note of my must-haves for this season. I have clothes in my wardrobe that are over fifteen years old. Trends don’t tend to mean much to me.
But after seeing New Look’s bird print tea dress in Elle magazine last August, I broke all my rules.
My friend’s wedding is coming up in November, and I had already decided that I would buy a new dress for it, one with sleeves as I figured a winter wedding in a castle in Yorkshire is bound to be a tad chilly. So when I saw your tea dress in Elle’s Autumn preview, I was instantly smitten. The beautiful print, the cut out back, the elbow length sleeves! It ticked every box, it really did. I even have the perfect pair of shoes (filched from a photo shoot, so just waiting for their real life debut) and a feather wrap to go with it.
This dress is special. It must be, because never before has a dress caused me to check a shop’s website almost daily, email the company to find out the release date and ask shop staff if it will be stocked. I even started following New Look on Facebook so I could keep an eye on news about the dress. This is behaviour that feels very alien to me. I’m not sure I like it.
But what’s going on with the dress? It has been touted in every fashion magazine since the summer, and appeared on TV. Yet I find out this week that it’s only going to be available online and in six shops, and only in limited numbers. After all this publicity, this seems to be a tad foolhardy. It’s on track to become one of your season’s most popular items, you heavily market it for months, yet when it comes to customers parting with cold hard cash, most of them won’t be able to. I know you’ll probably say it’s to make it “exclusive” but you’re a high street mass clothing shop. You’re not Chanel. I don’t care if 30,000 other women have the same dress in their wardrobe as me. It’s so pretty, it’s not surprising so many people want to wear it. Please let us.
Also, raising the price is not good. I was overjoyed to see it advertised last month in Stylist as £24.99. I even – again, breaking every rule in my book because quite frankly he doesn’t care – came home in triumph and announced this amazing fact to my husband. But now you’ve pushed up the price to £39.99, seemingly due to the buzz. Not classy, Tom. Not classy at all.
I really like New Look. I always have, ever since growing up in a two-shop town and only having New Look as an option to buy clothes from. It is one of the only places I will shop at, because unlike other high street places (*cough Primark* *cough George* *cough Topshop*) it has a decent ethical track record when it comes to workers’ rights, wages and conditions.
So Tom, a plea from a loyal shopper: how about you make a few more of these dresses? Clearly we ladies can’t get enough of birds, forties and cut out backs. Go on, make a few more women a little happier. And make sure I can stay warm and stylish at my friend’s wedding next month.
Yours, from a fellow Wellingtonian*
*I think that Tom Singh and I went to the same school, as his brother, Simon Singh, definitely did. Although, unlike other famous alumni, I’ve never met him whilst being presented with a prize for Latin. Nor have I ever had an invitation to have dinner with him.