Dressing to please your true love

When Deja Pseu posted this photo on her wonderful blog, Une femme d'un certain age, I asked LeDuc his impression. He replied with a string of one-word impressions: "Getup-y. Eccentric." He paused to study the photo further. "Neat. Bohemian. Sexy? God, no. Looks like a very stylish nun."

Then he said, warmly, "Not like

Occasionally, I've bought someting that's received compliments from my stylish girlfriends, but left him cold. After a few wears, it hung forlorn in the closet. These items were inevitably from the intellectual Japanese-y end of the style continuum, or had that Eileen Fisher too-comfortably-cut look. (Le Duc derides Eileen Fisher. If I bought a piece I'd have to cut the tags out.)

Now, your sweetheart might adore you in EF, or Comme. Great! Every shoe finds its mate, as they say, and what one "should" wear is not my mission. I dress for my guy, because it is one more way of delighting him.

I never converted him to rigourous, oddly-cut clothes. He still teases me about a cavernous black Japanese coat I wore when we met, roughly the proportions of a storage shed. He has, over 20-some years, shaped my taste toward the more body-conscious. Always a bit modest, I ventured toward more décollete once I m
arried the man I wanted looking there.

Many years ago, after I returned from one of those outlet-mall trolls with my mother, he suggested that I buy better clothes instead of the trunkload of barely-bridge "bargains" we'd scored. I knew in my heart he was right, as long as he would not fade when I revealed the cost of an upgrade.

He likes discreet, fine clothes (Jil Sander), arresting colour (Hermes) and impeccable tailoring (Max Mara). He's never chosen something for me that I don't like, though occasionally forgets my voluptitude and buys me some
thing like a clingy Donna Karan cashmere dress that no amount of Spanx will solve. My only stubborn point of difference is that I'll wear heels only on state occasions.

He say
s his ideal women is Fanny Ardent (and strangely enough, people tell him he reminds them of her current partner, Gerard Depardieu.)

While I would like to say I dress to please
myself, I dress to please him, even if I'm not seeing him that day. That's amore!

For whom do you dress? Does that style also please you?


Susan B said…
Ah, you've read my mind. I've been mentally preparing a similar post ever since reading yours and greying pixie's comments on my blog this morning.

I used to joke that my husband wanted me to dress like an Orange County Republican Lady Who Lunches (think a Cindy McCain look, sans the designer price tag). Colorful, tailored skirted suits, mostly. I bought these and wore for a while when we were first together, and while they probably were flattering, I felt like I was wearing someone else's clothing. He also likes clothing that I find to be way too tight and wishes I'd show more skin than I'm comfortable with. Usually I can make him happy by just wearing some color. His taste overall is much more conservative than mine.

I'm going to respond more via a post soon.
Anonymous said…
I can't believe your husband even KNOWS what you're wearing! The only thing my husband has said he loves on me are jeans and boots. If I show an inch of cleavage, he goes NUTS.

I must procure a Japanese styled coat the size of a storage shed. This would solve the problem of changing from gym clothes to church clothes. I'd be wearing my own "cabana" so to speak. If I installed a shower head inside the coat, all my problems would be solved.
WendyB said…
Sounds like your husband has great taste! I've never leaned towards the shapeless/voluminous styles anyway, but MrB would be against them. He likes a more sex-ay look.

LOL @ Karen. Sounds like it would be about the size of my apartment.
Anonymous said…
Duchesse, all this started when Deja Pseu posted a few days ago that there were two personalities in her; one going for a chic look and the other for a more boho. I responded that I too had this problem and that the only way I really felt myself was by putting chic conservative accessories (eg. pearls and Hermes scarves) with my more Japanesey style clothes.

Part of this feeling of satisfaction with this strategy is, without doubt, that it meets with the enthusiastic approval of my hubby.

I'm with you all the way on this one. I couldn't bear to wear anything that he doesn't like, but luckily this doesn't happen too often. I will always ask his opinion if I'm in any doubt and although he makes a bit of joke of it, I really do respect what he has to say. And, like all happy marriages, I give as good as I get!

