Over the years, my taste in clothing (as well as other things such as food) has improved immeasurably. Various influences – in particular certain girlfriends – have led me to try and take a little more care of my appearance. I’m not quite up to the standard proffered by The Age recently of the "Metrosexual", but I don’t enjoy looking like a slob. Even if I still do look like a slob sometimes. It’s a gradual progression, as the clothes budget becomes available, and more importantly, as I get inspiration and figure out what it is I want.

I decided during the week that I was in dire need of a new jacket for work. The old ones aren’t exactly falling to bits, but they’ve started to take on that kind of scruffy look that means I don’t feel very comfortable wearing them. I don’t want to look like a scruff. I want to be under the delusion that I’m well-dressed. Particularly at work. I’m meant to be a successful urban IT professional, and I should look it, too.

I am the world’s worst clothes shopper. If I don’t have inspiration, the sheer stamina required to put up with my endless umming and ahhing is monumental. It’s a trip I should do alone. After looking all week for inspiration from the people at work, the people on the train, the people walking around the city, but not finding anything, I had taken a look around some city shops on Friday after work. Nothing had grabbed me, but inspiration came later from watching The Sopranos

that night (I’d taped it on Monday). I found myself watching and thinking – hey, you know that’s a nice jacket that (sadistic maniac) Ralph is wearing. Something like that might be good.

So with that little nugget of inspiration, I went shopping on Saturday afternoon. A little retail therapy after the auction to get over the minor disappointment about not getting the house.

Where should I go? Some of the jackets I had seen in DJs in the city had been quite good, if a trifle on the expensive side. But I couldn’t be bothered going to the city, could I? Instead I got in the car and drove to Chadstone. Ah, Chadstone, a hundred thousand square metres of shops, and never a parking spot free, and buses only every hour on Saturdays. I drove around and around for what seemed an age, but was probably about five minutes, and eventually found a spot. But could I find a jacket that I liked? No. Hmmm. 2:30pm. Remembering that I wouldn’t have time the next day to go shopping, I drove to Southland.

Ah, Southland. Not quite as big as Chadstone, but just as annoying to find a parking spot in. No, more annoying. I tried on the eastern half initially. I drove around and around, watching as the other cars I saw started to look more and more familiar. They were driving around in much the same circles as I was. Ah! A spot! There! No, damn, it’s for parents with prams. I wish I still had that old pram in the back of the car.

[On the train - two blokes and a washing machine]
Also on the train into the city – two blokes and a washing machine.

I drove out of the car park and considered looking for somewhere to park in a nearby street. But instead I drove over to the newer western part of the centre. Up the ramp to the top, and I immediately found a spot. The last spot, it appeared, as other cars continued to circle up there. Then I looked around the shops. Saw various jackets, and almost considered thinking about buying one in DJs, but decided No. It really wouldn’t do. It was not quite what I wanted. Fussy bastard, aren’t I?

It was 3:30pm. Hey, what about the ones I had seen in the city at DJs? On sale until tomorrow? They didn’t seem to have the same ones at Southland and Chadstone. Yeah, they’re nice. What time do they close? I drove home, and checked. 6pm. Plenty of time. So I jumped on the train, and half an hour later, with no parking hassles whatsoever, I was in DJs in the city looking at their jackets, and miracle of miracles, I found one I liked. No, really liked. On sale, though still almost stupidly expensive. No matter, I bought it anyway. It’s totally lovely, and I’ll feel and look great (well, apart from the recurring acne, why am I still getting that at 32 years old?!) tomorrow morning when I go to work. Retail therapy works!

I came home, then headed out to the supermarket looking for food. I settled on the ingredients for enchiladas for dinner. Good stuff. And as I was leaving through the checkout, the bloke behind me saw my cloth bag and by golly decided he’d ask the checkout chick to put his groceries into his backpack. Obviously with recent debate, the whole plastic bag thing is increasing in peoples’ consciousness.

I ate enchiladas and dug out a video of Earthshock to watch. Ahhhh… relaxation.

So the lesson for me in all of this? In clothes, look for inspiration everywhere. Once it’s found, go shop. Make sure the credit card is cleared and ready for action. And don’t bother looking in the suburban shopping centres – go for the city – it’s got it all and more.

Hey… you know… I need some new ties…

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.