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("Man Score" represents the maximum number of minutes a man can tolerate being inside each store. Having a smartphone is assumed. If not, divide scores by at least 2.)
Abercrombie & Fitch, Abercrombie (kids), Hollister, Gilly Hicks, et alThis family of stores is decent at first, but quickly becomes nauseating. Literally. I have on several occasions walked out of an A&F in desperate need of Tylenol and an airsickness bag. I would rather drink ten shots of SoCo Lime than spend an hour in one of these wood-shuttered, perfume-drenched, techno-pumping caves.
A few redeeming qualities: men's stuff without a moose on it is usually OK, adequately organized, relatively inexpensive, and really good looking employees (Hooray for discriminatory hiring practices!).
Man Score: 15 minutes
Recommended plan of action: Ear plugs, nose plugs -- any kind of plug would be helpful, really. Otherwise, hold your breath and try to get out before the 16-year-old behind the counter offers you a job.
The only store a guy hates more than a Forever 21 is a two-story Forever 21. Any purse-holding man who's been made into a temporary clothes rack while following a woman around in tight figure eight patterns knows what I'm talking about. I’ve been to flea markets better organized.
Some stores are starting to carry a men's brand, which seems like a lower quality H&M. I forget what they call it, and I don't really feel like looking it up because whatever it is doesn't change the fact that when people ask me "Where did you get that?" I would have to tell them, "Forever 21."
Man Score: 45 seconds
Recommended plan of action: Bad sushi, too much Indian food, ruptured knee ligaments, a severed limb -- if you have any of these cards to play, by all means play them now. Your second option is trying to embarrass your shopper as much as possible. Try on women’s hats and sunglasses or wander off into the lingerie section and start dispensing unsolicited underwear advice. Sure, you might have to leave the Forever 21 with mall security, but you’ll have left, right?
Theory has a few things going for it. Firstly, it's small, well organized and not crowded. This prevents aimless wandering (see: Forever 21). The music doesn't suck (again, see: Forever 21, Abercrombie). Employees are friendly and know that a guy in the fitting room can help facilitate a purchase. Compare this to a store such as Forever 21, where fitting room attendants assume the only reason a man would need to be in there is for hanky panky or shoplifting.
Man Score: 32 minutes
Recommended plan of action: Find a padded seat in a quiet corner, hunker down and start familiarizing yourself with fine Whiskeys and the dos and donts of boat shoes. This is as good as it gets, but look at it this way: at least you're not at the Coach outlet.