I'm also enjoying the opinions of my daughter as she grows through her teens. On occasions when I have to appear as her mother, eg. school concerts, prize giving, etc., I have let her choose my outfit from my wardrobe. It's interesting to see how she wants me to appear and how she sees me.
Anonymous said…
Sorry, it's me again. I've just asked my husband for his opinion on The Sartorialist's photo - 'She looks like a design professional away for the weekend at her country house in Europe.'

There is another photo of the same woman last year on the Sartorialist's blog in January 2008 in a fabulous black puffer coat and long black boots. To be honest I prefer that city look to the peasant coat.

You see, my husband's opinion is already beginning to affect the way I see her now!
Duchesse said…
GP: I enjoy the cross-pollination amongst our blogs and your comments on each. Having a teen-aged daughter enter the mix would be another variable! My 21 year old sons say little except "no Crocs." One of my friends phoned her teen daughter to offer to pick her up at a friend's and the girl paused and asked, "What are you wearing?"

The woman loks to me just as your husband described. A disciplined woman slightly 'relaxed'.

Pseu: I'm guessing you felt older in those skirt suits? But he gets the colour via your beautiful scarves. They appreciate skin, cleavage, heels, showing your charms.

Karen: SO, what happens at 2 inches?

Wendy: From your photos I would guess that MrB is an extremely happy man.
Susan B said…
Duchesse - yes, older and...stiff, stuffy. I prefer clothing that has some flow and movement. He likes the heels, yes, and a little cleavage but not too much.
Anonymous said…
My man likes my cleavage on display much to my mother's consternation. Like Le Duc, B has very pronounced opinions on what I wear and has excellent taste in colour. I also dress for him and seldom go out without asking B for his opinion, which he readily and bluntly offers. I am glad that B's taste is closer to mine than my ex's, who made me throw out all my frilly undies in favour of granny pants.

Duchesse said…
sjcyogi: What the Sam Hill kind of man prefers granny pants?

GP: your husband has provided his impression of 'who she is". I'm also wondering how he responds to that look.
Anonymous said…
What he was trying to say was that to him the look is contrived and a little arch. He likened it to Marie Antoinette playing at being a shepherdess. There is definitely a market niche for this look of very wealthy women working or connected with the media/art world. It's a look that could be said to depend on snobbery so that if you say it looks a little rough, or unkempt, or homespun, you would be considered ignorant and out of the group. Doesn't all fashion work like that though?

What's interesting is that from the first positive impact it had on me I'm now beginning to see the flaws, and I'm sure that's partly due to knowing my husband's opinion on it and partly due to the fact that I've been growing rather weary of this look for the past year and prefer something a little sharper, like her outfit last January (see The Sartorialist January 2008).

Anyway it's all making for a good debate on more that one blog!
materfamilias said…
what an interesting conversation I've come late to. Pater is much less knowledgeable about or concerned with style than Le Duc altho' he's happy to benefit from my guidance and he does have some clear likes and dislikes. He's generally suspicious of pretension and ostentation, and he's conservative by nature. That said, he knows that my personality is very different from his and accepts that my dress will reflect that. I'm much more likely to be influenced by what my daughters think (they're now 32, 30, and 26, very stylish young women and have kept my wardrobe in line for almost 2 decades now!), but I will sometimes override both theirs and {ater's responses if I really feel something's right for me and they just don't get it. I know I might be misguided in those cases, but I also know we are different and my difference is worth something, right?
About 10 or so years ago, though, when I had moved quite consistently to the comforts of a long (mid-calf) skirt which I saw as artsy/boho, Pater commented that he liked me in shorter skirts, and I decided to give him what he wanted. I've come to like this look on me very much and I like his infatuation with my legs!
I think what I like best, though, is his open-mindedness and willingness to learn why I like what I do. AND above all, as Greying Pixie alludes to, it's the give and take in our very long marriage, in this as in all issues, that keeps me dressing with him in mind, whether I end up choosing what he would or not.
Duchesse said…
GP: I like Mr Pixie's analogy! I do recall the other shot, she looked rather forbidding (and chic). This morning's new York Time' Styles section contained a feature about the popularity of Filson, the outdoor outfitter. I see a connection, this rough-hewn look worn by the most sophisticated.

ma: I think most men are like Pater, they like shorter skirts (cultural traditions aside)! Le Duc has a phrase, "dressing like a social worker", by which he means a very safe, prim look. I try to avoid that. But then, when the FLDS womens' pictures were in the news last year he said he found all the flowing long hair alluring.
lorrwill said…
Being single and quite content to stay that way, I don't have the inspiration to dress for someone I love.

