How to shop like a man (AKA as speedily as possible!)

Nothing to wear? Follow my five-step plan to shopping in a dash
Nothing to wear? Follow my five-step plan to shopping in a dash

While three-quarters of women have their Christmas shopping sorted by late November/early December, the same number of men will leave theirs till the last minute in December or even Christmas week. This result from a Bank of Ireland survey is hardly surprising news.

A less well-known fact revealed by the survey however, showed that men, while not knowing what they are going to buy, are likely to spend more on presents, with €1,000 being the average amount. €1,000 you say? Ker-ching!

Well it makes sense. When you leave shopping until the last minute, you’ve deprived yourself of any opportunity to check out the best deals and hence have to be prepared to cough up. Honestly if I was a man, I too would throw money at the problem rather than face the wrath of a discontented amour. Generally speaking, men’s lack of interest in and/or inability to shop around has been well documented in many (probably not very good) stand-up comedy routines.

But let me just add my shilling’s worth to this already considerable bundle of unoriginal received wisdom. Some years ago (when I was a teenager actually, so that’s really ‘some’ years ago!) I remember one particular shopping trip with my dad.

'Hurrah! I've found my knickers! Now I just need an outfit to go with them...'
‘Hurrah! I’ve found my knickers! Now I just need an outfit to go with them…’

He needed a new blue jumper. He walked into Marks & Spencer’s, picked up the first blue jumper he saw, said, ‘This’ll do grand’ and bought it. This was something of a revelation for me at the time. I would just never have done that. Now that I’m a teeny bit older my dedication to shopping around has waned somewhat but I’d still be inclined to check out a few options, especially now that you can do everything from the comfort of your own sofa via the internet.

I did however have a moment last week where – due to a lack of fore-planning on my part, I openly admit – I was forced into full-on ‘shopping like a man’ mode. Heading to a friend’s birthday party, which was a five hour journey away, I had made it into town (Dublin) with a 20 minute window to buy a present, outfit (I already had heels packed) and scoot over to Busáras (the bus station for my non-Irish readers) all in time to catch the 3pm bus. Dear reader, the station is a 10/15 minute walk away – this was not looking good.

Every second counted. I was on a mission. Clery’s was an obvious port of call – being the nearest department store to my soon-to-depart bus. The gift picked up in the beauty section, I swung over to the nearest clothing concession. Fortunately for me it happened to be Miss Selfridge. I had no idea what I wanted other than that I was looking for a dress of some description (far simpler than mixing separates). I literally glanced to both sides of me and saw a rack of black dresses. Behind the black dresses were monochrome ones in the same style. I grabbed one in my size and spun around to the checkout just behind me. Done and dusted in oh, five seconds I reckon. You’ll be glad to hear I made my bus. Even more impressively, I was the first guest to arrive at the party, woohoo!

At my friend Kirsty's 30th birthday party
At my friend Kirsty’s 30th birthday party

All’s well that ends well. I’ve posted a pic of the dress I wore to the party opposite. It wasn’t exactly a relaxing experience however so to help you in similar moments of shopping desperation – when purchasing like a man is the only way forward, I’ve compiled a handy checklist of top points to consider.

I ended up having a fantastic time with the birthday girl Kirsty (pretty in pink below). She had decorated the room with home-made centerpieces of jam jars with raffia and little pink ‘K’s on them, surrounded by little bows. She’d also made a photo booth with a sparkly backdrop ordered from Amazon and brilliant props such as moustaches and glasses which amazingly she managed to pick up in a pound shop along with her own home-made speech bubbles (a good idea as then you can make the expressions which you know your guests will find funny rather than standard shop bought ones).

Pretty in pink: The birthday girl, Kirsty
Pretty in pink: The birthday girl, Kirsty

Incidentally, I don’t know about you but I find pound shops/€2 shops are brilliant places for a little browse. You’ll never have guilt over picking up the odd item or five (I mean, who doesn’t need some more household cleaning products) and you can actually find some surprisingly nice stationery and assorted bits ‘n’ pieces in there.

So until next time, enjoy your shopping, whether that be a head-first dash down the high street rabbit hole like a man or a more leisurely stroll!

Gillian x

Top tips for shopping like a man

  1. Now is not the time for experimentation people! Go with something relatively classic that looks like it would suit you. Nothing worse than turning up at your event and realising too late that you haven’t made the wisest of purchases!
  2. If you’re really in a dash you won’t have time to try it on, so forget vanity sizing. Go with the size most likely to fit you. After all, it doesn’t matter what the label says, it what it looks like on that counts!
  3. Choose your store wisely. Penney’s (or Primark as it’s known in the UK) is great and I have many outfits (too many!) from there myself. However sometimes it can be a bit hit and miss in terms of its selection and while the styles can be nice, the cut isn’t always the best so if you’re buying for a special event it might not be the best choice. Also from a purely practical point of view, the tills are jammers in there on Saturdays – when you’re really up against the clock, every second counts! And as for TK Maxx – fuggedaboutit!
  4. Conversely, don’t go too far towards the opposite spectrum of the high street either. If you’ve truly seconds to count you may not even check the price tag. Avoid suffering a severe case of ‘sticker shock’ at the till. Especially if it’s for something bought on impulse that you may later decide is more meh than marvelous. I would therefore avoid Oasis and Warehouse and probably Top Shop (I know they’re not normally excruciatingly expensive but I often find you can get something as nice/nicer elsewhere for less – also they bump up the prices here in the Republic of Ireland). River Island would probably be my top pick for something for a special night out; Miss Selfridge, New Look and Forever 21 would also be good bets. In my experience, Zara is better for smart daytime/office wear.
  5. Opt for a dress. It’ll save time sussing out what goes with what. A classic dress will look effortless and will go with the vast majority of shoes already in your wardrobe. Don’t forget your nude or opaque tights though unless you are a very hardy soul who can cope with this country’s freeze factor! NB: admittedly not the best option if you actually are a man.

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