12 August 2010
I understand from just about any female I know that this is a rare trait in a man, but I really like clothes shopping. I know plenty of guys who take pride in their appearance but don't necessarily like the rigmarole of traipsing about the shops searching for their required garments. Well, I'm different. I take pride in my appearance - no, really - and like the process of doing so.
Tell me I'm spending the day - well okay, the afternoon - clothes shopping and I'm there. Obviously by this I mean shopping as a man for men. I haven't clothes shopped in the company of a woman for years, probably because women shop much differently to men.
A bloke wants a shirt. He goes to the shop he prefers, finds the right department, goes to the rail containing shirts of his size (you can already tell I'm in TK Maxx here, my favourite shop) and then has a flick through. The only decision he generally then makes is the basic one about whether he likes the shirt or not. If he does, he buys it. If he doesn't, it stays where it is.
I know I'm an XL, and therefore never feel the urge to try on shirts. I know my waist size, and so I never feel the urge to try on trousers. I know my shoe size, and so ... exactly. I can go home with a reasonable quantity of items and know all will fit, all will look good (relatively speaking, just before you bray any "hark at Clooney" comments at me) and all will find regular use.
This doesn't apply to the contradictory gender at all. Everything has to be checked twice, three times, four. Then tried on. Then compared with something else. Then tried on again. Then declined, making it a fantastic waste of everyone's time - until a few hours later when nothing in any other shop matches up and so it is purchased after all. And probably taken back to the shop 48 hours later.
If a chap is in the company of a woman in a clothes store, you can about bet your kneecaps that he is looking vacant, bored and offering only half-arsed opinions that the woman doesn't really want anyway. If he answers honestly about whether he likes something or not, his opinion will be wrong. "No", usually gets the accusatory response "Why, what's wrong with it?", while "Yes" is greeted with the "Hmmm, I'm not sure" retort of indifference. You may as well say "it makes your arsecheeks look like two fat boys under a tarpaulin" for all the value it holds.
Let's not even mention the insistence of the woman that she looks at every item in every other department without intending to buy anything whatsoever.
So, the genders should do their own clothes shopping in their own time and their own way. Unless you really do know someone prepared to indulge your habits.
And yes, I like TK Maxx. I like the fact that everything is arranged by size, not by item. There is some real tat in there but it is a goldmine as far as finding a gem within the rejects is concerned. The prices are cheap, and ridiculously so when it's a sale. I know charity shops are cool and the possibility of picking up something wild and wonderful for 75p is quite strong, but I've never done it. I have an unreasonable prejudice against them, convinced that I'll find dried bogies in the buttonhole of the seemingly smart jacket I've just purchased. TK Maxx feels like one step up to me. It's reassuringly bogie free.
Mind you, I took a shirt back there today as it had been mislabelled. It was an L when it said XL. The press-studs that attached each side together undid in perfect popping sequence - Norman Cook could have made a record from the rhythm it made - as soon as I unsucked my stomach.
I got the tenner back. And, of course, a comment from the woman behind the counter that I should have tried it on first. And, as I explained to her, I know my shirt size so ... etc.