A Reflective Essay: Dressing for Yourself and Ignoring the Rest

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I have a very strong feeling that I’m not the only woman who often feels the pressure to dress for others’ satisfaction over her own when getting ready in the morning. Every time I’m standing in my closet, staring up at the sea of unsatisfactory clothing choices that I either dub “work clothing” or “fancy stuff,” I unfortunately tend to catch myself debating between those options and the clothes in my dresser that I actually want to wear. Sadly, I almost always end up choosing the outfit that satisfies those around me more than myself because part of my job every day requires that I not only act the part of assistant manager but also look the part. This means that I usually have to cast aside my preferred tomboy/California style to dress in a way that may look pretty and put together but doesn’t truly satisfy my needs – a.k.a. conservative dresses, constrictive blazers, and blister-inducing shoes.

A similar internal debate occurs every time I’m standing in my closet and trying to decide what to wear for a night out with friends, especially when there will be males in the mix. However, I’m happy to admit that the usual loss of my personal style preferences to the choices necessary for my career’s success rarely occurs in this situation. While most women tend to give in to wearing what they perceive as the “male-preferred” outfit over their own style preferences, I’m proud to say that I usually take the more selfish road and wear what makes ME happy. Ladies, take my advice and dress for yourselves instead of the drunken guys at the bar who will most likely end up spilling their whiskey cokes all over the uncomfortable and tight-fitting dress that you bought specifically to please the idiots (sorry guys).

Whenever we aren’t dressing for our co-workers or the opposite sex, there is a very good chance that we are still forgoing our personal needs and instead dressing for the same sex. This is almost always done in effort to boost our own self-confidence and induce jealously from our peers, whom we are in constant comparison with. I hate that such competition occurs among women, especially in this age of bullying, eating disorders, and overall self-esteem issues. We should be each other’s support systems and rocks, but instead, we are the ones bringing each other down some of the darkest roads that are sometimes impossible to turn around on. I wish that getting dressed for our peers were more for fun and expression versus what it’s for today – a platform for comparison and competition.

Throughout my years in college, I learned that getting dressed every morning was not only to impress others and serve my basic needs, but it’s also for fun and my own happiness. I realized what my true personal style was after being free of the restrictive dress codes and stereotypes that I had to follow before I left for college. When I started dressing in a way made me not only comfortable but also fit my mood at the time, I discovered that expressing my personal style played a major part in my overall happiness. Every now and then, I WILL happily put on high heels and a form-fitting dress, but only because that particular outfit reflects how I feel at the time and not because I think it’s what the visually impaired guys at the bar or overbearing boss would like me in.

Now, I don’t write about all of this for any particular feminist-fueled reasons, but I simply want us all to realize how important it is to do things in our lives for ourselves…and it is DEFINITELY okay to be a little selfish when it comes to choosing what to wear (as long as it’s appropriate). By choosing an outfit every day based on your mood and what makes YOU happy and comfortable, you are being yourself… which is the key to happiness. If you begin the day by wearing something that is uncomfortable, restrictive, and reflective of everything but your personal style, then that dissatisfaction will only linger with you for the rest of the day. I understand that we all have situations when dressing completely for our own satisfaction isn’t the best option, but there is always place for compromise. Whether it’s by adding a small touch of personal style to your work uniform or by simply changing into what you would’ve liked to wear from the uncomfortable outfit you couldn’t forgo as soon as you get home, there is always a way to dress for yourself.

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XOXO- Happy Monday Peeps

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