Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Female Life

There are basic reasons why we do things, but we rarely question them.  Because they are so fundamental, we usually just take them for granted.

I'm going to ask you a basic question because I don't know its answer.  I wasn't raised like you, so my life-experience doesn't help me understand this.  My question is -- Why do you care about dressing well?

Not everybody does care.  There are women who dress slovenly; they don't seem to care.  And dressing well, for boys, is a whole separate thing with different concerns and motivations.

Why do you care about dressing well?

There are many reasons I can guess might apply, but I'd rather hear from you.  I'm sure answers will differ among you.  That's cool; we're individuals and not uniform members of a gender.

Possible answers that occur to me are: (1) You want to look pretty and were taught in childhood that looking pretty is important; (2) You want to impress others; (3) Dressing well makes you feel good about yourself; (4) You want to attract male attention; (5) You enjoy the creativity involved in fashion; (6) You enjoy the process of shopping, planning outfits and trying them out; (7) You are competing with other women.

What is your reason for dressing well?

29 comments:

  1. I didn't always care about dressing well. I went though most of college wearing t-shirts and jeans. When I started working professionally I added dress pants and dressier shirts to the mix, but still didn't really have a lot of interest.

    I'm not really sure exactly when it shifted, but eventually I came to realize that dressing nicely made me feel better about myself. I liked getting compliments from other people. I liked putting together pretty and flattering outfits. It became a great creative outlet.

    I still have some jeans and t-shirts days, but I enjoy getting dressed much more now.

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  2. I had this conversation with Scott the other day. On the one hand, I dress to create an appropriate impression for myself. On the other, I dress for myself, and completely for myself.

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  3. I care less about dressing "well" and more about dressing right. Growing up my mom let me make whatever clothing decisions I wanted. My grandparents took me shopping at Hot Topic during my goth stage, even smiled through the cringes at my bondage pants, fishnet, and 5-6 inch platform boots I wore even in summer.

    I've commented before about how my clothes let me tell the story about WHO I feel like each day. My clothes are my character. I sometimes get flack for how I dress, but I also have people who talk to me that probably wouldn't otherwise.

    I do enjoy the thrill of thrifting. I love the treasures I find. I love the creativity. I love that I can change how I physically feel by slipping into a swooshy dress or sharp pants. I still spend a larger amount of time than necessary dressed in pajama pants, but I always, always "put on my face" when leaving the house (and I don't mean makeup).

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  4. I'd say for me it's mostly about feeling good about myself. They days that just throw on the easiest thing, I end up feeling distinctly less confident than if I give some thought about what I'm wearing and generally speaking, feel cute and put together. I'd say it affects my whole attitude and the way i feel about my shape.

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  5. I've always been very particular about how I was dressed (so my mom tells me). I am a very visual person, so I respond to colour and texture and pattern - I like to have a lot of detail in my clothing because that's what I like to look at.

    I don't know if I dress "well" but I like to feel put together, in good quality clothing that expresses my personality. I want my clothing to express the person I want to be (colourful, outgoing, artistic, social), and it goes a long way towards making me feel that I AM that person. The whole "fake it till you feel it" works really well!

    I realized when I was a teen that I could change how people perceived me/reacted to me by dressing differently. I went from a very shy and introverted girl to an outgoing, vibrant teen. I am still very conscious of how others will perceive me and I make sure I don't make the wrong impression (too sleazy, dressing too "young"). I always want to have some class.

    If I had to boil it down, my top three reasons for dressing the way I do would be:
    - to feel good about myself
    - to express my personality
    - to get a reaction from people.

    I do enjoy when people react to what I have on - I love making an impression. It's not that I want approval or attention; more that I want to shake up people's expectations of who I am. For so long in my life, I was what everyone expected me to be (quiet, smart, low-key), and I love to rebel against that, even 40+ years later.

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  6. I dress to feel comfortable in my own skin. I also like looking hawt and getting a couple looks (hopefully for good reasons!). I wear clothes that suit my mood. And trust me, I have PLENTY of days where I just don't care. Sweatpant chic if I'm really feeling gross.

