Why Don’t Women Dress for Men?


Here is a quote from the blog where I saw this photo:

When I came across this picture on the facehunter a few months ago, I started thinking about [the shoes] night and day. Staring at them didn’t do the trick though: I still had no idea about who made them and where I could get them from.”

A normal person (i.e., a male) would consider it nuts to think about a pair of shoes night and day. I am disgusted to say that I’ve been just as fucked up by a pair of shoes, and like these stupid wedges, they were shoes that would only appeal to another woman.

What the hell is wrong with us?

I can’t say what every man likes or doesn’t like, but I’m pretty sure they’re not attracted to droopy harem pants or huge wedges. We women clearly dress for each other, and I think it’s a pathetic and expensive endeavor. I’m looking for away out.

Maybe it starts when girls first go to school and begin to jockey for position. Popularity was always based on clothes and how willing you were to make other girls feel bad. Brains were not an advantage, but money was. I’m assuming that in schools with uniforms, one’s status is determined by handbags and accessories.

Why can’t we get over it once we’ve grown up? I know that fashion is supposed to be a means of self-expression but it’s mostly about conforming to what the fashion media tells us is cool, so that other women will admire how quickly we jumped on board the current trend.

The feverish quest for a pair of shoes is clearly a form of sublimation.   And unless the shoes have stiletto heels,   it’s not part of a mating ritual.

What do you think fuels the desperation to be fashionable? I know that men often feel like this about cars, but the sexual symbolism is obvious there.

If you’re reading this and you’re a woman. you are going to be looking for a dress or jacket with padded shoulders. Don’t bother insisting that you’ve always liked padded shoulders. You’re going to want them and all you’ll get for your trouble is some girl going “OMG, that is so fierce!”

I’m hoping for some enlightenment or a debate, but for extra credit try showing these pants to your boyfriend or husband and ask what he thinks:


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31 Responses to Why Don’t Women Dress for Men?

  1. andrea says:

    Great post! I too question myself as to why I must have a certain item. When I dress, I always try to go for the “unexpected”, not what my husband will think is sexy. I love wearing dresses over jeans, which he hates. But I feel cutting edge in that, a little subversive, and I know I will get looks from other women walking around the city. I suppose being on the cutting edge makes me feel superior to the others that see me. Today I wore a sack-like drapey dress from the brand Complex Geometries, a pair of flat Balenciaga gladiator sandals, and my hair in 2 pompoms on top of my head. Of course, I was asked about the shoes by a woman in the East Village, and got complemented on my hair by another. I looked far from sexy, although in this case, my husband thought I looked cute. After many conversations with my 55 year old self (and I have been obsessed with clothing and my looks since I was a preschooler, according to my mother) I feel that having the “right item”, or something that no one else has, that looks fresh and new, telegraphs to others that you are someone of some worth. I know that when I wear a certain item that is coveted by those in the know, it boosts my self esteem. And I am smart enough to know that it is just something on the outside, but that is all that people see and that is how they form their opinions about you. I never want to be lumped into with the bland and mediocre majority of women. Make sense?

  2. Suebob says:

    I missed the fashion thing. My mom always dressed prettily in that Donna Reed kind of way, until feminism happened, and then she embraced her inner sweatshirt with aplomb.

    I honestly do not care. I almost wish I lived in some Maoist society where there was a uniform. Get up, put on your khaki shirt and baggy pants and head out the door. I would LOVE that. I have a fantasy of a never-changing department store full of basic items, where the items are always in the same spot – white t-shirts on the right, jeans on the left…year after year after year.

    I feel sorry and cringey for fashionable people. Like “Oh, poor thing – had to spend $600 on a stupid shirt.” ESPECIALLY if the logos are on the outside. That makes my stomach hurt for them, because I feel like there is a major personality disorder on the loose, as if they had showed up drunk at the PTA.

    I know it isn’t rational, because they probably feel the same way about my size-16 ass. Ah, we all need something to feel superior to.

