It's awkward when your man does not dress as well as you do when you go out on various social occasions. As a couple, you become a study in contrasts because the better you dress, the worse he looks.
This is not the solution for long-term happiness, and it's no way to live if you're focused on love and harmony.
Antonio Centeno, the founder of RealMenRealStyle.com, outlined this dilemma perfectly in his blog post about Matching Your Spouse:
“What should a man wear when his wife wants to wear her favorite dress for their dinner date? What about when your girlfriend invites you to attend a casual wedding with her in Charleston on the beach? Should you dress to match your partner's style and look like a power couple? Or is it better to let things fall where they will and just wear whatever you want?”
What Do You Do?
Unfortunately, most women go about resolving this subtle issue the wrong way. They usually either try to ignore it, hoping time and destiny will sort things out, or they ask harsh questions that are meant to jar his awareness.
Instead of getting the results they want, they either condone something that should be addressed or they just hurt his feelings and make him feel awkward. Neither silence nor confrontation creates any meaningful change, yet change is necessary to avoid future conflict.
First of all, realize that you are not alone. Your partner may be all thumbs and left feet when it comes to dressing well simply because he doesn't have a clue. His lack of sartorial discernment is not due to sloth, defiance, or an unconscious renegade streak. He just doesn't know what to do about what you expect from him.
Men rarely have fathers who serve as role models when it comes to dress code. If his father happened to dress well, it was probably because he mainly wore black, gray, or blue suits all the time.
So confronting him about his Achilles heel when it comes to clothing is like cross-examining someone who has never done quadratic equations why he can't find the two values of x.
Everything is Learnable
Dressing well is a skill. It's learnable. As his significant other with a natural sense of style, it's something that you may have to teach him.
Remember, taking stock of your mismatching ways of dressing up is good for him and it's good for you, too. Naturally, of course, you don't want to be too obvious about the whole thing. Avoid subtly or overtly communicating a message like: “You're clueless. Let me show you how.” Instead, make the whole idea of dressing in style a contribution to the relationship.
Here are five ways to help him see things your way without going overboard:
- Understand first
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” That's the fifth principle in Stephen Covey's “7 Habits of Highly Successful People.” Before you can show him how to change his ways, you have to understand why he does what he does. Perhaps he dresses the way he does because that's what he thinks it's comfortable, because that's what his friends do, or because that's what he learned in a previous relationship.
- Offer contrast
One way of introducing him to the fun of dressing up is to gift him with the kind of clothes you like. Give him a navy blue blazer, a variety of upscale surf shirts, or a pair of brown loafers. Tell him how you just had to buy it when you saw it because you knew it would look good on him. Win his interest. Engage him. If you can do this, then you've already half won the battle to change him for the better. (No pun intended).
- Reward success
“In the best, the friendliest and simplest relations flattery or praise is necessary, just as grease is necessary to keep wheels turning,” said Leo Tolstoy in War and Peace, a book packed with ideas on the art of negotiation. Talking about how handsome he looks or how certain clothes flatter him will do the trick.
- Create occasions
Agree to invitations that allow him to practice his burgeoning skill sets, and compliment him on all his good choices. Over time, positive feedback and no comment on bad choices will help him get a sense of fashion without the need for any strong-arm tactics.
- Try Spring Cleaning
Instead of cleaning out his closet, get busy with Spring Cleaning your home and donating old clothes to a Thrift store. When he can get rid of his poor selection of clothes and begin to build up his new wardrobe, he'll be as eager as you to enjoy good clothes.
Since your chic outfits highlight his gaucherie, your natural sense of style is like an indictment on his lack of sophistication. Leveling the playing field will make both of you happier. The reason you dress well is probably because it makes you feel on top of your game. Sharing this joy with your significant other will do both of you a world of good.