Do you remember, as a teenager, stepping out the door in a rush to hang out with friends and then hearing your mother’s voice, “Stop right there, young lady! Are you seriously thinking of going out wearing that?” You’d resentfully change outfits, wishing the years would pass at lightning speed so you reach legal age; then, no one can tell you what to wear. Now, you find yourself missing that voice that helped you rethink your attire. People seem to misread who you are based on what you’re wearing. How do you narrow the gap between the image you’re trying to project and what others perceive? When in doubt, it’s best to tone down the revealing style . Here are 6 reasons why.
1. You avoid unwelcome attention and dangerous encounters.
Some college girls on online forums insist, “I’m free to wear what I feel like wearing. It’s my body, it’s my life, and it’s nobody’s business.” If you think this way, you are revealing a lack of broader awareness.
Every day, you move in confined spaces with various “captive audiences,” in class, at work, in the bus, the tube, the lift, or the bar. In these spaces, people have little choice but to look at you and what you’re wearing. Some react by ogling, sneering, or throwing disapproving glances. Are you ready for such reactions? Be aware too of how a man’s brain is wired differently. Both genders think in streams of various subjects but unlike women, men tend to focus often and intermittently on physical stuff (and I don’t mean sports.) The smallest unrelated sight or gesture can bring up vivid images and sensations. Are you aware of the effect your clothes are having?
On the other side of the equation, men who conclude they know where a woman is coming from based on what they’re wearing are also revealing a similar lack of awareness.
It’s extremely hard for women to dress up confidently in a contemporary way when the fashion icons are limited to Hollywood, the cat walk, and reality TV ruled by 5 dark-haired siblings who often wear revealing clothes. Regular women face difficulties with showing up at work, in school, and performing different real-life roles wearing the “appropriate” attire. That means either corporate and conservative or sporty,quirky and edgy. But always, they’re expected to look nice and well-groomed simply because they’re female. No wonder some women just give up and choose to wear oversize shirts and slacks for life. Are you, men, ready to hold judgment and to see beyond the physical?
2. You project a neutral image and eliminate negative impressions.
Dress up with the occasion, the location, and other people in mind. Is it a job interview? Are you representing your organization, attending a parent-teacher meeting at your child’s school, or godmother at a baby christening? These occasions call for a professional image and a degree of conservative regular-ness. Avoid tight clothes, short skirts, low necklines, and overly high heels. How you dress reflects on others too—your child, your organization, the baby’s parents/hosts; even on how your mother brought you up. Your clothes are not just about you.
3. It gets in the way of making friends with women.
Even when this is farthest from your mind, wearing revealing clothes could be perceived by women as flaunting your nice figure in their faces and painfully reminding them of their personal issues with body image. They may feel inadequate or inferior with you around and so, they avoid you. You may inadvertently be upstaging everyone, including your boss and the visiting female board member. It’s true these perceptions are in the eyes of the beholder but you can eliminate unnecessary friction. Don’t reveal too much of your anatomy so others see beyond your looks into your great personality.
4. It becomes an obstacle to finding a meaningful romantic relationship.
Even when you don’t mean to project such an image, wearing revealing clothes will be seen by some men as an open invitation or a snub, depending on their degree of confidence. They will think you are a sophisticated woman who has seen it all, even when you’re actually a rather sheltered, shy female trying to appear confident. That disconnect in personality and image will attract attention from the worldly types of men and discourage the more down-to-earth, conservative ones who could be a more complementary match to your personality. Don’t make it hard to establish romantic relationships by not dressing the part.
5. Your existing relationships are affected, negatively.
Maybe you’re already blessed with several women friends and a committed romantic relationship. That scenario presents an even more important reason to put away the revealing clothes. A revealing clothing style always attracts attention. Such attention from other men will bring out jealousy from your boyfriend and from your female friends whose boyfriends are showing you attention. Is it worth endangering relationships and friendships by showing off skin and curves?
6. Your career may not reach its full potential.
When assembling a work team, a woman who dresses provocatively presents a sticky situation, and I mean this in the most objective, matter-of-fact way. Even when you actually have really good interpersonal skills, others will, unfortunately, question your “wild card” effect on the team dynamics. When scouting for people to promote and lead a team, the same thinking comes up. Will a woman who dresses provocatively put across the company image of professionalism? Will she be a positive role model for others? And then when you do get promoted, there’s the tiny thought, Did she get promoted on merit?
The last decade has seen an explosion of mostly provocative fashion styles made highly visible by the narcissistic attention of social media. When you add the thinning line between work and leisure situations or official and personal interactions, it becomes a truly difficult challenge for any woman to get the “appropriate” attire.
It’s not about allowing others’ thinking to override creative self-expression, but about knowing that who you are inside matches how you look outside. When that’s the case, opinions will not affect your self-image or how you are regarded by the clear-thinking majority. As for the men out there, some empathy would be really appreciated. How about putting yourselves in our shoes? With or without heels, it’s not easy.