An Insight on Gender Perception
There is a well-known saying, women don’t dress for men because if they did they would be naked; women dress for other women, referred to by designer, Betsey Johnson. This is a controversial truth, but there is questioning about who people dress for and more importantly how others perceive it. Often, individuals, who have passion for their freedom to exercise their personal style are outcasted by this stray of normality. On the inside they may have that “I-don’t-care-what-people think” mindset, they wear what they want because it makes them happy, but what about the ones who aren’t as confident and maybe care more about what people think of their exterior armour. What do people think about both of these separate dressers? Do people really notice? We wanted cold, hard opinions and what better than from the gracious, but honest guys on our college campus. We would explore the inner thoughts of others by asking what they really think of the outfits that make individuals feel happiest in, but are unique to their counterparts.
I spoke with Marcel Smith, Colton Johnson, Derek Boone, Nate Proffitt, and John Davis-Lopez to answer some of these burning thoughts, and to my surprise their answers were often unanimous, giving us consistent insight into the brains of ones we may not have ever gotten the answers to. I started with the simple question of what do they notice in a person they find attractive from afar.
The first observation was noticeable effort, John stated “I find it attractive when you can tell that effort is put into their appearance” and Nate complemented “and they’re not timid to express their personality in their appearance.” Then posture, “what many people overlook I feel, is posture. People look happier, more friendly and overall more attractive with good posture” Colton commented.
What is your instinct thought when a someone is wearing a bold piece of clothing?
Nate started with “I think in general I have a lot of respect for people who think outside of the box with their outfits because they don’t necessarily follow a pattern for what is typical or popular.” Similarly, Colton followed with “It takes courage to wear something that will stand out in a crowd. You are wanting to draw attention to your outfit and therefore yourself which is hard for many people these days to do (not behind a screen).” John contradicted though, he explained I will find it more intimidating to talk to [a girl]. I’m already not bold in general, so by her wearing something bold (well, it’s more in how they carry themselves) I’m going to think that I have no chance. Marcel also affirmed it’s in “the way she wears her clothes that say a lot about her.”
In general, what draws you to a person?
“Their personality, how open they are to meeting new people, if I can be myself around them without being judged,” noted Derek. Colton seconded, “ to have a personality to back up your outfit is important.” Nate expanded by saying “confidence and people who are positive because it is clear that they are comfortable in their own skin and have a healthy outlook on life.”
Do you think there is a stigma on people who wear outfits that are seen as crazy or unconventional? Why do you think that is?
They all agreed that “a stigma is there, and people are judged for being different.” John added, “People like things the way they are. Seeing something bold will affect what they see as normal.” “There is even a greater problem in male fashion, Colton stated, “where ‘dressing up’ has fundamentally meant the same thing for a 100 years. I was talking to my girlfriend about how depressing it is that we spend countless hours looking for a wedding dress, but when the big day comes [the male is] expected to throw on essentially the same black tux that [his] father did and his father’s father did. “ Nate also commented that “it has gotten a little better, but it used to be that men who took time in their appearance, in clothing and/or hair were labeled gay. “I still see this many cases,” Colton replied.
It is often perceived that when someone wears an outfit that is viewed as flashy and “out there” in their everyday lives, they really putting on a costume, trying to be a specific character. Do you feel this is true with females?
Colton explained that he doesn’t “believe that putting on a flashy outfit means that they are putting on a character. If anything changes, it is their confidence level which can influence their personality, though that does not change them as a person.” Correspondingly, Derek stated “they might just be a more confident version of themselves.” Nate profoundly commented “I don’t think wearing something different means that you are trying to be someone different it’s just expression in a way that others may have not seen before.”
What do you admire and notice most when approaching a girl? And would you say this is similar in what you see in your guy friends?
Remarkably, most of them mentioned shoes. “Specifically, I pay attention to shoes. Shoes are a big thing for guys” Nate initiated. Colton then stated, they are “the hardest part of the outfit to get right. Picking the right shoe is an art.” Marcel added “I look at that their smile and their shoes.” Then it was about being comfortable in their own skin, John stated, “I admire when someone I approach can be completely themselves. I admire when they’re not afraid of what other people think,” “This applies for both my male and female friends,” Derek concluded.
Lastly, do you believe females dress for men, themselves, or other women? Or is it a combination?
“I think that if you ask any girl this question most likely the answer will be for herself. I believe that is true to some extent, but behind the scenes there is more to the story,” Colton noted. And elaborated, “Our perception of beauty comes from others, so while you are looking cute for yourself, your concept of “cute” came from someone else. In some ways, you are dressing for other women. Now we can go even deeper and figure out what these women were thinking when they made these opinions. Was the look for sex appeal? Nine times out of ten this is the point of fashion. It’s why sells fashion. You could then make the argument that most women dress for men.” For Derek, he feels “different people dress for different reasons. Some people dress for themselves, less confident people might dress to impress others, and those who want a boyfriend might dress to impress a guy they’re talking to.” Marcel related, “I think that it depends on the situation, but for the most part they dress for themselves first and others second.” John summed it up by saying it’s “a combination of the three.”
From asking all of these questions, what struck me was the commonality between their answers. It wasn’t that one had an extreme view from the next, but that they all were aware and impacted by the same features and beliefs, aside from their various backgrounds. Clothes are quite frankly our exterior code of armour, for more reasons than physical safety, but they also can be an instant glimpse of an individual’s personality. What a person wears can define who they are, especially when they do it with confidence and are truly happy in their sartorial selections, and based on the guys’ answers, people notice.
Words by Maia Wilson
Edit by Carolina Gonzalez
Photographs by Blaise Butera