Common Mistakes Women Make When Shopping For Men,
And How To Avoid Them

By Betsy Matthes

Are you tried of nagging your husband to go shopping with you for clothing he really needs? Do you go out and buy things for him on your own, only to find he rewards you by refusing to wear them? The right clothes are hard enough to come by, even when we are shopping for ourselves. When shopping for the men in our lives – whether husbands, boyfriends, or sons – their resistance only compounds the problem.

Betsy Matthes, author of “Dressing the Man you Love,” addresses the common struggle of women to help their men look their best, and even collaborate in the process. She suggests strategies women can use to achieve results that will please both you and him. But first, it’s important that women recognize their role in perpetuating the problem. Here are five common mistakes women make when shopping for their men, with tactics to help you avoid them.

  • MISTAKE #1: Attempting to buy for him without knowing what he needs, risking duplication or overspending.

  • SOLUTION: Help him develop a favorable impression of what it means to build a wardrobe by being organized. Take some time together to tackle his closet before you even consider a shopping excursion. I guarantee you will both find a number of things that he has physically or emotionally outgrown. Use paper and pencil to write down things that need to be replaced, or where there might be gaps. You might even come across a forgotten gem that he won’t have to purchase after all. Clothing, whether you are buying for yourself or for him, is expensive. Make sure you know what he needs and what he doesn’t need; and go armed with a detailed list – including all his correct sizes.

  • MISTAKE #2: Failing to consult with him about his likes and dislikes.

  • SOLUTION: Solicit your man’s opinion about what he likes and doesn’t like, and what he will and will not wear, and make selections based on these preferences. Some men like to stand out in their appearance. In this case he may love the look of a snappy bowtie. Other men prefer blending in. For these men a standard tie in a muted pattern will be more acceptable, or a sweater in a neutral color instead of bold stripes. Some men simply get a rash from a woolen scarf, or find a vest too constricting. His predilections don’t mean you cannot occasionally introduce him to something that he might not have otherwise considered. Just be prepared to offer an alternative when he expresses an objection. Overall, your strategy needs to be one of respect and flexibility that may lead him to seek your opinions in the future.

  • MISTAKE #3: Plunging into the men’s department without testing the waters, making you less confident in your decisions and decreasing your chance of getting the maximum quality for your budget.

  • SOLUTION: Become comfortable in the world of menswear before venturing out with him. One simple way is to visit men’s departments or clothing stores on your own. At first, unless you grew up in a household full of brothers, you may feel a little out of place. Take heart, it is really a far more civilized environment than the crazy goings on in any comparable women’s department. Visit some very expensive shops, some moderately priced ones, and some that are less expensive as well. After a few relaxed “field trips” you will be equipped to select the right store for doing his shopping with him based on your mutual tastes and agreed-upon budget. If you have questions, remember that any good salesperson will always be glad to respond, since they know from experience that it’s likely you are on a scouting trip, and that soon you will return with willing customer in tow.

  • MISTAKE #4: Choosing colors for him that look good on you.

  • SOLUTION: Make sure you aren’t letting your personal color prejudices get in the way when considering clothing for him. Just because you share everything else in your life does not necessarily mean that the colors that make you look great will do the same for him. Take note of his hair color with its myriad of highlights, his skin tones, the flecks of color in his eyes, and the amount of contrast between each. Hold up different options against his face in natural light to learn which tones and patterns enliven his appearance and play up his strengths. The area where color matters most is in the lapels of his jackets, shirt collars, ties and sweaters. These articles should work together to set off the most important area of his body - his face.

  • MISTAKE #5: Forgetting that it is his shopping trip – not yours.

  • SOLUTION: Before leaving the house, sit down with him for a moment to discuss of what you are planning to buy, the stores you will be visiting, and how long you expect the process to take. Men are more goal-oriented when it comes to shopping, and will appreciate the efficiency of your approach. (As you are probably already aware, walking into a mall and browsing – a diversion most women find very enjoyable – is something many men find pointless.) And most importantly, once his purchases have been made, stick to your plan. Never ask him to wait around for you on a couch somewhere while you pick up “just a few more things” for yourself. Hey, if you can make shopping for him a positive and streamlined experience for both of you, he might even surprise you by taking you to lunch afterward!

