This week, we answer a question from a Linda whose husband has lots of opinions on her style–none of them good! We talk about whether or not you should dress to please your husband, and what to do if you have differing opinions on style.
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Read the full episode transcript below! – Ep 47 Office Hours My Husband Hates My Style
Today’s episode of Office Hours is sponsored by the Fancy Free Podcast. Have you ever made a fool of yourself? Well, you are not alone! Join Joanne Jarrett and her girlfriends on the Fancy Free Podcast where they tell their most embarrassing funny stories, so we all feel less alone in our imperfection. Through vulnerability and humor, this show encourages you to share your not-so-fancy moments to forge intimacy, connection, and laughter in your life and to turn your embarrassing moments into gifts for others! Listen in on my conversation with Joanne in episode number 42 of the Fancy Free Podcast where I tell my craziest stories, and Joanne and I laugh our heads off together. Remember, no one is as fancy as they look, and the Fancy Free Podcast proves that week after week. Head to fancyfreepodcast.com to listen to me, and other women share their not so fancy moments.
Welcome back to Office Hours–the weekly show of the Everyday Style School podcast, where we answer one question, submitted by one of you fabulous listeners, to help make style easier, and getting dressed more fun.
Today we have a question from a listener who did not want me to use her name, and that’s ok–luckily, we have a name to protect the innocent! We’ll call her Linda. Here’s what Linda had to say:
Dear Jennifer, I love your podcast. All my life I’ve struggled to feel stylish, and since finding you, I feel like I’m finally getting there and out of my “frump slump”! My question is about how to deal with the fact that my husband doesn’t like my new style. We shop together and I’ll pick things I’m excited about, and he says he hates them. Then he picks things that are frumpy and boring. I want him to be happy, but I also want to wear things I like. What do I do so we’re both happy? Thanks for your advice.
First of all Linda, thank you for your kind words and for being brave enough to send in this question. I promise you, you are not alone in this. In the 20 years, I’ve been dressing women, this is something I’ve seen come up over and over.
From a woman who wouldn’t wear orange because it reminded her husband of his college’s big rival, to a husband who hired me under the guise of a gift for his wife’s birthday, when really what he wanted was a total makeover for her.
Yeah, that one was awkward, and terrible, and she and I were both a little scarred from the experience, I think.
I admire that you want to dress to please your husband, I really do. In general, I think making an effort for each other is something most marriages could probably use a little more of.
But you have to decide where making an effort for each other turns into completely neglecting your needs and desires. We’ll talk about that more in a minute
But I also want to talk about your husband, of whom I know absolutely nothing. But I know there are women out there listening who are thinking oh my gosh, he must be a controlling, abusive jerk.
And again, I don’t know–he could be. And then again, maybe not. What I’ve found in my travels is that husbands/spouses/partners, whatever care about style and clothes to varying degrees.
On one end of the spectrum, there’s my husband, who, unless solicited, doesn’t comment on my clothes, good or bad.
He just doesn’t care what I wear. And then there are husbands who have a lot of opinions on all things style.
I’ve met women who have let their husbands pick all their clothes because the husbands have an eye for style, and are good at it, and I’ve met women whose husbands are in fact really controlling and express that in part through their wives wardrobes.
Linda, I don’t know enough about your husband to make a judgment, and again, every marriage has its own dynamic. I would hope that this is a quirk in an otherwise healthy marriage, and if it goes beyond that, I recommend talking to someone who is not a wardrobe stylist.
And While this question really is more of a marriage communication question, I’m happy to share what I’ve learned over the years, from a wardrobe perspective.
First ask him to be specific about what he doesn’t like about your new things, and explain to him what you do. If you’re trying new styles, it might just be that he needs some time to catch up to current looks.
Most people hate new styles at first. It takes our eyes a little bit of time to get used to new styles or proportions, or a bolder color scheme.
