Friday, 3 February 2012

Jigsaw - my very own hero!

I keep meaning the thank the person who goes onto StyleGuile most days and ticks the "hero" box underneath the post.  I suspect that it might be my Mum but if not (or even if it is!) thank you!

In addition to my usual posts, I have decided to do a few "hero" posts of my own, about those brands that I love. I have had a very long relationship with some and with others it is only just beginning but I love them nonetheless.

When I arrived at Chester Law School in 1991 my new friend, Jo, introduced me to Jigsaw.  Jo was so cool - a kind of DM shoes and second hand Levi 501's kind of girl.  We were friends in the days when the only way to get the worn jeans look was to well, wear them - hence the secondhand Levi's! Jo knew her brands and introduced me to not only Jigsaw but also to Paul Mitchell hair products and Clinique make up.  We used to sit together in class waiting for the breaks so that we could eat flapjack and talk about clothes.

I remember going into Jigsaw in Chester with Jo for the first time. She was looking for a LBD for a night out and found one for £40, which was the earth to me.  However I did pick up in the sale a black ribbed turtle neck top which I loved and which was washed until it went grey at the seams. My first ever Jigsaw purchase!

My love affair with Jigsaw continued after I had left Law School, travelled around the world and started training as a solicitor in London.

Whilst training, I remember working on the most boring case in the history of the Universe.  It was being heard at the Lands' Tribunal and lasted for six long weeks.  It was something to do with the development of the land at the Quayside in Newcastle, retaining walls and compulsory purchase orders.  Riveting! The hour after lunch was the worst and I found it nearly impossible to keep my eyes open so I played this game in my head of trying to identify every Jigsaw in London - it kept me amused - and awake - but I doubt that anyone in the room was playing the same game as me.

Whilst in London I bought my first ever Jigsaw work suit.  Being the rebel (!) that I am it was bright red.  The skirt started off by fitting me fine. It then got a little loose around the waist which made the length better but it then got to the stage where it fell down completely - so it had to go by the wayside.

I spectatcularly ruined one pale blue work Jigsaw jacket by dropping an ice cream down it. One of the Partners at work had been feeling generous on a particularly hot day and had bought ice-creams for us all.  Mine went splat! That was the end of that jacket.  It was dry cleaned but it never recovered.  Then it was time to leave London for Birmingham - where there was no Jigsaw!  Imagine that?!

After a long wait, Jigsaw finally arrived, so it was no longer necessary for me to travel to Nottingham or Cheltenham for my "fix". Cheltenham had provided me with my outfit for Jo's wedding and the Nottingham Jigsaw had provided me with a lovely lilac blazer (or so I thought at the time!)

After its arrival in Birmingham another friend and I spent many a lunch hour in Jigsaw passing the time and plotting our exit from private practice! It was the Birmingham store that came up trumps with some shoes that I wore to an Elton John concert one hot balmy summer's evening.  They crippled me but someone came up to me afterwards and said "nice shoes" - so that lessened the pain slightly!

There was then a hiatus for a few years whilst I was in the thick of the baby game. Two youngsters meant that for me at least, Jigsaw did not feature heavily in my wardrobe. It was too good for my every day activities, I was on maternity leave off and on and anyway, there was never any time to shop. I do remember having a winter coat one Christmas though and I wore it on Christmas day when we took our eldest out for a walk in her pram, delivering Christmas dinner to the door of some friends who were too ill with flu to cook and too infectious to spend any time with.

But then one day the baby fog lifted and it was time to re-kindle my love for Jigsaw clothes.  A combination of being back at work in the City Centre and having children who were slightly more under control meant that the wardrobe possibilities widened and Jigsaw was ready and waiting to fill those gaps. 

Looking back, there must have also been a brief period of time before we moved to a larger house to accommodate our growing family, had a third child and were met with requests for various necessities for the children, when I was able to shop at Jigsaw on a fairly regular basis.

Fortunately I am pleased to say that in that very short period of time I worked hard at buying from Jigsaw - not ridiculous amounts but the odd winter coat, winter boots, some silk dresses in the summer, knitwear in the winter and some shoes and bags too plus the odd piece of jewellery and belts. 

[A selection of shoes and jewellery from Jigsaw]

In fairness this was still at a time when Birmingham had little to offer by way of shops - no Zara, Cos, Mango or many of the other brands who are now in Birmingham today. It was also before the time that stores were able to interpret the trends quickly and have them on the shop floor in a matter of weeks.  So, as a result, many of the pieces that I have from Jigsaw are classic and form the backbone of my wardrobe - a good investment if ever there was one - honest! Many a Chrismas and birthday present came from there and so over the years I have collected pieces which I still wear today - even though many of them are over ten years old.

After baby number three I remember going into Jigsaw to buy a couple of tops - it was the first time I had spent any money on clothes in ages but I really needed to get out of those maternity tops!

[A piece of Jigsaw cashmere (coral jumper) one of their famous striped tops, which are as good as any I have found and...a bright green top - you see, Jigsaw does do colour!]

I wore a Jigsaw dress on the first day of my styling course in London and I bought 40's style dress to wear on my birthday with that same number in it!

And so to the present day.  I always visit the Jigsaw in Leeds when I have a girls' day there with a friend who lives in Newcastle - the same friend with whom I plotted my escape from private practice!  Jo and I shop in the Brighton one (which is where she now lives) when we get the chance.  A trip to a friend in Edinburgh took me to the Jigaw there and as for the Birmingham one.... I felt it only right that the photos for my new website should be taken there.  I love that store - when I walk in the world stops - just for a few minutes at least.  Hec, the children even behave well in there - until they spot their favourite rocking chair which they then fight over.

Long after Jigsaw arrived, Birmingham saw the arrival of Harvey Nichols, the Bullring, Selfridges, Debenhams and countless other stores but Jigsaw has been with me since the start of my shopping "career" - and it will always have a place in my heart.

[My latest Jigsaw purchase - their "perfect" shoe boot]