Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fashion: What he thinks; what she thinks...It may be two different things

We either dress and groom ourselves as if we care about others, or we don't, and whether we do or not sends a message to the people in our lives. We can also become way too absorbed with how we look, or we can go to the opposite extreme and become sloppy, or we can find a healthy balance between presenting ourselves pleasantly and yet not putting undue emphasis on our looks. Again, which of these choices we make communicates to others where they fit in our priorities.

As women, we dress the way we do for many reasons. We may choose comfort. We may dress appropriately for a career. We may select clothes that are suitable for an occasion. We may dress in a way that our children can be proud of. We may have fun with fashion and dress in a way that makes us feel happy and/or pretty. If we love God, we place first emphasis on dressing according to His standards.

Let's be honest, though. At least part of the way we dress and groom ourselves has to do with the opposite sex. We do want to be pleasing to our spouse (or a potential one). Lest we think that is sexist, don't we also enjoy it when the men in our lives present themselves in a way that is attractive to us?

The funny thing is that men and women often see women's clothing in different ways. Women tend to take their cues from what is currently in fashion and what other women are wearing. Yet, what is in fashion for women doesn't always communicate attractiveness to men.

I know this after being married for nearly 30 years and having had some discussions on the subject. Yet, I've been amused and even a little surprised lately after reading several current lists of men's dislikes and likes.

Keep in mind that your man is an individual, and if you want to know which items of clothing that you wear appeal to him, you'll have to communicate with him. Also, keep in mind that certain things are generational, and younger men and older men do not always think the same way about certain fashions. Finally, keep in mind that both your and your spouse's tastes will change through the years. (That gives rise to a side thought: Be wary -- very wary -- of following a fashion trend that requires a permanent alteration to your body. You will live to regret it!)

Though men are individuals, here are some items that have been cropping up in general lists of women's fashions that men don't like. These lists are based on interviews with young and youngish men.

1) Crocs and Uggs. I think most of us could have figured out that these are not the most attractive or feminine foot gear. Perhaps, they can serve a utilitarian function now and again, but we probably should save the crocs for gardening or working in a hospital and the Uggs for the days when we are coming down with the flu and don't care what we look like.
2) Designer shoes. On the other hand, while men do appreciate a feminine shoe, they are unlikely to know if you are wearing Manolo Blahniks or not. They simply don't see what the designer fuss is all about. Enjoy wearing lovely shoes, but save your pennies and skip the exclusive labels. Just buy ones that are cute and well-made and that fit in your budget.
3) The ballet flat. I love ballet flats and don't intend on giving them up. However, we should be aware that to some men, these shoes look as if we just threw them on without giving any thought to how they look.
4) Huge sunglasses. I didn't see this one coming, though I should have. We all feel glamorous in the right pair of sunglasses. The problem is that some recent fashion cycles have tended toward the over-sized look. Yet many men are uncomfortable when they cannot see your face or expression because they are covered by large, dark shades. We can still enjoy great sunglasses. We just need to make sure that they fit our faces correctly and that we take them off once in a while so that our men can see the lovely smile in our eyes.
5) Heavy makeup, "costumey" makeup, overdone makeup. This is no surprise. We have long known that many, if not most, men prefer a more natural makeup look. A little makeup can go a long way to make our faces look more radiant; just be sure that you wear colod ors that are right for you and apply them with a light hand. Note that some men specifically singleut red lipstick as a turn-off, particularly if the woman does not have the coloring to carry it off well. Others also mentioned disliking purple shades of lipstick.
6) Some lists include capris as a style that men dislike. I personally think that this might be because capris have become associated with women who are middle-aged and older, as we post-thirty-fives tend to find capris an easy style to wear. Also, some capri looks are both sloppy and dowdy, not to mention the fact that some capri lengths are flattering to the leg and some are not. However, there's no doubt that a sharp pair of capris can be a great summer staple. Keep them neat and crisp and pair them with great tops and accessories so that you don't look outdated in them. Also, be sure the length of the capris suits your leg. Men also mentioned a dislike of the very long shorts that are so popular right now. These, like capris, are flattering to some women and not to others.
7) Fashions that are too overtly sexy. Of course, we know that men who are trying to stay pure according to God's standards appreciate it when women attend to modesty. However, it may surprise you to know that I found this on a list of men who are not necessarily trying to remain pure in their relationships with women. Some of the reasons men gave for their dislike of things that are too revealing should give us some insight into why modesty is so important: 1) Showing too much takes away any mystery about the woman and dampens any interest in pursuing a relationship with her. 2) It takes attention off the woman as a person and puts the attention solely on her body parts. 3) It takes away from that classy quality that so many men admire. 4) It makes a woman appear as if she's insecure and trying too hard.
8) Trying too hard to emulate a celebrity, a fashion trend, or to impress other women that you are a fashionista. It's fine to take fashion inspiration from these things. Men do appreciate it when we don't look too old-fashioned, dowdy, or out of touch. However, they don't feel comfortable if we turn ourselves into "fashion clones", either.
9) Menswear items used as women's wear. That's not hard to understand, is it?
10) Neon colors.
11) Here's one that surprised me: Fringe on clothing and accessories.
12) Here's the one that surprised me the most: pink. Many men do not like the color pink. As this is both my favorite color and the color that is most flattering to me, that causes me to sigh. My husband is fine with pink, however, so it won't be disappearing from my wardrobe.

As I said in the beginning, clothing serves many purposes, not the least of which is to wear something that we personally enjoy. The goal of this article is not to encourage women to dress solely for what men think. However, if we do care about our spouses, we will want to give great consideration to presenting ourselves in a manner that conveys how much we care about them. We will want to dress in manner that they find to be pleasant and attractive manner. It's only considerate to learn something about our husbands' taste in clothing. This will not only help us when we plan our wardrobes, but will also deepen our understanding of how our mates thinks.


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