All is fair in love and war. And retail. Hunting for clothes is a vicious blood sport in which the retailer almost always wins. But, like literally everyone, I consider myself a savvier shopper than most.

I keep my eyes peeled for sample sales. I’ll happily wait for the end-of-season purge. Most importantly, I’m impervious to the retail mantra, “That looks really great on you!” Total amateur hour.

Although, there’s one way to make me buy anything. It’s a strategy used widely by retail assistants in upscale boutiques, and it’s tantamount to psychological warfare. I call it “shubbing” – a fusion of “shopping” and “snubbing”.

I was shubbed recently upon entering an edgy European flagship store in the CBD. My intention was innocent enough: I would scope out some nice billowy shit and feed my ongoing Hamptons-for-the-summer delusion.

Sure, I wasn’t planning on actually buying anything, and yet … I was still maddened that the sole employee didn’t greet me. Not one glance from this tall man, dressed seemingly in a full-body turtleneck. His outfit was divine, and I hated him for it. But I’m a mature, sane person. So I went about my business.

After a few minutes of browsing, still silence. About 10 minutes in, I was holding up a black linen smock between myself and a mirror, as bait. I couldn’t afford this smock, which was simply a tube of fabric. It looked like the protective gear worn by a kindergarten teacher during a finger-painting session. That was an optimum moment for the assistant (whose name was probably Atticus or Crispin) to offer some encouragement. Maybe something like, “Oh yeah, you can totally rock a smock!”

Atticus remained behind the till, on his phone.

There it was. A classic shub. I began to wonder if Atticus would still be on his phone if I seemed more like someone who could afford the smock. Another thought: if I actually bought the smock, Atticuses everywhere would put down their phones and validate me. After a brief dissociative state, I left the store having tried on and purchased the smock. All to prove Atticus wrong. I’d been shubbed – snubbed into buying a designer smock.

I’ve got similar stories to blame for my biker boots, two neckerchiefs and raw-denim jeans in which I’m physically unable to sit. The smock now rests alongside them, in my wardrobe’s section for outfits I’ll never actually wear. You win, Atticus.

This story originally appeared in Melbourne Print Issue 25 and Sydney Print Issue 17