I’m about to make a bold suggestion and it may not be received too well by you all. But here goes;
I am going to bravely suggest that we are all guilty of dressing to please others at some time or another. Events in our lives such as interviews or formal assemblies dictate that we dress appropriately and how others expect us to. On that basis, it is predictable that we learn to consider the opinions of our ‘significant others’ when dressing.
But how much do we let the opinions of our partners, friends and families affect our styles?
Personally being in a relationship has calmed my personal style. I am very aware of not wearing anything that could be considered as ‘fashionably risky’ when going out with my husband. Fashion isn’t high on my husband’s list of priorities and he doesn’t particularly understand why people would want to draw attention to themselves through their appearance. I’m conscious of this as I dress to spend time with him.
And my research has proven that I’m not the only one whose relationship has affected their style.
‘’I became much more of a casual dresser when I met Rob’’ confided Chloe. ‘’I don’t think that I felt the need to try and attract peoples eye the same’’.
I suspect that this is pretty much the norm too. Ladies in a relationship may no longer feel the need to dress ready for a chance meeting with a ‘prospective partner’ around every corner.
But Mary disagrees; ‘’I feel that I can wear absolutely anything that I want since meeting Claire’’ she told me. ‘’Claire has given me the confidence to be me. I only dress for myself now’’.
I admire Mary but if I’m honest, it’s not just my partner that I allow to mark my style. Friends and associates opinions affect me too. I find myself dressing differently to go out into the City than I do to meander my local village. I tweak my outfits to stay local; my much loved hat that I proudly adorn on a trip to the city stays at home, and I won’t be quite so playful with colour or pattern either.
Similarly I tweak for my parents. I know what my mother thinks of women a ‘certain age’ dressing ‘too young’ and subsequently my leather look pants and cleavage displaying tops stay firmly in the wardrobe during her visits.
So having established that it seems that many of us do dress differently for the people in our lives, the real question still remains – why?
My guess is that it all boils down to feelings. Not so much the feelings of others, but of our own – how we feel in their presence.
For example, when I’m out with my husband I don’t want to feel as if I’m trying too hard. I want to feel classic, subtle and self-assured. I want to feel like a wife who is comfortable with who she is and where she is in life.
When I’m out with friends who I’ve known forever; I want to feel carefree, clever and bold. I feel free to dress up and play. These friends have seen a lifetime of my mistakes, and they still want to be around me. That reflects in my style.
When I dress for me; I want to feel strong and independent. I want to show my creativity without compromising maturity.
So I suppose what I’ve learnt is that yes, we do dress for others……. but that’s okay. Ultimately, we aren’t dressing for the approval of our loved ones but for our own feelings of acceptance and admiration. And surely, that’s what fashion should be all about; helping us to feel better about ourselves and comfortable in our surroundings.