"Trends men love" part of patriarchal problem
I’ve been told men like confidence. I’ve been told men don’t notice what you do with your hair or if you change your lipstick color. But in the past few years, there have been numerous articles telling me what fashion trends men hate.
Last year The Huffington Post published a list of 23 trends that guys apparently hate, including everything from peplum tops, which it compares to maternity wear, to bright lipstick that might leave a mark. This is just one of many similar lists across many sites.
So should I ignore these articles because, in my experience, men don’t even see changes in my appearance? Or should I just not care what men think because I’m better off feeling confident than dressing for a man? These articles are creating an unrealistic double standard for all women, and their authors assume that we only want to try to meet men’s standards.
We already live in a patriarchal society. Essentially men already run everything, providing the majority of the leadership in most parts of life. We don’t need them in our closets, too.
To assume that articles like this do any good means to believe that men’s opinions on what women wear should be taken seriously. I wax my eyebrows, regularly shave my legs, wear makeup and wear clothing that I carefully pick out, but I’m not doing that for any man.
I’m doing it for myself.
If The Huffington Post tells me that men hate shoulder pads, but I love them, I’m not going to throw out all of my clothing with shoulder pads.
The authors of these articles are fundamentally misunderstanding something: I don’t get dressed for men. Many other women don’t either. I wear what I think is appropriate for the occasion and what I think is cute or particularly flattering for my body shape. This can be different for every single woman.
I sometimes dress for confidence, sometimes for comfort, depending on the day and my mood. I have even dressed to impress other women. Sometimes I do it for compliments, but most of the time, it’s because I’ve noticed that other women can appreciate a well-put-together outfit.
Sure, I’ll dress up for a date, or wear something I feel good in if I know I’m going to see a guy I have a crush on that day. But that’s for me. It makes me comfortable and I know I will be more confident around that person.
Besides, who would want to date someone who wants to control something as personal and as expressive as another person’s wardrobe?
We already live in a society where men rule; I don’t want them taking away women’s identities as well. Because that’s what our clothing does: It acts as a representation of us. Clothing helps us to define how we identify and present ourselves to the public. I don’t want that identity to be whittled down to just “eye candy” for men. Because despite what these publishers seem to think about women, my sole goal in life is not to attract a man.
Our wardrobes can be as diverse as we are. Your fashion sense is your own and develops over the course of your life.
There is nothing wrong with trends as long as you feel comfortable in them, and they are appropriate for the occasion. I mean, I’m not going to wear a beanie to a job interview. Nor am I going to take these articles seriously. These articles, apparently about those who like to comment negatively on what we wear, are not worth our time.
— Maura Higgs is a neuroscience and cognitive science sophomore. Follow her @maurahiggs