You hate the way the dude or lady you’re seeing dresses. Why the orange tie with the brown shirt and the “wacky” jacket? Why the blue pants with a purple-striped windbreaker? Why so much glitter? What do you do? Well, I’d first advise you do nothing. As in, keep your mouth shut and just enjoy them for their other sparkling qualities: their smile, their wit, the way they sex you all night long. But if you are unable to let their ugly T-shirt collection go, well, let me give you some advice.
I am lucky, because my boyfriend is a hair model. Just kidding! I’m lucky, because my boyfriend works for a major men’s clothing brand and is always dressed like he just came from a 1920s garden party (which okay, is a little weird). But I’ve dated plenty of dudes whose entire wardrobes should have been fire-bombed. Like, for real.
There’s a right and a wrong way to go about trying to tweak your partner’s style. Again, I’d advise that you use kid gloves when it comes to this stuff because even the dude you think puts zero thought into his jorts and Dr. Who shirt ensemble can get mighty upset when his aesthetics are questioned. But if you must…
DO: Use positive reinforcement. On the off chance that your girlfriend is wearing something you like, tell her. And be specific about what it is about her outfit that you like. Like if she’s got on a dress that really flatters her waist or shows off her legs, casually let her know that you like those things. It may subconsciously influence her style choices down the line.
DON’T: Tell them they look stupid, or that you hate their outfit, or that you really wish they’d throw that rotting Bruins jersey away last winter. Common sense and every episode of “Friends” tells us that the more you try to tell someone how to be, the more they will likely resist. This is for real.
DO: Give them fashion context. It may be that your partner is unaware of what’s sartorially expected of them. For instance, maybe they don’t know that at the particular restaurant you’re going to, a suit is more appropriate than a pair of jeans. Or that this party is a bit more casual than the last one you went to.
DON’T: Tell your partner what to wear. Nobody likes being bossed around. If they ask what you should wear, by all means, kindly offer your suggestions, but don’t willy-nilly impose your fashion sense on someone who isn’t asking for it.
DO: Buy them wardrobe items you really like, and tell them why. Stuff like: I got this sport coat because I think this color really looks good on you. Or, I love it when guys wear ties, so I thought I’d pick you up one. But don’t get all pushy about it. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make ‘em drink it, yadayadayada.
DO: Offer a quid pro quo agreement. If you two are out shopping and you see something he’d look good on, suggest that he try it on. And let him know you’d happily do the same if he sees something he thinks would look good on you. It makes the shopping/trying on clothes more of a flirty sport than a bummer task to get through.
DON’T: Try to turn your partner into someone they’re not. Your girlfriend is a total babe who likes wearing Tevas. So what? She’s really sweet to you and you guys are basically soul mates. Don’t let a little thing like rubberized footwear get in the way of the great connection you’ve got.