“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?