Who Do You Dress?

The sandals and socks look...(Photo: manrepeller.com)

The sandals and socks look…(Photo: manrepeller.com)

Who do you dress? Do they resist?

One thing that always seems to come up in conversation is what our spouses or partners wear and what we think of it. In particular: women with closets full of clothes who complain of “nothing to wear,” and men who are still wearing their crumpled jeans and T-shirts from the 1980s.

Men talk about how long it takes women to get ready to go out, how they wear inappropriate shoes that make them hobble by the end of the night, and how their clothes are so skimpy that they have to ruin their outfit by wearing the man’s coat. Men tend to envy the variety that women have in their clothing: the option to wear skirts and dresses, high heels, sequins and lace, bright colours, jewellery and scarves.

Women talk about how men still have their lucky underpants from the day they scored a goal in the hockey play-off when they were 16, own 5 identical pairs of cargo pants, and don’t understand which colours go together, resulting in the classic phrase, “You’re wearing THAT?” Women comment on how easy it must be to be a man and not have to think about what to wear.

And if you think that’s bad, just think of what women say to other women about their clothes, or what men say about other men!

Women will criticize other women for:

  • Looking too skanky
  • Looking too butch
  • Not caring enough about how they look
  • Trying to look too young (but only if it’s unsuccessful, of course)
  • Wearing the same things too often

Men will criticize other men for:

  • Breaking the code of wearing neutral colours and matte fabrics / looking too flamboyant
  • Having too extensive a wardrobe
  • Caring too much about how they look
  • Looking too emo or hipster
  • Wearing the sports jersey of the wrong team

Photo: thespaceo.com

Times are changing, though – when I was younger, I never imagined that men would primp and preen and spend so much time getting ready to go out, that they’d obsess over their weight and fitness and want to get “ripped,” that they’d buy their own skin and hair products, or get waxed, or otherwise feel they had to compete. Sadly, women’s body image problems are now everyone’s problems.

You would think that after raising a child, I would have had my fill of trying to influence what anyone wears. But no, I keep at it. Just this weekend, I insisted that Rom clean out his closet and add his clothes count to my ongoing household inventory. He did a great job, I must say! It is very easy for me to judge the age and condition of Rom’s wardrobe because we met just 5 years ago and he brought all of his personal possessions here when he moved to Canada. So I can divide his clothes into the stuff he had before we met, and what he’s bought since he’s been here.

The first surprise to me is that we have virtually the same number of items in our wardrobes! My last count was 170 and his is 158! However, he has quite a limited work “uniform” which is worn repeatedly, and the rest is T-shirts (50% of his wardrobe).

Since we met as fully formed adults, and presumably liked each other “as is,” I have never tried to make Rom over. My brief forays into this have failed. For example, he put on a purple shirt and olive pants one day for work and asked how it looked. I said they didn’t go well together. He said he thought it looked fine, and proceeded to work. So I now know that his questions of that nature are purely rhetorical!

Still available at farmandfleet.com!

Still available at farmandfleet.com!

I have nagged him about his jeans. You’d have to describe them as stone-washed, and regardless of whether they were bought in 1997 or 2007, they all look the same. I have been urging him to buy a pair of jeans with a modern wash. I don’t even care about the fit. But no, the old ones are comfortable and don’t seem destined to be replaced.

Then there is the palette. I previously joked about Rom’s 10 jackets, all of which are black. Why not buy two of the same item in black and grey? Black and brown? Not happening.

I think my nattering about Rom’s clothes is unabashedly sexist. If I had a female partner, I would never say such things. Rom never tells me what to wear, or even expresses a wish about what I would wear. I really should return the favour.

On the other hand, I have no data when I want to upgrade my wardrobe. Link used to tip me off when I was making a terrible faux pas: “Mom! You can’t wear that!” You know who gives me the best input? My mom. She thinks I dress too conservatively and should wear more bright colours. She is absolutely right.

Do you try to make over anyone at your house? Who, in your day-to-day life, influences what you wear?


  1. Ha! Well, you should see some of the things CatMan wears! I gave up looooooong ago trying to influence him. Currently, he’s got this pair of loose fitting biking shorts that he adores. So he wears them everywhere. In the winter time, he wears tights or fleece pants under them when he rides his bike, so he’s apparently decided this is a good look for day to day wear as well. Oh my. Thankfully he still wears real pants when we go to a party or event or something.

    The thing is, I used to think that he just didn’t care what he looked like, but I’ve discovered this isn’t it at all! He just has very, um…. “singular” ideas about what does and doesn’t look good!

    And I really need some darker jeans… but alas, I’m too cheap to buy them new and most of the dark wash things I’ve found in my size at the thrift store are more suited to a 14 year old than a 46 year old. Oh well…

    • “Still wears real pants,” LOL! I think he and Rom have similar high self-esteem 🙂 I have blogged about my lengthy process to find suitable jeans; it was a real chore! Maybe the new ones will do me for the next 5 years until styles irrevocably change!

  2. Ahh this post made me smile. We have similar tastes in clothes my better half and me. I actually like to go shopping with him for men’s clothes and often pick new things out for him to try which sometimes work out well but often he won’t like because they are perhaps a bit too fashionable and it often takes him a while to catch up and get used to new styles. He tends to choose his day to day work wear but then you cannot go far wrong with black jeans and a jumper or T-shirt or shirt,tie and suit if he has a meeting!

