x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

In for a change

A boutique owner friend of mine believes it's part of a woman's prerogative to change her spending - or style - habits at whim

At last a reason for shopping! Ankle boots - oh joy - are back in fashion. I wear ankle boots when they are in fashion and when they are not. They are "my thing". I know women who feel the same about white shirts or blue nail varnish. For me, it's boots that reach an itty bit over the ankle with a heel of sorts. I don't have a huge collection because when I get a new pair I invariably wear them out. So I buy them in twos - same colour, same style. My most recent purchase was from the mid-market British fashion chain Jigsaw. A friend who works for Marc Jacobs gave me the thumbs up for these despite the fact they are - wait for it - a year old. Instead of all these pointy toe styles, my Jigsaw bootees are rounded at the front with teetering conical heels and a suggestion of platform. I've spotted several new-season ankle boots I love but they are all so unbelievably expensive I am having to rethink my duplicate ankle boot shopping habit. The dilemma about having a fixation on a style that sporadically bleeps on the fashion radar is what to do when it's in plentiful supply. Do you stock up with of-the-minute styles, which six months down the line will shriek, "Remember me? I'm last season's must have"? Or, do you shell out on a classic, which is less fun to wear initially but will be a worthy investment? I was about to cruise my favourite online boutiques to help me decide but noticed my inbox was already full of helpful suggestions.

Is it just me or is anyone else suspicious that their shopping habits are being scrutinised? Turns out I am not paranoid. The way you spend speaks volumes and is being noted. I have a friend who works for an upmarket mail order firm who has been telling me toe-curling tales about aggressive strategies already in use. These vary from sending you "taster" ideas of similar items to those you've already bought (Amazon and Apple do this), to analysing your taste and whims, not least your marital status and social ranking. Scary stuff. I once had my wardrobe scrutinised by an amateur psychologist masquerading as a shopping "expert". Among various revelatory claims, she told me I had a "control issue". This is why I was buying classics and not experimenting more. And I thought I was buying classics because they make sensible investments and are appropriate for my work.

As for control, I wish I did have more. To check I'm not suffering from some bipolar spending disorder I've done my own market research. "Shopping patterns vary too much to generalise," Samineh Safavi, Boutique 1's personal shopper, says. "One day a client may buy one item and another day, a whole wardrobe. If an individual is a long-standing customer, it's usual she or he will come into the store alone. If they are 'walk in' clients, they will often be accompanied by a friend or partner."

A boutique owner friend of mine believes it's part of a woman's prerogative to change her spending - or style - habits at whim. A mega shopping spree can be triggered by a relationship break-up or, equally, boredom. Which explains those wildly out-of-character Chanel handgun high heels Madonna's been sporting. Do we really need a psychologist to tell us what's on her mind? Like I require a marketing wizard to help me decide on my next choice of ankle boots.