Fashion, Licentiate Columns

Licentiate Column 19/04/12: Girls dress for other girls

“Girls don’t dress for guys, they dress for other girls,” said the girl checking her eye make-up in the smeared, scarred mirror in the toilet of what may possibly be the grottiest bar in Cork City. Her friends squealed in assent, obviously delighted by the rare pearl of profundity uttered by who must be Montaigne reincarnated – just with tomato red hair and a stretchy Topshop minidress.

I looked down at my outfit and appraised. A high-collared white lace shift dress, tights, bovver boots, and a thick Mod overcoat. She might have a point. Every night when groups of girls go out on the town, greetings are often paired with ‘I LOVE your dress!’, “Oh my God, where did you get that?’ and other fawning sequiturs.

I don’t dress for men, mostly because I don’t have the patience or regard for that kind of grooming and personal hygiene. I also don’t know where to start. Men are weird creatures.

Last night I went to a party. One of the hosts was wearing an Adidas hoodie and a floral dress, which at best was a misguided nod to Marc Jacobs. He said that he couldn’t find his trousers and this was the obvious alternative. I’m pretty sure that he wasn’t dressing for the opposite sex, or even his own.

How would you dress to attract this man? Pop on a three piece tweed suit maybe?
When I look through my wardrobe it’s either through a nerdy or a practical eye. Dressmaker’s copies of YSL couture from the 1960s sit beside four identical grey sleeveless tees from Zara very comfortably.

Yet, when I buy an item of clothing that I love and imagine myself getting a compliment (everyone does that, don’t they?), I imagine my friends paying them. Not family members. Definitely not men.

If I had to choose between being stylish or beautiful, I’d pick stylish every time. I’ve broken my nose three times, so the conventional beauty boat has sailed. It’s like Sophie’s Choice for Generation Superficial. Beauty is overrated. To be approved of because of your looks, especially in some kind of sexual lens, is no approval at all.
To be approved of because of your style is a compliment to your personal vision, ingenuity and creativity and general canniness. And to be approved of my your friends is a cast iron endorsement by your peers. That’s all we want – to fit in as part of a group without compromising yourself and becoming a fraction of an amorphous friend blob.

But still, I don’t put on an outfit and think ‘now my friends will really LOVE this’ before skipping off to a cocktail bar to self-absorbedly bleat, Carrie-like (both Bradshaw and White) about my life problems. I and my friends want to look like the best version of ourselves; comfortable, flattered, fresh, bright, interesting. If we dressed for men we would probably just look the most naked, hairless version of ourselves (save for a smattering of fake tan).

Most women don’t want to do that. I hope.

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2 thoughts on “Licentiate Column 19/04/12: Girls dress for other girls

  1. Loved this piece Sarah. Agree so much. I do not dress for men, Some friends have said to me “Roisin, boys like girls that wear girly things. Wear some pink”. (in relation to my love for black). Fuck off. Excuse the language. What utter crap like. Of course, these girls in question dress for men, cleavage, legs, etc. And must live in the 60’s.

  2. I dress for both myself and my boyfriend… Stuff I own that I know he likes I would wear more often but it is always stuff I would have picked out myself.

    Great article!

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