Betsy Durkin Matthes is the author of “Dressing the Man You Love, A Woman’s Guide to Purchasing, Coordinating, and Caring for His Classic Wardrobe,” released by Peter’s Pride Publishing in May 2006.

Articles & Reviews

These are the things that people are saying about
Dressing the Man You Love: A Woman's Guide to Purchasing, Coordinating and Caring for His Classic Wardrobe

Ladies, have you ever looked at your beloved and thought, ‘He could use a makeover?’ Well now is your chance. Purchase a copy of Dressing the Man you Love and you will become an expert in men’s fashion...
- Shirley Roe, Allbooks Reviews

Yves Saint Laurent once said “Fashions fade, style is eternal.”  Betsy
Durkin Matthes, in her book “Dressing the Man You Love” gives age-old advice on dressing the man in style, not in fashion.  Her concise and all-encompassing book covers every aspect from planning, to styles, to fabrics, to accessories. There isn’t one aspect that Matthes left out.

- Irene Watson, Reader Views

Dressing the Man You Love is a handy guide written especially for women, but invaluable to anyone who has to learn the basics of men's fashion and get a man's wardrobe looking presentable - including men themselves! absolute "must-have" help manual for male-fashion challenged.
- The Midwest Book Review

Either men or women would find this an invaluable guide to building the perfect wardrobe for a man. Matthes’ concise, clear, and detailed manner, laced with a touch of humor, is accessible to nearly everyone.
-Jamie Engle, ForeWord Magazine

Betsy Durkin Matthes covers everything from executing 3 different knots for a regulation tie to the 3 basic categories of men's shoes. This reference book is truly a great guide to purchasing, coordinating and caring for a man's wardrobe. Ladies, to show your appreciation for your well-dressed man, buy your copy today...
T. Thema Martin, Editor-in-Chief, Cosmopolite Betsy Durkin Matthes shows women how to help the men in their lives dress better “ without breaking the bank or heading for divorce court in the process.”
Archer Brown, Shelter Island Reporter

I cannot praise Dressing the man You Love too highly; it is witty, it is erudite, and above all it is useful.  The author has a positively encyclopedic knowledge of all aspects of menswear and attendant etiquette, and has channeled that knowledge into the most comprehensive book on men’s dressing I have ever encountered─though I have not encountered many. Perhaps that is the author’s greatest triumph─in seeking to fill a small niche, she has created a definitive work. I must also say that the author has made a number of sound stylistic decisions. The cover, particularly, is absolutely charming.  I could praise this book for pages, as I have said, but I will simply wish the author luck finding an audience for this fantastic effort.

Judge’s Commentary - 14th Annual Writer's Digest International Self-Published Book Awards  

Meticulously researched with detailed drawings of every aspect of male attire, Dressing the Man You Love is a great book for browsing. There is something to learn on every page.
Constance Alexander "Main Street columnist"

Gone it seems are the days when men took pride in their appearance. Glamorous nights spent at the theatre and escorting their wives to cocktail parties are a thing of the past, surely? Possibly not. In Betsy Durkin Matthes' new book, "Dressing the Man You Love", women are given pointers on how to enhance and preserve their partners' wardrobe. The book is warm and witty, and equally enjoyable for both sexes. This isn't a staid or boring etiquette book... On the whole; this is an invaluable tool to help us all keep looking great!
Byron Kolln - book reviews

I have read many women's books on how to dress with style, and how to dress for your body type. This book honestly rivals most books written for women. I really wished she would write a book on how to dress yourself. I can't praise this book enough, I have learned a great deal about men's clothing, and with a resource in hand, making suggestions will go much easier in the future!!
Stephanie Manley
- book reviews

I absolutely loved this book. I'm not a slob, but I'm not one to be overly concerned with my dress and appearance - hence, I'm like most men. This book provides outstanding tips to dress for many business and formal occasions. This book reads very fast as the author Betsy Matthes keeps the material light, friendly, but insightful...
On the surface, this book gives the impression it is written for the wife so she can help dress her man, but men, take the initiative and get the book so you can dress for the wife...

