“You’re wearing that?

If you’ve ever dated (or married) a socially conservative guy, you may have had to answer this question once or twice over the course of your relationship. You look down at your outfit–a skirt, a blouse, four-inch heels. No big. You lift your foot and adjust a shoe’s strap on your ankle. You do this for effect only–to accentuate your gams, which look exceptional in this skirt. You’re proud of yourself, of the wide belt over the low-cut blouse that cinches your waist, of the hourglass figure it creates. And when you walk closer to your man, you do so with a bit of come-hither in your gait, before leveling a steely gaze at him.

“YES,” you answer.

It’s probably the wrong response. You know that his occasional aversion to the shorter, skimpier pieces in your wardrobe comes with the territory. This is the man you’ve chosen. This is one of his (few) issues. And to be at peace with him, you’ll have to accept it. But every once in a while, when you stand at your closet and gaze longingly at a former favorite, you think you can change his mind. Like, has he seen you in this minidress?

“No.” He firmly shakes his head. “You’re not wearing that.”

And there’s the needle-scratch. Did you hear right? Because it sounded like he might’ve had the audacity to forbid you to wear this fly ensemble you spent a half-hour hooking all the way up.

Just like that, you’re at a crossroad. It’s one thing for him to voice concern in a hypothetical way. You’re walking through a store and he lifts a garment on a hanger, asking, “Would you wear this? This is a bit too stripper-adjacent for my taste.” Or he looks at something in your closet like, “Could you not wear this when we go out? It would make me a bit uncomfortable.” It’s another thing entirely for him to call himself “putting his foot down.”

You’re grown. Feet don’t get “put down” on you.

At this point, you might be telling yourself you’d never date a guy who had an issue with what you wear. Maybe a man having any say in your wardrobe is a dealbreaker. You dress you–for you, not for him. But the fact is: most of the time, the issue isn’t raised often enough for it to be a dealbreaker. Sometimes, there’s just those one or two occasions a year where you want to wear something that’ll make you center of attention and your man would rather you didn’t.

In one of my favorite posts from writer Aliya S. King’s personal blog, “Is My Husband the Boss of Me?” she discusses this very issue. She wants to look “hot” at her husband’s high school reunion, so she pushes the envelope on her outfit. She knows she’s being a bit risque, but she goes forward anyway, which results in a major debate over how much right he has to influence what she wears:

I love that outfit. I feel good in it. And I want to wear it again.

[He] wants me to take it back to the store.


I’m not sure how I feel about my husband dictating what I can and cannot wear.

On the one hand, he’s my husband and the head of my household. If something makes him uncomfortable, I want to respect that.

On the other hand, I’m grown. Full stop.

King’s piece is really worth reading in its entirety. It speaks to the nuance of this debate. Her husband later amended his initial protest, stating that the outfit would be fine for “the right occasion”; his high school reunion just wasn’t it. Commenters tended to agree that conditional protest–that is, protest contingent on the even where the outfit’s worn–is different and easier to engage than that hit you with a club/caveman, “You mine! And no woman of mine…” absolute protest.

What do you think? Are there specific circumstances under which your significant other should be allowed to veto your sartorial choices? Have you ever had had to lock horns with your guy over clothes? If so, what was the outcome? 

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  • pink

    @work_bored: I’m suspect of a man that pays TOO MUCH attention to a woman’s jeans, shoes, clothes….period

  • DBG

    All I can say is that if she can’t consider a constructive criticism, then she also can’t comment on my wardrobe…. which ultimately means we’re probably better single than together until we find s/o’s who are less inconsiderate of their mate. There’s constructive criticism, then there’s controlling… too many women seem to consider them one in the same for reason. Unfortunately, some women think they got it going on, but everyone else sees a clown. Do you, right? (shrug)

  • Change

    as long as he’s paying for it

    • LemonNLime


      If he isn’t footing the bill, I suggest he shut up!

  • Stanley

    OK! I see.

  • Dalili

    I don’t mind him opining or making suggestions(I would never have given jeans a try), however I draw the line at him insisting or asking me to actually change my outfit…um, no! It wouldn’t matter if he did buy the replacement garb. We learned to laugh at some of my fashion choices, which can sometimes be hippiemeetskenyanchic…lol, but he lets me be.

    • Sissy!!!

      Hey! You don’t wear jeans?! What do you wear oo?

    • Dalili

      Hey Babe!!!

      I do now but rarely! I much prefer dresses and skirts. Jeans are a nightmare to shop for plus am short (5/3) so they are either pooling at my feet (I don’t do 4+ inch heels as much as I used to lol) or the petites are too short….lol….dresses are so easy; nice wrap dress, heels…done.

      I’ve always been into dresses made from African print material…..like those Frank Osodi did for 2012 fashion week…..

      I see you are quite the fashionista, jump suits and all. :-)

    • Dalili

      Hey Baby Girl!!

      I responded earlier, but it didn’t post…it may however I didn’t want to take the chance of you thinking I was igging you….

      (Oh, Clutch, how I love thee but detest the new comment posting delays or disappearances….lol!)

      I do wear jeans, but rarely. They are a pain to shop. I’m short (5/3) so they end up pooling at my feet(I don’t wear 4inch + heels as often as I used to) or the petites are too short. I’d much rather dresses and skirts. Those are simple: nice wrap or sheath dress, heels, some accessories and am all set.

      I’m into dresses made from African print material, like Frank Osodi’s collection from the Nigeria 2012 fashion week….divine!!

      I gather you are quite the fashionista with jump suits and all…..alright now Baby Sis…do ya thing! :-)