It’s early on a Friday evening and my phone starts buzzing off the hook.
I look down to four separate messages from my girlfriends who all ask the exact same question: “What are you wearing tonight?”
Mind you, the parties don’t start for another four hours, but the outfit is sacred. Girls frantically ask to comb through each others closets, because God forbid you don the same skirt you wore out to dinner on Saturday night two weeks ago. Sometimes, I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time digging through my wardrobe and coming up with nothing suitable. Other times, it takes me approximately five minutes to find exactly what I want to wear. Every time I struggle though, I must think—who am I dressing for? Why is it an expectation that all us girls will take so long to get ready?
When I was young, I was that kid who always had her outfit laid out the night before. My mom always let me pick out my clothes, so I was used to the many choices I could put together. Sometimes, you pick something atrocious and must learn the hard way. But to pick out a well put-together outfit is an art that can take years to master. So, at a young age, many girls seem to be trained to be pickier when it comes to choosing their clothes compared to guys. For this reason, we’re constantly texting each other to piece together the perfect outfit.
So at this point, my friends and I are all dressed up and ready to rock. When we get to the party or the bar or wherever, I actually find myself immediately sizing up every girl in the room. What are they wearing? How’d they do their eye makeup? I check the group text to find that my friends are freaking out over this one girl’s outfit: “She looks like such a slut in that dress I can’t believe she’s wearing it!” and the like. This is where I start to get a bit bothered. Why should it matter what she wears? Naturally, we will compare, but at the end of the day, it’s her body and her decision.
Times like these make me think back to occasions where I want to sport a super trendy and perhaps “different” or “unique” look that some of my friends would never wear. The question is, where can I wear such attire? When I tried it on in the dressing room, I thought I’d be able to wear it a lot, but sometimes my friends say I’d only be able to get away with something like that in Europe. What the heck is that supposed to mean? Why is there this assumption that Europeans or celebrities can wear whatever they want and we have guidelines to follow?
All this leads back to the first question—who do we dress for? I find that men often like to think we dress for them, and we see this too in certain books and movies where a man goes out and buys his lady an outfit to wear that evening. Some women dress to impress other women, as we notice the competition in those “who wore it better” segments on TV or in People magazine.
However, at the end of the day it’s about wearing what makes you feel most comfortable in your own skin. I dress for myself. My mom taught me to dress for success—the best way to feel empowered for a big day is to put on that outfit that makes you channel your inner fierceness.