Women - Style Opinions vs. Style Expertise

There is a widespread belief that men can rely on women to give them style, as though women know men's style better than men do. On average, women know slightly more, maybe. But they overestimate how much they do know and get undue credit because women literally are seen and heard more about style and because women stereotypically are thought of as more caring and more superficially likeable.

First of all, nobody is born with great style knowledge. Female style usually is more showy (colorful, fitting) and some of those women become linked to the stereotype. How women dress can be extra practice in style knowledge. However, attention-getting is not necessarily good taste, especially for men. Alas, men often confuse physically attractive in not a blatantly sexual way with skilled female dressing and therefore an eye for style.

Also, women shop more for clothes and must know more, right? That includes the practice of women shopping for male loved ones. That is based on the tradition of women making clothing for family members. However, historically virtually all commercial tailors of men's clothing have been men, upon whom the best-dressed men have relied. Today probably the majority of clothing salespeople at low- or mid-priced stores are women, with most such stores carrying more women's items than men's items; that might add to the perception that women know more about men's clothes. Still, the better-dressed men tend to shop at stores that cater more toward men and have more male salespeople. (Stores where employees are paid well and, one hopes, more informed about style than the average person.)

Furthermore, men usually are not as vocal about others' style as women are, as they often prefer other subjects to discuss, things that also are socially more acceptable for them to discuss. And when men are vocal, it is often deliberately insulting. Meanwhile, women are more vocal about style privately and publicly, with many women linking their feminitity to a belief that women should be knowledgeable about style (and therefore they should show it off and should not be doubted). Most well-known style experts are women, attractive, opinionated, charming women. TV fashion segments are almost completely about women because they are the main viewers and aren't much interested in men's fashion; plus, the commentators usually cannot say much worth saying about men's style. Also, TV experts are expected to comment on men and women, and men commenting on women can be awkward. Thus, a reason for the perception that women are men's style experts (and, frankly, some bad advice that gets absorbed by the public). Though they might not be the biggest names, the few TV style experts who talk much about menswear often are men, albeit often gay men. Regardless, for making major changes instead of viewing before-and-afters possibly sponsored by clothing companies, reading is a better medium. Most well-regarded books about men's style are written by men.

Even when there is no monetary reward for claiming expertise, women tend to act like they know more about men's style than they do. Women can enjoy giving style tips to men without caring much whether they are giving good advice, because helping is not the only goal and knowledge for knowledge's sake is not much of a goal (that is more typical of men). There are motives other than being helpful, such as keeping a man off the market (with a less macho style), having something to talk about, having an excuse to shop for oneself during the trip for his clothes, or keeping household expenses low by bargain-shopping for him.

What do women know?

Color is important and probably women's strongest natural style talent. However, common female tactics of looking colorful (even when the colors go well together) or wearing much black sometimes can be bad for men. That assistance is better than nothing for a man with poor color vision or bad taste, but it should be about guiding him away from mistakes he would make on his own while still picking colors he likes.

Women know how men's casual clothes should fit (since they know what body silhouettes they like) and are good at rejecting items that look sloppy, out of style, or nerdy. Which is important and almost any man should value female feedback in that area. However, he should not necessarily buy clothes at the places she recommends.

Women generally do not know many nice resources for men's clothing and accessories, because most of them do not shop at places that sell good menswear. Fashionistas' tastes often are built on obvious trends, such as popular actors' flashy garments or displays in the stores where the women shop. Physical comfort, longevity, and value usually are less important to them than they are to men. The idea of a long-lasting style that reflects someone's essence is not as common among women, either. Also, women rarely read books or articles about men's style (which one usually has to seek out).

Deep knowledge comes from in-depth reading (or discussion) or extensive personal experience. Without that, in categories where men's and women's items differ greatly, typically women will be ignorant about the men's side. That makes dressy male footwear, for example, almost a foreign subject (beyond the basic, sensible advice to dress up more than athletic sneakers or sandals). And men's business dress in general has its own subtleties that women often overlook, e.g., the level of formality displayed by items individually and collectively and the level expected in a particular job. Or more basically, two men's dress shirts with the same color, the same price, and the same listed size might have possibly important differences in dimensions, warmth, durability, etc., and few women would know that. Therefore men's likes and dislikes might seem mysterious or might not come to mind at all (and then style advice that ignores tastes is limited in value). One certainly cannot expect women to understand men's concerns about their male peers' reactions to dressing outside their male code, since they do not see situations from that perspective. Rank within the male hierarchy can hugely impact a man's professional and romantic successes....

That lack of understanding often leads to difficulty in discussing appearance. Even when asked, a woman might be too considerate to point out the problems she notices. Also, her opinions about clothing are likely to be voiced in a non-analytical, subjective way ("That's ugly") and her basic approach might seem bossy, which men typically resent from women. If a man then shuts down and becomes passive in the process, the end result will not be ideal. Any man wants to feel like a genuine, successful, in-charge version of himself.

Meanwhile, there is a large, hidden reason the average man wants style help from the opposite sex: wishful thinking - validation of attractiveness in the eyes of an attractive female who can magically solve problems and make him good enough. But in the long run, getting honest, quality advice from the right female or male will lead to better results with women. The truth is that men judge the attractiveness of other men similarly to how women do, and many of them know what styles women like (such as designer clothing or jeans-and-tees) and of course what men like and how men think. And men are more likely to be honest if the appearance needs improvement beyond the scope of clothing (for example, fitness, which few women claim to know well as it applies to men.) Men also are more apt to encourage learning versus merely prescribing a quick fix of limited value. In short, most men are at least as capable of mastering men's style as women are. Female input is a good idea, but a man should try to find helpful male sources on style rather than blindly trusting women's advice on the subject.

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