    I think something is wrong with me, right? Or am I a guy?

  3. Queen Michelle says:

    How about dressing for yourself? That’s a way out.

  4. sam says:

    Here here queen michelle! Its always been about expressing who I am on the inside…advertising my broad mindedness and love of the visual…(I was a window dresser for 11 years and still am into the merchandising aspect of my job) As for blokes, well I have never had any complaints!

  5. Sister Wolf says:

    andrea – You are amazingly honest and I applaud you for being willing to scrutinize your own behavior. I can relate to a lot of it. We want to feel special, we want attention. Check, check. The only problem, as I see it, is the investment of money and energy in seeking emotional comfort. What if we could just wear flip-flops and use all that money for something more substantial or benevolent that the enrichment of Balenciaga? What if we are only responding to our personal insecurity magnified by the power of advertising? I’m speaking as one addict to another, here.

    Suebob- You are a real anomaly and god bless you. I’ve felt at times that uniforms would be a huge relief. At other times, though, I have spent hours searching for some item I Had to Have No Matter What. I wish I could be as indifferent to extraneous bullshit as you are.

    Queen Michelle – Ah, if only that was the way out. How can I believe I’m dressing for myself? I’d be happy to wear pjs all day if I never left my house. It’s the lust for high end fashion that’s fucking me up. The knowledge that nothing will never be enough. I think that for you, it’s a joy and a passion–but for many women, it’s a consumerist hunger that leads to debt and a pile of shoe-boxes.

    sam – Okay, but! Does your delight in self-expression just happen to coincide with whatever the magazines are pushing? And while the men don’t complain, wouldn’t they likewise adore you even more if you could save your money? I don’t have the answers! I’m just sharing my neurotic need to probe.

  6. Sal says:

    Most people want access to beauty, but many have a hard time defining beauty on their own terms. Clothing and shoes are little pieces of beauty, blessed by experts in such matters, that we can strive for and own and wear. And even if it seems lemming-like to do as the editors say, unless you’re buying outfits in their entirety right off the pages, you STILL have to construct your own ensembles around whatever items you’ve purchased on recommendation … and that, too, has artistry in it. Sure, lots of women just want what they see because it’s pre-approved, but I don’t think you can say that’s what motivates everyone. We don’t all want every single item we’re told to want. Taste exists, and discernment.

    As for it all being for men, feeling stylish and beautiful isn’t all about attracting or keeping a mate. We may not do it entirely for ourselves, but I doubt we’re doing it entirely to entice, either. Praise, power, self-confidence, sensuality, expression — all are motivators for dressing, to me.

  7. WendyB says:

    The only people women should dress for are gay men 😉
    That’s my frequently used one-liner and I’m sticking to it.

    Also if (straight) men can think about baseball or whateverthedumbsportis night and day, then women can think about shoes.

  8. Braindance says:

    I agree with Queen Michelle, dressing for one’s self is the key, releasing us from the self fulfilling prophecy of fashion junkie or man catcher.
    I am lucky though, for I have two daughters, I am really trying to broaden their mind view on women and the shopping culture, which, as a result, has broadened mine.
    I do make a conscious effort every day to not let them see me preening for too long, nor do I drag them around the shops (car boots are different) I very rarely buy new clothes unless in a sale, (vintage is my drug) have no qualms buying in charity shops for me and them, and I never talk to them about shoes, bags etc…I am hoping this sub consciously rubs off on them, and they are not squashed into a box, by a-holes when they become teenagers.
    It has rubbed off on my eldest, she is a lush dresser who cares not a fig for make up or looking better than her friends, she dresses for herself already. Not sure which way the youngest is going, but I do know I am doing my best to show them another way.

  9. Jill says:

    If I were to dress only for my husband I would be naked 24 hours a day. He doesn’t even appreciate lingerie. I like to think that I dress for myself. It’s a way to be creative and express how I see myself. It’s a form of self advertising maybe? I’ve never been into labels…and I despise logos. I wore a dress I got at Kmart the other night to a party and was perfectly happy telling friends I got it for $18.00. Clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry…it’s just fun!

