The AfterEllen.com Huddle: Switching Up Your Style at Your Partner’s Request

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A UK retailer recently performed a study where results showed that women in same-sex relationships were less likely to try and change their partners sense of style than women in heterosexual relationships. Now I’m not sure of the study’s accuracy, but it did pose a great Huddle topic for the week: Has a partner ever tried to change you, or vice versa? 

Lucy Hallowell: I met my wife when I was 18 and, thankfully, my style has evolved over time. There are a few things I used to wear that she gently asked me to banish to Goodwill, but mostly she tells me when I look good. I am more vain than I would like to admit but hearing her say, “You look hot in those tight jeans” makes me a thousand times more likely to wear them than if she simply said, “Stop wearing those baggy pants.” I’m happy to make minor changes but if she was like, “I think you should wear a dress everyday,” I would probably just laugh in her face.

78555561“That dress is YOU!”

Emily McGaughy: My style is noticeably different than it was before I met my wife. To put it nicely, I was a bit challenged in that area until she came along.  She never pointed out the flawed nature of my clothing choices, but as we got closer and eventually moved in together, I started asking for her opinion on what I was wearing more often—when I was getting dressed at home and when we went shopping together. She definitely got the gay gene when it comes to taste—in home decor, art, food and clothing.  I’ve pretty much let her dress me ever since. 

It sounds way more control-y than it is; I basically have a live-in stylist who works for free. To this day, I know when I’ve made a poor choice of outfit because, when I ask her if I look OK, she always responds, “It’s not my favorite.” Since we’ve been together, I’ve had so many friends comment on the transition and tell me how dreadful my style was pre-Char and how much it’s improved. I don’t whether to thank them for the compliment or scold them for never bothering to mention my need for an update in my appearance.

490205735“I don’t know, honey. You might be cold.”

Dara Nai: I read somewhere that unhappy straight couples get that way because the man hopes the woman won’t change but she always does, and the woman hopes he will change, but he never does. And I leap to the unsupported conclusion that that means she lets herself go, and he refuses to grow the hell up. How any straight couples stay together is anyone’s guess. 

But back to the topic at hand. Fashion is at the bottom of my Things to Care About list. Therefore, I not only appreciate suggestions and changes, I rely on them. A long time ago, my then-gf pushed me into wearing contacts. I don’t know why, but I didn’t love the idea. But I did it anyway, and now, I will wear them until they shred my corneas. These days, my wife tells me what she likes me to wear and I do it because a) she knows what she’s talking about and b) it makes her happy. On the flip side, she had a studded leather vest when we met. Key word being “had.” Heh.

88624895“You make those look sexy.”

Kim Hoffman: One of my exes was very adamant that I dress more androgynously. At the time, I was working an 8-5 desk job and liked to dress up for work. She. Hated. That. She’d poke fun at me and make a spectacle out of it. I began to wear my hair up more and go for jeans and boots—and eventually I adapted this new idea, that in the midst of feeling incredibly weak and vulnerable, I actually really loved how bad ass I felt in pants and a slouchy shirt and jacket. I would still wear dresses, and I’d still have to hear her hoot and holler, “Oh no! She’s wearing a dress today! Look out!” But I never saw or understood why that was so mind bending and hilarious. I’m a seemingly feminine girl. But I’m also 100% all over the style spectrum.

I dated another girl who was very Justin Bieber—very Disney channel music video, with matchy matchy baller hats and high tops and like, soft purple members only jackets. I went along for the ride, and by the end of our relationship, she’d upgraded to boots and cool hats and weird shirts—borrowing a lot from me, and simultaneously taking selfies for girls she was trying to meet on the sly over Instagram. It was reported sometime way after we broke up that she was spotted in daisy duke overalls wearing lots of makeup.

