Carly, the Perpetual Girlfriend, shares relationship advice from a ‘serious girlfriend’ with ten years — and some serious oversights — under her belt.
Sulking in the rottening aftermath of fashion week, and since my boyfriend just spat a line that went something like “You’re gonna hate this, but…”, and proceeded to pull out his pair of Crocs to take the dog for a walk, it’s time to talk about fashion in relationships.
How Big of a Deal is it Anyway?
Big. Huge. To me, anyway. There are certain items that I absolutely despise on all people that become all the more of an eye sore when worn by the person I’m with. It’s a well known fact that your style reflects on the people around you. Just like when your parents came to pick you up at school wearing watermelon-print spandex and you wanted to die a Shakespearean tragedy death. Windbreakers, bright plaid shirts, anything camouflage. I. Just. Can’t. There is actually a moment when I can physically feel myself falling out of love when my partner commits one of these fashion faux pas.
My ex-boyfriend was a perfect canvas for the adorable hipster boy I always wanted to date. He was super skinny and had pretty, long hair and a chiseled jawline. But when I first met him, he was sporting double thick Abercrombie popped collars and New Balance sneakers. I changed that. And quick. It was easy! I bought him clothes for Valentine’s day and any other holiday I could think of, and pretty soon he was rocking black Calvin Klein boxer briefs and we could share panties if necessary. I once caught him wearing a pair of my jeans, but let’s not go there right now.
Over time, I managed to sartorially sculpt him into a man of style, but he held onto some of his conservative values no matter how hard I pushed. For example, he didn’t want to join the rest of Williamsburg in exposing his patchy chest hair in a deep V neck. And to my horrible, crushing disappointment, he resisted my suggestion of purchasing a pair of swim trunks that swam high above his knee caps. In fact, he was so against this Euro-mankini, which was so sexy and awesome on him, that he actually bolted away from me while we were shopping for it. After he went for a refreshing sprint around downtown, he ended up buying it, and humoring me by wearing it in Thailand. But never in the US of A. That’s called compromise, guys.
And that’s exactly what it comes down to, as all issues in relationships seem to. Just meeting in the middle. Cheers to you if you happen to snag a dude who is just like, ‘Dress me, Veronica,’ but if your guy has an actual stance on what he wears, ease him into trying new things. Like how you trick your friends into eating chicken feet at Dim Sum.
The Slutty Black Dress
Just as much as women care about how our S.O.’s are presenting themselves to the world, in my experience, men do too, albeit in a different sense. Behold the power and downfall of the SBD. There are dresses, that are basically, just you, naked, with the illusion of fabric happening, and some guys aren’t hip to the trends. It’s a tricky situation, given that you want to look hot for them, but they might not want you to look hot for others. When my boyfriend recently alluded to the fact that everyone was going to stare at my boobs (it’s not my fault they are so magnificent), I launched into a feminist rant and accused him of body shaming me. But is it really so different from when I hide his trucker hat and refuse to reveal the location?
Yes, I think so. I basically just spent 5 weeks in the suburbs, otherwise known as The Hamptons, schlumping around barefoot with no pants on. So one night as my return to the city approached, I decided to see if I still had it. I put on a crop top that is quite fitted, but a turtleneck, mind you, and a flowy skirt to even it out. If there’s anything I’ve learned about being slutty, it’s letting one body part be the star each night. But when I entered the room he just stared at my breasts with ogre eyes.
I get it. Dudes are from DudeLand and women are from the SmartPlace, where they teach you how to talk words and stuff, and I’ve known this ever since I could read and saw my mom’s copy of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, though I distinctly remember disliking that the Ladies House rhymed with penis. But I was still upset. Because instead of complimenting how awesome my boobs looked and that he was eternally grateful that he alone got to enjoy them being naked, he was just like, ‘Your boobs look gigantic.’ Hi, everyone! Never tell a woman that any part of her body is gigantic. Unless you’re talking about her brain.
Probably the worst thing ever is all those times you read something in a shitty women’s magazine like He loves it when I wear jeans and a t-shirt, with no makeup. Thanks guys, that is called, love. But if you get dressed up to go out to dinner with your boyfriend, it is absolutely necessary for him to appreciate that. Even if he doesn’t understand crop tops. Even if he is like, ‘Holy shit, is someone going to challenge me in a duel for this woman looking so dangerous?’ Being afraid of how hot you look and trying to make you self-conscious about your hotness is never, ever okay. And disliking a piece of clothing because of how it makes a woman’s body look is not the same as hating paisley. And that’s not ok either. It’s old fashioned and totally anti-cool in my book.
In other words, people of the place that curiously does not rhyme with penis; please, please, do not comment on our bodies/looks/clothes unless you have something nice to say. You know what to do if you don’t.
Fashion in relationships doesn’t have to be hard. It should fall somewhere nearer to the awesome parts of being with someone, like, say, the pleasures of sex. Shopping, dressing, looking sexy in something, undressing, it can all be part of a cool thing that you share. It should be fun.
Carly Pifer is a self-proclaimed relationship expert, a title which she credits her uncanny hankering for marathon dating. Though she has traded partners a few times, she’s stayed married to her problems and interest in exploration on the subject. When she’s not writing about sex and relationships, she writes about fashion, travel and whatever else holds her fancy, though curiously, very little rivals her fixation on the male species.