Who do you dress for? Your book club? Your crush? Your partner? Yourself? (Or, in my case, apparently either no one, or someone who’s just been released from a long captivity?)
Mindy Kaling — the writer, comedian, fashionista — got me wondering about one of life’s big questions the other day, when she shared her sartorial theories with interviewer Terry Gross on NPR.
“Men tend to not understand or like sequins very much,” she began. “Men don’t like the wedge shoe. Men don’t like the statement necklace or chunky, tribal jewelry. These are all the things, by the way, that I love, so the overlap in the Venn diagram of things that men hate for women to wear, and things that I love to wear, is almost full overlap . . . which is unfortunate for me.”
But, she added: “Like most women, I dress for other women.”
So true, I thought, but why? Is it because your friends will actually notice your outfit, while your partner might . . . not? Because you’ve already won over your spouse, and no one splits up over a pair of Uggs, no matter how wrong they are? Because all the style magazines tell you color blocking is in, and who are you to stand up to the fashion dictators?
It’s all of the above, says Mary Lou Andre, a Needham-based wardrobe consultant. But, she adds, dressing for the ladies doesn’t kick in right away. “It’s a middle-aged thing. When you’re in your 20s, you’re dressing for the bar scene, to meet a mate. But then you get over that, and you’re thinking about how to fit in at parent night, or at the soccer game.
“I’ve got my one outfit for a date night with my husband that seems not to happen,” she added. “And I’ve got my girlfriends’ night, my husband is home with the kids, he’s not even with me.”
And, as Kaling said: “I wear all of those things, because I like looking at it. It makes me feel happy and excited to wear it.”Beth Teitell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell.