Thursday, 8 November 2007

Feminine Dress

While I know I'm probably more aware of current fashion trends of late due to living in one of the fashion centres of the world, I've been aware of how women dress for quite some time, long before I moved to London. As I've grown older, I've realised that the latest fashion trends and social norms shouldn't (and don't) dictate how I dress. The person I want to be, the person I want others to view me as, should be (and is) what dictates how I dress. I do inject pieces of current fashion into my wardrobe, but the more important theme to me is to be feminine, elegant and modest.

My wardrobe should reflect my femininity, my understanding that I am different and more delicate than men. And it should also reflect that I am confident in who I am.

My life journey through fashion was all over the map, partly influenced by my surroundings, partly influenced by family and friends and partly influenced by the image I wanted to project - probably no different than most women, maybe even most people in general.

In the very early years, my mother - being ecstatic that I was a girl - dressed me in dresses as often as possible. I happily continued that trend into childhood, once I had a say in my wardrobe, but as I grew older, dresses became a hassle and I wore jeans and trousers more and more. And then, given my age, I was a teenager and a uni student during the dreaded grunge era - where to look feminine was the epitome of uncool, so suddenly there were *no* dresses in my wardrobe.

And through all of these fashion eras and changes, I was also a rather self-loathing child...I just never had that much confidence in myself growing up, despite a very happy and stable family life. I didn't date until uni and not by choice - men didn't ask me out in my teen years.

It was quite possibly a catch-22: I dressed as the unattractive and boyish girl I saw myself as and that was the image I portrayed, so boys avoided me. But shortly into my uni years, I began to dabble in the then-rising fashion trend toward skirts...but these were very, very short skirts and dresses, coupled with low-cut blouses. Suddenly, I had all the male attention I could dream of.

I still wore jeans much of the time, they were just easier...but the attention I attracted in those too sexy skirts somehow healed my ego. I finally saw myself as physically attractive, only I was coming to an age where I also wanted romance and love - I wanted to be respected and cared for. But that wasn't the type of attention I was attracting.

From then on, through my adulthood, I began to soften and grow in my attire...I started to understand that ideally, I should wear skirts and dresses all the time - at a modest and elegant length. And further, there should be a soft and feminine theme to these clothes.

So now, several years into this mindset, I have far more feminine clothes than masculine clothes - and on the days when I'm too lazy to be feminine, I feel awful about how I look. I worry about what men and other women think of me.

Conversely, when I *do* make an effort and look feminine, I love the image that I project. I have hope that men see me as feminine and appropriate. But at the same time, I often worry that other women think I look overdressed or silly.

Interestingly, I notice that skirts are very much back in style lately and I've been pleasantly surprised that my own focus on skirts and dresses doesn't make me seem out of place and overdressed on the streets of London...but sadly, I've also noticed that some women choose to wear very short skirts. And then there's my most hated new fashion trends - jeans with tall boots over them. I have to admit, part of me hates this trend simply because it looks silly :) But part of me just dislikes it because it's simply not's unfeminine and yet very, very popular.

I often people watch on the London Underground, trying to notice how many women are dressed appropriately feminine, how many look too sexy and how many are dressed as men - wearing jeans or trousers. And I try to understand the images we are all projecting.

So the question is, how much does fashion really matter? Am I overreacting to think that women should always wear skirts and dresses? And further that these skirts and dresses should be elegant and feminine?

I don't know the answers...but I do know that I'm more attracted to a man who expects me to dress in a feminine manner. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that I'm only attracted to men who expect me to wear skirts and dresses.


Egghead said...

It was wonderful to read such an eloquent argument for feminine dress. I very much support it as you can see in my blog.

Dress has an inward as well as an outward effect, and the former is often overlooked. Feminine dress keeps a woman in a feminine and harmonious state-of-mind. I very much admire women who make a point of being consistently feminine as does my own wife. She is not allowed trousers except for special purposes and hardly owns a pair anymore.

Cinderella said...

Thank you :) I've read your blog on several occasions, I really love it.

It's nice to know there are like-minded people out there!

Jennifer said...

You are not alone cinderella. I concur with just about everything you have written here.

I am film director and actually on set, I find it near impossible to dress the way I would like, feminine, soft and elegant. Not only it is still near impossible as a woman to earn respect of usually all-male crews, dressing that way, sadly would leave me open to ridicule. Also it is impractical because often I have to lie on the floor or squeeze into tight corners and such so jeans are really my only option.

Off-set though I delight in wearing my gorgeous dresses, many vintage with petticoats, stockings, suspenders, and heels.

So often I find myself overdressed and it saddens me, that there is nowhere left where you can get completely glammed up without being stared at. Not even the Royal Opera House can you go over the top anymore. (Though I do anyway).

I understand what you mean about other women thinking you are silly and overdressed. This happens to me often. I recently went for dinner at a very elite restaurant and I was done up to the nines. Everyone stared like I had three heads. It was one of those very chic restaurants where monied women wear jeans - albeit very expensive jean, but jeans nonetheless. Yet I was clearly the one being judged for making an effort, rather than them when they looked more suitably attired for walking their dog in the park of an afternoon than dinner in a top restaurant.

It saddens me a great deal when I get those "pitying" looks from other women. Like *I* am the one who's got it wrong...

I just wish I could learn to accessorise well. It continually defeats me.

Don't you sometimes wish finishing schools still existed to teach you all these little things?

Anonymous said...

I have only just come across this and I am so pleased to hear a women explain the virtues of dressing as a women and truly expressing her femininity.

My wife and I have agreed a set of rules for her dress with which I think you would agree. She must at all times be modest, feminine and elegant which means she wears the appropriate clothes for every occasion, or the relevant circumstances, but is always properly covered, feminine and looks as good as she can, whatever she is doing. For the most part this means that she wears knee length or longer skirts (with hosiery except in high summer) and suitably modest tops.

I am very pleased to say that she has not worn trousers since she was a child. I think we would all agree that they are not feminine, but she was also concerned that they were extremely immodest and was delighted when I made it clear that as my wife she would not be allowed to wear them. Like you she often feels conscious of being the only woman dressed as such and was pleased that I would support he in this.

We both believe in well defined male female roles and as such she is expected to act as a traditional wife and mother and behave as a lady at all times.

There is no doubt that that wearing only exclusively feminine clothing helps a woman to achieve this by reminding her of everything from how to walk and sit to avoiding doing activities which are unbecoming of a woman.