Do Women Dress for Men or Other Women?

betsey johnson quote

One of the much-debated questions throughout history has been “Who are women dressing for?” Ok, so maybe it’s not the most debated question throughout history, but it does come up often in magazines, on radio shows and now on this little blog. As a woman who enjoys fashion, shopping and getting dressed each day, I have mixed feelings on the topic. Some say that us women dress for other women, while some say we dress for men. Let’s explore both sides.

Women dressing for other women

I think that this can go one of two ways. The first way is that women dress for other women in a positive way. Meaning we wear what’s in style- what’s all over the best fashion blogs, what Glamour tells us to wear, and what trends our peers and celebrities are wearing. We all want to be accepted, complimented and not to stick out like a sore thumb, so dressing to be in common with other women is a somewhat true concept.

Then there comes women dressing for women in a negative way- as in competition. I definitely know women who will try to “out-do” one another to see who can wear the brightest color, the tightest dress, the highest heels, etc. I think that most women don’t do this, but there are always the exceptions to the rule. It’s important to not assume that just because a woman is dressing sexy, wearing a bold color, or looks extra-fancy at a casual dinner that she isn’t necessarily dressing to look better than other women. She probably just wants to look good for herself. Don’t be hating!

Women dressing for men

This also makes sense. I know a lot of single girls who will wear a dress on a Friday night instead of jeans and a tee like the rest of us wifed-up girls to make an impression on a potential new suitor- and that’s perfectly understandable! Women will peruse through old issues of Cosmo to re-read the latest poll about what style of pants guys find “hot” (the answer “no pants” would probably be the winner). In my opinion, guys rarely care that much what we wear. Yes, they notice when we wear that special form-fitting dress for our anniversary dinner, but they also think that our collection of 10 striped shirts are all the same (they’re not- each one is different!)

Then there’s who I dress for. Myself.

Sure, sometimes I will dress up for my boyfriend. Why do you think I wear his favorite team’s shirt when we are in public? And I also definitely dress up for girls, too. I mean I post outfit photos of my style on a blog where other women comment on my fashion, so I can’t argue with that fact. But at the end of the day, I dress in clothing that I like. I wear jeans that flatter my shape, dresses that make me feel happy and if I want to wear a low-cut shirt out on a Saturday night, I will. And I shouldn’t be judged for it.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you think most women dress for other women or for men? Who do you dress for?Ā 

58 Comments

  1. Honestly, I think I mostly dress for myself, I hate to sound selfish but whenim shopping the only person on my mind is myself. If I do wear an outfit that’s a tad more sexy that’s probably because I’m feeling more confident that day. And most of all I’m a moody dresser, so my outfit often match my mood. So if I’m not too happy, lets just say I will not be taking outfit pics for the blog. On that debate I will say it depends on the girl, altought I don’t think there’s anything wrong with dressing for your man šŸ˜‰

  2. I would say 90% of the time I dress for myself. I have to like the way I look for me to actually wear something, regardless of what trends dictate. The other 10% I probably dress for my husband. I know a couple of outfits he particularly likes, so if we’re going on a date I’ll pull one of those out.

  3. I used to dress for other people…. men or women, didn’t matter. I was very quiet and shy in high school, so when I went to college and got more confidence I completely dressed for ME! And I still dress for me. Some days my boyfriend loves it and other days he asks me what I was thinking, but I am almost ALWAYS confident in what I’m wearing and I think that confidence is what makes men like you (and what you’re wearing I guess) and women respect you! I am all about people dressing for themselves!

    1. haha that’s great! Sometimes guys don’t get the trends we wear and I’m ok with that. My bf doesn’t like short hair, red lipstick, etc. but I still wear the lipstick for myself!

  4. I pretty much dress for myself…an outfit I feel cute in always makes me feel good! If I’m going out on a date with my hubby, I do like to dress up but that’s more for me than him, haha.

  5. I think I dress for a mix of myself and the occasion. I always feel better when I look nice, but I agree it’s nice to hear you look nice too, especially when it’s from other fashionable friends.

