Last Saturday, I was trying to pick an outfit for a wedding reception and my husband kindly helped me choose a pretty dress. As stylish as it looked, I refused to wear it because, in my opinion, it was too cheap to be worn to a posh party. His response; “Who will know it’s cheap? Maybe your fellow girls though”. It was funny when he said it, but it got me thinking. It is a general assumption that the average “Naija” woman or any other woman in the world loves to dress well and look good sometimes to the detriment of her pocket or the pocket of the person paying for the items. Is this assumption also true for the men? Whoever coined the saying “looking good is good business” was not lying. I don’t know about you but I definitely love to wear classy outfits and stylish accessories. However, a dilemma comes with our quest to look tasteful.
Do we dress to please ourselves, the opposite sex, the same sex or even our Creator? Do we dress for our colleagues, superiors or religious leaders? It is easy enough to say we are dressing to please ourselves but is that genuinely the case? In actual fact, if I wanted to dress to please myself, I would appear in leggings and a tank top every other day. I love my comfort but I love my job too. Religion, society and so many other factors dictate otherwise, hence we cannot always dress to please ourselves.
I have seen a couple of ‘Hijab sisters’ within the confines of their homes and I’m glad to tell you that I have been pleasantly surprised each time. Their husbands are not missing a thing! Whilst they fulfill a religious obligation, beneath those veils are stylish and trendy pieces of clothing. I am sure about some of the clothes some of us wear to certain events that our pastors and imams would not be thrilled to see us in. Who are we dressed to please?
From the little I know about men, I would say they are not really attracted to clothes or accessories but the manner in which they suit the wearer, essentially the physique, the personality, carriage, neatness etc. How many men would recognize a pack of expensive Peruvian hair even if smacked them in the face? More often than not, when a man says your hair is nice it is not because you spent a whopping 500 dollars to import the hair. He either means it as a pick-up line because he likes what he sees or the hair suits you beautifully. If he says likes your skirt, trust me, he’s probably checking out your booty or your legs. When a woman says she likes your hair, she will perhaps go on to ask for the contact details of your hairdresser or the cost of the hair extensions.
I also know that we women like to outdo each other. I’m not sure of the reason for this. Most times, there is an unspoken competition. Whose heels are higher, whose clothes are more expensive, whose dress is from the high street and whose dress is from a top designer. Ask a man and a woman to describe the same lady on the same day in the same outfit. You are likely to get answers similar to the following: Man: She’s tall and fair-skinned, with long hair and wearing a black dress. Woman: She’s a bit fairer than I am. She’s wearing stilettos, 16-18” Brazilian weave and a black H & M Peplum dress. I think she’s “toning” her skin. Same woman, different judgments.
Let us consider the men. Do they also like to outdo each other? In my opinion, they are more practical in their dressing than the women. Men usually dress for convenience and comfort, except for the few I’ve seen who wear blazers so tight they cannot shake hands properly and trousers so tight they cannot walk straight. I like it when men subtly coordinate their colours well. When I say colours, I mean simple straight-forward colours – not Teal, Fuschia or Sage. For men, one item is usually enough to make a statement. It could be the watch, the shoes or the tie. Though, the effort to look dapper might sometimes be sniggered at by their fellow men and labeled as frivolity, it is most times admired and appreciated by the women-folk. Should we, then, believe that the guys dress to make an impression on the girls?
Most times when we start to get dressed we have a look we want to achieve. A look we have seen and we admire or a look we have imagined and desire. The purpose should also dictate our selection of clothes. No matter how expensive a pair of cycling shorts to the office would not make any sense! These days fashion is becoming more and more provocative, bringing a lot of attention, sometimes negative, to the wearer. Regardless of whom we dress to please, let us aim for one thing –RESPECT.
Photo Credit: clairenadine.com
Yinka Ademola is an aspiring author, a PR person, wife and mother-to-be who likes to express herself by writing her thoughts and observations of all sorts, and by cooking! Passionate about transforming Nigeria, she is greatly inspired by its sights and sounds. Find more of her thoughts on Twitter @layinx.