As a lifelong feminist, it pains me to admit it, but there is one thing that men are often* better at than women …
Surprise! But it’s true. And I’m not talking about how men are hunters and women are gatherers when it comes to trips to the mall. I’m more interested in the guilt trips. Women are more likely to have those than men. (I pointed this out in a 2007 post, “Why Does Buyer’s Guilt Focus on Fashion?“) It could be tickets to a game, electronics or clothes — if the average Joe wants it and can afford it, he buys it. No regrets. The end. Women tend to agonize. We can be madly in love with something that’s in our budget, but we have to consider a multitude of issues. If it’s a fashion item, how will it fit into our wardrobe? Can we wear it every day? Every week? Will it look good ten years from now? Is it too much money after all? Wait, what is our budget again? Is it appropriate for our age, height, weight, complexion, job, status as wife/mother? Do we need it? Do we deserve it?
I feel like that last question is what it’s all about. A lot of us women do have trouble saying, “I want it; that’s why I should have it.” (It’s not just a shopping issue. You can see it in the workplace too, where men tend to be more assertive about asking for new jobs and raises and promotions.) We wimmins have to prove to ourselves that not only have we earned something, but that we need it. Mere want isn’t enough. Now that I have my jewelry business, I’ve been on the selling side and I’ve walked a lot of women through their complicated justification process. Not always successfully, of course. I feel like it’s the karmic revenge of every sales associate who spent quality time with me (on her feet, too) only to see her longed-for commission wither away as I countered awesome-shopper MrB’s comments of, “That looks great on you! Let’s get it! Let’s get TWO!” with “But I don’t need it.” In fact, the one time I walked into a store, picked up a purse, paid for it and walked out in a matter of minutes without expressing
any more than one or two doubts was so remarkable that MrB still tells the story to people, five years after the fact. And, to this day, he sounds as amazed as if he had seen a rainbow-maned unicorn prancing through the Prada store instead of me.
Now that I’ve experienced the agony of selling, I try to avoid inflicting my neuroses on other salespeople. I try to make a quick and easy decision. In other words, I try to think like a man. But old habits die hard. I was recently in Bergdorf Goodman — one of the best stores in the world — with designer/blogger/wardrobe therapist Stacy Lomman for some totally guilt-free shopping. As I’ve reported, Stacy discovered a strange lack of tops in my closet, which has prevented me from getting the best use out of the jackets, bottoms and skirts that I do have. She convinced me that I need tops. Yay! “Need” is the magic word. But, while Stacy searched for a top to complete a business-casual look for a conference I was attending, I spied a jacket.
Now, I wasn’t looking for a jacket. I’ve got a lot of jackets. I don’t need any more jackets. I definitely don’t need another motorcycle jacket. Sure, I’ve wanted a turquoise-leather motorcycle jacket since the early ’80s, when I begged my high-school friend Jim to give me his …
… but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to get one when I see it, right? I pointed out the jacket to Stacy and explained why I wasn’t going to get it. She pretended to understand and went back to studying the fabric and stitching of various tops. I moped after her for a few minutes until it struck me: What man would covet something for nearly THIRTY YEARS and then walk away from it when he found it? I thought, “That’s fucking crazy.” So … voilà!
I was ecstatic! I emailed Jim (who still has his original turquoise jacket) as soon as I got home. I couldn’t wait to wear the jacket and get an outfit picture, then share my shopping theories as well as the satisfactory denouement of a 30-year-long fashion search. But I forgot about Murphy’s Law until I wore the jacket for the first time and saw it in outside lighting.
I wound up emailing with a manager at Bergdorf’s who suggested that, since he saw this discoloration on multiple jackets, the leather was most likely deliberately “distressed.” Hmmm. I’ve worn plenty of distressed materials and I’ve never had the “big, old, yeller stripe down each sleeve but everything else is pristine” version. I’m also a designer who knows other designers and I’m very, very familiar with folks trying to pass off production problems as intentional design elements. (In fact, one of my manufacturers attempted to do that to me this week. Didn’t work. I always admire the effort though.) But maybe the manager is right. Maybe the jacket is an unappealing type of deliberately distressed leather. I don’t know about that; I do know that I’m distressed! There is no other jacket in my size and the designer** isn’t making any more in turquoise. I can return the jacket for a refund, but there goes my 30-year fashion dream. Help! What would a man do?***
* Not always. “Often.” If you declare that you are an exception, I believe you.
** Not identified out of the kindness of my heart.
*** MrB — while laughing his damn ass off — has answered that question but I’m posing it anyway.
And here’s what I had on the blog this week, in case you missed something juicy:
- Tuesday: The Committee to Protect Journalists.
- Wednesday: Dolce & Gabbana for Marie Antoinette’s casual Fridays.
- Thursday: This Vonage commercial makes no sense at all.
- Friday: FitzRoy the cat is getting kinda viral.