  6. Wow, I’ve never actually thought about this. I’ve always thought I dress for myself, but I obviously want my husband to think I look nice and I supposed I do care what other women think to some degree.

  7. i dress for myself almost all of the time, but i can see how women would dress for other women instead of men, because they worry about what other women will think whereas men usually aren’t as fashion savvy! šŸ˜‰

  8. I think it’s a combo of all of these for me, although I’d say I primarily dress for myself. If I don’t like it or it’s not comfortable, I don’t wear it!

  9. Great thoughts!! Yep I am with you on all 3, but mostly I dress for me, a happy lady is a confident one šŸ™‚

  10. For me it’s a combo, I think. I feel like sometimes only other women can truly appreciate how awesome my outfit is.. men don’t get it. And of course I dress for my husband, he’s the only other person (besides myself) whose opinion matters to me. And I will always want him to find me attractive. But most nights I’m in my pjs by the time he gets home and no makeup and he still tells me he loves me, so in the end it doesn’t really matter. And most def I dress for myself! šŸ™‚

  11. I would say that I dress mainly for myself, and secondly for other women. I will rarely dress for men/my boyfriend, other than wearing something I know he particularly likes once in a while. Men just don’t appreciate/understand all the thought that goes into an outfit, or trying out the latest trend, etc. Also he doesn’t understand why I wont leave the house in sweats…so his opinion is immediately invalid lol.

    I will admit there have been times I’ve dressed in competition with other women (we are competitive creatures), but honestly, it doesn’t work unless you’re comfortable with what you’re wearing anyway. Karma! šŸ™‚

  12. Hmm, I think I dress mostly for myself, too, but sometimes I dress for other women or men. Honestly, I feel more confident when I know something fits me well or that I think I really look good in it – the other factors play into it a little bit, but it’s mainly for me šŸ™‚

  13. I’d like to think that I dress for myself. It does feel nice to be complimented on a particularly stylish outfit, so of course positive feedback from other women is a motivator for keeping my blog going. And most of my guy friends could care less what I wear; some have even admitted to thinking I was “high maintenance” before they got to know me. (For the record, I don’t think dressing nicely necessarily means that someone is high maintenance, and I’m not about to stop caring what I wear just to stop that assumption about me.) I consider fashion to be a hobby, and I’m not going to apologize to anyone for liking it!

    1. Very true- compliments from peers are the best and can “reaffirm” that we have good fashion taste. And that “high maintenance” part is so annoying, right?

  14. True! Gotta dress for you. I’m on board with this, and most of the time when I wear something, I wear it because I like it and think it’s interesting/fun/weird/cool/etc. šŸ™‚

  15. I definitely pick and choose who I’m dressing for, but I always choose myself first. I have this sexy dress that my boyfriend loves, but I never wear it because it makes me so uncomfortable. Sometimes I’ll dress up for him, but never at the cost of myself.

  16. This is so true. Girls dress for girls! I do at least…in fact, my last post I wore satin shorts that I LOVED and all my readers loved them. Yet, my boyfriend though they looked like boxers haha.

  17. It think there’s so much debate and question over the topic because the answer really is all of the above! We dress for different people depending on the social situation – that’s the beauty! Above all, it’s most important to dress for yourself – dress it what makes you feel like the best version of yourself; then you can never go wrong šŸ˜‰
    xo
    V

  18. I love this post, I dress for myself and the only way I dress for guys is if I wear their favorite colors!

  19. Truth be told, I’ve always dressed for myself, other girls that i used to be friends with never appreciated my style and then well there’s men that never really influenced me.

  20. I love this topic! I definitely dress for all 3, but for different occasions. I’d say I dress for myself about 95% of the time though! I dress with my boyfriend in mind sometimes, and occasionally for other women if I know I should make a positive impression and present myself well (“dress for the job you want, not the job you have” comes to mind). But ultimately I know what clothes I like and I love styling outfits, so I definitely dress for myself!

