When My Dad Became My Stylist, We Found A New Way To Love One Another

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I was not born with the shopping gene. My heart is not set aflutter by the spectacle of newly pressed clothes on neatly lined racks. I have never enjoyed the full-length mirrors in changing rooms, the small talk with sales assistants, the art of matching skirt with top. Shopping has just never been my thing – until recently. Until my dad, bless his carefully selected cotton socks, appointed himself my stylist.

When he comes to town, we go to a department store together and he picks out clothes for me. We’re quite a sight: young woman lost in the infinite rows of outfits, her father walking just ahead of her, laying out dresses and blazers and jeans on his cocked arm as he commentates on what colours, cuts and angles might suit me. Cold colours are out, I’m told, on account of my pale skin and light eyes. Warm colours are a go. The usual sorts of floaty fabrics I’m attracted to by nature are out; they’re unflattering and belie my age. Instead, it’s all about fitted items, things that actually sit on my body properly, snugly. He piles clothes up, I disappear into a changing room, and he passes things over the curtain. He’s brutally honest about what suits me, too. He will tell me, with a look, if something doesn’t work and I appreciate that.

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