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Monday, 4 May 2015

A Line About Clothes

Philip (first on left) displaying his innate fashion sense with some like-minded pals

With the usual caveat about not taking anything I write too seriously...

Is there anything more pointless than a man, trailing after his significant other, in a ladies-wear shop?

This question, amongst others, occurred to me yesterday when I was doing just that.  Don't get me wrong, I really don't mind this as an occasional occupation.  It gives me the chance to observe and look around me blankly.  I'm quite good at this.  People often say to me, "what is it you're thinking about?" and refuse to believe me when I say "nothing".  They can't accept it, but I am quite capable of just standing and staring.  Walt Whitman would have been proud of me.

Anyway, back to my original contention.  Other than providing moral support, I really don't see what is to be gained from having us in tow.  We tend to stand there looking lost and not a little forlorn.  One enterprising chap yesterday had brought along the Sunday papers and had arranged these along his forearm, like a sort of lectern, and was attempting to leaf through these as he trailed after his partner.  It did mean that he had a tendency to bump into things as he went along, but you had to applaud the attempt to gain something from the experience.

You see, in my opinion, we're not really there to do anything.  When I was young and foolish (well, considerably more foolish than I am now anyway) I had a tendency to make suggestions.  Actually, I could have put that better.  I realise that makes it sound as if I hung around the Changing Rooms with a bag of sweets and a disconcerting leer.  What I meant was that I used to venture an occasional opinion.  I quickly realised that this was not my purpose as I was invariably wrong.  Well-meaning suggestions were dismissed out of hand or regarded as tantamount to an insult.  

Ambivalence or, if the occasion calls for it, enthusiastic positivity are the name of the game.  As time goes by, you become reasonably adept at spotting whether the prospective purchaser is (a) just going through the motions and is not really interested (cue ambivalence) or (b) quite keen but needs confirmation (cue enthusiastic positivity).  Responding to (a) with enthusiastic positivity will only cause trouble.  At best, you will be seen as an idiot without any taste whatsoever, whose opinions can and should be discarded.  At worst, you will prompt the purchase of said item, which will be hated from the moment it arrives home and either promptly returned or left hanging in some dark, forgotten corner of the wardrobe as a silent reproach.  In either event, you will not be allowed to forget it.

Oddly enough, the opposite situation works in an entirely different manner.  If you are shopping for clothes and your loved one is with you, they are quite likely to have strong opinions and may even take over the whole process.  Frankly, I'm quite relaxed about this.  I hate shopping for clothes etc. and will put off the evil day until there really isn't any alternative.  Mens' clothes and accessories are impossible to get excited about. Take shoes for example.  If you're not a big fan of either black or brown, then you might as well give up. Trousers, shirts and tops have more options but here we have a tendency to buy things that either correspond to how we used to look or how we would like to look.  For example, today I saw a cheesecloth-type shirt with rolled up sleeves.  Beside it was a picture of a slim, designer-stubbled, handsome male model wearing said shirt and I realised that, in my mind, that was how I would like to look and that was why I was attracted to the shirt.  The reality of me ever wearing anything like this would be too awful to contemplate.  I might have got away with it forty years ago, although I doubt it would have done me any favours even then.  Partners tend to guide us gently away from such fashion faux-pas.

Perhaps we need a male creche?  Somewhere we could be left with a good book or today's newspaper so that we don't clutter up the shop but within sight of the shopper so that we can give a blank look or vigorous nod, as required, whenever necessary.  I commend the idea to the house.  Well, to the lady of the house :-)

Philip's latest compilation of stories and musings, 'Giving a Bull Strawberries' is now on sale at Amazon Kindle for just 99p or equivalent.