    When we are going out we usually ‘consult’ each other on what is appropriate so that we don’t end up with me looking like I am going to a ball and him just about to dig the garden over! It would sometimes be nice to have an up to the minute fashion conscious hubby but that is only because I was a Fashion Designer in my former life and although we don’t shop a lot I do like trying new styles and colours – it never leaves you!

    • I like how you say “it takes him a while to catch up.” That’s a good way of putting it! I also coach Rom a bit on what the expected style of dress will be when we go out!

  3. My husbands grandma told me (before we were married) that I should probably take him along when I go clothes shopping because I buy such boring colours. 🙂

  4. OMG -if he’s that bad now, wait ’till he retires lol
    I could write a book about The Golfer but I just take the line that if he’s neat and tidy most of the time I’m happy. Thankfully he does come to the party and scrubs up well for ‘those better occasions’
    Me – well I dress for myself. Just wish there were some more interesting clothes for those of us above a certain age – don’t want skimpy but don’t want granny grey either. Classic styles can be a bit boring even if you do know they suit you
    Take care

    • Neat and tidy is good enough! I agree with you about clothes shopping for myself. I don’t want to dress either like a 15 year old, a granny, or a cougar! And I don’t keep up with the times when I disagree, for example, I will not wear yoga pants in public!

  5. Thanks for such an interesting post 🙂 I had to chuckle when you were talking about men never having to think about what to wear – I would absolutely love to own only one outfit to wear to all formal occasions 🙂 I’m going to Thailand in June, and am thinking I will get one dress made to my measurements, which can hopefully be worn for all occasions for the next few years!

    I currently only dress myself and as you may have guessed I have quite a casual wardrobe. Being a PhD student I can wear whatever I like to work – shorts or even Thai fisherman’s pants. This will change next year when I get a real job, so I do need to start looking in op shops for “grown-up” clothes 🙂

    • Even though I dress semi-casually at work, it would be great to wear whatever I wanted! I wish there weren’t such a thing as grown-up clothes. Having just one dress-up outfit works; this year I had one summer dress “just in case” and one winter/seasonal/dress-up outfit which I wore at least 4 times.

  6. todadwithlove

    This is a wonderful post. At the moment, I only dress myself. But when I was home with mum, I used to dress her, and she me. And we absolutely loved it. I’ve not had a chance to dress anyone of the opposite sex, yet. Sounds fun, and funny! Thanks for the great read.

    • Thanks – I haven’t had so many female-bonding experiences about clothes. Outside of our families and best friends, folks can be quite resistant to be told what to wear, as I’ve found out 🙂

  7. I mostly dress little people these days. One nine year old complainer who likes to wear his clothes backwards and two kicking, screaming, poop factories.

    On occasion, I actually get dressed myself. I think that work directly influences wardrobe. I haven’t worked in 4 years, and I have nothing suitable to wear out to dinner anymore. I don’t even have a nice pair of shoes. I remember I used to say, “I would never leave the house in sweatpants!” Now I say, “Oh crap! I forgot my bra again!”

    As for my husband, well, he still wears socks with sandals, but at least not black socks anymore. And none of his pants have pleats. I think we probably have the same sized wardrobes, too. His stuff just all looks the same.

    • Ha ha on the pleat-front jeans! Don’t you think that couples gravitate toward being the same size? Rom and I are not too far apart either. I am happy to be past the many-changes-a-day-poop stage! Although I suppose that someday I will get back there myself, LOL!

  8. Fiona

    I had to laugh after reading this – it’s made me notice just how many people I’ve heard giving clothing advice just in the past few days (husband, co-workers, my son, mum/sister over the phone – even the local librarians, who were reading an article aloud on the hazards of wearing black – ageing, apparently!) I think I need to heed you mother’s advice and wear more colours – my wardrobe is almost all black / white / beige or “shades of beige”!

  9. Bele

    My boyfriend dresses me, sometimes! He is definetely the “modern” kind, which contrasts with my laid-back style. He has a little more jeans and shirts than me, and at least twice as many shoes and jackets! He’s also fond of bright colors, and has a couple of hot pink t-shirts (which look great on him, btw)… he also has more skin and hair products tha me, and lots of perfumes. Can you guess who takes longer to get ready? 😉 I’m glad times are changing and his friends don’t tease him about that. I love the fact that he always looks sharp, with great hair and smelling amazing, so I try to put a little more effort when we are going out and actually wear some makeup.

  10. I sometimes have to stop my boyfriend going in to town or to the supermarket looking like a tramp (as in ‘homeless person’- I’m not sure if it means something different ‘across the pond’!) or stop him wearing a horrible shiny shirt from the 1990s that he has had since he was 16… Other than that, I mostly leave him to it!

    On the wardrobe size front, he has WAY more than me- partly due to military uniform, and partly due to him being sentimental about old t-shirts and me being ruthless!

    • I counted Rom’s T-shirts and he has 40, many of which can’t be worn out of the house. I have a bit of a T-shirt collection too, but they’re in good condition!

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