In the run-up to Christmas, one of the most common questions our store staff are asked is, “I’m meeting my boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s parents for the first time and have no idea what to wear. Do you have a suitable outfit?”.
Discussing this within the JOY team, we realised that most of us had the same insecurities about meeting our future MiL/FiLs for the first time, or felt we had already made some seemingly horrific fashion faux pas which we never wanted to repeat.
The horror stories and fears shared by customers and staff included:
- The boyfriend whose Mum always asked “Are you taking care of my darling Tom?” (“hmmmm he’s 33, can fend for himself and why should/would I?!”)
- Being called the ex-girlfriend’s name. Twice.
- Wearing a dress so tight that we devastatingly only managed to eat seconds and couldn’t fit thirds in
- Red wine, laughing too hard at dad-in-law’s cringey jokes and a new cream carpet.
- Having to eat a dinner substandard to your own Mum’s and pretending to be happy about it :(
- Falling head-first over an armchair while doing an over-eager charade.
We had a specific case of a customer who came in, exasperated at not finding the dress that she wanted for the first Christmas with her new in-laws – a glamorous dress with a classic round neck rather than one of our strapless styles – and she asked for our help. As always, we listened: we designed a new range of dresses to suit this type of occasion and this type of customer. These dresses were among the items that we promoted in our Meet The Parents newsletter.
In the newsletter, we took inspiration from our customer’s experience and some of the above scenarios, and demonstrated our array of different items that a customer like her might want for meeting the in-laws. We wanted to set it to a satirical backdrop, joking about the fast-approaching festive minefield, to make reading the email an interesting experience for the reader. However, we used weirdly-crafted satire and it seemed to backfire on what was an enthusiastic and well-meaning email to give customers some inspiration ahead of the Big Day. Indeed, in retrospect, and thanks to some of our more forthcoming and expressive customers, we now see that a poor choice of phrasing was used; this was our seemingly miscalculated idea of satire.
We acknowledge this error in judgement, and, as such, we would like to apologise to anyone who felt offended. We’re also aware there are many truly amazing parents who make you realise none of these things even matter (which they don’t, and shouldn’t, especially not in the 21st century, and especially not when our focus should be how many rounds of food we can fit in before it runs out).
Also, as a quick aside: we don’t actually believe having the right dress/shirt/glass slipper will make someone want to marry you.
A little known fact about JOY is that our in-house brands - JOY, Louche, Louche Luxe and Valley Of The Dolls - are designed for women, by women. Drawing on our own experience, every piece is constructed to fit as perfectly as possible. Some of our bestselling lines including the Latreece Leather Jacket and the Cathleen Tea Dress have been designed by listening to the most common issues our own staff have found when trying on clothes (waist too high, arms too short, wrong shaped neckline) and creating pieces to solve these problems.
We work differently to other brands, fitting every item 2, 3, 4 or more times until we are completely satisfied and tailor our original samples to 5’6” tall, size 12, evenly proportioned models, (rather than the industry standard of 5’11”, size 8 models) which we have found gives us superior fits across all size ranges.
We also know what we like. For example, we want to be able to wear beautiful dresses and skirts without carting around a handbag (or - God forbid - wearing a bumbag) while still carrying our phones, way too many 2p coins, a disgustingly chewed biro, bus pass, a screwed-up bit of tissue, and one of those plastic things Pret put in your coffee, which is why wherever possible we fit pockets as standard.
Our ethos is based around making our clothing work as hard as possible so you can spend more time having fun - and we love hearing your suggestions for improving our outfits.