Queueing For Fashion....

A wrote this article a couple months ago for a competition for Company magazine. The instructions were to write an 800 word article on "Queueing for Fashion". Obviously I didn't win, so I thought I'd post it up here to see what people think! Would you queue, or have you queued, for fashion?

Queuing for Fashion

Us Brits - we’re a funny bunch. We drive on the wrong side of the road, we call French toast ‘eggy bread’, and we love to form a queue.

I too am a sufferer of this odd predisposition of automatically waiting in line. Queuing is not a new phenomenon - it is the way Brits have always done things. As a child, I stood in line for school dinners. As a student, I waited my turn to enter busy nightclubs. And as a young adult, I queue for my current obsession – fashion.

We’ve all been there. Standing in line waiting to be served, our arms laden with items, inching forward to the till. It’s during this time the adrenalin hits, as we question our motives. Do I really need another dress? Can I actually afford it? What about the three similar ones collecting dust in my wardrobe? As we battle through the dilemma in our heads, we reach the front of the queue. Oh well, I’ve waited now; I might as well buy it.  As if by magic, reaching the front of the queue allows us to justify even the most unnecessary and extravagant items.

And then there are the extras you spot whilst waiting. Standing in line at Topshop, I never fail to spot another jewel to add to my basket. I have perfected my yoga-esque stretch across the store to grab that extra piece, all without losing my place, balance or dignity. So long as I keep one foot in the queue, I’m allowed to sidestep back into line. That’s the rule, right?

We are now under a new phenomenon that takes queuing to the extreme. I know this all too well, having travelled to Glasgow last year for the launch of the ‘Lanvin for H&M’ collection. 7AM, an early start - surely not many other people would drag themselves out of bed that early? Wrong! Already, flocks of the fashion savvy had joined the queue – many complete with tents after camping out overnight. The street was awash with empty coffee cups, finished crisp packets, and abandoned magazines. To casual passers by, we were just another queue. But to us fashionistas, we were an alliance. United in this queue by our love of clothes, designers, and high street prices, we belonged together. Every one of us understood the need to wait so long for something so special.

Yes, I was freezing. The balls of my feet were burning, and my gargling stomach kept reminding me I’d skipped breakfast. But I couldn’t give up; there was no way I was leaving my space. The queue acts as some kind of force, a physical and mental restraint. Nipping off for a coffee and croissant would mean you must return to the very back of the line. It’s queue etiquette. The golden rule of waiting in line – no queue jumping.  Getting someone to ‘save your space’ for a couple of minutes , whilst not banned, is deeply frowned upon. Any longer than three minutes - don’t even consider it. Other cardinal sins of queuing – smoking, burping or passing wind. No spitting, sneezing or - even worse - singing. Talking is permitted, but it must involve complaining about the wait.

The queue at the Forever 21 opening in London, July 2011

That’s the funny thing about the Brit’s queuing obsession. A bit like the weather, our jobs and Miley Cyrus, it’s one of those things we love to hate. Moaning is a popular British hobby; it even has its own Facebook group. Waiting in a queue allows for an intense and cathartic moaning session. We can complain how long it’s taking, about other stuff we could be doing, how bored we are… [insert your personal queuing peeves here]. We’ll tut, sigh, mumble and grumble– yet we wouldn’t have it any other way.  Should the queuing system stop, us Brits would relish in complaining about that too.

To our European neighbours, queuing is an alien concept. They work a cutthroat approach; whoever fights the hardest gets the rewards.  Some universities are actually teaching foreign students our queuing convention. Working in a high street store, it’s noticeably the Brits who automatically adopt the queuing posture, and other nationalities those who struggle with the concept. Being polite, I would apologise to customers for their wait. However, one (British) customer told me, “Don’t apologise, I chose to wait. Instead, you should thank me”.  The difference is so subtle. However, by apologising, I’m creating the impression that waiting is a bad thing. In Britain, it’s what we do.

So how come we have adopted such an ordered system? Is it because Brits are so polite, passable, and patient? Hmmm…….. Perhaps it’s more to do with being suckers for what we were told as kids - good things come to those who wait. Patience is truly a virtue…!

What do you think? Queueing for hours to be the first to get your hands on the latest new range - crazy, or so worth it?! 


  1. queuing for clothes is pathetic. why would you want to wait in the cold for something that's "IN STYLE" - therefore loads of people will wear the same thing, which automatically makes the garment boring?

  2. ha ha LOVELY POST! I hate wearing the same thing as everyone and there second cousin...:) so no i wouldnt wait in a line for hours....
    Chari T (deep fried stilettos)

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