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  7. i dress well so i can feel more like myself. express myself. be seen as more of the person i feel like.
    and because for a while there was someone in my life who stopped me from dressing how i wanted to dress. and once i got rid of him it came naturally.

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  8. I think what I learned as a child was to dress *appropriately* so you wouldn't stick out in a negative way and be ridiculed by others. This is still part of why I care about dressing well, only phrased more positively: I want to consciously present myself as an individual with good taste and a contentedness with their physical presence in the world. (Once there appear kids in my life who could be learning from observing me, this becomes especially important, since Western society is so obsessed with negative scrutiny applied to the physical body!)

    I also think - especially since making my own clothing - that colors and silhouettes and textures are fun to play with, when I dress well I create a wearable work of art. I must admit the "being attractive for a (male) partner" motivation probably plays into it, too, though I try to keep it at "feeling attractive for myself". The thought of dressing well for "competing with others" makes my toenails curl! (I'm not sure if this is a thing about not having been socialized in the US, or a thing about being me; I generally seem to care about being good at something for the sake of being good at it, not for the sake of being better at it than others.)

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  9. For me it's simple...I love fashion, clothes, shopping & like to dress & feel/look my best!
    Hope that helps!
    BTW, fab pic of you Ally! Gorgeous dress.
    Happy Thursday hun xoxo
    http://www.intotheblonde.com/

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  10. At first my inclination was to say that I don't dress "well." But i think the truth is, well is a relative term to some degree. While the way that I dress might not be what is mag-fashionable, there is a style that i think suits my personality.

    I pick my clothes based on a level of comfort and a clear aesthetic that I gravitate to. No matter how laid back, unconcerned with fashion or casual it might appear on the surface there is clearly something at work in my mind. There must be some internal set of rules because I wouldn't be caught dead in sweatpants.

    Looking at your specific questions ~ Save for maybe #3 (dressing makes you feel good about yourself) I don't ever stand in my closet and consciously think any of those things.

    I guess my version of well has to do with feeling confident in the wrapper that I show the world at large. People size you up based on your outward appearance, your clothes become the billboard you show a stranger.

    I tend to see my clothes as an outward expression of my mood or attitude. I think my style is plain, average, i just want to fit in ~ with maybe one quirky item thrown in for good measure.

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  11. Thank you, guys, for the invaluable responses. They educate me in an important way. I appreciate your contributions.

    I'm sorry I phrased the question the way I did. What I meant to ask is, "Why do you care about dressing?" There was nothing implied in my use of the word "well" and I see that was an impediment for some of you. Sorry.

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  12. well... I dress because I em... can. Actually it's a habit taken from childhood. Plus I feel better when I look good. And... my fiance loves style and fashion so I just have to look fine not to hear his comments over my look ('put on these heels, dear' or 'are you really going to wear this coat?').

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  13. I dress well because it's fun. Or well I think it's fun anyway! I like the challenge of re-mixing my wardrobe, I want to look nice for work. It makes me feel good, especially when I get compliments from my husband or others around me. And I love to shop so overall it's just fun for me. I enjoy it and it makes me happy. :)

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  14. Unfortunately I fall into the not dressing well category. I may even tend towards slovenly. Yikes, maybe it's time to change!

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  15. I started dressing up very recently.
    Before I did not think much about it. I just put on stuff, period.
    Now I take time to select outfit and make an effort to look presentable. I think it had to do with the influence my friends had on me... at least some of them.
    I dress for myself and like to showcase the small accessories I pick up along the way. I enjoy wearing something that nobody else has.

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  16. All of the above lol...

    Each day I feel I have a different reason to taking the time to dress well and look good. It could be because I want to feel that extra bit of confidence that dressing up gives. Other times I hope to get compliments and attention on the my outfit, hair and/or makeup.... And sometimes I do it for myself.

