There is a quote attributed to Sophia Loren that pretty much sums up why women make the fashion choices they do:
“women dress for other women and undress for men”
Whether or not she actually said this, the quote has quite a bit of validity according to studies, surveys and online forums everywhere. A few years ago, the Daily Mail surveyed 2,000 women, and yes, many of the fashion choices made were really done to get compliments from other women. This survey was done among women 18-30 when fashion really does rule one’s life, but it demonstrates a point: are we grooming and dressing for other women, to attract men, or for ourselves.
If we are grooming and dressing to attract men, according to men’s forums searched for years trying to figure out what attracts them, we would all have long hair, not bother with doing our fingernails, wear skirts and dresses, and, in general, be feminine.
From past experience in an office full of women, do these things (yes, have long hair, maintain manicures, and wear skirts) and peers will say things like, “I think you should donate your hair” and “I never see you in skirts.” The worst was suggestions of breast reduction. Yes, it really does happen.
Most of us say and think that we are really dressing for ourselves and our comfort, but are we? Do we crave approval from peers and female family members? When we try to spread our wings fashion-wise, are we shamed when no compliments come from those women we esteem? Or are we dressing and grooming in such a way that experience tells us compliments our coloring and face and body shape most appropriately.
As time goes by, that craving for approval does disappear and most of us get past it. We develop our own styles and are willing to say to those rude enough to suggest conforming to their opinion to take a hike or mind their own business, but, really, who notices the changes we all make in appearance?
And that’s who we’re dressing for in the end.