I'm not what you would call a fashionista.
Design isn't really my thing. I can appreciate a great outfit, but I can barely tell you why or how it looks the way it does. I have no idea how to mix and match colors or pair jewelry with an oversized bag (is that a thing?). Shopping is agony for the most part as I despise spending money on clothes. They're so damn expensive. Typically if you really want something to fit the way it should, you'll blow hundred(s) of dollars on the item and then have to turn around and spend more money for a tailor.
Ughhh. That's so much time. So much money. So much anxiety.
Frankly I would rather spend those dollars on a lavish dinner for two than a new outfit for said date.
It's probably no surprise at this point that I don't follow fashion bloggers or keep up with the latest trends, but I sometimes regret this while walking down the Sunset Strip on a Saturday night. Because as a female, and definitely as a female who lives in Los Angeles, I do feel a certain pressure to have reasonably solid taste in fashion. I'm in my twenties, I own a company, so I should probably present myself in a way that speaks to this, right?
Ya. Probs. But it doesn't happen.
Black is my favorite color of choice to put on my body, followed by blue and then pink. And when you put those three colors together it doesn't quite shout "sophistication." Instead I usually end up looking like a powerpuff girl in leggings.
See? I must had misplaced my pink earrings that evening.
Cue, my boyfriend.
He's got an eye for fashion. He really, really does. Every day he wakes up in the morning, puts on a fresh suit, makes a selection from his double-tiered bar of HUNDREDS of beautiful ties (I'm not joking, it's practically become wall art), and accessorizes with bright socks, trendy cufflinks, and leather shoes with purple shoe laces. He always knows the latest trends. He always looks put together. And I'm not the only one who agrees.
So when I playfully tell the story about the time when my very sweet boyfriend finally felt comfortable confronting my fashion taste - or lack thereof - our small audience doesn't quite know how to process.
...It was "spring cleaning" time and I was determined to donate at least half of his clothes to Goodwill. He likes clothes, so he has a lot, and some of his shirts were "outdated". Of course I didn't know this, but I did notice he hadn't worn some in over a year and they were taking up precious space in our bite size closet. That's my cue to cull.
But instead of focusing on his clothes....he focused on mine.
I went from owning about 135 pieces of clothing to about 35. Sure, I needed to purge too, but I wasn't anticipating to only be left with a weeks worth of outfits. (Goodwill officially loves me!). However he did make up for it by helping me shop to replenish my wardrobe back up to around 5o pieces. So that was nice of him.
This is an actual picture of my closet. These are the only shirts that remained post purge. And some of them are only meant to be worn in the house...!
Fast forward, I now receive compliments over the "omg is that Helmut Lang?" (haha. no.) or "Wow your Alexander Wang is amazing!" (who dat?) Andrew-selected outfits I adorn, and I tell the story of the epic closet wipe out and our subsequent shopping trips where he meticulously selected clothes he deemed appropriate. He even sat in the fitting room for a fashion show! Gotta love his dedication.
Let's just say, the reactions are varied. Some cringe. Some smile out of social anxiety. Others straight up laugh and think it's amazing that we are "gender reversed." But most don't consider this a typical cocktail story - they consider it a bit odd. And maybe even a red flag in our relationship.
"Is he controlling...?"
"Kali you have great taste - you should make your own decisions." - debatable.
"You should stand up for yourself."
I disagree with all of those sentiments. I'm sure they are coming from the right place, but this isn't about me not putting up a fight or standing for one of my values. Because this ISN'T one of my values. Fashion is NOT my hobby. Frankly I wish adults could adopt the plaid school uniforms for all times so I wouldn't have to think about my clothing choices or feel pressure to step up my game. So the way I see it, I found a great match! (Get it?!)
This is about being open to the fact that women are no longer fitting into the box of what makes the typical "girl." If we had told that story but reversed our roles - me as the fashion dictator and Andrew as the "project" - it would have been a cookie cutter story straight out of Hollywood where everyone predicts the punchline. People would compliment my amazing persuasion skills and tell Andrew to "keep it up!"
It would be a sign of a healthy relationship - not a controlling one.
Couples aren't becoming "gender reversed." Instead individuals are becoming more comfortable exercising their strengths in a relationship - regardless how feminine or masculine those strengths may be. Our talents do not need to correlate with our gender. They don't have to take away from our gender, either.
Women can be breadwinners. We can be fashion ignorant. We can be terrible cooks. We can prefer numbers over daycare. We can seldom cry. We can also date men who balance us out without worrying about their masculinity.
Men can be stylish. They can be sensitive. They can prefer sitcoms over sports. They can value tidiness. They can enjoy shopping. And they can also date women who balance them out without worrying about their femininity.
I encourage all of the humans to lean into your strengths instead of fighting them off out of fear that they might not make you a dedicated member of your gender. Screw the status quo and the expectations that come with identifying with a gender. We are people first, and we are allowed to embrace any smidgen of talent regardless as to where that falls on the gender spectrum.
My boyfriend picks out my clothes, and that doesn't make me weak, spineless, lazy, or less feminine. It just means he's better at fashion that I am.
And thank goodness for that.