Primarily I shop in thrift stores, in person and online. Pricing comes into play, but I can afford to shop in department stores. However, my wardrobe would probably be only 25% of what it is now. Also, I am not concerned with being In Style as I dress to be Stylish. I have some clothing items and jewelry pieces that are over 50 years old. I do shop at Target or Macy’s for undergarments (panties and shareware), but rarely for bras as their cup sizes usually stop short of what I need. Sometimes I do shop in person at TJ Maxx, Ross Dress For Less, Nordstrom Rack and Macy’s. There are about 6 thrift stores here in the valley that I will check out periodically. There are MANY thrift shops run by charities here, but those 2 organizations with the 6 shops are my favorites. There is also a chain of thrift stores called SAVERS. They started in Canada and now have stores in the US and Australia. What they do is partner with a local charity and it’s a win-win for all. Over the years, I’ve been in 8 or 9 stores across the US. They are all laid out essentially the same and sort by SIZE!! Unfortunately the closest one is about an hour away, but I do make periodic pilgrimages.
So, it is rare for me to encounter any problems. No issues in department stores that I know of. When I have had issues in thrift stores it has been when I’m not dressed, but nothing really untoward. A female customer walked up to me as I was sifting through the racks and said “Do you know that you are in the women’s section?”. I simply said “Yes, I do.” and that was all. Based on this and a few other situations, I decided to be dressed when I go shopping.
Anyway, when I go shopping, that is what I am there to do. I don’t look around to see who is looking at me. I am focused on what I am doing. I don’t engage with people unless they engage with me. I’ve hung up items while I’m looking them over for wear, damage, material composition, etc. and had someone say “Oh, that’s a very nice piece.” and a brief conversation started. By being dressed, it gets over the first hurdle of “Why is a man shopping in the women’s section?”. It doesn’t shout “Wrong Place, Wrong Place!!”.
I am a MINI owner and some years back at an event I was given several shopping bags. They were recycled from outdoor advertising banners. The things are damn near bulletproof! Usually I go to the grocery store dressed. Some of the cashiers have commented on how rugged the bags are and I explain what they are and how I happened to have them. One time I was not dressed and a cashier who had checked me out many times before looked at the bags, looked at me, looked at the bags again and the light bulb went off. She didn’t say anything, but you could tell that she knew. It was sort of funny to watch!
Anyway, the trick is to behave just like any other shopper. People pick up on difference. If everything looks roughly in line, usually that will get you over. Noticing 5 o’clock shadow etc. is not helpful. I am always nicely dressed when I leave the house. Sometimes I am quite colorful in a tasteful way. Other times I am dressed in black and that allows my turquoise or copper jewelry stand out. A hat and big sunglasses complete the picture…