Do You Dress To Impress Or Express?

Last updated 13 Jun 2018 . 1 min read

fashion choices fashion choices

Recently my friend shared an interesting habit of hers with me. She says, “I keep checking out girls, to see how they dress up.” According to her, it’s as good as sifting through a fashion magazine.

Now what’s the first thing that comes to your mind, when you’re reaching out for clothes in your closet?

  • First, they should be clean, ironed and smell good, of course.

  • Secondly, they must make you look good, at the least. Gorgeous at the most.

  • Third, it should suit your style and be comfortable.

  • It would be good, actually absolutely rocking, if people compliment you for those clothes.

The above-jotted points are the base sum of probable expectations we have when we dress up. But, have you ever wondered, that we might have been conditioned to dress to impress and not express ourselves?

The pressure to look good is not only on women, rather even men feel nowadays that they need to 'make an impression'.

This time we bring you an all-time favourite topic of women, for women and by women. Fashion!

SHEROES mentor, Monica Majithia posted in our community about dressing and the constant doubts relating to our appearance, popping inside our heads.

Let’s see. We have various styles, if I may talk strictly in terms of fashion. Styles ranging from casual to bohemian, elegant/girly, ethnic, artsy, punk, tomboy, gothic, rocker, sporty and the terms keep on adding every time a new season befalls upon us.

Power Dressers
Power dressing is a term which came into existence in the late 70s and has now gained prominence with women taking over the professional landscape.

It basically means that women who have dared to venture into a man’s territory, have to dress in a certain manner which showcases their authority. Although the above pictures of INC head, Sonia Gandhi and SHEROES founder Sairee Chahal are not at a certain position because they dress in a particular style.

They are powerful because of the decisions taken by them and the grit and determination shown at the most trying times.


Fashionista Woes

Fashionistas are an exclusive bunch of fashion followers who ace the style game, every time they put any piece of clothing. We secretly aspire to look as good as these gorgeous ladies. But, despise them for nailing the fashion feat.


Let’s be honest here. Women who dress impeccably are most of the times presumed, either to be attention seekers or ‘less-intelligent’, for the lack of a decent word.

I’m reminded of this argument I had with one of my friends, who was of the opinion that Marilyn Monroe was frivolous and a ‘true blond’, whereas her counterpart, Audrey Hepburn was more ‘authentic’, gentler and more 'respectable'. God knows what that meant!

Word of caution: Both are my favourites and none have lesser recognition than the other.


Marilyn Monroe, as a struggling starlet with big dreams, worked hard to attain her goals. She often went without eating in order to spend every cent on her acting, dancing, singing and other classes, in order to get her big break into movies. She was focussed and determined to make it on her own.


On the other hand, we have Audrey Hepburn, who took up ballet and pursued it with all her seriousness. Due to extreme poverty, Audrey’s slender physique was reportedly caused because of malnutrition by the end of World War II.

Lucca Dotti, her son revealed this in his book, Audrey at home,

“When the Nazis locked down Holland in 1944, they called it the Winter of Hunger and my mom didn’t have enough to eat… Almost to the point of her body falling… from the time she was 9 to 16, during World War II, she was extremely malnourished.”

She went on to become one of the celebrated actresses and reputable philanthropist.

Both were brilliant actresses of their time, humanitarians, who believed and worked tirelessly in the upliftment of downtrodden. Iconic women, who were unapologetic fashionistas. Their dressing styles, did not make them less or more reliable.

So why do we, end up judging people who don’t conform to the conventional notions of acceptable/normal/ or the worst one, decent dressing?

Dress for yourself, not others. The moment we start dressing to express ourself, we do justice to our personality. Appearance, according to me, is all about comfort. If you’re not comfortable donning, say a couture gown, it will reflect.

But all this idealistic talk of dressing for yourself and not others, is it easy to emulate? Honestly, half of the times, I do dress to impress others. The remaining half, I take my feelings into consideration. There are times when I feel like dressing up and pampering myself, times when I feel to keep it at a bare minimum. And then, there are times when I go into the sucker punch mode and commit fashion suicide.


Dolling-Up For Men Or Women
Studies suggest that women get decked up to impress other women. The primary reasons being, women understand the effort put behind a new hairdo, make-up or general style. Men don’t understand the nitty-gritties of women’s fashion.

The feeling to look better than anyone else is common among us girls. A subtle wish to elbow off a fellow woman in the fashion race is natural. Judging people on their appearance is also natural, but adhering to that judgement is a chronic failure of one’s sensibility.


Dress To Impress (Yourself)

If you feel the compulsive need to impress, then go ahead and impress yourself first. Put your feelings in the forefront, before anyone else’s. Easier said than done? Okay, how about customizing your style and weaving it with the “fashion manual” (the unsaid rule) of a place or for an occasion.

There are times I don’t feel like adhering to the ‘attire rules’ and can’t afford to go bat-shit crazy. My course of action, at these times, is to stick to the routine and throw in my personal touch. That normally works for me.

I’m not an ardent fashion follower, nor am I a fashion illiterate. But when in doubt, make sure to reiterate to yourself that fashion is just an extension of your personality. Don’t steer away from that in order to look trendy.

Of course, if being trendy is your style, then go ahead with all your might. Stop punishing yourself for not being fashion-ready round the clock.

Put on clothes, don’t put up a facade!


Lastly, don’t shun fashion. It’s not what is on the runway but the clothes on you, that decide fashion. Remember those fashion runways are just a platform for designers to showcase their art. You don’t have to be a Carrie Bradshaw, as our lives are not playing straight out of Sex and the City.

Not suggesting to shut your brain to the outside world but dress for yourself first, and then consider others, if you feel the need to do so. Just don’t drown in the cacophony of fashion advice. You’re the best judge of your looks. Other people can only give you their perception.

You’re more than someone else’s perception of beauty. You’re the sole custodian of your personality and thus, stick to your choices. They’ll work for you.    


Join our Fashion & Lifestyle community to meet like-minded women and strike a conversation.

Lola Jutta
An unapologetic writer, budding travel enthusiast and a default optimist! Life is what you make out of it.

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