“Who are you dressing to please?” is a question that gets tossed around a lot. Many proclaim that they dress for themselves and themselves ONLY. Some sheepishly admit to dressing to attract the attention of potential romantic partners. An even smaller group fesses up to dressing competitively with other women.
But to state that you dress for a single audience or purpose is likely an oversimplification. For most of us, I think it’s a mix … and a mix that can be hard to decipher. Are we drawn to certain items because they please us on some inherent level? Or because we know that wearing them will make our sisters and coworkers just a tad envious? Or because we believe they’ll make us appear sultry and sensual and utterly kissable? It could be any, some, none, or all of these things.
Yet there are certain aspects of our appearance-centric choices that can remain more pure. We may buy lingerie solely for the purpose of partner-pleasing. We may buy green garments because we know our moms like to see us in green. We may buy oversized sweats so that Sunday mornings with the cat and the newspaper are fugly but comfy.
I will freely admit to dressing for others. Now just to be clear, I buy stuff I love and I never buy stuff I DON’T love, so my wants/likes loom large in the mix. But I like looking good, I like getting compliments, I like wearing stuff that strikes up conversations with strangers about clothing and shoes and accessories. (Mostly so I can tell anyone who likes what I’m wearing exactly where to go to get one for themselves. What’s the fun of getting a compliment if you can’t share that shopping joy?)
I will even go so far as to say that I work out – at least in part – for others. I mean, I’ve finally reached a point where I enjoy exercise, feel better when I’ve gotten it regularly, and challenge myself constantly to become more athletic. But I work out for my doctor, who tells me that I need to stay fit for multitudinous reasons. I work out for the approving glances that my well-toned calves earn me. I work out for bragging rights about freeweights and push-ups, intervals and biking distances.
But my tattoos are mine. They are, in many ways, the single aspect of my appearance that deflect all outside input. I don’t give a shit if you hate my tattoos, or if you think I’m foolish for doing something so permanent to my body. I don’t care if you know what they mean to me. I got four tattoos without even asking anyone’s opinion on the designs. And when I consulted HM on the red crown on the back of my neck he thought it was too big. I got it as big as I wanted anyway. But it wasn’t about rebellion, it was about what I knew I wanted, regardless of anyone else’s opinions.
Most of us dress for multiple audiences, but many of us also have some aspect of appearance that is ours alone. What’s yours?