Shopaholic Takes Manhattan (Shopaholic #2)(2)


by Sophie Kinsella

You know, I think I’ll just take them all. I mean, a few Tshirts aren’t going to take up much room. I’ll hardly even notice them.

I tip them all into my case and add a couple of cropped bra-tops for luck.

Excellent. This capsule approach is working really well. OK, what’s next?

Ten minutes later, Suze wanders back into the room, holding two mugs of tea and three KitKats to share. (We’ve come to agree that four sticks, frankly, doesn’t do it.)

“Here you are,” she says — then gives me a closer look. “Bex, are you OK?”

“I’m fine,” I say, rather pink in the face. “I’m just trying to fold up this insulated vest a bit smaller.”

I’ve already packed a denim jacket and a leather jacket, but you just can’t count on September weather, can you? I mean, at the moment it’s hot and sunny, but it might well start snowing tomorrow. And what happens if Luke and I go for a really rustic country walk? Besides which, I’ve had this gorgeous Patagonia vest for ages, and I’ve only worn it once. I try to fold it again, but it slithers out of my hands and onto the floor. God, this reminds me of camping trips with the Brownies, trying to get my sleeping bag back into its tube.

“How long are you going for, again?” asks Suze.

“Three days.” I give up trying to squash the vest into the size of a matchbox, and it springs jauntily back to shape. Discomfited, I sink onto the bed and take a sip of tea. What I don’t understand is, how do other people manage to pack so lightly? You see businesspeople all the time, striding onto planes with only a tiny shoe-box suitcase on wheels. How do they do it? Do they have magic shrinking clothes?

“Why don’t you take your holdall as well?” suggests Suze.

“D’you think?” I look uncertainly at my overflowing suitcase. Come to think of it, maybe I don’t need three pairs of boots. Or a fur stole.

Then suddenly it occurs to me that Suze goes away nearly every weekend, and she only takes a tiny squashy bag. “Suze, how do you pack? Do you have a system?”

“I dunno,” she says vaguely. “I suppose I still do what they taught us at Miss Burton’s. You work out an outfit for each occasion — and stick to that.” She begins to tick off on her fingers. “Like… driving outfit, dinner, sitting by the pool, game of tennis…” She looks up. “Oh yes, and each garment should be used at least three times.”

God, Suze is a genius. She knows all this kind of stuff. Her parents sent her to Miss Burton’s Academy when she was eighteen, which is some posh place in London where they teach you things like how to talk to a bishop and get out of a sports car in a miniskirt. She knows how to make a rabbit out of chicken wire, too.

Quickly I start to jot some broad headings on a piece of paper. This is much more like it. Much better than randomly stuffing things into a case. This way, I won’t have any superfluous clothes, just the bare minimum.

Outfit 1: Sitting by pool (sunny).Outfit 2: Sitting by pool (cloudy).Outfit 3: Sitting by pool (bottom looks huge in morning).Outfit 4: Sitting by pool (someone else has same swimsuit).Outfit 5:

The phone rings in the hall, but I barely look up. I can hear Suze talking excitedly — then a moment later, she appears in the doorway, her face all pink and pleased.

“Guess what?” she says. “Guess what?”

“What?”

“Box Beautiful has sold out of my frames! They just phoned up to order some more!”

“Oh, Suze! That’s fantastic!” I shriek.

“I know!” She comes running over, and we have a big hug, and sort of dance about, before she realizes she’s holding a cigarette and is about to burn my hair.

The amazing thing is, Suze only started making photograph frames a few months ago — but already she’s supplying four shops in London, and they’re doing really well! She’s been in loads of magazines, and everything. Which isn’t surprising, because her frames are so cool. Her latest range is in purple tweed, and they come in these gorgeous gray sparkly boxes, all wrapped in bright turquoise tissue paper. (I helped choose the exact color, by the way.) She’s so successful, she doesn’t even make them all herself anymore, but sends off her designs to a little workshop in Kent, and they come back, all made up.

“So, have you finished working your wardrobe out?” she says, taking a drag on her cigarette.

“Yes,” I say, brandishing my sheet of paper at her. “I’ve got it all sorted out. Down to every last pair of socks.”

“Well done!”

“And the only thing I need to buy,” I add casually, “is a pair of lilac sandals.”

“Lilac sandals?”

“Mmm?” I look up innocently. “Yes. I need some. You know, just a nice cheap little pair to pull a couple of outfits together…”

“Oh right,” says Suze, and pauses, frowning slightly. “Bex… weren’t you talking about a pair of lilac sandals last week? Really expensive, from LK Bennett?”

“Was I?” I feel myself flush a little. “I… I don’t remember. Maybe. Anyway—”

“Bex.” Suze gives me a suddenly suspicious look. “Now tell me the truth. Do you really need a pair of lilac sandals? Or do you just want them?”

“No!” I say defensively. “I really need them! Look!”

I take out my clothes plan, unfold it, and show it to Suze. I have to say, I’m quite proud of it. It’s quite a complicated flow chart, all boxes and arrows and red asterisks.

“Wow!” says Suze. “Where did you learn how to do that?”

“At university,” I say modestly. I got my degree in Business and Accounting — and it’s amazing how often it comes in handy.

“What’s this box?” she asks, pointing at the page.

“That’s…” I squint at it, trying to remember. “I think that’s if we go out to some really smart restaurant and I’ve already worn my Whistles dress the night before.”

“And this one?”

“That’s if we go rock-climbing. And this”—I point to an empty box—“is where I need a pair of lilac sandals. If I don’t have them, then this outfit won’t work, and neither will this one… and the whole thing will disintegrate. I might as well not bother going.”