Boys & Clothes

I just found this in my ‘Notes’ folder in my email (thanks to my phone, again). I wrote it a couple of months back, but found it today when looking for a note which contained some genuinely useful information. Since it actually made me laugh out loud, on the train (I should probably be embarrassed about that for a whole host of reasons), I thought I’d put it out here. Low-effort blogging is the way forward.

Here is something I don’t understand. Ask a friend, male or female, what they think of these trousers, or should you wear this dress or that dress, and you will probably get an opinion, expressed in complete sentences, and if you’re lucky it’ll be with reference to colours and lengths and cuts that suit your figure, and if you’ve chosen a less well-informed friend it’ll at least be something like ‘you look more grown-up in that’ or ‘perhaps it’d look better with your other shoes’. It doesn’t seem to affect the validity, informedness or accuracy of the verdict reached (if there’s an objective standard for these things) whether who you ask is a man or a woman; you’re equally likely or unlikely to get something reasonable out of either gender.

And then you go and make the mistake of sleeping with one of them. Men, that is; I can’t speak for women – and suddenly questions about clothing choices are met with staggering, pre-verbal nonsense. It’s as if the moment a bloke has seen you in your knickers he’s no longer capable of formulating a sentence longer than three monosyllabic words or, at worst, merely ‘boobs’.

And yet were you, say, his housemate, it’d be all ‘oh isn’t that a bit Lanvin circa 1995’ or ‘that would look great with the leather jacket you were wearing the other day’. Furthermore said men seem still able to have conversations with one about, say, Afghanistan, or Harry Potter, or cookery – so it’s not as if I’m some mythical monster who lobotomises her victims in their sleep or, worse, during sex, so that they turn into gibbering, sex-crazed pubescent imbeciles. If I was I’d either have sex a lot more often (assuming that if I was such a mythical creature I would have a completely different/nonexistent moral code) or never (assuming that, being me, a reasonably normal human being, I don’t actually want to lobotomise the men I sleep with).

So I have to conclude it’s partly a show. Men a) wish to flatter their woman by being attracted to her, b) wish to make it known that she should be either naked or dressed like a Bond girl at all times, and c) can’t possibly appear so unmanly as to have Opinions About Clothes in front of the girl they fancy.

In all fairness, it is kind of flattering for the question ‘what should I wear?’ to be met with a cheeky boyish grin and a hesitant ‘that one… Because… Tighter?’ But equally, you’re seeing me get dressed. You’re best placed to have an actually useful opinion. And you have put clothes on before. Would, say, conjunctions, nouns like ‘shoes’ or words for colours really be pushing it that much?!



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11 responses to “Boys & Clothes

  1. Dickie

    “Ask a friend, male or female, what they think of these trousers, or should you wear this dress or that dress, and you will probably get an opinion”

    Not if you asked me! Not because of not wanting to appear to have an opinion; mostly because I generally really don’t have an opinion on clothes (because imo fashion etc is REALLY TEDIOUS). And if I do, who cares? Because why should my opinion matter if someone wants to wear particular clothes?

    So, yeah, it might not just be a show. Although I get the feeling this may be more specific…

  2. Jenny

    The sample size *is* >1, I promise. But not by much – I don’t think Ben Goldacre would approve of this study. Probably a little more than he does of Gillian McKeith, but only just.

    Also I think men – and women – who genuinely don’t care or notice clothes on other people are really very rare. I’m sure that despite what you say you’re able to see that this or that dress that a friend is wearing looks really pretty on her and that she looks more attractive in it than she does in, say, a hoodie and trackie bottoms. Or that your male friends tended to look a lot better all suited and booted for Event X than they normally do in jeans and nondescript blue t-shirts. I think appearance says quite a lot about a person in a number of ways. Clothes aren’t simply a statement of caring what other people with and desiring to go with or against the herd. They say all kinds of things well beyond that and to be honest I think these are cues that we pick up and work on far more often than you realise. And that’s one of the many reasons why I find fashion interesting.

    I might try and write a (serious) blog about clothes at some point. Not in terms of ‘here are some pictures from Paris Fashion Week’, but actually what I think about why we wear what we wear and what we mean to convey and what we really convey and so on.

  3. Doesn’t this somewhat imply that you only turn men into gibbering wrecks AFTER you’ve slept with them? Were they not trying to impress beforehand?