  21. ohh I love this question. I definitely dress for myself first. 80 men & women could say that I look great in something but if I don’t feel great I won’t be stepping out in it.
    I guess all in all after myself, I dress for other women. I want to feel good & I want to look hip. Dean definitely doesn’t care what I wear and there are quite a few trends I enjoy that Dean just hates. I’ll definitely dress up with him in mind if we are going on a nice date or something, but 9 times out of 10 I’m more worried about what other women in the room will be wearing and how I’ll fit in.

  22. I agree. I dress for me too! My husband doesn’t know what’s in! I wear what I think is cute and sometimes it is the same thing as my friends think is cute but overwhelmingly I’m dressing to feel good about myself. Yes, there are times if my husband and I are going out I will vamp it up to be a little sexy for him. Or even if I’m going out without him. It’s fun to feel sexy. But even if it’s for him it’s ultimately still for me because I wouldn’t ever wear anything I didn’t like.

    1. guys can be quite clueless, am I right!? And I’m totally all for dressing sexy at times- we are only going to look like this for so long (until we get old!)

  23. i think I do a little of each! i dress for myself first and what makes me happy and feel confident. i also dress for my husband because i want him to think i look pretty, and I also dress for other women and want to be accepted.

  24. I personally dress for myself. Expressing myself through style is something I’ve always loved doing, and if it happens to appeal to others, then that is cool. I think if I dressed for others I would be SO uncomfortable since it probably wouldn’t be my style/true self.

    Alyssa

  25. Hahaha that quote definitely made me laugh! I would say that I dress for myself, I wear what I like and sometimes don’t follow all the newest trends. I love the wear mint (even when it’s not in style) and own way too much of it, but I love it and I feel crazy happy when I wear it lol! Thanks so much for the compliment on our wedding photos, we had such a wonderful day I’m so happy to look back at the photos are relive those moments!

  26. I love this debate. I definitely dress for me, other women, and sometimes my husband (in that order). I feel like my husband would have me parading around in skin tight gross clothing if he had a choice… And he doesn’t lol! Most men don’t actually know what looks good so I don’t really trust their opinion.

  27. Wow, what an interesting post! I definitely dress for me, and I had to laugh when you mentioned about guys not really caring what you wear, because my other half came into the bedroom the other day while I was getting dressed and commented that “You look good! You should wear those pants more often!” when I was in tights with a pair of bike shorts over the top to hold them up. I hadn’t yet put on the skirt I was planning on wearing! Haha, it definitely opened my eyes to how little he knows about fashion. I gave myself a gentle reminder not to ask him what he thinks of an outfit ever again! xx

  28. I think there is a little bit of truth to all of these points. I like to think or believe that most women I know truly just dress for themselves or in clothing that they feel comfortable and confident in.

  29. Interesting. I think we all do a little of all three, but in general I would tend to believe (maybe I’m wrong!) that we dress for ourselves! Do I just put my viewpoint onto others? Haha not sure. Anyway, I don’t really follow trends, I just like what I like, so I definitely don’t dress for other women in the sense that I see what they’re wearing and dress like them (or for competition). But I DO have a need to be accepted. Wherein lies my point – I’ll put something on that I love, whether or not someone likes it, approves of it, hates it, thinks it’s ugly, etc., then get upset that people hate my outfit (but still not change). Haha

  30. I dress for the occasion. When I go to work, I mainly dress in what I know my boss likes and what my clients will respond to in terms of respect and professionalism. I am not wearing this blazer because of the weather, although it does make me look good which makes me happy. Then on weekends if I go out, I dress for my objective is that night: get a man’s attention, then tight skirts it is or to just go out with the girls, then pretty and pure dresses it is.

  31. When i dress, i only think about what other GIRLS will think of me, what they will think of my outfit, my style, my body, my hair and my make up. I can wear a tracksuit, hair in a bun and no make up and my partner will think i am at my most attractive point.

    When women have a man, they dress to impress other women.
    Single women on the otherhand, dress to attract the opposite sex and maybe impress other women

  32. I know women dress for men, but when I heard women dress for each other I honestly couldn’t believe it. I would rather to take care of my Heath other then to impress other women. I know how I look like and I love myself enough to the point I don’t care about what other people say.

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