Earlier this week I was watching the hilarious Nicole Richie in her new AOL series, ‘Candidly Nicole’. On this weeks episode, (‘style signals’) Nicole and her friends were discussing how women dress differently around their female friends and the opposite sex. This got me thinking… do women dress for men or for themselves? How do men feel about the way women dress and certain ‘scary’ fashion trends? And what’s the deal with this whole ‘man-repelling’ craze?
Leandra Medine is in fact my style hero. She is otherwise known as ‘The Man Repeller’ (www.manrepeller.com) and writes a blog under this persona. She believes in layering, dungarees, harems and bright red lips; essentially all the trends that may scare men a little. She dresses for herself, ignores the rules of dressing ‘sexily’ and pretty much enjoys the fact that the clothes she wears and trends she sports repel men. However, can I (or any women my age) honestly say that we never take into consideration how a member of the opposite sex may feel about our outfits, especially on a night out? Here’s the first big question: ‘Do we ever dress for men?’
In the name of research, I asked a fair few of my girlfriends what they thought about this issue. I was actually surprised (although I shouldn’t have been) that they were all adamant that they do not dress for men. For them, the way we as females dress is a form of self-expression, and something that is done to make ourselves feel good and confident (and surely this is what the opposite sex find most attractive anyway; confidence!). One of my friends suggested that girls dress more so for other girls than guys.
She said that fashion can act as a conversation starter with fellow females, and is a way to make friends, which I definitely agree with. Most of them did admit that for a night out they sometimes dress up with men in mind, but have to feel happy in themselves most importantly. I found this very refreshing, and the next question I sought to answer was how men felt about all this. How do they like us to dress? And what do they think about trends supposedly labeled ‘man repelling’?
This month’s Glamour magazine included a feature discussing the comeback of dungarees. I love dungarees. Leandra Medine loves dungarees. Glamour magazine even loves dungarees. But do guys love them? Well…maybe not so much. A few of the men I surveyed about female fashion trends did not understand or appreciate certain pieces such as dungarees. Other items they didn’t seem to take to included high platform heels (feedback included that tall girls can be intimidating and they can look silly if the girl can’t even walk in them), harem pants (guys just hate them, end of), and statement necklaces or studded jewellery (one of my male friends is forever telling me to lay off the accessories which resemble sharp weaponry purely for my own safety…).
So what does the opposite sex like us to wear? (Bear in mind here I do not claim to know what every man likes a woman to wear and everyone is different, I have just quizzed a few of my nearest and dearest). The general idea I got from the men that I asked was that they like a casual girl who doesn’t appear to try too hard: subtle makeup, dressed down, just clean and fresh with nothing too crazy (shirts, well fitted clothes and converse are all good, as well as a nice fitted-but not too short-dress or shorts and a vest on a night out). They do also like some supposedly ‘scary’ trends, such as bold lips, maxi dresses and boyfriend jeans. Most also stressed that they like a girl to be unique and that when getting dressed it is important to feel like yourself in order to ooze confidence.
When I heard all of this I thought ‘A lot of the time I definitely do not fit the above description.’ But then I thought (as my girlfriends re-iterated for me) that at the end of the day we must dress for ourselves first and foremost. Sometimes I end up wearing loosely fitted men’s shirts and spotty dungarees and no doubt do my fair share of man-repelling, but it makes me feel happy and comfortable.
Finding out what the opposite sex like us to wear is interesting, but it reminds us that when we get dressed in the morning, it should be to feel confident and happy in our own (beautiful) shoes, which of course applies to both women and men!. My opinion? If to ‘man-repel’ is to dress for yourself and nobody else, then I think we should actively encourage it! If a man likes what you wear, great! But if your outfit choices end up ‘repelling’ a man, it’s not the end of the world, and anyway, the right person will like you for who you are, not for what you choose to wear. So happy man-repelling!