    But I think what's important is that in the last six months I have been trying to make that conscious effort to move away from the harmful thinking and reasons to dress up, such as: to fit a certain expectation of "looking pretty", for pleasing others, to compete with other and to hid myself under all the stuff. What's important for me is to dress for myself. Not to hid under clothing & makeup. To do it for fun and self-care. Somedays I might choose comfort over fashion and that's okay, that it won't change the who I am or the way that people see me.

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  17. It's funny, because dressing well is a relatively new thing for me. In high school, I wore the same hoodie and jeans four days out of five during the school week. And during college, I usually went to class in my pjs. I didn't start dressing well until after graduation, when I got a real job and had lots of free time. I see it as more of a hobby, to be honest...shopping, planning outfits, etc. Of course, looking nice is an added bonus to this particular hobby :)

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  18. For me I think it's a little bit of all 7 of those categories. Mostly the 'creative outlet/confidence' ones. I didn't used to put much thought into my clothes, but once I realized that looking 'nice; meant that people treated you a little differently. I started paying attention to the way I dressed, and then I started enjoying it more.

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  19. Wowee, you could fill a book with just one person's answer to this question. I care about how I look because I know how important a first impression is. People judge you immediately by how you look (it's true even though we hate to admit it). I don't want to spoil my chances at getting a new friend, a job, or an opportunity simply because someone thought I dressed bad.

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  20. I think one of the reasons that clothing has always been important to me is that from the time I was 11 years old I have had acne. Until very recently, I had bad cystic acne that did not respond to even the toughest acne drugs. I had to live with giant red cysts appearing at the most inopportune times. I think that attractive clothing drew people's attention away from my face. It didn't but I guess I tried to convince myself it did. I also did not look directly at people so I did not see them seeing me. I know this is a strange answer, but I really think that is why it was important to me.

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  21. It has everything to do with being confident and strong. If I feel great, I project that in everything I do in my life. It's also the impression I give to others. If I dress like I don't care about myself, then others will treat me that way. The thing is, it takes just as much effort to look put together as it does to throw on a pair of ill fitting pants and top. That's why I started my business to pass that along to more women. I love the results when my clients start to feel better and start to stand taller. It's my drug! ha

    Love you,
    Tracy

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  22. This dress is a PERFECT fit on you. My primary concern with dressing well is that I have to present a professional appearance in front of an audience of students every work day. I want my outfits to convey authority and yet a touch of quirk--since I teach in a creative field. My workday also includes encounters with colleagues and administrators, so I need to feel presentable for a wide variety of sartorial situations. Blogging has helped me up my game...and be noticed.

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  23. Definitely for creativity and making myself feel good. Also, even though my boyfriend and I have been together for 5 years and he loves me no matter what, I still like to dress up and look pretty for him. I feel like it lets him know that I care about myself and value my time with him. Also, dressing unique is a good way to start conversations. When people like what I'm wearing, they come up to me and start asking about it. Then we start talking :)

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    1. Wow, thank you Rachel. Your last two motivations are not something I knew about before. I know see that stimulating interaction and building community can be a function of clothing.

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  24. Hmmm...for me, I guess mostly I dress well to feel better about myself. I'd say 90% of the time I feel much better when I'm well dressed than when I'm in sweatpants. Now why my appearance has such a huge effect on my mood - that's a whole other issue. For me, I think it's a weird social anxiety thing. When I'm not well dressed I'm overwhelmed with the feeling that people are judging me, and that has a drastic effect on how I feel throughout the day. So I dress nicely to avoid that situation. Does that make any sense at all? I'm rambling...

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    1. That makes perfect sense, Hannah. And you're not alone in feeling that way.

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  25. I would have to say all of the above. The last one competition, I don't mean it like a game with a winner, but I do compare myself and I want to compare favorably.

    If I go somewhere and I do not look as nicely dressed as the other women, I feel as though I have made a mistake and vow to remedy it next time.

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  26. I was going to say exactly what Sara Star said. All of them, for sure, but with less edge to the last one, just like she stated. I am highly motivated by compliments in general life. ;)

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  27. I never had money or the confidence to dress nicely. Now I have a bit of both, I have discovered how fun it is to dress up and it makes me feel better about myself

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