A group of us women got together for a dinner party the other night and this story on Ikea’s MANLAND (in Australia) came up in conversation:
We all had a good laugh, talking about the various trials of shopping with our men and how Manland would work well for us. My boyfriend is a shopper and doesn’t mind going to the mall or Ikea or getting daily deals, but we are still not very shopping compatible. When the two of us went to Ikea, he wanted to buy what we came for and get the hell out of the store as fast as possible and I wanted to check out what was new and browse around a little more. If we gauged the amount of time we each wanted to hang around Ikea, mine would be about an hour while Carlos’ would be about 15 minutes.
The stereotype that women shop and men buy is pretty much alive in my relationship and, it seems, in many other relationships, too. But a recent article entitled, “A Man’s Guide to a Woman’s Wardrobe” in Intelligent Life may provide a bit of a clue as to why:
What has become clear is that fashion is to many women what sport is to many men: a pastime, a passion, a shared language, a form of self-definition, and a temporary escape from the opposite sex, all rolled into one deeply satisfying whole.
I would expand fashion to include all sorts of design and grooming objects: home decor, cosmetics, design items, haircare, etc. When we browse, we get informed. When we are informed, we have lots to talk about with our girlfriends.
I’ve bonded with many-a-fellow-female by recognizing the designer of her shoes, dress or asking her what products she uses to get the shine on her hair or the thickness of her lashes. “Is that dress from the new Juicy Couture line?” “Yes! I saw it and fell in love!” “I was coveting it myself! It looks GREAT on you!” Instant bond. Doesn’t matter if she is a high powered CEO or a student, it is a point of reference we identify with one another over.
My browsing around looking through stuff doesn’t mean that I’m going to burn out my credit card with purchases (although you never know what you will find!). It just means I have knowledge of what’s the latest and plenty of fodder for ice-breaking conversations with other women.
But it doesn’t stop there. I’ve recognized a scent or a designer on a man, too, and they tend to respond with similar warmth. “Is that a ModaSuite custom shirt?” “Why yes! It’s from their new line. I’m sort of addicted.” “I can see why! It fits so well.” “Yes, it’s hard to find shirts long enough for my arms off of the rack.” Bonded!
What I rarely hear is one man making a comment on fashion or cosmetics to another man (or another woman). But there are design items that are breaking through. My boyfriend bought himself a slick iBike about a month ago and, believe me, it’s a man-magnet. His conversations around his iBike can turn into 30 minute in-depth discussions about how he made his decision and how happy he is. The conversations very much resemble the fashion ones I have with women.
We all shop. We even browse in our own ways. We just choose different passions to get knowledgable on. I like being that helpful friend who knows what’s coming out in each store every season so when someone tells me they are looking for a particular item, I can say, “You should check this site/store/designer.” Fashion and cosmetics ARE my sports. And much like sports, they won’t stop world hunger, but they ARE a great way to connect with others. That makes browsing a worthy past-time for me.