My name is Chris. I am a 42-year-old man. I went shopping for clothes yesterday for 3 hours, and I had a good time.
Last week my very lovely wife and two adorable daughters decided that for my Father’s Day ‘Treat’ they would take me clothes shopping. It’s probably about 3 years since I last shopped ‘properly’. However, the recent wet weather in the UK has reminded me that my shoes are wearing out and are no longer watertight.
Another major reason for my lack of retail therapy has been that I haven’t liked shopping in the past couple of years (even less than normal), as my middle age had spread somewhat. I’d loosened a belt notch, gone up a jeans size, untucked my shirts to avoid the Jeremy Clarkson look (I’ll spare you those pictures)…
I also don’t usually like shopping with my family as they are all female. It’s a well-known stereotype that women shop and men buy. I’d go out to buy a shirt. So I’d look for shirts; not shoes or trousers, not watches or curtains, but shirts. Apparently that’s not how the female mind works.
But, as I’ve no doubt already bored any regular reader into submission, this year I’ve been on my own small mission to lose weight and get fit. I’ve lost more than 15lbs, I’m feeling much fitter, tightening my belt at least one notch and tucking my shirts in again, almost revelling in the fact that I have some kind of shape. My previously favourite jeans are now properly too big and I can actually slide them down over my hips without unbuttoning them (isn’t that how The Kids wear them now…?!). Even I could admit, that with my saggy jeans and soggy feet, Something Had To Be Done.
We went to the shopping Mecca of the Southwest, Cribbs Causeway, usually my idea of Hell on Earth. And it didn’t start well. Within 90 seconds of arriving in the enormous Marks & Spencer at one end of the mall, we were looking at towels, bath mats, and cushions. To be fair, there were some very nice cushions, but (a) we were supposed to be shopping for me!! and (b) this cushion cost £40.
At this point I flinched involuntarily, like I might if I had just swallowed a wasp. £40 for a cushion. This is why I don’t shop. We moved on, and actually started shopping for shoes. Then I discovered that the concept of ‘sizing’ for shoes has changed. For the first 40 years of my life a shoe size was an indicator of the size of the shoe. I ‘knew’ that my right foot was nearly a whole size bigger than the left, but that a size 9 or possibly 9½ usually fitted well. Not any more.
I tried on a size 9 in one ‘style’ and they were fine, but another ‘style’ was too tight even in a size 10. The shop staff basically admitted that different styles fit very differently, that the sizes aren’t consistent. So I could actually need anything from an 8½to a 10½. Thanks for making it easy.
I’m not a fan of changing rooms in shops. They’re almost invariably too small, about the size of a toilet cubicle, always the most comfortable place to get changed. There’s usually nowhere to put anything that’s not on a hanger, and even then there are only a couple of hooks, so God Help You if you’re wearing a coat or have more than one item to try. There are often hot lights overhead, and crowds of wives, mothers and girlfriends hanging around the entrance area like runners in a 4x400m relay team awaiting the baton. They’re there usually because they’ve had to force the men to go shopping, and (probably rightly) don’t trust the men to make a decent decision about what they’re trying on. After all, it’s those women who will have to be seen in public with them…
But yesterday, despite the changing rooms, I had some pleasant surprises. I’ve gone down a waist size. I even tried on something that said ‘slim fit’, and it didn’t look ridiculous. I was getting into this shopping lark. We went for a coffee and I had a caramel latte with an extra shot. The combination of sugar and caffeine kicked in and I was away. The girls were choosing things for me and I was trying them on. More shoes, jeans, a couple of shirts, and we even looked at some very nice-looking suits. I haven’t bought a suit since I got married in 1998.
By the time we left (considerably poorer) I may even have outlasted my family (that’ll be the power of caramel & caffeine). But I’m under no illusions that there are clear rules for my new-found acceptance of The Joy of Shopping.
- It’s all about me. Really, this was a trip to buy stuff for me.
- I do need refuelling half way around.
- When I’m done, we’re done. No ‘can we just have a look in…’, because the answer is NO (see point 1 above).
So on this Fathers’ Day, I would implore more Dads to search within themselves and discover their Inner Shopper. Embrace the Shops. Your families are probably very good at shopping. Put that talent and that energy to good use, if only once a year. Let’s face it, once a year is probably enough. You might enjoy it, and you’ll probably look better too.
I’m already looking forward to the next Fathers’ Day…