The Truth Behind the Whole Dress to Impress Idea

May 19, 2017

Have you ever been told that you need to “dress to impress” and just want to lose it? First dates, interviews, parties, and other events all have this idea of how I should dress to make other people give me compliments. While I know that there are certain modes of dress for specific occasions, this whole “dress to impress” thing has to stop.

So, I am ditching the “dress to impress” institution that tells me how to dress my body. I am, after all, a modern woman – not some 18th-century wench on a rural farm about to marriage off in exchange for a cow. What I wear should be meant for me to be comfortable in my own skin, not for someone else’s viewing pleasure.

In the end, that is what “dressing to impress” is all about. Someone decided that others need to look a certain way to be considered appropriate for that setting, and people went along with it.

While I know both men and women undergo the same strict guidelines, most of the time men are way more comfortable than women ever get to be. What is up with that? If I want to wear pants and flat shoes to an interview, I should be able to.

Who are you dressing for?

Ask yourself that, just like I did. Seriously, who are you dressing for nowadays? So many ladies will automatically say that they are indeed dressing themselves, but you need to stop for a moment and consider who is influencing your fashion sense.

Are you wearing heels because they are considered fashionable? Are you sporting skin-tight skirts because they are supposedly sexy? Or because the length flatters your thighs? Now, have you ever been told by someone that doing X or Y will make you look prettier? Did you buy into it?

I once bought a pair of ridiculously high stiletto heels despite my innate clumsiness because I overheard a guy I was interested in expressing his like of women in high heels. You know what happened when I tried to strut my stuff in front of him in those heels? I fell. Flat on my face.

Someone else once told me to stop wearing loose fitting tops because they hide my shapely torso and made me look like a boy. So many times I was dressing for someone else, not myself. I steered away from my normal style to embrace the idea of impressing everyone around me. Instead, I wound up feeling utterly uncomfortable.

Although I got compliments (or in the case of the heels, sympathy after landing spread-eagle on the ground), trying to change myself for others never resulted in anything good. If I could not be me in jeans and a hoodie, then who could I be?

Read also – It Is Time for Each Woman to Ditch Beauty Standards

Most fashion advice is ridiculous anyway

I mean it. Fashion is the beautification of lemming behavior. One person says that something is in and suddenly everyone is running to the department store for it, whether it looks good on them or not. Like crop tops. Or those silly rompers. Have you ever seen anyone with actual organs who eats and needs to use the bathroom actually wearing a full-length romper?

Just because one style is good for the person in the magazine, it does not mean it is good for you. Just because the dating advice column says to nix the flip-flops on the first date because they are unimpressive does not mean you do it. The other day, for example, I read in a magazine that men should never wear khakis on a first day because they are not “impressive” enough to women.

No. Just no. That is wrong. If I am waiting for my date at the café and he walks in wearing khakis and a simple t-shirt, I would not call that unimpressive. I call that casual.

If I followed the same advice about wearing a low-cut top to accentuate my chest, sparkly eyeshadow, and a pair of vibrant heels, I would scare off men. Chances are if I went like that for a first date at Starbucks, he would be frightened by how high maintenance I look. Besides, I would feel overdressed and wind up feeling embarrassed the entire date.

Dressing up is not me. I am lazy most of the time. I like sweatpants, cozy shirts, and flip-flops – and I cannot change that. Maybe you are like that too. So why do people like us keep struggling with adhering to the norms of society when we do not fit the mold?

Perhaps that is why ditching the dress to impress way of thinking felt so good. Like spring cleaning for the soul. I tore through my closet to remove anything that did not feel like me. I thought that if my true self cannot impress people, then there was no chance in the underworld that the Barbie version of me would do any better.

Why am I so bent up over “dress to impress?”

Easy. Dressing for the satisfaction of others has long tainted the way I look at myself. I said it before, but I am a modern woman. Gone are the days when I had to appeal to those around me to get anywhere. In many ways, dressing to impress is similar to the expression, “You should smile more.”

Sorry, my face is so upsetting for you. It is only because you forced me to wear a button down, collared shirt, a narrow pencil skirt, and high heels that I look this irate. When am I actually going to wear white outside of an interview anyway?

Look, I understand there are dress codes. But as long as the person follows through with the rules, they should be allowed to dress in a way that expresses who they are – not what the world wants them to be. When people wear what is comfortable to them, a natural beauty radiates through. When people express themselves, that is when a fashion sense is created.

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So ditch the idea of dressing to impress other people. Instead, try dressing in a way that, when you stand in front of the fitting room mirror, you see your own reflection and say, “Wow!” That confidence is the most beautiful, most impressive glow ever.