In fact, I definitely dress so that I do not attract the wrong kind of attention.

And, obviously, I dress appropriately for the occasion.

Mostly meaning for work. Our office dress code is business casual (and this being California, you know the emphasis is on the casual part). But happily since I support the company president and vice president, I get to dress it up a bit and lean toward the business part, which suits my style.

Specifically, I like modest but not frumpy, well tailored clothes. Since I am definitely not rich, I am making all of my clothes now and transitioning out the 'bargain finds'. I have a specific look I am going for, sort of 90% intellectual, 10% artistic. Having a focus helps immensely.

Any sexiness comes from me naturally, not the clothing talking for me.

Whatever I wear, I try to keep it simple and elegant no matter what the occasion. I sometimes fail, but I do sort of try.

(I surfed over from Deju Pseu's blog as you have some very, very interesting comments posted there.)
Duchesse said…
lorrwill: thanks for commenting here! I'm in awe of someone who can sew her own clothes. Do you use patterns or design your own? When I was single, I also dressed for me alone. And as materfamilias says, that's never completely lost.
Duchesse said…
lorrwill: thanks for commenting here! I'm in awe of someone who can sew her own clothes. Do you use patterns or design your own? When I was single, I also dressed for me alone. And as materfamilias says, that's never completely lost.
Anjela's Day said…
I must say when I was meeting my love I took the trouble to wear a cross between comfy with sensual- Great jeans with ankle booys that he loved and a beautiful chemise and bra that he would 'see' plus a cashmere sweater that covered almost the elegance and luxury that lurked beneath. I also found myself choosing clothes that would work with my bog-stomping wellies- and occassionaly having heels with a pencil thin skirt- just below the knee-cap and a white shirt- I love white shirts or white tee shirts....When I was married I never wore anything my then husband loved- If I wore Armani he thought I looked like a librarian...I ended up wearing the usual yoga pants and sneakers or ballet shoes with an oversized sweater- but then I was trying to repel him-not attract him. However when I met the man I loved I could have worn a sack-cloth I don't think it was the clothes or lack of them- He just loved me- I loved that too and had it for such a short time. But when I think of clothes and dressing for myself or someone I smile because he loved everything I put or threw together.
Mardel said…
What an interesting post and cross-pollinations of posts and comments.

I would dearly love to say I dress for myself, and to a certain extent I do, but I dress for my man too and I would not really wear something he did not like on me.

That said I think I have a prize in that he is interested in clothes and style and what I wear and he has been willing to let his taste grow and evolve with our marriage as well. When we met I would say he would prefer me to dress the way Pseu describes as "Orange County Republican Lady Who Lunches", primarily I think because that is what he knew. He still would chose a more tailored look overall for day, although he is open to variations. I would describe his current taste more along the lines you describe for Le Duc. My G does like some Miyake and some Commes Des Garcons however, and he was a great fan of the late Gianfranco Ferre. I think these things appeal to the part of him that loves art and architecture and modern music. Still he would overall prefer a more fitted silhouette and tends to prefer a single statement piece to a head-to-toe avante-garde look.

Like many men he likes cleavage and legs, especially in evening wear. He things women can look fabulous in well-fitting pants, and he does like the occasional long skirt. He tells me the way the fabric caresses the legs when walking can be quite sexy. But it is all in how the woman puts it together and he finds most women in long skirts unappealing and boring.

I like dressing to please him, but at the same time he knows we differ in many ways and he is willing to accept that my clothing choices may embrace some of these differences. I feel lucky in his interest, and his willingness to learn what I like.

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