Those smiles will be wiped off their faces on the first trip to the dressing room.

Image: Auremar

Recently it has come to my attention that some couples go shopping together. I don’t mean grocery shopping, a task that is easy to accomplish with someone you are romantically involved with—if you go grocery shopping with a person, you can put back the can of beans when he or she is not looking and swap out the low-quality toilet paper for Charmin Ultra Soft, a.k.a. God’s gift to all mankind.

No. Some couples actually go clothes shopping together.

I did go with my boyfriend to buy some new jeans a month or two ago, and I’ll admit that was kind of fun. I mean, there was a lot of me checking out his butt “to make sure the fit is right.” One time he opened the stall and his shirt wasn’t buttoned all the way. That was nice. Still, let’s be real here: experience shows that men do not in general object to women checking out their jean fit, even if they bought the jeans several years before. So even this experience came to a net neutral.

What is the literal worst, what is worse than the worst, is taking a man you are romantically involved with shopping with you. Getting hit by a car would be better. Personally, I already feel pretty indifferent verging on bad about clothes shopping. Sure, I enjoy having new clothes. And, I enjoy looking at clothes on mannequins and picturing myself meeting James Franco/running along the beach/receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature (or Peace or Medicine or Economics, depending on my daydream mood) in each outfit. If shopping were as easy as looking at clothes, picturing yourself in them, and then purchasing them, shopping would be an exercise I would participate in with any number of partners, romantic or otherwise.

Unfortunately, there are two additional steps between fantasy and reality. The first step involves going into a dressing room, taking off all of your clothes, putting on different clothes, checking out the worst parts of your anatomy to see if they have been successfully hidden by this clothing item, being pleasantly or uncomfortably surprised, then taking those clothes off and starting over with a new set. Every part of this is torture. I often successfully go weeks without looking at any of my problem areas! I’ve perfected the art of looking in the mirror and only seeing the positives. The only time I look at my love handles is when I’m on my period or locked in a dressing room.

And yet the pain doesn’t end here. Once you’ve found an item that hides your hips and doesn’t make your boobs do anything weird, it’s time to pull out your advanced calculus master’s degree and do some complicated figuring. Is this dress/shirt/skirt/pair of socks more or less cute than the price tag? And, if you’re at Forever 21, the additional problem: can I wear this enough times before it dissolves in the wash to be worth the price?

Personally I’ve always been slow at math. Here I am, 24 years old, and I’m just starting to understand pre-algebra for the first time. The advanced figuring necessitated by a trip to the Galleria can quickly overpower my feeble mind; as a result, as soon as I have found an outfit I like I’ll stuff it behind a bulky cable knit sweater (nobody will find it here for months) and vacate the store. I’ll take a lap or two around the mall while my brain works on the math and tries not to overheat. I’ll eat a pretzel. I’ll consider my chances of ever winning a Nobel Prize. I’ll go into the bathroom and cry. I’ll google “grad school programs in useful degrees.” I’ll refine my search to “grad school programs that don’t require math.” I’ll call my parents to see if I can move home. Eventually the security guard will come over to tell me that the mall is closing in 15 minutes. The moment of truth: am I too exhausted to remember where I hid that skirt, or will it be going home with me?

I’m embarrassed just doing this by myself and then telling strangers about it on the internet. Can you imagine how bad this would be with someone you ostensibly are in love with? You’d show up at the first store, find something that you like, hide it behind a cable knit sweater, and then immediately be met with an impassive, not-understanding face. “I thought that fit,” your lover would say. “They have it in three more colors. Why don’t you pick up all four and we can hit the Food Court?”

Men do not get it. They don’t understand that shopping is not something you can do for five minutes and then feel the same after. Clothes shopping is an emotional roller coaster that can take more than one day to get off of, depending of course on the day of the month. We need time, provisions, and a lot of compliments to get through it. While I’ll agree, it is nice to have someone else carry your shopping bags and tell you that you look hot, in the end I don’t think it’s worth it. After all, a day spent shopping will typically only net me one dress or maybe a scarf—who can only hide so much behind a mound of cable-knit—and personally I can carry that myself.

 

 

 

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