Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Do clothes maketh the woman?

Ever since my sister and I used to parade up and down the landing at home, decked in the contents of the dressing up cupboard, we’ve always been obsessed with putting together outfits, and their effect on other people.

I’ve always connected looking good, (that means groomed hair, a lick of make-up, heels, suitable, flattering on-trend clothing), with how people rate both my professional status, and my attractiveness. Clothes and shoes are the arsenal in my personal battle with the world.

What I wear affects my mood, my savoir faire. I need to feel comfortable in, and flattered by my clothes, even if to an observer my heels and fashion forward outfit may be the opposite of comfort. Which is why the discovery this week that boys seem to find me as attractive in a short smock, flats, and hedge backwards hair as they do when I am all dolled up has come as a bit of a shock. Don’t get the wrong idea: I’ve never been an obsessive hair drying, inch of pancake wearing, celeb-copying, matchy outfit kind of girl, but I certainly always make a bit of an effort whether I’m wearing flat boots and a swingy dress for jumping around in a mosh pit at a gig, or eating at Cecconi’s in a swish little number.

The heat & humidity in Manhattan this past week, 95F at worst, has meant that minimal makeup and no hairdryer has been the way forward. It’s too hot to take the subway so I’m walking everywhere in flat pumps too. I’ve had four blind dates in almost as many days, and have schlepped off to each with my damp, just out of the shower hair pinned up off my neck, dressed in a £25 loose cotton, puff sleeve, scoop neck, short smock from COS that I bought in four colourways on my trip back to London in April. I could quite easily be presumed to be in my second trimester. Yet, all the men I’ve met seem to be smitten, and have all asked to see me again, one within 20 minutes of my arrival back home.

This throws my entrenched belief that I need my fashionable armour to be found attractive into disarray. I’m not quite sure how to rationalise this: perhaps I care less over here as to how I am perceived, perhaps I’m more relaxed as there is no pressure to settle down as there is in London, perhaps I look more approachable when I’m dressed down, or maybe it’s just as simple as that men just don’t care as much as I do about what I’m wearing and find a stylish woman as disconcerting as a grubby one….