Women's Wear Daily recently ran an interesting article about who women dress for. Do we dress to make ourselves happy? Attract men? Or succeed in the workplace? Is that woman in five inch heels, a push-up bra, and a corset belt rocking her own vision of what's hot… or what she thinks men will find alluring?
Personally, I think to speculate on such factors is to over-simplify the entire situation. In psychology, a fundamental attribution error is to think that personality and behavior are consistent across all environments. In truth, people alter behavior and attitudes depending on the situation they find themselves within. However, since we rarely see our friends, colleagues, and family across all the venues of their day-to-day existence, we don't see these vacillations. So, to me, dressing runs that gamut of external factors. On a date, you may dress with the consideration of what your date finds attractive. In work, you may take into account the unwritten codes of your office's competition. With your friends, you may rock that dress that you think is amazing or the shoes you know your trendsetting buddy will salivate over. (Maybe both.)
I've been told by men that I dress for women. An ex-boyfriend respected the fact that I liked fashion, but I'd catch him checking out the trashy girl at the bar who thought the first ten buttons of her button-down were meant to show off the entirety of her milkshake. I always reminded him of my favorite Angie Dickenson quote, "I dress for women… I undress for men."
What kind of dresser are YOU? How do you respond to these looks:
This Grey Ant Dress ($473) is short, low-cut, and reminiscent of an undergarment. To women, you might come off as a little bit over-exposed (barring the addition of opaque tights or other additional garments). To men, however, this dress would probably trigger subconscious allusions to sexual situations. Not only do they see a lot of the bod, but they begin to think about lingerie. The easy manipulation of male thought patterns is why dating coaches endorse touchable fabrics, low-cuts, and the underwear-inspired trends.
Girls would probably respond positively to this See by Chloe Dress ($445). On the cusp of the tribal and safari trends and painfully cute, it's something that would cause my girlfriends to shriek, "OH MY GOD…WHERE DID YOU GET THAT?" But men, on the other hand, would probably ask what figure is being hidden beneath those giant pockets.
This Kay Unger Suit ($540) would get you a promotion and make your boss believe you to be exceptionally well-groomed. But your friends might find you a bit uptight – and men, well, possibly unapproachable.
Of course, if you're dressing for yourself, you might use the belt from the Unger suit to cinch the Chloe frock, or toss the Unger jacket over the Grey Ant dress. Or you could just go naked. Nudist colony anyone?