Commentary on the commentary: Who are you dressing to impress?
why it's okay to care what women think
Gilt Groupe recently launched a new men’s style site called Park & Bond, and this week, ran a story titled, “Who are you dressing to impress?” In it, their resident female blogger argued that “the modern man’s dressing custom has become a staunchly bro-ish affair.” She applauded the effort spent putting more thought into one’s outfit, but cautioned, “If the reblog has been the yardstick by which you’ve been measuring your swag, the ladies in your life can tell—and they’re not impressed.”
Her point: maybe guys should stop dressing so hard to get a #swag tag on their tumblr, and start dressing to get a raised eyebrow of approval from the lady(ies) in their life.
It raised a bit of a ruckus and I enjoyed reading the different reactions from mens’ style bloggers:
A Distinctive Taste said:
“Women. They are great shop to with once you have the basics down to reinforce your decisions, not to make them for you. This can and usually will be dangerous unless that is her trade.”
I agree insofar as the person buying the clothes should always be making their own decisions at the cash register (or the payment screen, as the case may be), but ADS ultimately concludes with this:
“We [men’s style bloggers] give each other dap when we look fresh. But at the end of the day, it’s the likes and reblogs from the female followers that really makes the guys happy. So laides when you see a guy post his look, and he looks fresh, let him know. He really did for you.”
The Silentist said:
“My first thought was, “Well, isn’t it a good thing that guys are starting to know not only how to dress themselves, but have enough self-confidence (SWAG SWAG SWAG!) to go through their life without having to rely on the opinions of others — regardless of gender?”
But then concluding:
“I don’t think guys are purposefully ignoring the opinion of the fairer sex, but rather just living out the feedback system that they’re more tapped into.”
Of course, both men and women style bloggers are guilty of “tapping into” this feedback system, as The Silentist notes. Which is to say, male style bloggers look to the comments, “likes” and reblogs from fellow menswear bloggers for affirmation, most of whom are also male. While female style bloggers draw similar lifeblood from those same comments and “likes” and reblogs…from other female fashion bloggers.
Amidst all this back and forth, I’ll offer up my own impression, from the viewpoint of a girl sitting on the edge of the boys’ club that is menswear blogging:
When getting dressed in the morning, girls consider two entirely separate audiences. She either dresses for other girls, or she dresses for guys. The girl that dresses for girls puts a lot of time and effort into looking like she just swung through her closet, Tornado Rex-style, and popped out wearing the strange/interesting layers she has on. This combination may or may not include articles of clothing that guys can’t identify, or would prefer she wasn’t wearing (harem pants fall into both categories, for instance). When she’s dressing for guys? Things get decidedly easier. Snug jeans and (relatively) low-cut top. Done. Or, conversely, (relatively) short skirt + snug top. Done. Leave your hair out of a ponytail, and you’re out the door.
Which is more fun? Depends on the girl. Some girls want to just put on what will make guys think they’re pretty. Others dress in what they think will make girls think they’re stylish.
With guys, things get a little more tricky. Wanting other guys to think you’re stylish will most likely have the side effect of having girls think you’re look pretty handsome. Ladies appreciate effort too. But taken too far (obsessing over herringbone weaves, pondering the pros and cons of beige versus taupe in a summer-weight blazer), well, that’s not such a turn-on.
As a girl who likes talking about menswear, I want you to look handsome. I do. But as a girl who likes being the girl in a relationship, I also want to take longer than you to get ready. And even then, ten times out of ten I’d rather the first words out of your mouth to be, “You look so pretty,” not “You look so stylish.”
But maybe that’s just me.