I tend to lean toward the viewpoint that style is an evolution, personal or public, for yourself or for others, influenced by the girl you’re living with, or not. My girlfriend and I have only allowed ourselves to become stylistically weirder—I bring out the goth in her, and she brings out the little girl from the ’90s in me. I often think ahead about how I’ll be when I’m older. I foresee white hair and red-rimmed glasses when I’m 70. And at some point I’ll have purple hair. But I’ll never apologize for wearing what makes me feel good, even if—especially if it bends my gender, seems strange, or doesn’t fit into someone’s idea of ME. Likewise, I’ll always accept your sweatpant-wearing self (because I’m wearing sweatpants right now.) Just as long as we own it. 

Anna Pulley: I’m a merger. I adapt to whatever my partner wears, subconsciously. Unrelated: Does anyone need 1,000 pairs of Lululemon pants? 

Chelsea Steiner: I have no room to judge: All I wear are track pants and old derby scrimmage tops. I’m a PRIZE, you guys. My boo accepts this blogger uniform, although he has taken to referring to the stains on my shirts as “tank toppings.” THAT’S LOVE. 

126930506“I feel like these pants could be tighter right here.”

Eboni Rafus: I love fashion, and despite the way the fashion industry treats plus-size women, I’ve always been good at finding clothes that makes me feel beautiful and confident. I tend to go for classic over trendy and wear dresses 89% of the time. I’m a little fancy and almost always over-dressed for any occasion. Blame it on my southern mother. She puts on lipstick to walk down the end of the driveway to get the mail, so I guess some of that rubbed off on me. I’m just now starting to feel comfortable about wearing yoga pants to IHOP on a Saturday morning (Which I know also has to do with the way the world stereotypes over-weight people as lazy slobs and my fear of being judged by strangers in that way. But I digress…)

I’ve never had a partner complain about what I wear. In fact, I often act as a personal shopper for girlfriends who are trying to figure out their own personal style. My girlfriend recently admitted to me that she would like to dress a little more masculine of center, but doesn’t know to do that since she has larger breasts, so we are having fun exploring that.

Valerie Anne: I’ve never experienced it, but I’d be open to some style tips. I used to want to go on What Not To Wear because I just have no concept of any of that stuff. I just know what’s comfortable. But telling me to get rid of my purple chucks would be a dealbreaker in a relationship for me. 

Bridget McManus: One of my exes really had a say in what I wore by constantly fat shaming me. (One of the many reasons why it didn’t work out.) Now it’s the complete opposite. My wife and I go shopping together and I love her rock-and-roll ’70s inspired style.

Dana Piccoli: I once had this pair of yellow running shorts that I loved. My ex did not. They went missing, and I’ve never been the same. But yes, I have most definitely had partners try to change me. In lots of little and big ways. You know what though? It never took.

Trish Bendix: I didn’t really have a sense of style when I was with my first girlfriend because I was 20 and trying to figure out exactly who I was. When I discovered that “lesbian” was a part of it all, I thought I’d have to wear T-shirts and jeans, so I did. (I didn’t go for a short haircut, though, as I had tried that before and it does not flatter my round face!)  I was also really uncomfortable with my body, so how I chose to dress was more about what fit and wasn’t super pricey on my college budget. 

When I decided I needed to start focusing on self-care, I also discovered that I secretly longed to wear more dresses, skirts and feminine fare. I slowly started to integrate more femme looks into my closet and found I enjoyed it so much, it became my day-to-day wear. Unfortunately, my girlfriend at the time didn’t like it. She told me I looked “better in jeans,” and I remember being hurt by knowing she didn’t find me attractive when I felt at my best. Strangely, I also came to find that what I was attracted to was even more masculine than how she dressed, so even though I never told her I didn’t love her plunging V necks or make-up, we eventually discovered we were looking for something else outside of one another (and not just fashion wise), and that was OK. 

My current girlfriend has such a great sense of style that I trust her opinion. We like to coordinate because #lesbians. She does, however, have a pair of Bieber-esque parachute pants she bought online from Thailand that I can’t believe she leaves the house in, and she knows it!

Has your partner changed your style, or you hers?

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