Men love clothes shopping, or so women tell them

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And I know what you’re thinking. “Thank heavens, it’s about time that miserable female ruminant cheered up a bit. If she moans one more time about having nothing to wear for her son’s wedding I shall rip this page out of the newspaper, fold in into eight, attack it with a pair of scissors (ask a grown-up before using sharp instruments) and create a paper doyley.

I am conscious I have become the newsprint equivalent of EastEnders over the last few months – unremittingly miserable.

In fact, my audition to be a curmudgeonly middle-aged resident of Albert Square who turns out to be Peggy Mitchell’s long-lost non-identical twin went pretty well until they said I would have to work in the launderette, alternate shifts with Dot Cotton. I told them I don’t do domestic.

But today, I am sublimely happy because I have the clobber. It is in the wardrobe and gazed at on a daily basis, just to make sure it is as lovely as it was in the shop. It is. It is also the most expensive outfit I have ever bought in my life and that’s before I get the ‘move ‘em on, head ‘em out, set ‘em out, ride ‘em in, let ‘em out’ foundation garments plus hat, shoes and handbag.


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Claire’s Accessories is on standby.

But it was worth it. My husband thinks I look gorgeous, Lynne in the shop (confusing, I know, but true) also thought I looked gorgeous but said I would look even better when “everything” (ie my chest) was in the “right place”.

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I think I look gorgeous.

It was a great week all round. I managed to capture my dad in the food hall of Marks and Spencers, kidnap him and, without further delay, take him to get his suit for the wedding.

Poor dad had the look of a trapped man but with a wife and two daughters he knows better than to try and resist the Mortimer women. We took the escalator to menswear and chose a charcoal grey two-piece suit.

I settled down in the visitor area of the men’s changing room, which is nicely positioned by the exit. No men were going to attempt an escape without being spotted.

Two women were already seated there. Each had a determined look on her face. Like me, they were not about to let their menfolk leave without new clothes. There was an instant, unspoken bond between us.

While we cannot but accept men’s view that women spend a lot of time shopping, men must also concede that, as a percentage, they don’t spend much time shopping and may, indeed, be somewhat resistant.

There are three main male ploys when it comes to trying on clothes:

1. He takes the trousers into the changing room and emerges after an interval during which you are supposed to believe (wrongly) that he has tried them on and says: “These are absolutely fine.” You buy them only to discover just minutes before the taxi arrives to take you to the Mayor’s reception that they are too short on the leg and too tight round the middle. In this way he gets to carry on wearing the “perfectly good” comfy trousers he’s had for 20 years.

2. He tries on the trousers, emerges from the changing room and says they have been wrongly labelled because they say 34” waist but they are far too tight. You suggest he tries on a 36” but he won’t contemplate the possibility that in the 15 years since you last persuaded him to try on some new trousers he may have put on a couple of inches round the waist.

3. He buys exactly the same pair as he did last time because he knows he likes them.

My preconceptions were rocked, however, by the amiability (or maybe resignation) of the current incumbents of the men’s changing cubicles.

One man came out to be inspected and said the trousers were a good fit but he would prefer a different colour. The second man came out and related his highly entertaining tale of woe: “When I bent down to do up my shoes the ends of my scarf got caught in the laces and when I tried to stand up I couldn’t.”

Then my dad appeared.

When he gave me away (yes, maybe he should have held out to see if he could get something for me) he wore grey, morning dress, top hat and all.

Now, 33 years later he is going to the first wedding of a grandchild and looks just as good.

“Do you remember giving me away, dad?”

“Yes, I do,” he replied. “Pity really, because I had hoped to get something for you.”

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