Shopping anxiety is a well-publicised phenomenon on the female front (see warped sizing, bikini season, etc.), but it’s less discussed among our male counterparts. Joe Berkowitz of GQ, however, is out to change that with his latest piece, “Dressing Room Confessions of a Male Shopper.” In short, shopping is apparently quite the struggle for a swath of dudes like Berkowitz, whose style he describes as “a dad who lost a weird bet and now his kids get to dress him, and one of those kids is a wallflower and the other is a vape-goth.” Oh, right, that look.
Overall, Berkowitz claims to have only 10 outfits, though he aspires to the wardrobe of a sitcom star (“All those sentient selfie sticks on TV have infinite clothing options that articulate their personalities, and they make it seem effortless.”). That, or the wardrobes of the stylish New York City denizens he lives with. When faced with their aggressive well-dressed-ness, Berkowitz finds himself asking, “How did your outfit happen? Did you buy it in one fell swoop or in piecemeal?” Shopping, it turns out, is a pretty difficult concept for him and his fellow dad-esque dudes to comprehend.
“Money is the first crisis-point I encounter upon setting foot in a clothing store,” he writes (and, to be fair, we ladies have similar #feels). “I see the price tags on certain items and wonder at which station in life I might afford anything like them. How many promotions or career-180s into PR or marketing would it take for $200 jeans to be no big deal?” OK, Berkowitz, we’re listening…
But, then… this happens: “Sometimes I don’t see any clothes that look worth owning and it makes me wonder whether it's my fault. Does everything in this store sort of suck right now, or do I have blinders on because I’m a rapidly ageing baby-man who maybe never knew what was in to begin with?” Well, which is more likely: no covetable clothes in sight, or a man-child? We’ll leave the answer up to you, dear reader.
It soon becomes clear that outfits in general baffle Berkowitz, who shakes his head at the thought of making a statement: “All I want my outfit to say is, ‘I look ok, right? You can tell me if I don’t.’” He redeems himself of this fashion insult, though, by speaking truth to one very real universal struggle:
“Once I see something that would look good on me, I savour the moment before trying it on shatters the illusion. Fit is everything, as they say. Unfortunately, finding the right fit opens a gateway to the biggest, most destabilizing crisis of all: Why is my weird body so weird? When you think you have a weird body but you actually don’t, that’s called body dysmorphia. Trying on clothes is the easiest way to prove that you don’t, in fact, have body dysmorphia, you just have a weird body. Take my body, for instance. (Take it and cast it out into space.) My body seems to live in between sizes like a ghost in the wall. I’ll see a shirt that’s so close to my platonic ideal of how a shirt should look, except it’s too tight around the chest. Go up one size and guess what: now it’s too big and it puffs out in the back and I look like an actual bedsheet-ghost. Spooky.”
And who hasn’t been there? While we still think shopping is a trickier experience for women (hello, endless options), it’s weirdly comforting to know that men face some of the same problems. That being said, we’re not sure we can get behind Berkowitz’s description of shopping as “[braving] every hellish torment that threatened to break your soul and [coming] out on the other side reborn—a phoenix in fresh threads.” But, to each their own?
Shop the men's sneakers we wish were available for women.
Head to GQ to read the full article. Do you think shopping is just as hard for men as it is for women? Sound off in the comments!