  10. MAdomako says:

    I am in a continual struggle to dress like I give a damn. Because I do care what I look like, but not necessarily to dress for myself, or for women, or for other men. It’s more like a combination of the three. It has taken me such a long time to figure out how to wear flattering clothes and find my own style, that I tend not to worry so much about shock value, or trend appeal, but more about how I want to be taken by somebody’s first impression: stylish, but not a trend slave. Mostly, I want my clothes to show off my face and my figure, and I am still trying to build a closet that presents me to the world like I see myself in my mind. I guess what I am saying is that I desperately care how others see me, but not so much that I will jump onto trends like harem pants and padded shoulders, because I personally think they are a little ridiculous. I care more about how I see me.

  11. I don’t know who I’m dressing for, but they have pretty low standards at the moment.

  12. arline says:

    I like what Queen Michelle said, and I agree with her, and the others who say they dress for themselves.

  13. …here’s the thing. If we actually dressed for men, we’d be wearing tight, body hugging, cleavage enhancing, mini dresses …and then we’d have zero women friends because they’d be angry at us for getting all the guy attention. . ..However, if we do play the “dress for women” game …and win, we’re in the same predicament. …I like to find a nice compromise somewhere in the middle …but I dress mostly for me …what I like …what I feel good in …but my husband would prefer me naked 100% of the time. lol. great post.

  14. dust says:

    Fashion is not just self-expression, it’s primal too ( protection, sex, moral) and there are limitations of our physical bodies ( tits, bums, short fat legs).
    When a woman dresses for man, and she gets the attention she wanted, she is still dressing for herself, afterall, cos that makes HER happy.

    All attempts of generalizing are useless, I tried and tried and even became a fashion designer, still, it shifts… in all directions…

    When I showed a picture of the shiny harem trousers to my husband, his comment was : what trousers?.

  15. Sister Wolf says:

    Sal – Well said. You have really mastered this difficult area of concern – I see I’m projecting a lot of my own problems with shopping addiction.

    WendyB – I almost made the same statement but worried about offending my male girlfriends. When a gay man loves what I’m wearing, it’s all good.

    Braindance -Wow, you rule. What a sensitive and diligent mom you are!

    Jill – Ha! wearing a K-mart dress = total free spirit. I envy you even more now.

    MAdomako – I can relate to all of this.

    Ihearatfashion – Hahahahahaha!

    arline – Yep, I like it too, I just have trouble accepting the possibility of resisting fashion industry pressure…

    love Maegan – I should have clarified the title of this post, I didn’t mean we SHOULD dress for men. Just that is was weird to dress to impress other women.

    dust – You’re right. It’s too complicated to generalize. My theories are just untested theories. Maybe I can modify them. But I’m stubborn that way.

  16. john malpas says:

    for ages the chinese all wore the same uniform and multiplied like mad.
    work that out

  17. Sister Wolf says:

    john – Sounds good to me!

  18. alittlelux says:

    my sister and i talk about this all the time… the difference between guy cute and girl cute. my favorite thing to do is to show my boyfriend all the outfits on karla’s closet and get his reaction. it’s pretty funny…. LOTS of harem pants on that site.

  19. Sister Wolf says:

    alittlelux – I just discovered her blog! My feeling was WTF, 150 comments saying, “Cute leggings!” Maybe I need to check out the harem pants. I’m going there right now.

  20. skye says:

    Too tired to make any kind of reasonable considered comment, but will say that my deranged husband loves the hammer pants. Loves them, and expresses his love with ass grabbing and other silverback type behaviour.

