Why I stopped dressing for men

This is about me, not them


The other day my mother stopped me in my tracks just as I was leaving for a date, pointed to my feet and yelled, “what are those?!”

She wasn’t trying to be funny: she did not think that my Nike Frees were appropriate. She spent five minutes going through all the other shoes in my possession, to try and convince me to change them, until I explained, gently, that I dress for comfort, not for dates. It turned out my date was also sporting Nikes and an Adidas sweatshirt, so I wasn’t under-dressed.

What I love about the current mood of fashion, is that you and your date can wear the exact same clothes and not look weird. Androgynous lowers expectations in a way I appreciate. I dress up more for a girl’s night out than I would to see a guy I like, because I know the girls will compliment my neckline and take hot pictures of me for Instagram.

Being told I look great by guys is all very well, but will they appreciate that I fought physically for this dress in a sale, and congratulate me accordingly? Will they tell me that strappy sandals look really cute on me and that I’m executing SS trends with aplomb? It’s unlikely. Save your most precious buys for showing off to the girls and throw on your sweatshirt and jeans for the guys: unless it’s for a special occasion he won’t expect anything else. If he hasn’t dressed up, why should you?

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Housemates said I was bang on trend for A/W, male friend said I looked like someone off War and Peace

There was a point when I dressed for men, to some extent. When I was 17 and released from the shackles of school uniform, I put considerable thought into what I wore to college. I lost sleep over this: by which I mean I spent an hour each morning picking an outfit, and this largely revolved around who I knew I’d be seeing that day. On days when I had a class with the guy I liked, I would showcase myself in miniskirts and low cut tops, and slap on a pile of make-up.

The other two days of the week, though, I would slum it in what I would now term my “nice” clothes: baggy jumpers and jeans. I thought that if I sat behind a guy, wearing that get-up and giggling, he’d suggest we eloped.

Obviously this plan nosedived because the guy cared more about my reading of Blanche DuBois than about what I wore, and wasn’t interested anyway. This revealed to me the truth about where I must locate my self-worth. I realised that I needed to find someone who thought I was pretty when I came in without make up on, and had the same reaction when I had my falsies and extensions in. Yes, it can be irritating when they don’t appreciate your effort, but if you’re dressing for yourself you shouldn’t need this affirmation.

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Looking slightly ridiculous but feeling super comfy

Obviously, I’m not saying that dressing up for a date is a bad idea. I love dressing up because it makes me feel great. Heels make my calves look as toned as Serena Williams’, but unless the occasion calls I will avoid them at all costs. If I’m going for a drink with someone (and I know it’s not at a swanky bar) then I know they probably won’t be expecting me to make a huge effort and won’t have made one themselves, so I don’t sweat it.

Men aren’t as basic as we think they are. In my relatively limited experience, they generally see the whole image rather than all the small details: they can’t tell if you’ve contoured or not, they think your face naturally looks like that. Men will notice the way you laugh and remember that you don’t like dark chocolate, but they won’t notice the toothpaste stain on your shirt. I’ve been told I’m beautiful at 8 am when all last night’s make up has rubbed off and my hair is a state, and I’ve also been told it when I’ve spent 3 hours getting ready and look immaculate. It’s almost insulting to assume they’re that simplistic.

At the end of the day, buy that dress because you know you’ll feel amazing in it, not because he may or may not notice that you’re wearing a dress at all.