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What I learned about women’s clothing…

July 31, 2008

Let’s see, no white after labor day,  clothing sizes may be expressed in words like petite, junior, misses, womens, or other words like small, medium, large, XL,  or even numbers like 2,4,6..18, 20.   Shoes – I think I need some flash cards with the shape and the name.  It would be like learning my multiplication tables all over again.  Let me explain…

My wife just got a new job, and it is bringing about a number of very positive changes in her, and our life together.   The new job is much “bigger” than the old one in terms of responsibility,  personal network, creativity.  It’s also a huge ego and self esteem boost, and of course, there is a nice addition to the old household income.

This new job required new clothes, and so for several weekend’s this month, I’ve gone on bouts of weekend clothes shopping with her.   I’m used to guy shopping, which typically means going into hardware stores, or home improvement stores and looking at lumber,  tractor parts, or socket wrenches so big they take two hands to pick up.    What did I know about women’s clothes or choosing what goes with what?

My prior clothes shopping experiences have been generally for myself, and most guys have it comparatively easy.   Our pants have two dimensions and we know what size we are supposed to wear.  Sometimes we stay in a bit of denial, and cling the the waist measurement we have used since sometime just after college.  Our dress shirts are merchandised for us in little rectangular, plastic wrapped bundles with new tie selections thrown in for good measure.  Again – two numbers, collar and sleeve length.   Under ware and socks come in convenient 3 and 5 packs.   Shoes – well, we have our size which really doesn’t change much and some basic styles like loafer or wingtip.

None of this knowledge of mens clothing prepared me in anyway to help my wife.   Upon arrival in the first department store, and after displaying me ineptitude when it came to juniors, misses, and women’s clothes, I was given a crash course.   I also learned that the hot looking clothes aren’t made in sizes bigger than oh, maybe 8.   I also learned that the numbers were somewhat relative and that different designers / manufacturers apparently had different ideas of what the numbers meant.   

To further complicate things, some stores / clothing lines had different cuts of clothing in the same size and named them things like “Heather”, “Jessica” or “Chloe”.   Large framed posters of models with varying proportions were hung on the wall, and these names were emblazoned on the posters.  So, one could deduce that if you were built like a starving waif,  you would chose from the “Chloe” line, and if you were, um, extra curvy you might select something from the “Jessica” section.   

After selecting an arm load of possibilities, it was off to the dressing room.  In most stores, I would stand around self consciously while my wife changed.   It was a challenge to find some corner to stare into, so the other women wouldn’t think I was eyeing them, or perhaps pass the time browsing through other sections of clothes that we weren’t going to buy, and I really didn’t understand.  ( Who would wear a 4″ wide faux alligator skin belt? )  A few stores were thoughtful and provided some chairs for accompanying husbands.   They were easy to spot, usually occupied by some fellow in his mid to late 60’s looking after his wife’s purse while reading a newspaper.

Then on to shoes – pumps, sandals, peek-a-boo toes, slingbacks, Mary-Jane’s, and I don’t know what all else.  I was lost.    Apparently what looks good is not comfortable.   Shoes women wear in movies are not practical, and there is no way you could get through that much adventure, let alone a normal day in them.   We eventually found several pairs of more conservative looking gear.  Again, sizes being very relative from shoe to shoe.  Apparently, it also matters whether or not you are going to be wearing hose with the shoes.  

Lastly, there was the whole complication of sale pricing.  Women’s clothing, like fine jewelery is marked at some price nobody in their right mind would possibly consider paying, and then hung on racks with huge orange, pink, or lime green signs proclaiming 40%, 60%, 70% off.   Sometimes the original tag would be crossed out and marked down several times.  You had to determine what percent discount was going to apply to which price, the most recent or the original. 

After several weekends,  I’ve just begun to appreciate the complexity of all this.  I can’t say I understand it yet, but I can see why a person could go off shopping for hours and only come back with one or two items.  

It makes me glad I’m a guy.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 31, 2008 11:15 pm

    I can SO relate to this post.

    I feel that going with my wife to stores is the modern equivalent of the Iron Maiden… slow, painful and deadly torture.

    I will never understand WHAT on earth they (as in women) stare when they look at clothes. They can spend several minutes at sutff that us (men) would only glimpse.

    There is a theory that says that men shop like hunters (going after the pray, getting business done as quickly as possible) and women shop like gatherers (looking after every detail, carefully picking stuff); a genetic reminiscence of our pre-historic heritage, I guess…

  2. sweetlybroken permalink
    August 3, 2008 6:05 pm

    You absolutely crack me up! Sadly I am as mystified as you are (and I’m a gal) but I really, really like the designers who think I’m a cute little size 4. It makes me smile when the scale screams “get off me, that hurts, porker” You should go shopping for that perfect pair of jeans, they actually come in various “booty” sizes and shapes.
    Good on ya for being such a trooper.

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