Nirmal J. Sebastian takes a look at the chaging trends in shopping as the male shopper has finally arrived claiming to show women how its done.

When it comes to shopping, traditionally, there have been three kinds of men:

1) The tag along: who goes along with women and acts as the cloth hanger and sometimes opinion giver. Mostly bored and uninterested.

2) The grab and run: This guy knows what he wants and picks exactly that, turns around and leaves. No form of marketing can divert his attention from the goal.

3) The I’m not a girl: The kind of guy who thinks shopping is only for women and therefore would rather be dead than caught shopping.

But of late, there has been a new addition to that list.

Number 4) The shopper: Yes, the male shopper has arrived and he’s here to stay.

A good start

Men have begun to understand the basic rules and benefits of fashion and aesthetics. They are not afraid of being spotted in malls and stores anymore. The opportunities for a male shopper have risen by 100 per cent over the past few years as more and more men have let go of the bag-carrier tag and have started shopping for themselves. Be it electronics, items for the household or making a fashion statement, men today are giving the women a run for their money.

“Men are not scared or embarrassed of being seen shopping anymore. This is largely due to the great shift in their understanding of fashion. They slowly but steadily seem to be opening up to the variety and the magnificence of the world of fashion.” says Niveditta John, a fashion student who currently interns at the Tommy Hilfiger store. Fashion on the whole has changed for men, and the biggest change is the understanding of fashion and being able to know what works best. Men no longer need women to handle their wardrobes but are themselves very capable of picking out what looks best on them.

This understanding has also led to the opening of various other options in the fashion world. Options that most men did not even know exist! Fashion in India on the whole and in Chennai city is currently seeing a drastic change for the better. From what used to be just a t-shirt and jeans, men can now be seen wearing different types of attire, no matter how crazy it may be. Even the odd pink shoes can be seen these days. Men also seem to be giving importance to accessories which were previously unheard of! Different types of belts, shoes, watches, wallets, ties, are all getting stocked up in the wardrobes. And the biggest change is that men are not scared to experiment anymore. From the studded belts, to the skinny leather pants, men these days can be seen in the craziest of attires and the best part is they seem to be pulling it off.

On a platter

The sudden surge in demand is also being met by supply. Big chains and stores now have floors of shopping exclusively for men. Various stand- alone stores are now opening up. Sports stores are stocking up with stars and teams based merchandise to cash in on the passion of the men for sports. This variety of choice which wasn’t easily available earlier is now being well used by the men of the City.

As Niroson Mathuranga, a student from MCC, rightly points out, “This drastic change can also be partly owing to the women and their disdain for a man who doesn’t dress well. The ladies almost never forgive a fashion faux pas and a well- dressed man somehow always catches their attention.” This has probably led to men becoming more proficient shoppers and being able to decide what fits best and what to wear with what. Be it from the television or the internet the men seem to have gained a huge amount of knowledge about fashion in the past few years.

So shopping is no more just a woman’s world, the male shopper is slowly itaking his place as his confidence grows. So move over women, allow the men to show you how it’s done.

TIPS: Some general fashion tips to keep in mind while shopping:

Be sure of what you buy: If you don’t like it in the showroom under settings that have been specifically prepared to make you look as good as possible, there’s no way you’ll like it at home.

Invest in a good shoe or two: Just because a pair of shoes is comfortable doesn’t mean you wear them with every outfit. Get the right kind of shoes that go with the right kind of bottoms. Invest in a really good pair or two. For those of you, who prefer slippers; make sure your feet are clean.

There’s more out there than you imagine: Experiment with pants. If you move away from the normal blue jeans, the variety will actually blow your mind. Don’t be afraid to try light colours like beige, light pink, mint green that are currently trending.

When in doubt, stick to the classics: In a City as hot as Chennai, sunglasses are a must! Find the right kind of frame for your face. If you don’t know the right kind of sunglasses stick to the classic aviator style. They will always look classy.

Some things are meant to be: A plain black and plain white shirt will never go out of fashion; they are definite must-haves in every wardrobe. When you’re unsure about your outfit, just pick one of them and match with your favourite pair of jeans. You can never go wrong with this combination. Also while wearing a shirt made of non-sweat absorbent material, wear a plain t-shirt inside.

Size talks: Buy clothes of your size. Most men end up buying clothes a size or two bigger than their actual size. In this situation, the bigger is not the better. Find your perfect fit and stick to it. Even length does matter. Most stores alter for free, use the opportunity!

Accessorise: Minimalism is the best policy when it comes to accessories usually. But an accessory that stands out can really help spice up a plain outfit. The options are really vast and one item can usually completely change the overall look. From wristbands to bow ties to jackets to hats, the choice is yours.

Hygiene is key: Nothing works for a man better than simple hygiene. Shaving is not uncool, whereas extremely untidy stubble certainly is. One of the keys to a good impression is definitely the smell. Get yourself a good perfume.

Be radical, but don’t lose your mind: There is never any harm in trying something crazy, just make sure you don’t go over the top. If you’re not sure it suits you then don’t take the chance. Sometimes a bad impression is impossible to erase. Also, don’t get too influenced by what actors wear in movies. What looks good on screen need not always look good in person

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Never get these wrong

Always match your shoes and your belt: No matter what, make sure your belt colour and shoe colour are the same. Brown shoes-brown belt, black shoes-black belt. Never any other.

Always match your socks to your trousers: Your socks should be the same colour as your trousers or just a shade different. A completely different colour will show very obviously and will not reflect well.

Attention to detail is a must: If you do not pay attention to the most minute details, someone else certainly will. When going formal, go minimal. Get rid of all accessories and keep it simple.

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The classic must-haves

Blue and black jeans

Blue and black trousers

Black shirts and white shirts

Aviator sunglasses

Black belt and brown belt

Black leather shoes and brown leather shoes

Casual shoes

Skinny ties