This weekend, my boyfriend and I visited a video store; I was browsing, he was shopping. Later, we did my kind of shopping, clothes shopping. But again, he did the buying and I did the browsing. Why is it that boys always seem to be able to afford both the DVDs and the clothes? What are they doing that we are not? Maybe they buy more inexpensive clothes — less labels, more Gap. Just to check, I peered into my boyfriend’s wardrobe. I was not convinced — it looks like the same combination of thrift and high street you find in the average girl’s closet. Frustrated, I decided to do some research, and like a real journalist, notebook in hand, I stationed myself behind a male mannequin and observed.
The first thing that struck me was how empty and silent the store was. The only noise came from the girlfriend of a shopper, who was yelling at her man about how awful his clothes were and how he always looked like a slob. The boyfriend was wearing jeans, a long sleeved blue t-shirt and fairly worn Converse — pretty standard. She, on the other hand, wore badly fitting black pants with blocky leather boots, a Roberto Cavalli look-alike shirt, and a Gucci print bag. If you ask me, it’s she — not he — who needed the fashion advice. Maybe if she let the poor boy talk, he could teach her a thing or two about fashion.
Besides this couple, all the other men were alone. Their heads bowed and their faces scrunched in a look of deep concentration — sort of like the one women wear when shopping for food and reading the nutrition value label. In less than ten minutes they had selected half a dozen items and were headed for the changing room. All the selected clothes were simple, matched and often came in pairs. For example, the same pants in different colors, or the same shirt in different prints. Five to six minutes later they were at the cashier, with at least three of these items. Not one of the men left the changing rooms to search for more clothes to try on, as girls are often prone to do. And I bet you that no clothes were put on hold or returned.
The wiser from this experience, I compiled and printed below a comprehensible guide for women on how to shop the male way. Those of you who choose to adopt the method (from here onwards christened M.S.M, for the Male Shopping Method), I am confident, will succeed in sharpening your style, slimming your wardrobe and fattening your purse. What it will afford you is a methodical way of shopping that should, if applied correctly, provide you with matching clothes that amount to a ‘uniform’. Note: this is not a guide to shopping for that ‘special evening’. M.S.M is a way to ensure that your every day wardrobe is concise, to the point and efficient.
1. Shop every three to four months, at the most. Never buy on a whim, even if it is just a single item.
2. Before you leave the house, make sure that you give yourself a budget. It can be more generous than usual, because you haven’t shopped for a while, and won’t for a long time.
3. Look through your wardrobe and make a list of what you are missing. Look for skirts or shirts you’ve never worn because they don’t match the rest of your wardrobe. Stick to this list.
4. Do not shop if you are feeling low. Shopping is not therapy; it’s a task — like going to the doctor. Trust me, guys dread that, too.
5. Make sure that you can wear all the clothes you buy together. A purse and three tops does not an outfit make.
6. If you find a pair of pants, or shirt, that looks good, buy it in at least one other variation.
7. Do not buy shoes. These are women’s downfall. As pretty as they look, they are expensive, probably uncomfortable, you can only wear one pair at a time, and chances are, you wear the same ones every day anyway. Remember, men only buy shoes when the ones they are wearing need to be replaced (unless they are special edition Nikes).
8. Do not buy clothes because you think they make you look thin. Your mind may be playing tricks on you, so as to convince you to buy, buy, and buy.
9. Always shop alone. Only you can know what you want, and why you want it.
10. Don’t buy because you can return. We buy to wear, not to own for a night.
For a long time I labored under the illusion that men took less time to dress because they weren’t as interested in the way they looked. How wrong I was. The reason men can get dressed in less than two minutes is because their clothes already fit together. The reason men’s clothes fit like a puzzle has to do with the way they shop. Thanks to M.S.M. now you too can dress in less than two — and afford those DVDs.
Cecilia Morelli has so far coined two new terms in one semester. Watch out OED.