Does a Woman Like Your Outfit? She May Be Already Telling You
What to listen for, and how to accept criticism (in style)
We’ve all been there – and by “we” I mean women – our guy comes out of the bedroom ready for a date, or for work, or to go to the grocery store, and the first thing that pops into our head is, meh-h-h-h.
It’s a fact of life, guys, that sometimes, women don’t like what you’re wearing.
I’m not talking about a bad first date where the woman gives you and your outfit critical elevator eyes. Forget her. I’m talking about your significant other – girlfriend, wife, work wife.
So, what do us ladies do when we don’t like your look? What’s the right thing to do? Bite our tongues? Lie if asked our opinion? The truth is: We work to look our best for you, and *ahem* we’d like to keep on feeling attracted to the handsome devil that you are.
My mother always says, “Speak truth in love” (usually when I’m doing the first part but not the second), and shouldn’t women be allowed to speak style truth in love to their other half? In the same way that a man might have a valid point saying, “That blood-red lipstick might not be appropriate for brunch with my parents, honey,” it’s useful to accept criticism when doled out with the best intentions.
Does that mean a man needs to hightail it back to his closet when his lady raises an eyebrow at his outfit? No, but you can take her views into account – sometimes women do actually know better than men on this kind of stuff (not bragging, we’ve just been subjected to societal mandates expecting us to look perfect from a very young age), and, well, it’s not the worst thing in the world to dress in a way that gets your woman hot and bothered.
So: how to listen, and how to take it gracefully? SG got the hot take from three professionally stylish women – an editor, a menswear store manager, and a stylist – on listening for, and incorporating a partner’s fashion feedback.
Sandra Nygaard, Men’s Health | Nic Screws, Esquire & Bloomberg | Jessica Coene, Bonobos
Does a woman like your outfit? Here’s how to tell:
1. She stays neutral (even if it’s your favorite college hoodie)
“I do my best to remain as detached and neutral as possible — even if it’s a shirt I detest. If he bought it or he’s wearing it, there’s some attachment to the look,” says Sandra Nygaard, fashion and grooming director at Men’s Health. “Being too critical or dismissive of the piece is only insulting his taste.”
The takeaway? Trust your lady not to make things personal. You’re both on the same side here, so remember that as you listen for feedback.
2. She explains why it’s not working, and offers a suggestion
Men’s stylist and former Esquire and Bloomberg writer Nic Screws says, “If I want my husband to change shoes, I would say something like, ‘You know I love those shoes. I think they are especially great when you wear them with [stylish outfit], but I think this look would be better with something like [alternative suggestion].'”
Meaning? Listen for style critique phrased as a suggestion, with reasoning offered behind it. When we propose an alternative to a look you’ve put together, it’s to help, not to judge.
Instead, we’re employing our detailed eye trained over time (shout out to those societal mandates) to assess what pieces work best together – and more importantly, why they work together.
3. She tells you what IS working
Is she consistently complimenting one specific part of your look? Does she sound more enthusiastic about your entire outfit on a given day? Pay attention. Or better yet: ask her what she likes specifically, so you can recreate this win multiple ways.
“My husband takes note of things that I over-compliment, and does his best to duplicate them again in the future,” says Screws.
Jessica Coene, a market manager at Bonobos‘ Atlanta Guideshop, points out that how she and her team of stylists interact with customers is key to getting both parties on the same page is critical to a successful style discussion.
“When we’re getting guys to try something new, we incorporate what we know they like instead of coming off like it’s just our preferences.”
At the end of the day, it’s your personal style, but we’re here to help – one compliment at a time.
On the receiving end of this advice? How to feel good about feedback:
DO: Recognize that you both just want to look your best for each other
You and your lady are in this together. Since keeping the fire alive is important to both of you, making a point to incorporate her opinion goes a long way. Screws’ knows that her husband’s goal “is always to be desirable, of some kind, to me. So he’s less offended by criticism if the end game is ultimately looking his most appealing or pleasing to me.”
It goes both ways – you think we wear those high heels for our posture? – so think of this feedback loop as team building. You’re style teammates, not style rivals.
DON’T: take yourself too seriously
Coene and her team of stylists tell their clients that “If a woman is offering you friendly advice, it means she cares enough about you to suggest it, so why not give it a shot? There’s tons of stuff you never thought you’d like until you tried it.”
That friendly female advice is the cornerstone here at Style Girlfriend. We’re your biggest advocates because we’ve seen firsthand how stepping out of your fashion comfort zone can result in feeling more confident, a ripple effect which goes on to enhance every aspect of your life.
DO: take it as a compliment
It all boils down to this: Any woman trying to steer your style in a certain direction is doing so because she wants to help you present yourself to the world as the best version of yourself. Your best interest is her concern, and at the heart of each style suggestion.
HOW DO YOU TAKE FEEDBACK WITH STYLE AND GRACE?