Don’t be That Guy Who Complains About What She Wears
Ed Note: The following story is no indictment on my step-dad who is a great man.
While home from college for the holidays, my mother asked me to go with her to the local Macy’s. She wanted to do some shopping for herself. Of course I said yes because it’s the only time of year I’m home and any chance to spend time with Ms. Rita is always welcome. Also, everyone knows when you’re home visiting parents, any run to a store for themselves eventually turns into them going on a shopping spree for you.
We parked the car and walked into Macy’s. I’m ready to see mom ball out on her son, because where I’m from Macy’s is pretty much the tippy-top of the line. Everyone bought their nice things from the local Macy’s and we’ve been shopping there for me to get fly since my 8th grade promotional ceremony.
The two of us walked in the entrance where the men’s clothing section was, so of course I made a right in the direction of the leather jackets. I needed a new one, but my mom kept walking straight ahead. Maybe she was going to another part of the men’s section? I started following her, and to my surprise she was walking past the men’s clothes, past the cologne area, past the men’s shoes, past every single section that applied to me. Instead, she was taking the escalator, up to the women’s section. What was she doing? Did she need to use the bathroom? Was she going to return something she bought, get some store credit, and then come back down?
I didn’t know, so I followed her up the escalator. When we arrived at the top, she moved past the women’s bathroom and past the register where she would get said credit. All of a sudden I found myself in the middle of racks of women’s clothes. Dresses, skirts, blouses, all kinds of stuff I didn’t wear. As it turns out, my mom was dead serious about shopping for herself. She was handing me items to hold, standing in front of a mirror and holding items up to see how they looked on her person.
Now I was confused for two reason: 1) I thought we were there for me. 2) I know my mom gets new clothes, but she’s not a shopper. All my life, I never saw her go to a clothing store with the intention of getting stuff for her. Usually, it was to get stuff for my sister and I, and if she found something she liked, she picked that up too.
“Mom, what are you doing?” I said.
“I know,” she said.
“You’re really shopping for yourself? What’s the occasion?”
As she shuffled her feet around a carousel of clothes, sliding hangers from left to right, she said, “I’m just trying to get some nice things to wear on the weekend.”
“But mom, you have plenty of nice things.”
That was true. Like I said, even though I know my mom wasn’t a shopper, she knew how to dress. She’s not flashy, but she always had style and always wore something worth a compliment from either her kids or the people we ran into when we were out and about. At this point, I didn’t care that we weren’t getting anything for me. I was genuinely befuddled by this behavior coming from my mom.
“I know,” my mom said again. “It’s just Ian [my step-dad] always dresses so nice on the weekends, and I feel like I need a couple of things to compliment that.”
“Oh mom, you’re tripping,” I said.
My mother is a food and beverage manager at the restaurant at a country club where annual membership is $250 K. This requires her to wear some very classy, well-put together outfits five days a week. My step-dad investigates crimes at a prison. This requires him to wear an army green jump suit, over a bulletproof vests and a pair of steel toe boots five days a week. When the weekend comes, and my step-dad doesn’t have to go to work, he takes full advantage of his freedom to dress however he wants. This usually means he’s in some crisp dress clothes, because he’s also a city councilman for our hometown of Seaside, so of course he’s going to look dignified even if he’s just going to Costco.
I know there was no pressure coming from my step-dad for my mom to dress a particular way. He adores her, and looks at her like she’s the most beautiful part of his day. But since my mom is always dressing up to go to work, she probably felt like the clothes she already owns weren’t up to snuff. So I reminded her of what her husband does for a living and how she has plenty of great things to wear already.
She stopped browsing and said, “You’re right.” Then she pointed at the clothes I was holding for her and told me to put her clothes back. As we were walking out of the store, we of course passed the men’s section again. “Do you want anything,” my mom asked. “No,” I said. “I’m fine.”
I believe a lot of women care about what men think when it comes to how they look. Sure, they have to like how things look and feel on them, but if they like it, they hope the man in their life or the next man they meet will like it too. This is why when I’m with a woman who is trying new things on or figuring out what to wear, I give honest feedback. That’s not code for negative criticism either. If they try something on that I don’t think is very flattering I simply ask them what else were they thinking about. I play along, because not only does it speed up their process in getting ready, I do in fact care about how my woman looks.
But, I have my limits as most men should when it comes to having an opinion as to how a woman looks. I dated a girl once who had more than one grey item in her wardrobe. She looked better when she wore bright colors. One day she put on a grey dress, after trying on a blue one. She didn’t ask me for my opinion, but I told her nicely, go with the blue one. She was shocked. “You look fine in grey, but you look better in blue,” I said. That was as far as it went, and she ended up choosing the blue, but I would like to think that wasn’t for me, even if it probably was. And if she did end up going with the grey, I wouldn’t complain.
A man can have a say in what his woman wears, whether she asks for it or not, but he should always be helpful and never complain. No one appointed you commissioner of the fashion police, dude. Don’t be the guy who asks his woman if she’s going out in that flannel shirt as she grabs her keys to go out. Don’t be that guy who makes his woman look like she’s going to the club when she’s going to the store. Don’t be the guy who makes a fuss because his woman went to bed in a t-shirt and a pair of underwear from a Target 3-pack. It’s not sexy, but do what I do when my woman goes to bed in something that doesn’t look sexy. Go to sleep.