Who do you dress for? Men or women?
That’s the million euro question, but no one can answer for sure.
So, who do you dress for? It sounds simple, but it’s not. The group that doesn’t overthink it will answer, without much surprise, that they dress for men. And the other half will say that they dress for women.
Reading what I’ve just written makes my head spin from the many social and feminist implications that each position carries. Are women who dress for men submissive and insecure? And are women who dress for other women competitive and insecure?
Without wanting to judge anyone, it is important to point out that our wardrobe, besides fashion and good taste, is a social and political statement. Although dressing up is a socio-political act, it also manifests our creativity and where we are amid the cultural upheaval we live in. Paraphrasing Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, who once said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”, we can say, “A dress is not just a dress”.
Who did Lady Diana, Princess of Wales, dress for?
If you have not been in a coma for the last 20 years, you have heard of Princess Diana’s relationship with the media and the paparazzi. Every time Lady Di went out for an event, she was frantically photographed, to the point where she was chased until she was the victim of a car accident that cost her life. Lady Di’s style and self-confidence evolved over time, and she used this obsession photographers had with her to communicate with the world.
On the night her then-husband Prince Charles, now King Charles III, confessed on camera that he was having an affair with Camila Parker Bowels, his childhood sweetheart, Lady Di, attended a charity event wearing a super sexy black dress. In revenge for the televised admission of adultery, she chose to wear an off-shoulder silk dress with a die split and show the world what Prince Charles was missing. In this case, Diana dressed for a man and the whole world, eternalizing the dress as The Revenge Dress.
And before, when the marriage was not going so well, and she was finding it challenging to position herself in the royal family, Lady Di appeared with the famous pullover with a black sheep surrounded by white sheep.
Princess Diana used fashion to control the narrative of her life. Every dress, every colour and jewel had a message. Every step she took towards her liberation as a woman accompanied an evolution in her style. Remember when she cut her hair really short in the 90s? Hairdresser Sam McKnight recounts that when she asked him what he would do with her hair, he replied, “Cut it all and start again.” Diana later confirmed that the haircut was the turning point for her going from “victim to victor”.
Who should you dress for?
Indulging a remarkable man in your life and wearing the colour he loves on you can be cute and romantic. Dressing up in the clothes you know your girlfriends like is fun. But nothing is more attractive than a woman with her own style. Because style is a sign of self-confidence, it also shows that the person knows what she likes and what gives her pleasure. Trying to please someone or a group of people can be very stressful and a source of frustration. Whereas someone at ease in their skin is always a source of admiration. You must know your body, what suits you, and how you like to dress well. But also, you must understand where you are going with your clothes and the right look for every occasion. Don’t be afraid to express your personality and sensuality through clothes; in this game of attraction, there is only one rule: you must first dress for yourself.
Photo title via Wikimedia Commons