In the midst of engagement announcements, comments on Justin Bieber’s latest run-in with the law and complaints about the winter weather, my Facebook newsfeed erupted this week with links to online articles listing clothing trends women love that men hate. Simply Google “clothing men hate” and you’ll find a plethora of examples, typically implying that women should care deeply about what men think of their beloved styles and immediately banish such offensive items from their wardrobes.
Well, I’m not sorry in the least for my bandeau bikini tops, pointy toe shoes, high-waisted skirts and leggings, all items deemed distasteful to the male gaze by a Huffington Post article entitled “23 Trends Guys Hate (But Women Love).” The article’s female author and her friends asked men for their opinions on 23 popular fashion items. Even more shocking than the listing of popular staples are the comments from male interviewees.
“[Bangles are] super annoying when they’re clanging around all the time,” said one guy who apparently prefers his women seen and not heard.
“Seriously, get out of the ’80s,” another likely misogynist said about oversized sweaters. I guess he missed the memo on the beauty of vintage.
“It’s clothing that is too young for them,” expressed another man, seemingly ignorant of the fact that it’s quite common for guys to wear the same sneakers and T-shirts in their 20s that they got for their 10th birthday.
What these men — or perhaps more accurately, immature boys — fail to realize is that most women dress for themselves. I dress to feel confident and comfortable, while showing off a bit of my personality, not to woo a man with perfectly rounded shoes or non-noisy bracelets. I pick my lip gloss shade to complement my eyes, not to receive compliments from other people.
Of course, not all women dress for the same reason every day. I certainly don’t don heels to formal events for comfort. Oftentimes, I pick my outfits because they’re appropriate for the occasion. I’d gladly wear fleece sweatpants and plush slippers to a business meeting, but I prefer to avoid the shocked gazes or even the firing that such a casual fashion choice would surely bring. I accept, and even appreciate, that societal norms must be taken into consideration a bit when dressing each morning.
But being told I can’t even wear skinny jeans or oversized sunglasses in an otherwise perfectly acceptable setting, just because a man or two might think I look bizarre or — as one article said about red lipstick — “slutty,” takes things too far. I like how fitted jeans and bug-eyed sunglasses look on me. I’d rather be able to genuinely smile and feel confident in clothing that men hate, rather than feel self-conscious and pose awkwardly in something they love. I prefer to look like my unique self than a display rack for male-approved items.
So, men, if you ever feel tempted to tell a woman you don’t like her neon shirt or her heavy eye makeup, keep that lovely nugget of fashion wisdom to yourself. I could easily hurl back insults to men here, perhaps about their love of $5 shirts with cartoon drawings or khaki shorts that hover so low they seem to be suspended by pure magic, but I’ll refrain. If they truly feel confident and happy in those items, good for them. I don’t mean that sarcastically; I may be more attracted to a man in a suit and tie than one in a backwards baseball cap, but I would never attempt to lecture them on fashion 101, or even expect my personal taste to matter to their dailyclothing decisions. Sexual libidos don’t qualify anyone to author fashion advice books.
And personal taste is what a lot of this is about. I imagine many men are perfectly fine with fake nails, animal prints and dangling earrings; perhaps they even like how they express some ladies’ personality and style.
Similarly, not all popular women’s fashion items fit my taste. I wouldn’t be comfortable nor feel like myself in wedge sneakers, mullet dresses or harem pants, but I admire anyone who can rock such quirky looks. Who am I to judge fans of those styles? I’m not Tim Gunn.
I bet even the judges of “Project Runway” and students at renowned fashion schools wouldn’t claim to universally “hate” certain trends, even ones that are far from elegant or masterful in terms of fashion history. Shows like “What Not to Wear” and “How Do I Look?” may frequently reference complex fashion lingo, but at the end of the day — or rather, the conclusion of the episode — the focus is on the makeover subject’s personal comfort, not what a man may hypothetically think. Forget purses and hats; confidence is the most fashionable accessory.