In January I took a male client shopping to John Lewis, and this is where I had my eyes opened to the phenomenon that is ‘dressing your partner’. I can’t believe I never noticed it before – but right there in the male John Lewis changing room it was as if the Goddess of Shopping had lifted up her decadent gown and showed me decaying petticoats beneath. Not a pretty sight.

Lost bewildered men being herded around the shop floor by their partners, lost bewildered men strong-armed into a fitting room clutching a pile of clothes they neither like nor want. And then comes the fitting room conversation, nuanced with years of shopping battle scars.

(Man exits fitting room dressed in new shirt)

Woman: “That looks alright”

(Man tugs at new shirt)

Man: “(non-committal grunt)”

Woman: “Well you said you wanted a shirt – that shirt looks fine. What’s wrong with it?”

Man looks down at himself. He knows that yes, he looks fine, that yes, it will do. And yet it’s not quite right. His eyes widen: the enormity of the situation is just too great to broach at the entrance to the John Lewis fitting room.

Woman: “Well do you want it or not?”

Man: “It’s just…I mean…” (Can he say what’s really on his mind? That he can actually dress himself?)

Woman: “Well don’t get it then.” (Picks up her handbag, puts on her coat; she’s ready to leave. And man is she disgruntled – he wanted a shirt, they’ve looked at 6 or 7, he finally agrees to try the best one on and now he doesn’t want it?)

Man: “No! I’ll get it! It’s fine.”

Woman: “You don’t have to. You’ve got that green checked shirt at home.”

Man: “I’m getting it.” (He retreats back into the fitting room.)

It is excruciating. And it works both ways, the husband who chooses gorgeous floral tops, dresses and scarves for the earth mother he pictures at home with the baby on her hip wherein what really lies behind the front door is an Isabel Marant devotee who occasionally tips her toe in the Zoe Karssen school of graphic sweaters. So many items have been purchased with the ideal of who they want their partner to be rather than who they actually are.


(Now – my caveat to this blog post it this: not all couples will partake in the art of dressing each other. Some couples actually enjoy shopping with each other, it’s a past-time that they can engage in – and are good at – and love. If you are in one of these couples then my golly I bet you have a Cheshire cat grin right now.

The thing is, in your relationship contract you are not obligated to shop together and there is no clause that states “those that lay together must shop together.” When you went on the first date with your partner did they turn up naked? I’m guessing not. Ergo you don’t really need to go shopping with them. You can still do this activity separately and probably enjoy it more as a result.

So go forth – shop without your partner’s permission. I dare ya!

By The Wardrobe Angel

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