When a woman prepares to attend an important social function, she puts a lot of thought into her appearance. Fashion, for women, can get complicated. What dress to wear? How to accessorize? Are these heels too high? Not high enough? Even women who describe themselves as “low maintenance” can be susceptible to this anxiety.
If I have to dress up for a wedding, night on the town, bar mitzvah, or celebrity funeral, my preparations are simple. I comb my bedroom for the one or two things I own that are fancy enough for the occasion. Usually, one of my options has been hanging on a chair or a houseplant for the last month, rendering it useless unless I am currently living with a roommate who owns an iron, which I often am not. Then I put on a shirt/tie combo that my girlfriend, sister, or former (iron-owning) roommate has told me “matches.” I finish it off with my one pair of dress shoes. Voila. For me, the art of fashion is more about Mondrian simplicity and right angles than Monet flourish.
I do, however, sympathize with the plight of the fashion-conscious woman. There’s so much to contend with. Every element has to coordinate. And I don’t even want to discuss makeup. I know the general premise behind it, but I am as powerless to explain or recreate it as I was to decipher the mystery of my old babysitter’s “got your nose” trick.
The bedroom of a woman in mid-dress is a fragile ecosystem. For a man (or other woman) who hopes to expedite the process, there is good news and there is bad news. The bad news: You cannot speed up the procedure. It has to run its course even when it seems as endless as a hand-drum solo at a Guster concert. The good news: There are measures you can take to avoid any additional delays. Follow this advice, and you may make it in time for your dinner reservations! Ignore these words, and you might as well burn the restaurant to the ground. You will not eat there this night.
What follows is a script for exactly what to say to a woman dressing for a social engagement. Do not deviate from it. It is a time-tested and battle-worn technique.
A couple of important details:
- Do not let even one note of sarcasm creep into your voice. If she suspects you are not sincere, it’s over.
- You must, I repeat, must make visual contact with her at all times, even if she is not looking at you. If you hear the phrase: “You’re not even looking,” the whole ordeal starts again from the beginning. It’s like Groundhog Day. Look, I don’t make the rules, I just follow ‘em.
Woman: How do I look?
You: Honey, you look amazing. Everything fits together so perfectly. Not overdressed, but really elegant. It’s beautiful.
You know what, I totally agree. Definitely wear that necklace your grandmother gave you. You’ve been waiting for a special occasion. It’s lovely, and it goes great with the dress.
You look amazing. Really hot. But not, like, trashy Megan Fox hot. Like, classy, Reese Witherspoon hot. Like a really hot lawyer or doctor. Yes, I know your graduate school applications are due in three weeks and you shouldn’t even be going out tonight. I appreciate that you are though. I am sorry to have brought that up.
I’m glad that dress fits so well. I remember how you had your eyes on it at that sale at Forever 21, and this other girl picked it up, and when she put it down to clean off her glasses you grabbed it and paid for it and ran out of the store without even trying it on. That was such a good story. And it fits so well! Have you lost a little weight? