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Helen Moorhouse: What's there to like about clothes shopping?

THE last time I checked, I was female. And as such, according to the handbook, my favourite pastime should be clothes shopping. The rules indicate that I should constantly want to stride purposefully to the nearest shops, all the while threatening my credit card playfully. I say "should", of course. I am not averse to having new things -- quite the opposite. It's just the prospect of going out there in order to obtain them appeals to me only slightly less than gutting fish or cleaning out the brown bin.

I'm a one in three, apparently, who loathes and despises clothes shopping, according to a study conducted by online clothes retailer Marisota. Frankly, I'm surprised the percentage isn't bigger.

What's to like? Shopping involves queues that make Cold War Russians look like they'd just popped out for a fag break; queues for changing rooms that use lights, mirrors, smoke and sorcery to lull you into thinking that you've lost a kilo -- or maybe you have because it's a little known fact that the doors of fashion retailers can only open once they have the same temperature and humidity levels as a rainforest inside.

And then there are the staff. Salespeople aren't kind and helpful. They don't actually like you. Or their jobs either. Hence, they're usually intimidating, superior and in need of a mint. They're either standing so close that you can see their skin breathe, sneering because you flinched at a price tag; or looking through you as if you're a ghost, or engaged in giving out loudly about tyrannical management while you're standing only a foot away.

And there's nothing quite like the indignity of a bra fitting at the hands of a scallion-breathed Stepford wife with poky fingers, making observations like: "Your back's a bit broader than the last time, isn't it?" Like you've asked for it. And it's not like you can go anywhere -- she's got your underwear.

Clothes shopping is sore arms, thumping feet, headaches; accidentally straying into a shop for which you're too old or uncool and backing out slowly as the teenage Saturday staff catch your scent and arch their backs in readiness to attack with scornful looks.

And no matter how hard an online retailer tries to diss shops, the internet's not the answer either. In fact, the next time I buy something online, I think I'll just make the postman wait outside while I unwrap it, spot instantly that it's not anything like I thought it was and send it straight back with him.

As for my wardrobe? Well, as the Irish Mammy is wont to say: "Sure I think we'll get another year out of that."

Irish Independent