Do you dress for yourself, men or other women?

Hey Glamazons!

So it was during a conversation with my best friend who proclaimed that I wear dresses to impress a guy I was dating (it's no secret that I wear dresses everyday) that I realized women dress for different reasons and often, based on outside circumstances.

Though I countered with the defense that I just love dresses (which is true...and yes, I was that annoying little girl that loves pink and would never be caught dead outside rolling around in the dirt, beside worms, with my little brother), I have admittedly picked out outfits based on my surroundings, which means my fashion choices aren't solely based on...well, me.

And I'm sure I'm not alone.

If you've ever gotten dressed for a date, with or without the help of your girlfriends, then you've experienced the painstaking process to appear sexy but not provocative, smart but not nerdy, demure but not stuffy, all by virtue of your outfit.

And doesn't that make sense? Because if people judge by appearance, and fashion represents image, then choosing an outfit is essentially deciding the image you want to project to the people that see it.

Isn't that the same logic behind the professional tip that dressing for the job you want, rather than the job you have, forces people to take you more seriously?

Take a few weeks ago, for instance. I wore my beloved McQ for Target asymmetric black and gray frock to an all-women, fabulous holiday party, Cocktails with Belle (yes, Belle from the amazing blog, A Belle in Brooklyn, which you must read if you don't already! You'll thank me).

I picked it out primarily because it's a chic, well-designed, gorgeous dress. As I was attending a networking event, where appearance is everything, I also thought of the image I wanted to portray.

I considered that it was trendy, which communicates that I'm into Fashion, and it's a beautiful garment which appeals to women (men, most straight men anyway, don't appreciate a gorgeous dress in the same way a woman would). Perfect.

What I didn't anticipate (or realize until I was already at work) was that my chest had grown since I first purchased the dress and was now making an appearance in the neckline that was...a bit problematic.

Though I was wearing my Jimmy Choo for H&M choker necklace (yes, everything I wear is from a designer collaboration, lol), it did little to help the situation. In fact, one of the women remarked quizzically, "You didn't wear that to work today, did you?"

Gasp. I know cleavage, at a networking event, isn't ideal but I didn't think it was so bad that it warranted a comment. I mean, women are allowed to show some cleavage at work, occasionally, when they're in the Fashion industry, right?

And by that point, I had tried to hide it with extra fabric from the asymmetric neckline. (See the dress below, which I must say for the record, is fabulous in most any other setting.)

Later, I realized she may have a point when I saw everyone clamoring for the attention of a high-powered media exec in a suit. There were other women who were wearing trendy pieces, even one in a lace shirt, shorts and tights, but the exec was the one that everyone took seriously---some without even knowing what her title was because she looked important.

I could have worn a suit or super-conservative outfit, but truthfully, that's just not me (and not required for my job...obviously lol). Still, I worried that my dress was the wrong item to wear solely because of the way people viewed me as a result.

In the same way, if you're going on a date and want a potential partner to view you in a certain light, your clothing choice could help you in (or hinder you from) achieving that.

And when you're headed to a party or brunch with your girlfriends, your clothes represent how you want to be viewed by that particular group. Just think would you really wear a fitted, sometimes uncomfortable spandex dress if you knew no men would be at the club on Saturday night?

Even if you don't dress with other people in mind, you're still judged based on your clothing choices.

That said, why when we admit to dressing for other women or gasp, men, does it always incite criticism? And on the other side of the fence, if we admittedly dress for other people, how does our clothing truly represent us?

What do you think, Glamazons? Do you dress primarily for yourself, men or other women? Do you think dressing for other people is appropriate in some settings, but not others? If image wasn't important, and it didn't matter what other people thought about your clothing, what would you wear?



Photos: (Jamie Lynn-Sigler) InStyle. (Me) Photographer Mackenten Pention.


Portia said...

Great post! Like you said, I think it depends on the event & how you view your own body image. Especially for women. We dress conservative to go to work, but a bit more "flashy" when we go out. And let's not forget that for some reason women have difficulty giving compliments and I think that's where the criticism comes from.

I think your outfit was fantabulous!

The Budget Brides Handbook said...

Let me first say that I love this post. Honesty, when I am dressing in the morning I usually dress for me. However, if I am going to a club I dress to get the attention of both men and women. Men because who doesn't want a man to notice how they dress. Women because I like the competition of it all. Even if its just in my head. LMBO

As for your outfit to the networking event. Personally, I think it was a little much. I know in your kind of work fashion is everywhere but when networking you must dress for the masses. Even if the business exec was the main attraction you never know who is in the audience.

Lastly, I don't think business attire has to be boring. I like to wear pieces or dresses rather than suits. They allow you to be more creative.

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