I can’t tell you how many women hated ankle booties when they started creeping into stores because our eyes were so used to tall riding boots. And then, after a couple of seasons, our eyes adjusted and women started thinking “ok, maybe..” and now, ankle booties are just normal.
Your husband probably isn’t looking at clothing sites and magazines and Pinterest, and other women in the mall-hopefully- to see how styles are changing, and how women are wearing things now.
So you could be introducing things that are a 180-degree change from what you were wearing, and that might be uncomfortable for him. He might just need some time, and a gentle kick in the pants to get with the times.
If that’s not the case, and he just hates the color black, or flowy styles, or whatever, you need to decide how much you care. I can tell you with 100% certainty, that if my husband hated my clothes, I would wear them anyway. I would probably say “Great, then I don’t have to worry about you borrowing them”.
I dress to make myself happy first and foremost, and then, if we’re being honest, for the women I see–because really women dress to impress other women…and then finally, for my husband.
But again, my husband doesn’t have strong opinions, so I have the luxury to say that.
However, when doing my usual, “see what the internet has to say” google search on this topic, I ran across a couple of articles.
One was from a woman who’s husband hated her style, and she was basically, like “Yeah, so?” and wore her things anyway. The other was a blog post from a woman who’s husband didn’t like her style and she said she was willing to bend over backward to make him happy.
I’ve linked to both of those in the show notes, but the point is, neither one is wrong, and every marriage has a different dynamic. You have to honor both that and yourself.
If you decide you do care what he thinks and you want to make your husband happy in that way, but you’re not willing to totally give up what you love, you’re going to have to compromise.
In my career, I’ve seen this compromise happen in a couple of ways. The first is to get his stamp of approval before you purchase, or be willing to return things.
I worked with a Linda who tried on things she liked, but sent pictures to her husband before buying anything. Yes, she gave him some veto power, but he didn’t get to pick out things on his own. He only got to give input on items she already liked. To me, this was a ton of extra work and felt kind of oppressive to me, but it worked for them, I guess.
And it’s far better than shopping together, where he has easy access to things he’d like you to wear. When that happens, and he sees other options, it’s easier for him to compare what you like to what he likes.
For example, if there’s a sweater that comes in bright pink, which you like, and also comes in pale green, that he likes, 10 times out of 10, he’s going to encourage you to pick the pale green–because it’s there.
However, if you bring home the bright pink and he had no clue about the pale green, he may have less of an opinion because he can evaluate the sweater on its own merits, not comparing it to other things.
The other way you can compromise is to wear things he likes when you’re together and wear the things he doesn’t when you’re out with your friends, or at work.
I had a client with a very unique skirt–it was really a statement–and she told me her husband absolutely hated it, but she absolutely loved it so she only wore it when they weren’t together.
It worked for them, and that should be the goal here–is to find a solution that honors your marriage and its unique dynamics, but also that honors you, and what you like.
Before we close I know there are women out there listening and thinking Linda should just wear what she wants, her hubby should just get on board, and there’s a little part of me that agrees. But, “Should I just wear what I want?” wasn’t the question.
The question was what to do if your husband hates your clothes and you want both of you to be happy. That’s the question I’ve tried to answer, without judgment.
To husbands/partners out there who listen to this show, I’m going to appeal to you directly. Gentlemen, I need you to hear this: it is easier for women to like the way we look when we look the way we like. And when we like the way we look, we’re happier.
When we’re happier, you’re happier you have to ask yourself if your goal is to have a happy wife, or if your goal is to have a wife who wears what you want. I’m not going to tell you what you should do–I’m a wardrobe stylist, not a marriage counselor.
But consider putting her happiness ahead of your need to give input on her wardrobe. You might light the results.
That’s it for today!
Thank you to Linda for asking the question, and If you’re listening, and have a question you’d like me to cover in Office Hours, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once again, I’d like to thank The Fancy Free Podcast for sponsoring this episode. Head to fancyfreepodcast.com to listen–and laugh–with Joanne
That’s all for today–see you next week. Until then, stay safe and stylish!