That’s an interesting question, and one that has been debated for a long time. There is no definitive answer as different women have different motivations and preferences when it comes to their choice of dressing.
Some women dress up for themselves as a way of expressing their personality, creativity and mood. They may choose outfits that make them feel confident, comfortable, or happy regardless of what others think. They may also dress up for specific occasions or purposes, such as work, leisure, or special events. Some women dress up for other women, as a way of seeking approval, admiration or validation from their peers. They may be influenced by social norms, trends or expectations, and try to fit in or stand out among other women. They may also dress to compete or compare with other women, or to bond or communicate with them.
Some women dress up for men, as a way of attracting attention, interest, or desire from the opposite gender. They may be influenced by romantic or sexual motives, and try to appeal to men’s preferences or fantasies. They may also dress up to impress or please a specific man, such as a partner, date or crush.
Founder, The Great Nepali Diaspora
Women should dress first for themselves and then for others; depending on cultural norms and roles. I like to wear colourful clothes that are comfortable and make me feel confident. That’s why I mostly wear dresses in my personal and professional life. I also love kurtas and saris for traditional and religious occasions, though I don’t get to do this that often in the US.
One thing that made me happy during this visit to Nepal was seeing young women expressing and being themselves through their clothes without being termed as ‘too western’. Let’s normalise that more. When you visit a new place, it is a good idea (especially for women) to understand the cultural norms and dress appropriately. It’s not about restricting your freedom of choice but respecting other cultures.]
Although I feel it’s all about how you want to be perceived. Putting on an outfit, doing your hair and makeup creates this “illusion” of being put together. But I – and almost every woman I know – only wear makeup when we are going out or know we will be seen by a few critical eyes. Yes, it’s for ourselves to feel confident, but the confidence is also knowing that our presence could create an impact. Although I believe strongly that personality is everything.
You could walk into a room in sweatpants, flip-flops, and messy hair and still be taken very seriously just by the way you carry yourself. But sure putting effort into how you present yourself always boosts confidence especially when you are meeting someone new, at a job interview, a party, or venues where you do need to leave an impression.
You’d personally see me in little to no makeup on a day-to-day basis because I teach yoga and I am always sweating so it makes no sense to not be comfortable. You’ll find me in pyjamas or leggings and an oversized t-shirt with flip flops and a bun, unless I was to go out for a gathering of some sort. Then I would do a complete 180! Simply because looking good externally would make me feel confident and a part of the gathering. So, unless someone has reached a state of zero care for social norms which I always feel is a brilliant place to be in, I feel we all dress for ourselves and others, both.
Whether women dress primarily for themselves or for others remains a question without a definitive answer. Women’s dressing choices are influenced by a blend of personal choices along with a few external factors. The majority of which lies within an individual’s personal choice where fashion serves as a means of self-expression, allowing them to communicate their identity. Wearing outfits that align with their individual style fosters confidence and comfort.
However, external influences like what society expects from them, media ideals, and peer opinions also shapes the way women dress. Media set beauty standards and trends impact the dressing sense. Peer pressure and the desire to belong to specific groups can lead women to select outfits that compel them to align with others’ expectations. However, dressing still remains a source that lets women express themselves and make their own choices since there is no right way for dressing up.
In the end, the question of dressing for themselves or others doesn’t have a simple answer. It’s a mix of what women feel inside and what the world outside expects. To be themselves or to fit in!