Follow "What Women Think" by email - subscribe securely here

Thursday, 21 October 2010


The first time I noticed it, I mean really noticed it, was when I was wedding dress shopping with a girlfriend. Her wedding, not mine. She wanted a frothy concoction for her upcoming beach wedding.

We were in some over priced, under resourced dress shop at the top of Broadway on the Mall, trying on dress after dress after dress, closely followed by countless skirt and top combos. Alternating between hysterics at how aged and superficial we looked in some of the kit, and fury at the price tags for garments which amounted to no more than a square metre of chiffon held together precariously with two paper clips, albeit diamante paper clips.

Poised on the de rigueur pink circular couch taking prime position in the centre of the shop was this miserable looking bloke. He had shopping bags at his feet, bearing the logos for David Jones, Napoleon and Mollini. In his fidgeting hands were a thrice-folded racing guide and a mobile phone. On his face was a look of desolate boredom.

He didn't want to be dress shopping. He wanted to be at the TAB. Actually I think he would have more fun kissing Jim Carey or having surgery in the Bundaberg medical precinct.

That's because behind one of the change room doors was his wife/fiancé/girlfriend, resplendent with giggles, guffaws and gladiatorial intensity to find the perfect frock for her particular function.

Every few minutes, she would squeal in delight or dismay, open the door and parade around him like a five year old girl showing daddy her first fairy costume.

The man was made of steel. Step aside Superman. He had a look on his face as straight as the Queen Street Mall and politely "oohed" and "aahed" and correctly answered all her inane questions without the benefit of asking the audience or phoning a friend.

"Do you think it's too low at the back?" What a stupid question to ask a male. Women's clothes, in men’s cultured opinion, can never be too low at the back nor the front.

"Do you think it's too low at the front?" Sentence above answers this question.

"Do you think $899 is too expensive?" Silly woman, I thought. Don't ever tell blokes how much clothes cost. Even if you're earning more than they are; even if you're one of the world's eight supermodels and can easily afford crazy price tags. They don't understand.

They will spend the same amount on golf clubs or a limited edition State of Origin signed print, but not on clothes. And certainly not on one dress that will be worn for approximately six hours in total then put in the back of the wardrobe.

"Which one do you like best?" was the next fatal utterance. Don't go there mate! Whatever you say will be wrong, and you will pay dearly for it for some time to come. Why doesn't she ask him something simpler, such as how to test an egg for freshness or whether this season's eyeliner is worn across the top rim or under the lower?

As soon as she ducked in for another change, he'd scan the racing guide and furtively text whom can I only assume was his bookmaker.

Put it this way, I don't think it was to his best mate. Men don't tend to send the sort of text messages to other men like girls do. I am yet to see a male send a text saying: "I am in hell; I'm in a dress shop with her".

With blokes and clothes, I am discretion central. Some may call it deceit central, but I totally disagree. Here's an example. I might buy say a fabulous skirt and wait until there’s no one around to chop all the labels off it, and throw away the store bag. Then I'll chuck the skirt into the laundry basket and generally let it subsume itself into the other clothes.

When next I'm washing, I pop it in, stick it up to dry and just carry on as if it's a regular wardrobe item. Or I'll buy new shoes, but wear them home. Hiding evidence is a trick my mother taught me years ago. She also told me to always wash off my make up before going to bed so she can't be all that bad at advice dispensing.

If it's not in their face, they don't notice. They might say, “Darl, is that new?” Just give the standard answer, “What, this old thing?”

I say let him be. Do your dress shopping sans boyfriend. Take your sister, mother, girlfriend, third grade teacher - whoever - but not your man. Unless he’s gay. It's just not his scene. You don't want to be at Bunnings or Trade Tools with him on a Saturday morning, so don't drag him out for haute couture with you.

There is ample opportunity for joint retail frolicking that doesn't involve change rooms. Think Bose, Mercedes, Flight Centre. And yes, I know that he is incapable of purchasing a pack of 7-days-in-Rio men's briefs without your consultation and support, but accept it. Blokes will be blokes, girls will be girls and Gwyneth will never live down that embarrassing Oscar acceptance speech.

That is, of course, unless he makes you sit at The Gabba for the Boxing Day test match or prop him up at the $25 minimum bet roulette table at Conrad's. Then you've got every right to retaliate.

Oh, and my final piece of advice - hide your credit card statement. My mother might have told me that one too.


  1. Love it.. Funny... isn't enough to show how much I enjoyed...

    Love your work darling...

  2. Aahhh - rang so many bells - a delightful read - thanks :)