Do women really dress for men?

by Kimaya Singh


In November last year, The Huffington Post published an article listing “23 Trends Guys Hate (But Women Love).” These trends ranged from shoulder pads to high-waisted shorts and bright lipsticks to platform sneakers.


Sure enough, most of the trends listed in the article are adopted by several Chapman students. In fact, it would be almost impossible to stroll around campus, or even just through the Piazza, without spotting a student donning one of the trends.


However, instead of just being a frivolous list, the article raises an important question – who do women dress for?


There are three basic responses to the question: for men, for women, or for themselves. And while both women and men have strong opinions regarding each of the options, it is vital to recognize that neither one of the responses is applicable to all women.


Until recently, many believed that women dressed solely for the pleasure and attention of the opposite sex. Scientists tested this and came up with conclusions about how women wore the color red to attract men, how stiletto heels elongated legs to become more visually appealing, and how long hair is proven to be more attractive to men.


However, if women truly did dress for men, why is there an abundance of trends that women love but men don’t? If, generally speaking, men don’t like high-waisted shorts and bright lipsticks, why do women still wear them?


One theory is that women dress for other women. While considering this, Sadie Reeves, senior public relations and advertising major, said that she believes “we dress up for our girlfriends, not our boyfriends.”


This sort of attitude seems to be becoming the dominant perception when it comes to women on college campuses. Sarah Hilecher, junior IES major, believes that “the way a woman dresses depends on the woman and what her intentions are.”


Hilecher acknowledges that the majority of the time, women dress for the attention of men or for their own comfort. However, she also pointed out that “women can be more judgmental than men when it comes to the way someone dresses. As unfortunate as it is, women can sometimes make judgments about you based on what you wear.”


This idea then, supports the theory that women dress for other women. Instead of seeking compliments from men, women are actually seeking genuine appreciation from other women who value and understand the process of choosing what to wear.


Moreover, Hilecher believes her style is unique and not necessarily pleasing to most men. Because of this, she stated that she dresses based first on what she feels comfortable in, but also “based on what other women would compliment or critique.”


The recurring problem with both these options is that they are far too generalized. Not all men have the same opinion on the color red, high heels, or long hair. Similarly, not all women think platform sneakers and shoulder pads are trendy.


Because of this, whether women dress for men, for other women, or for themselves is largely a question of personal opinion and it would be wrong to make a general statement about either of the three positions.


However, it is pretty safe to say that out of the three, women dressing solely for men seems the most unlikely.


Best put by American fashion designer Betsey Johnson, “girls do not dress for boys. They dress for themselves and, of course, each other. If girls dressed for boys, they’d just walk around naked at all times.”

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