Forget, for a moment, that what we wear is ultimately not important, that once you take away whether it’s professional enough for work or suitable for a certain event you’re essentially left with material used to cover your body as you wander through your day.
Even if that’s true, which it is, we women are still told pretty regularly what we
should be wearing, and it’s usually whatever Kate or Pippa Middleton is wearing. Or what any famous person is wearing. (Never mind that they’re probably just wearing something they spotted in a store and decided they liked. It doesn’t matter if we wouldn’t have chosen it ourselves–if they like it, we should like it, because they who are famous receive on their first day of bonafide fame-dom the Wisdom Wand of Fashion.)
Many escape this meaningless pressure, but many don’t. We buy the “right” shoes (even if ankle boots look absolutely ridiculous with anything but pants, we’re buying them, because that famous person is wearing them in a magazine!!11!), the “right” (50s floral print? really?) dress, the right sunglasses (even though we aren’t famous and don’t really need to hide behind those things and famous people who do need to hide behind those things are actually drawing attention to the fact that they’re hiding), and the “right” purse (the one that, without the designer’s initials on it, would be fairly nondescript, and that we actually paid $1,000 – ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS – for).
As many magazine articles (and probably psychotherapists) have said, we wear and carry all of these silly things because we want to impress other women. Theirs is the approval we require.
A man (our man, that is) could say, “You look great,” but the good feeling that compliment gives us will usually shatter at the first sign (real or imagined) that the type of woman whose praise we want isn’t coming.
Well, not me. Not anymore (not that I was ever good at pleasing women with my style choices to begin with – I mean, I don’t even tuck my pants into my boots). From now on, I look good for me first, men second, and women only when they’re my boss, and for three very simple reasons:
1. More women than men seem to pay attention to brand names.
Sure, you’ll find the occasional male who questions your brand choices (many years ago, I worked in a call center with a skater boy who laughed at my pants and said they were generic, then asked if I bought them at Target), but most won’t give much thought to anything about your jeans except that they’re the barrier between their hands and your butt.
When you get into brand names, you get into trends, and when you get into trends, you get into spending a lot of money. And not just once, but every time you go shopping. Those of us not concerned with brand names and trends can wear the same sweater four winters in a row, but if you’re buying trendy brand-name items, you can only wear them for half a season (if you dare wear them more than once) before it’s time to buy a magazine telling you what to buy next.
Not only is that shopping pattern expensive, but unless you’re giving away your worn-once items to Goodwill, it’s also wasteful.
2. I believe it’s a well documented fact that women generally notice more details.
You may be wearing the right brand of jeans, but they aren’t the right season. Or the right color. Or the right stitching color. Or the right flare circumference. Or the right length. Or the right “low” of “low rise.”
Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie, in an episode of Sex and the City, tells her novelist boyfriend Berger that she has only one critique of his novel:
You have your leading lady running all over town wearing a scrunchie!…No woman who works at W-magazine
and lives on Perry Street would be caught dead
at a hip downtown restaurant wearing a scrunchie!
It’s impossible to miss her severe judgment of the scrunchie. Apparently, if you’re a woman in The Big City (or any fashion-conscious circle), you do NOT want to wear a scrunchie (or any other embarrassing hair accessory) and risk the wrath of Women Who Determine Your Worth By Your Hair Holder-Backer.
See, Carrie could have worn a scrunchie, and as far as Berger was concerned, it would have just been a hair band. Period. As it would be, and probably is, to most males, who’d probably say, “Wear a scrunchie, wear a head band, wear a clear elastic thingy, I don’t care whateverlet’sgo.”
Worse, the more details you try to get right, the more you begin to notice those details when it comes to other people. Vicious cycle!
3. Women aren’t the ones I want to have sex with. Why impress them?
I know it’s not popular with feminists to say that I want to look good for men, because it sounds like I’m somehow subjugating myself (or my style sense) to their sex-eyes and will hop into the nearest Tilted Kilt to buy one of their outfits (do they sell them there? can’t say I’ve ever been into a Tilted Kilt). But that’s not what I’m saying.
What I’m saying is that I like me, and I like men. (One man in particular whose male opinion is the only one that matters.) Women are okay, I suppose, but I’m only interested in them for their conversation. I don’t care whether they find me attractive or like what I’m wearing. I do care if I find me attractive and feel good in my clothes, and I like it when what I enjoy wearing makes the man I’m interested in think, “Dayyyum” when he sees me.
The lady at the bar with her uncomfortable circus platform shoes, trendy space suit jumper, and tiny cupcake hat? Not so much.