  4. ukmikel

    I have to say that in the main I’m with Dickie on this in that clothes are useful, if only to stop you repeatedly getting arrested a la naked rambler style. Well, that and protecting the innocent from having to view my carcase in all its glory <>. My criteria for clothes is that they fit and are comfortable above all else, if they vaguely co-ordinate, colour/style etc then thats a big bonus. Maybe its a guy thing, I dont know, it’s certainly a me thing. I think I own two pairs of servicable shoes and one pair of trainers and typically will recycle about 6 shirts and two pairs of trousers week in week out. I do own one suit for weddings and funerals and one “black tie” outfit, worn 4 times.

    Having said that if I am asked my opinion on something “dress” related then I will give an honest opinion, despite the dangers to my person. If I am asked “does my bum look big in this” and it does I will say it does, in a nice way – if thats at all possible. If you don’t want the truth, don’t ask! Equally if something looks or makes someone look amazing I will also say so.

    A long way of saying clothes are not that important to me but I will give an honest opinion if asked.

  5. Lucy

    Maybe because their automatic response whatever the item of clothing is, “You look better naked”. I could ask J to confirm this, but I think I know what the answer’d be.

    I too am intrigued as to the specifics, although it’s none of my damn business and the chances of me knowing the guys involved are really very slim!

  6. @Dom – I think we should be fair to men here. You know I’m a hideously hypocritical and capricious person, for a start, and to be honest, most of us are. ‘Better…because. Boobies?’ is not an endearing or flattering response on outfit choices from a man who hasn’t seen the goods; frankly, it’s surely terrifying, however true? So perhaps it’s not fair of me to complain about boobzombieism (Sorry I just thought of that word and I HAD to use it) when clearly it works almost as much the other way round?

    @Lucy – haha, yes. Still, it’s terribly confidence-boosting, isn’t it. Even if it isn’t in the least bit helpful when you’re actually trying to put some clothes on in order to go to a specific occasion where nudity probably isn’t quite the thing.

    As for specifics, well, that would be telling. This note isn’t spectacularly recent, nor does it refer to just one specific event, or one specific man!

    Oh god it sounds more and more like I’ve actually slept with half the city. I *really* haven’t.

  7. Antony

    Roflcopter lolosaurus. This is quite funny.

    Two facets to this. First up is men just don’t care about clothes. They’re something we wear and usually we only pay attention to them if we think they increase our chances of getting laid. Thus, “you look better naked” roughly translates to “let’s do it again and stop asking me about your clothes, I really don’t care”.

    The other facet is that people are usually quite coy about asking for what they want in bed. It takes a good relationship to start saying “can we try this?” and then “no honestly, that doesn’t work for me” or “that’s really uncomfortable” or “I really want to wear x this time” or whatever. I think that extends to men and their girlfriend’s clothes. Mostly, I actually do have an opinion, within the obvious caveat of it not being what I’d consider a high priority issue. I’ve seen stuff my exes have worn and thought “that’s hideous”. However, said opinion is a view into who I am and what I like and don’t like, how I think etc and it takes a level of relationshipness before I start sharing bits of that.

  8. Dickie

    “First up is men just don’t care about clothes”

    Holy gross generalisation, Batman!

  9. Jenny

    I suppose so, Antony – although, yes, holy gross generalisation, as Dickie said!! But yeah. And then they just go for the typical male get-out, because being silly and immature will get you out of any conversation you don’t want to have without making you seem like a dick (or even as if you have it in you to be a dick because you’re frankly just way too cute).

    Being a bloke must be great sometimes.

    WOW I sound bitter. I don’t mean to sound bitter. I think it’s cute. I like men. Men are cute. And I like clothes. And nakedness. I LIKE A LOT OF THINGS IT’S ALL OK, ALRIGHT?


  10. Antony

    Ok ok maybe what I meant to say is what I feel, namely that whilst I do like to wear some nice clothes (suits have to be snazzy) my day-to-day wear isn’t something I consider massively important. Or rather, given all the things I have to worry about at any given time, clothes never really registers high up there. I may be alone in this. I may not. I suspect I am not.

    Being a bloke is great most of the time.

  11. Lucy

    “However, said opinion is a view into who I am and what I like and don’t like, how I think etc and it takes a level of relationshipness before I start sharing bits of that.”

    Interesting take. And you see to me, that implies that at some level you do see clothes as important. Or maybe you just perceive that they’re more important to the girl in question. Or maybe… OK, time to stop overanalysing.

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