by Charles Miller on August 3, 2003

There are few things more intimidating to the single, heterosexual male than clothes-shopping. I find that even walking into a clothes shop, with its bright lights and fashions I know nothing about is a chore that I can successfully put off for anything up to six months, or at least until all my existing wardrobe has faded, been eaten by moths, or fallen apart.

Case in point, I own one sweater. I bought it when I was in Santa Barbara visiting Danna, who while sadly not filling the role of girlfriend, at least performed the vital function of pointing out things that looked neat, and when I found a candidate, taking that important step of telling me if I looked stupid wearing it. I've been unable to work up the nerve to buy a sweater since1.

Now one could possibly describe Danna's own fashion sense as 'eclectic', but it's that "Do I Look Stupid?" test that I'm simply unable to perform on my own. As such, I tend to just pick out clothes that are unremarkable, similar to what I've always worn before, and, well... black. I always worry that I basically look like my mother dresses me (I probably do), but that would be unfair to my mother--she has remarkably good fashion sense, and I'd probably be better off if she did.

My only real concession to not wearing black is my penchant for purple shirts: a habit picked up from long association with Lonita and (again) Danna. This isn't really fashionable, but it does significantly increase the (already disturbing) number of people who look at me and immediately assume I'm gay. (Or at least, that I'm one of those unfortunate fashion-deficient gay men who really need a nice boyfriend to tell them what to wear).

Partly, I blame men's magazines. Women have thousands of publications they can get away with buying that spend some of their time examining in great detail what looks good or bad on both men and women. The only equivalent for men are magazines like FHM, which devote 90% of their copy to pictures of women in their underwear, and I'd thus feel embarrassed buying.

Maybe I'm being a neanderthal here, a historical throwback due to my life as a computer nerd. Maybe the modern-day Metrosexual man scoffs at my inability to work out if that jacket really makes me look like a prat or not. I doubt it, though. After all, the archetypal Metrosexual is David Beckham, and I bet Posh picks out his clothes.

Major shopping centres need to offer a Rent-A-Girlfriend service. They meet you at the door, act enthusiastic, drag you around the shops for the afternoon (frequently dragging you into womens' clothes shops and making you hang around while they "oooh" over tops, just to add that air of authenticity). Nothing sordid would be involved, they would just have to convince me that they cared enough to be giving me honest advice.

Until then, you'll find me here looking at my brand new purple shirt, and almost-but-not-quite black t-shirt.

1 Well, I came that close to purchasing one today, and it was even a colour other than black and quite (I believe) stylish. But the shop-assistant noticed there was a hole in it, they had no more in my size and after taking the plunge on it, I didn't have the courage remaining to find something else. D'oh.

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