My shopaholic: Manhattan is to blame!

My husband has started taking style inspiration from guys like ... this.

The subject is a 43-year-old Caucasian male, approximately 5′ 9″ in height, and 170 pounds.  He gravitates toward brands such as Banana Republic, J. Crew, Calvin Klein, Cole Haan, and Donald J. Pliner. Prada and Todd’s are also under consideration. This description is not a stranger to me, or a character in a movie or a book. It is my husband.
 
Michael shops weekly in the city, and daily online. Every excursion eventually leads to a purchase. This is a man who wore baggy Levi’s, Dickies, rugby shirts and hiking shoes when we met fourteen years ago. Although I was an influence, weight loss, a mid-life crisis, and a spontaneous move to New York City created this monster shopper and fashionisto.
 
It seems like yesterday when he was an Average Joe.  I tossed his shoes down the Freedom Parkway in Atlanta in 1999, and called them “hideous” or some other ugly descriptive. We laughed until we cried, and occasionally still make reference to those faux suede lace-ups.
 
Often, I requested a wardrobe change before we left the house, “Anything but a polo shirt please!” I tried to convince him to wear something other than tennis shoes or Doc Martens, his other favorite footwear choices. I always longed for a chic, stylish, straight man — a man who no longer needed my assistance when selecting an outfit. I wished.  I was patient. I received.
 
He still owns those Doc Martens. They are tucked neatly behind the six pairs of Cole Haans and two pairs of Pliners. Recently, he considered buying a pair of dark turquoise suede loafers. I asked him to reconsider, “Do you plan to wear them with your orange and brown striped socks? Honestly, I don’t think they’re practical for warmer weather.” Sulking, he agreed, and reluctantly placed the trendy shoes back on the shelf, “Okay. You’re right.”
 
His new self encompasses more than stylish clothing and fashionable shoes. In the past, exercise was strolling to the kitchen, opening the refrigerator several times, and returning to the sofa while his overactive thumb was pressing on the remote. My couch potato turned track star is running his first half marathon in a few days. He’s dropped three sizes, 65 pounds, and five trash bags at Goodwill.  He’s escaped Redneckville for the Land of the Metrosexuals, and there’s no turning back. OMG — what have I done?
 
Last week after dinner one night, he turned serious. He had a confession to make. He purchased a new pair of pants, snuck them into the apartment while I was home, tossed the bag in the closet, and forgot to mention it. This is the action of (it pains me to say it), a Shopaholic. I am married to a shopaholic, and I am no longer in denial. He is proud that he could admit to the crime, which is the first step toward a full recovery. My response to his secret was simple, “I am the woman. I should be the one sneaking bags into the apartment, not you.” His answer is always the same, ” They were on sale.” Just like he needed a new wardrobe, now he needs a new line.  Lucky for our bank account, bargains are his best friend, and discount shopping is his specialty.
 
I admit, I have done it on occasion — buried a bag in my closet until I could discreetly blend a few new garments or shoeboxes into my already maxed-out collection. Michael studied my fashion-obsessed behavior for years (14 to be exact), and carefully noted my vain habits while I modeled in the mirror. Was he taking notes from me? If he was, he didn’t miss a beat, and I taught him well.
 
Without intention, I have transformed the man I love way beyond my wildest imagination. The old saying rings true. Be careful what you wish for.
 
Living in Manhattan has changed both of us. We walk faster. We work longer and harder. We’re more active. We dress smarter. With regards to style, although damaging to the pocketbook, this change has been good.
 
It’s been years since the changeover to fashion chuck began, but ironically, he still refers to himself as a redneck from the south. Those hideous Timberland shoes and that Ford pickup truck are long gone. Thank goodness.
 
I have to admit, this isn’t his fault. I blame myself. I brought him here. But mostly, I blame Manhattan.


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