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How to sound like you know your stuff (When you don’t)

I recently went to a wine tasting event down at some hotel in Cambridge that overlooked a river. Now before you start to think this is a plush joint, this river had kids jumping in off a nearby bridge and it had a vending machine in the toilets that sold the cheapest condoms and herbal stimulants. 

"I don't know the first thing about wine." I said to my friend who invited me. "It doesn't matter," He said. "Just drink what you like and never give your opinion on anything unless asked." "And what if I get asked?" I said. "Just groan, and say, It's pushy, but not assertive." It then occurred to me that you can pretty much fudge your way through anything in life if you just have a few key phrases up your sleeve and don't elaborate or shoot your mouth off.

Last year I opened up an independent fashion shop just outside of Cambridge. I knew nothing about the trade and still don't have any real interest in fashion, although now I always look at a guy and judge him by the shirt on his back. 

I'd think where he may have bought those terrible jeans and who told him that the entire ensemble would go together anyway. As always I blame the women. The same reason why I blame them for guys with bad body odour. 

"The women allow it to happen and now it’s a scourge, attacking everyone’s senses." 

So although fashion is of little interest to me as a topic of discussion, I have a few key phrases up my sleeve that gets me out of a jam from time to time and even helps me peddle off some clothes out the door.

"Just groan, and say, It's pushy, but not assertive."
"Just groan, and say, It's pushy, but not assertive."


I sell an untold amount of shirts in my shop by telling them that its 100% cotton and that the cotton is ORGANIC. It's a great word, it sells everything. Now it helps if the garment is at least 100% cotton, and it may even be organic for all you know. But telling a customer that the t-shirt is made from organic cotton makes it sounds sexy. Much like how Passion Fruit sounds sexy because it has the word Passion in it. Now I often add a little story to this and explain that the Organic Cotton is highly breathable, meaning that you don't sweat as much, and that I wore it on a recent trip to Thailand.

Pull & Bear Organic Collection
Pull & Bear Organic Collection


It's not just any kind of leather. It's Buffalo leather. Now it's the same science applied to the organic cotton. The reason that these belts are extortionately over priced is because they are made from real buffalo leather, so its more durable. Once you drop that line the only reason you won't make the sale is if your customer is vegan. To which point my rebuttal is always, "Hey Jesus wore leather, you won't be going to hell for this, trust me."

"It's not just any kind of leather"
"It's not just any kind of leather"


Always shoot them straight. Never lie to your customer when they ask your opinion on style. I have lost many a sale in the moment because I tell them that they look like a twat in what they're wearing. They will gain respect for you and when they do try something on that does look good, then they'll trust you and feel confident enough to buy it. 

These are by no means the 3 golden rules, but they have proven to work for me in the past so maybe it will for you too.

"Never lie when they ask your opinion on style"
"Never lie when they ask your opinion on style"

Peter Brooker

Peter is a published author on men's style, a huge James Bond fanatic and the host of our very own Menswear Style Podcast. His new book 'From Tailors with Love: An Evolution of Menswear Through the Bond Films' is available now.

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