Handling Different Tastes
Advice on What to Do When Your Significant Other Tells You What You Should (and Shouldn't) Wear
Dear April Masini,
My girlfriend and I have been dating for a few weeks now and we have different tastes. She is preppy, and I’m not. She wants to start picking out the clothes I wear to go out in -- which I don’t mind, but we often disagree with what I should wear because I didn’t put on a button-down shirt or cardigan sweater. She'll get disgusted and ask me to go take a nap to “calm down” during which time she’ll finalize the outfit. She says I’m better to be around once I have taken a nap and look appropriate once I am in the outfit that she laid out. She ends up complimenting me while she buttons up the sweater on me. What can I do for a possible compromise?"
Dressed To Kill
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Dressed To Kill,
Most men and women in a relationship have differences with their partners. The trick is to have flexibility that goes with those differences! That the two of you have different styles is normal. Lots of women wish that their men would dress differently or better. So you’re not alone in your date wanting you to dress differently. And most men don’t like it when their women try to improve on their styles. So you’re completely normal in your reaction.
What concerns me is that you’ve only been dating a few weeks and she’s starting to dress you like she’s your mother – complete with telling you it’s naptime! Then she buttons your cardigan – is this sounding a little sick to anyone else besides me? I’m wondering what happens after you’ve been dating for three months. Is she going to sew your name into your underwear so you don’t lose it at the gym? Or will she move on to “renovate” other parts of your life, too? I mean, it’s pretty early for her to start being so aggressive in the “changing his looks” department.
Be Honest: Do You Need A Fashion Makeover?
And that’s where your behavior comes in. Take a good analytical look in the mirror and then in your closet, and be as objective as you can when you ask yourself the question, “Do I need a makeover?” Do you need a haircut? Do you need new clothes? Are you appropriately dressed for your dates? If you’re going to a restaurant where other patrons are wearing sport coats and ties, are you wearing a sport coat and a tie? If you’re going to a baseball game for your date, are you dressed like the other people in the stands? Are you even getting the dates you want?
I’m not suggesting you become a clone. You owe it to yourself and any woman you’re with to look your best. It’s a sign of respect for yourself, and for the person you’re dating, as well as the other people in your community. Uniqueness and individuality is great. Being a slob isn’t.
If you like the way you look and dress, then you should say no to your girlfriend of several weeks when she wants you to change your clothes before you go out on a date. If you’re wearing a tuxedo to go to a family picnic, then she’s right. You should change. If you’re wearing a pair of Speedos to go to dinner and a movie, then she’s right again and you should change your clothes. But if your styles are different, then she needs to find a way to accept you – or find someone else to date.
If you like the way she outfits you, but just don't like being told what to do -- then go on a shopping trip – either alone or together – and pick out some clothes that will give you a new look – and then you dress yourself before your dates. I would not allow her to dress you before a date. Number one, it’s insulting, and number two, it’s getting into a weird mother-child dynamic that isn’t going to allow you to be a man in the relationship.
If she tells you to take a nap to “calm down” after she’s decided to change your clothes, don’t do it. Tell her that you’re angry for a good reason. You don’t want to be told that you’re not appropriately dressed. You are willing to discuss and change some of your ways, but not by being told to take a nap. You will have coffee with her and have an adult discussion about your differences, your similarities, and the ways that compromise can be reached.
And if you can get that far, compromises are the currency of relationships. Some of the ways you can strike a deal or two that might become a win-win situation are:
Ask her to give you three things she’d like you to change and you give her three things you’d like her to change. Each one of you agrees to one change each.
Have an out and out preppy dress date where you both pull out the alligator clothing and the argyle sweaters and then the next time you go out, have a date where you call the dress code for the evening, and you both dress accordingly.
You adopt her preferred style of dress and in exchange, allow her to honor something you want – that has nothing to do with clothing. This could be sexual; it could be agreeing to let you pick the places you go on your dates; it could be that you get to pick the movies you see on your dates and she gets to pick your clothing, etc.