  21. sam says:

    hey sister, I havent bought a fashion magazine for about 3 years and really only get my inspiration from fashion blogs and people I see on the street. I am inspired by (well today at least) the 70’s…but thats down to nostalgia and often come up with amazing outfits when I should be trying to get to sleep. I buy individual pieces then put them together with other items I own already – whether they come from Topshop or a charity shop. I hoard all my clothes and drag them out again when an inspiration hits me…I do like fashion but in the broadest sense of the word and dont strictly adhere to ‘whats in’; if its ridiculous its ridiculous (like those wedges up top…but thats just me)
    hubby is happy and loves me regardless of the fact that I spend (in his eyes) too much on clothes, but its not his thing…its mine and he knows i love it so he accepts it. I wouldnt be any happier if he didnt spend money on guitars and guitar toys…its who he is and as long as we arent bankrupting ourselves and are generous also, then theres no problem.
    any way, i love your neurotic need to probe, dont ever change.

  22. Bob says:

    Let me guess…you’re a fatty right? Well here’s a little enlightenment for you. If you’re fat, men don’t care what you’re wearing and if you’re skinny with big tits, men don’t care what you’re wearing. They just want to bang the skinny ones and try not to get run over by the fatties in the buffet line.

  23. BRENDA says:

    oh come on– who can HONESTLY claim to dress for themselves? That shows both a real inability to think a little more deeply and to look at oneself honestly.

    It also seems particularly stupid coming from a person who posts photographs of her outfits on the world wide effing web everyday.

  24. hammie says:

    I think those pants are just a way of sneaking full sized shampoo and conditioner through security at the airport – and maybe a bottle of Veuve Cliquot.

  25. sam says:

    Bob…’how rude!’ and by the way, whats your point??

  26. Bob says:

    My point is men don’t care about women’s fashion….

  27. dawny says:

    i think you all do this to yourself people, getting worked up into wee frenzys about this “must have item”you have to have and hang the expense, clearly there are so many of you that have more money than sense. i dont spend a lot of money on clothes but i have plenty and i love them all.
    I for one dress for myself and only myself, and receive various remarks from people, which can be anything from “i really like what your wearing”, or “you look really well styled” right through to “is that what your wearing?” and “where is the rest of your outfit?”. but to be honest negative or positive remarks from people dont put me up nor down the thing is i know what i like and what im comfortable in, and by comfortable i mean representative of who i am as a person and not physically.
    and for the record im not a “fatty” and no for a fact all men do not think the way mr Bob is suggesting they do.

  28. Oh, yeah, I’m with Wendy on this one. My rule is if a straight guy compliments my hair I need to run to the stylist for a cut. Clothes, same same.

  29. alittlelux says:

    PS- did you torture yourself and watch rumi’s video on the revolve clothing site? it’s one thing to read her annoying words but it’s a whole other level when you listen to her SPEAK….


    watch if you dare… but i gagged a little at a part i won’t spoil for you. brilliant. only not.

  30. Spengler says:

    I am male and I swear I drool over those platforms. Should I ever meet a girl wearing those beauties, I’d fall in love with her immediately! It’s so rare to meet girls that dress bravely. Almost every girl is so similar to other girls and this is not only boring but frankly depressing.
    So, the answer is:
    when you are obsessed with shoes/dresses and finally put them on, your’re doing it for yourself because that’s the only way to attract those people that like the same things you do.

  31. Nikki says:

    Can I just say, I dress for myself. I love tie-dye and clothing my mother is always insisting that I do not match. Which is totally fine, I normally don’t match. Also, I hate shoes. I’d rather be barefooted then have my feet cramped in some uncomfortable fashion shoes. In fact, I currently only own four pairs of shoes, which to me is one pair too many. I think people just need to break away from societies fucked up, “You have to wear this and be this to be like/loved/respected/ect. It’s truly fucked up, that everything is based around these materialistic values and perspectives, when really it should be about what surrounds us naturally and who we are as individuals, worldly. It makes me wonder, if people never invented clothing at all and just things to keep warm during cold months…. Would the world be better off? I think so.

    Anyways, sorry to rant on an old blog. =)

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