Would you change the way you dress for a man? A few years ago, my whatevership-boo at the time hated the way I dressed and wanted me more covered up. This was all fun and games until I was in a full sleeve at a pool party about to die of heat stroke and fashion suicide. Everyone looked so cute and I looked…like a pilgrim.
He later confessed, post-break up, that he didn’t want other men looking at me so he wanted me more covered. So there I was, adjusting my wardrobe to his insecurities, and I eventually resented him for that. And myself too.
It had me thinking, do we compromise too much? Or was my leaning towards his request simply a part of how we play the ‘get a man’ relationship game?
I wasn’t sure if this was common or not so I decided to ask a few women who fell in my age group, but of varying relationship statuses, about this topic too.
Overall, it seems that small changes to a wardrobe choice are okay as long as the suggestions are within reason and the woman still feels she maintains her sense of style.
When Keisha’s current boyfriend had an opinion on the way she dressed she made changes. “I didn’t do a complete wardrobe overhaul but I tailored outfits that he might like to see more. Nothing drastic. For example, if he doesn’t like pink and thinks I look prettier in grey I’ll wear that.” Keisha is 25, previously divorced and now happily committed to her boyfriend of less than a year.
“I think of my surprise outfits as a way to keep him on his toes and therefore keep the spark in our relationship. It’s also nice because he always notices and generally compliments me when he really likes something I’m wearing,” said Franchesca, 27, about her current boyfriend’s suggestions for her wardrobe changes.
Tai, 31 and dating, said that her experience with a man’s suggestions weren’t as positive. Instead of subtle suggestions, the changes came across more like demands. Eventually this became annoying. “I didn’t particularly care for the way it was presented to me. It was a demand. [ He would say] I would want to see you in this shirt and this type of blazer. [ I said] Well are you going to buy it? No? Well let’s leave that suggestion where it is.” She said, “But this goes back to who they were and the status of our relationship. If they were people I was in a serious relationship with and he wanted to see something and explained why, maybe said let’s go shopping together, and made it fun and engaging for both of us, I would have considered it more.”
Most women at least agreed to hear their man out and sit down to have a conversation if he had concerns over their wardrobe choices. Most were open to hearing his suggestions if it was out of respect, a really good reason or a reflection of what he liked to see. Aamira, 26 and single (and ready to mingle), remarked that “If I agreed to his changes and saw the improvement then yes I would. If I was dressing a certain way because of being lazy or lack of thought and he thought I should change, then yes I would.” She also commented that it depends on the nature of the change and the reason behind it. “If it was like he didn’t want me to wear red just because he didn’t like it then I wouldn’t stop wearing red. He’d need a good reason like his grandma wore red the day she died or something, then I would say okay.”
If a man’s reasons for wanting a woman to change her clothes were jealousy, insecurity, or a desire to be controlling, most of the women put their foot down. “I’ve been there before- changing other things only because my boyfriend at the time wanted it and it’s a surefire way to invite resentment into the relationship,” Franchesca said.
Christine, 30 and married, also agreed that the reason behind the suggestion is the real concern. “If I looked like a pilgrim and you looked like a modern day person then I’d be open to it. Or if I was too provocative. It’s a respect thing. If you feel disrespected by something I’m leaving the house with or out with friends, then I can change that. If it’s “I don’t like this style” then we might have bigger problems. My style of dress (in most cases) relates to me as a person.”
But isn’t compromise a part of the relationship game? Anne, 28 and in the casual dating struggle, stated “I’m all about reasonable compromises. If he likes my hair a certain way, or me in certain items then I’ll occasionally switch it up to make him happy. It will still fit my personal style though. I want my dude to stay attracted to me and some personal responsibility has to play into that.” However, she continued, “I wouldn’t change if it boils down to him wanting me to be somebody else entirely. If its about changing my personal style then that’s an issue for me. Helping my style evolve is a completely different compromise I can make.”
In every relationship, there’s a fine line between compromise and losing self. So what if it came down to the man or the outfit? You decide what’s important. Christine says, “Our style changes all the time. Now you picked an outfit over the man and by the time your divorce is final it’s not even in style anymore.”
We all want to look nice for our partner and still be true to self at the same time. It is wise to pick your battles and for many of the women interviewed, if a man wants you in an entirely new wardrobe or style then that’s a sign of a bigger issue and may be time to reevaluate the relationship. Does he not like you as a person anymore? Or is it that you really look a mess?
However, small changes, in general, and loving suggestions can spice up your relationship and be fun for both of you. There’s a way to compromise in there and it’s up to you, your partner, and clear communication to find that happy medium. Just be sure you are only changing the patterns on your shirt and not who you are as a person.
Have you changed the way you dress for a man before? Comment below! Tell us about it! Let’s discuss.
Dee Rene is the writer and creator of Laugh.Cry.Cuss., a faith based blog that finds valuable lessons in pop culture and every day life. She is based in NYC. You can follow her or the blog on twitter @deerene_lcc @laughcrycuss or visit the site at http://laughcrycuss.com.