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PART II: The One Thing the Devil Knows Best


~Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue and artistic director at Condé Nast

So this is a follow up to my last post about dressing appropriately for your situation.

I was just reading an article from The Conversation.  The title: “How women dress for other women” by Jaime Arona Krems, assistant professor of psychology, Oklahoma State University.  According to the article, her new research suggests that women don’t dress to be fashionable, or to outdo one another when it comes to enticing men — they equally dress for approval from women.  

As I stated in my previous post, my girlfriend in Denver taught me this long ago and I am constantly silently thanking her for her sage advice (thank you Janene!).  Krems’ article states that it’s not just about out-dressing your female friends, coworkers and acquaintances, but also about avoiding the slings and arrows of other women.  Women actively compete with one another, not physically, but by employing reputation-damaging gossip and social exclusion, according to the article.  We would all love to believe the opposite but they have done their research and it’s true.  Who has not been the victim of catty remarks?  

The academics did a bunch of experiments about dressing (hard to believe they actually spent time on this research but it’s actually very interesting).  They learned:

    • Women chose less revealing outfits when they were meeting with an all-female group (regardless of whether it was work or social).
    • Women who rated themselves as more physically attractive were the ones who chose the more modest outfits when meeting an all-female group.

These observations support the idea that women dress defensively to avoid bringing attention to themselves and being targeted by other women.

So you may be asking what is my position on this.  I had quite a few comments to Part I – some thought my post was great and some found it confusing.  Should you always dress cute?  Should you ever deliberately dress conservative?  Should you push the envelope with your appearance in certain situations?  I think your best course lies in awareness:  balance what you select to wear in light of the social dance in which you expect to be involved.

You can still be stylish without being outlandish.  That may sound obvious, but in my experience, it isn’t.  And if you don’t care, then so be it.

Have a question or a comment, please shoot me an email.  I’d love to hear what you think!

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