The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 1 (April 1, 1936.)
Shots At Shopping Perpetrated and Illustrated
The Sweet Buy and Buy.
There are many things on which men and women differ, and one of them is shopping.
Shopping is a woman's rite and a man's blight. A man enters a shop feeling like a “lorn sham,” and comes out relling like a shorn lamb. Men shop only when driven into it. Women stop only when driven out of it.
A man, during his daily endeavour, may be an expert exponent of cashas-cash-can, a dead shot on the fields of finance, a mogul of the money-bags, a master-mind in the realms of the minted, and shrewd withal; but the moment he enters a shop his backbone becomes a pillar of plasticine, his head a blob of blancmange, and where there was will there's whey. He becomes a vacillating victim of counter attacks. As soon as the shop-walker gets him fixed on his sights he signals, “Girls! Get your man!”
Then the scented sirens prime up with powder, knock their permanent waves into shape and prepare for action. Even the fifth assistant-improver bobs up for a sitting-shot, and the liftman has to restrain himself from unloading a parcel of shares in a collar-stud mine, because it's altogether too easy.
Such is the deadly influence a shop exerts on the male mind. No wonder shopping statistics say that seventy-five per cent, of men's apparel is purchased by women.
Women are different. When a woman shops she Shops. Otherwise she probably is quite a nice woman. She may be a good wife and mother; she may get home every night in time to slip on an apron and a “hasty pudding”; she may even be one of those super-spouses who darn socks. But as soon as she sights a shop (more especially a draper's shop) her eyes goggle and go glassy. Something seems to come over her; something seems to snap in her brain. She staggers from window to window like one upon whom a flat-iron has been dropped out of a tailor's window. People may be getting run over in the street, the building next door may be on fire, her husband may be spending the gas money on riotous living. Does she wot it? Not a wot! Her candle-power is practically nil.
She is not the woman you took for better or for bitter; she is not the person your children call “mother.” She is a temporary victim of “draper's amnesia,” “lapsis lingerie,” or loss of mum-mery.
While you lean against a post outside, smoking your week's supply of tobacco, she is as lost to you as if she had been swallowed up by the jungles of Borneo.
Head-Hunters and Hat-Hunters.
If you had the nerve to pursue her through the wilds of Haberdashery and Lingerie, and touched her on the elbow, she would turn a dull eye upon you, murmur, “Take it away! I don't think it will wash well,” and stagger off into the darkest depths of this mysterious land of Thingamybobs and Faldelals.
No man would willingly watch his wife buy a hat. However hardened he be to human suffering, however tough and wiry his fibre, no man could stand by and see his wife transformed from a wife and mother to a hathunter.
It is said of head-hunters that often they are fond fathers and pleasant providers—apart from their ambition to get ahead. So it is with hat hunters.
When a woman selects a hat she keeps on selecting it until the shopwalker starts to make a shake-down under the counter and the night-watchman tunes into the bed-time stories on the radio.
Finally, when the girl is too exhausted even to sneer behind your wife's back, she (your wife) selects the one she sniffed at the hardest. She knows that it doesn't suit her, but she has had her fun and now is willing to pay for it.
“One For His Knob.”
Contrast this with the spectacle of a man purchasing something to cover his soft spot!
He dashes into the hatter's.
“Hat!” he says—and nothing more.
“Hard or soft?” queries the hatter, in the manner of a waiter getting the “low down” on a customer's preference in boiled eggs.
“Soft,” snaps the hatee.
“Yes. Soft should suit your ‘head,” says the hatter. “How's this for size, shape, colour?”
Like a juggler whipping a canary out of a dog's mouth he produces a hat from nowhere.
Three seconds later the hat is bought—paid for—worn.
Of course, the hat buyer gets it in the eye when he arrives home, for the colour and shape are sure to be wrong and the hat either will slip down to his ears or sit on his head like a pigeon on the dome of St. Paul's. But it is bought, and that is the main thing.
Tussles With Tailors.
Perhaps it is that the constructive instinct, latent in the male, is aroused; for a suit is rather a structural undertaking than a commercial transaction. Consequently the suitee keeps his eye on the specifications. He is not so concerned as to how the suit is to be built so much as to how it is not to be built. Unless watched, the scriptural words, “You have done those things which you should not have done and you have left undone those things which you should have done,” apply very neatly to tailors. The trouble with tailors is that they study form too closely and, because they have ascertained, by reference to the “Tailor and Cutter,” that the Maharajah of Chutney appeared at Ascot arrayed like the lily——and then some—they are cut to the buckram and their linings are lacerated because you refuse to impersonate the Maharajah of Chutney, or any other saucy scion of the Indes. Women accuse men of undue conservatism in dress, of their failure to change their styles to meet the times; but little do they wot of the battles that rage in tailor's parlours every day; of tailors on their knees imploring their clients, in the name of art and sartorial sublimity, to submit to stream-lined coats, low-pressure pants and vests modelled like the double doors of a strongroom.
Tailors may have their faults, but if men's clothes have not developed through the ages, it is no fault of tailors.
It is the fault of their clients who, year after year, have fought with their backs to the buckram to retain the Englishman's ancient privilege of looking like nothing on earth.