Last week I read an article about men who like women better without makeup on. The article was all about how women actually don’t wear makeup to impress men but wear it to feel confident and beautiful. This got me thinking about my own ideology on how I present myself and how other people’s opinions affect me. As I started brainstorming about this, I came up with tons of grand statements outlining my philosophy on fashion. It turns out most of the things I came up with were not entirely true and the more I thought about each one, the more exceptions I came up with. Here is the truth that I was able to find amongst the hallmark statements I initially came up with:
1) I don’t like to dress to try to impress men. I think what I actually mean by this is that I tend to dress in a way that isn’t necessarily what most men would find attractive. When I get dressed to “go out”, I don’t feel most confident in a mini skirt, spaghetti straps and heels (does anyone over the age of 20?) I don’t generally blow out my hair and wear tons of “sexy” makeup. Perhaps this has been my way of weeding out the kind of guys I DON’T want to attract.
When I went away to a big state college in Maine, this proved to be a challenge for me. My best friend would come over to get dressed to “go out”. He would roll his eyes at me when I put on my LL Bean snow boots (IT WAS SNOWING OUTSIDE!) instead of heels or something a little more “presentable” to go out to the bars. On one occasion, I decided I was going to try to dress to impress. I wore a VERY short skirt, heels and no jacket. I didn’t feel like myself at all and I was freezing. On my way past the line of girls who were dressed exactly the same way, a girl driving by singled me out and said, “put some clothes on, it’s winter.” I immediately burst into tears. I felt like I was selling out in order to impress people I didn’t even care about. Since then, I’ve done my best to dress in a way that feels authentic to me, whether other people find it attractive or not.
I think in a way, dressing in a less conventional manner also serves as a litmus test when meeting new people, particularly potential love interests. I don’t have to worry about dating anymore because I already found my lobster, but when I met him I definitely put him through a few tests of this sort. On our first date, I wore a beanie all night and Dansko clogs. On subsequent dates, I attempted to scare him away with Harem pants, dropped crotch jeans, the most bohemian baggy shirts in my closet, and my nerdy bright red glasses. Roman seemed to like me regardless. That’s not to say my boyfriend is with me because I’m the most fashionable chick in town, but I think he was able to get a better idea of my personality because of the way I presented myself.
On many occasions, when I’m feeling unhappy about my appearance, Roman will say, “But I think you look great, isn’t that enough?” My answer is always no. I think many people can relate to this feeling. It’s not that I DON’T care what he thinks. It just doesn’t affect how I view myself. If I feel uncomfortable with how I look it doesn’t matter what he says, I’m going to continue feeling uncomfortable. That is the heart of what I’m getting at when I say I don’t dress to impress men. It’s important to me that Roman finds me attractive, but it’s not what motivates the choices I make.
2) I’d rather look “interesting” than “hot”. This isn’t entirely true but let me expand upon this topic before diving into how it pertains to me. I think this is actually a pretty common approach to style in New York City these days. Pre “Man Repeller“, you primarily saw people challenging fashion norms in two places, on the runway or in more creatively inclined communities. Now that Leandra Medine has branded this as an ideology, it has become trendy (among certain types of people) to dress in a way that “repels members of the opposite sex”.
she who outfits herself in a sartorially offensive mode that may result in repelling members of the opposite sex. Such garments include but are not limited to harem pants, boyfriend jeans, overalls, shoulder pads, full length jumpsuits, jewelry that resembles violent weaponry and clogs.
–verb (used without object),-pell·ing, -pell·ed.
to commit the act of repelling men:
Girl 1: What are you wearing tonight?
Girl 2: My sweet lime green drop crotch utility pants, of course.
Girl 1: Oh, so we’re man repelling tonight?
*DISCLAIMER: the above conversation took place in this room 5 minutes ago.
I can totally identify with this approach to dressing myself. As I said above, the looks I find most appealing are generally not very provocative or revealing but rather an interesting juxtaposition of shape, texture and color. Often these types of looks are more thought-provoking/ awkward than they are attractive. For some reason, that is what I am drawn to style- wise. Not always of course, sometimes I like to go to a fancy party and wear a nice dress. Other times I don’t have the energy to devote to coming up with an interesting “look”. However, on a day-to-day basis, I tend to gravitate toward this style of dressing.
3) I get panicky if I feel I’m not executing my vision accurately. Is that the most first-world kind of problem or what? This is hard to explain but I’m going to give it the old college try. Essentially, I very clearly know what I like and what I don’t like. Around people who have a similar type of style to mine, I feel at ease because I know they get what I’m going for and vice versa. However, when I’m around people whose personal style doesn’t quite align (or is completely opposing to mine) I feel the need to try to prove that I’m not attempting to look one way and failing at it.
Here’s an example of what I mean: I have a pair of light-wash, boyfriend style Levi’s that ride the line of horrifically ugly and effortlessly cool. If paired with the right shoes and top they can look exactly as old-school intentionally ugly as I want them to. But with the wrong combination they can quickly make me look like I’ve forgotten what decade I’m living in and should be driving my kids around in my van somewhere in the midwest. Does that make sense? Is that offensive?
Those are just a few musings on my ever-evolving thoughts on fashion and personal style. I’m not an authority on the subject, I often get it all wrong, and I frequently second-guess every word I say. So don’t take any of this too seriously.