selfish and greedy, I don’t do it much. I prefer shopping for myself.
It’s simpler. I get to keep what I buy. And if I get it wrong – hello
skinny fuchsia jeans – I only have myself to blame.
But there are some occasions where you just can’t avoid buying clothes
for others. Like when you’re going out with a guy who has crap taste in
fashion. Oh I’ve been there. Several times. Wary of the whole cliché of
the ball-busting woman trying to ‘makeover her man’, gifting a guy with
clothes is how we all try to do just that.
I once worked with a girl who was dating this nice, hot, funny guy. She
loved almost everything about him. Except for the way he tucked in
whatever he was wearing on top to whatever he was wearing on bottom.
Shirts tucked into jeans. T-shirts tucked into cargo pants. He was the
mother of all tuckers. In fact, we always referred to him as Tuck and
to this day I can’t recall his actual name.
In those early weeks and months, she was aghast. Was it a break-uppable offence? To tuck too much? Not wanting to come across as controlling by insisting he untuck or get out of her life, she held it together until they’d been going out long enough for her to buy him some clothes under the pretence of “gift”. None were tuckable and things improved long enough to get to that stage in their relationship where she could be honest. So one night after a bottle of wine, she told him his tucking sucked. He took it well and stopped tucking for good. They still broke up but their time together was happier untucked.
To me, this sums up the whole idea of shopping for others. Be they your boyfriend, husband, friend, mother or child; when you buy clothes for another person, you’re projecting your own fashion opinion onto them. You’re saying “I think you’d look good in this, yes, this.” Sometimes, you’re also saying “….and actually you’d look so much better in this than the rubbish stuff you insist on wearing which – trust me – makes you look fat/old/wrong.”
When you buy clothes for another adult, at least they can choose if they’ll wear the look you’ve projected onto them. “Ah, thanks for this Pakistani-inspired crochet vest of a thousand colours,” they gush awkwardly. “I just love it. I just love it so much I can’t wait to wear it to…..something fabulous!” And then it goes into their closet for six months until they can re-gift it to their cleaner.
But kids are helpless victims of other people’s taste. When I had my daughter I was fortunate enough to receive many lovely gifts. When I had my son, they sent teddies. But people love buying clothes for little girls. And each gift spoke volumes about the person who sent it. Cards were barely necessary.