Today's Women's Wear Daily asks the legitimately thought-provoking question: Just who do women dress for? Now, since I work from home, I dress for no one, meaning I am regularly clad in orange sweats, an old tank top, thick wool socks, and my glasses. If I thought anyone could see me, however, I'd probably put on a pair of darkwash jeans, my favorite rose-colored low cut silk blouse and maybe the Marc Jacobs brown patent leather granny shoes I blew my last paycheck on. (Also, I would brush my hair.) Which, I guess, makes me like Anne Hathaway, who tells WWD (and not entirely originally) that "Most women dress for their most fashionable friend." But the other famous folk WWD spoke to were actually fairly split on whether women dress for other women... or for men.
Socialite Jamee Gregory says women dress for other women. ("Noted fashion photographer" Nigel Barker points out that "most men don't realize what's going on half the time. If their friend at work wears the same thing every day, they wouldn't notice. It's not in the gene pool.") But Ken Downing, the fashion director for Neiman Marcus, disagrees: "Women want to look sexy and stylish. They certainly want to dress for the man in their life and there's always a little competition with other women. That is the truth because I spend a lot of time around women and clothes." Adds designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada: "In Spain, women dress for men...I think it's very tiring to have to dress to be sexy all day. It's horrible and exhausting to have to wear high heels for 24 hours."
And then there are those who say that women dress simply for themselves: "I don't know for everyone else. For me, it's for myself. When you feel good about yourself, you feel good about everyone else," says Carine Roitfeld of French Vogue. Echoes actress Sophia Bush: "I dress for myself. There are days when I don't want to be dressed up so I'm not. And there are other days when I really want to be done from head to toe. You've got to dress for you." And former Anne Klein designer Isabel Toledo points out that while she thinks that, on the whole, "Women dress for men. I do dress for myself because it makes me feel empowered, but I'm definitely looking for [husband] Rubin's expression, not his approval. I do use clothes to speak — how I dress is a form of communication for me."
Now I'd be hard-pressed to think of a time when I've been conscious of having put on a certain outfit hoping to attract the sexual interest of men, but I've definitely dressed hoping for the approval of other women. And while most days I don't dress myself thinking "I must win the love and acceptance of others!" I think it's sort of a bullshit to say you dress for yourself, always. Because in my case, no one can see what I'm wearing. (Those neon orange sweatpants). And I like to believe that Carine Roitfeld would be, too, if no one could see her. After all, if a fashionista falls in the forest and no one is around to see, is she really a fashionista?