- book reviews

I liked this book from the first moment I saw the sweet drawing on the cover. Once I started reading, things got even better....
Betsy Durkin Matthes has written a charming, witty and entirely sensible guide to improving your man's look or if he's already a sharp dressed man; maintaining it....This is really the only book you'll need on men's fashion and best of all, Matthes is not saying to wildly go in and tell your man that he looks bad and start buying all new everything. She advocates, discretion, kindness and class. Thisi book will show you how to be helpful, not a snobby dictator. I really liked it.
Kimberley Wilson  - book reviews

This book is an invaluable tool for all people ~~ I plan to keep it on hand for when my boys are old enough to start wearing suits or when they need special clothes for special occasions. Even then, this is an invaluable tool to have on hand for any occasion that might arise. It is clear-cut, concise and very informative... If you are looking on tips on how to dress your husband, son or any man, this book is definitely one that you should run to the store and grab a copy of! Even if you're not planning to dress anyone, this book is so interesting that it can enhance your knowledge of the male fashion world (which I will admit that I know nothing about). It is definitely a keeper!
Busy Mom - book reviews

While the title suggests this "servant" role for women, the actual text offers continual hints on how to educate and involve the man in choosing and caring for his own traditional clothing. This is what made this book worth my while to read. I have no desire to be the "mommy" for my male partners, but I do value having information to offer them when they ask my advice, which they will. I learned a lot from this book, and I'll keep it around to look up information next time a man around here needs a new suit or a few more business outfits.
TammyJo Eckhart - book reviews

Betsy Durkin Matthes has a wonderful guide, easy to follow, and a creative mixture of how to's with explanations to get you going. Helping a man develop a sense of style or enhance his already notions of fashion get an upbeat makeover from Matthes. Weaving her understanding of color, accessories, and other distinctly male clothing lines this book is a guide that isn't tide to trends or seasons. Matthes blends etiquette and shopping tips to make those trips to the tailor easier and more fun. It's a learning experience on the gentleman's version of My Fair Lady... Behind every great man is a woman and Betsy Durkin Matthes is one of them.
 M. R. Estante - book reviews

This book is packed with information and details and could be a textbook for an actual class in men's fashions - but it's a FAR more enjoyable read! It answers every question you might have about men's clothing, with details on care, coordination of colors and patterns, and lots of insight on how to minimize body "flaws" and maximize strong points... If you want a man to look polished, professional and handsome, if you want to turn a "guy" into a gentleman, and if you want hints on how to nudge your man towards the best clothes choices, buy this book!
A. Graf  - book reviews

Betsy Durkin Matthes' brillianty written and meticulously researched book "Dressing The Man You Love" gives hope that the classic attire and appearance of a Gentleman does not have to be an illusion of the past. It is the perfect guide for everyone who takes pride in their appearance. This book teaches class and style...from recognizing quality to determininig correct sizes, Betsy shows you in a fun and unpretentious way, how to choose clothing that will minimize any less-than-perfect aspects of your man's physique and how to focus on his best assets. It is a very inspiring book that will make your next shopping experience a guaranteed success...and you might fall in love with him all over again!  Thanks to Betsy Durkin Matthes`s book-the Gentleman will be back!
Yvonne V. Wibbe - book reviews

Betsy Durkin Matthes' book DRESSING THE MAN YOU LOVE is a tour de force illustrated guide to helping a man dress his best according to classic standards of clothing excellence. The illustrations and tone of DRESSING harken to a more civilized time when people expected men to be gentlemen and consistently look their best, while it presents an up-to-date modern awareness of materials and style.
 ...Matthes sets precisely the right mood for helping anyone dress their favorite man to the nines, regardless how little they may already know. With a friendly tone, DRESSING inspires, educates, and helps to empower and embolden us to offer solid mens fashion assistance in ways that make a huge difference.
...Matthes consistently achieves the perfect balance between providing the "big picture" of fashion planning and a wealth of information on all the little things that together make such a big difference in the overall look.
Highly recommended!
Cynthia Sue Larson "" - book reviews

Being a man, it was not easy for me to sit down and read this book based on its title. I must admit that I did not know what I was going to get out of this book. However, after reading the book I must now admit that I have learned much from Betsy Matthes' book.
Overall, I was happy to have read the book. I have learned that some of my own dressing habits need to change. It's amazing how much you don't realise goes into dressing for success until you see it in this work. Good job Betsy!
Roy Ingle - book reviews


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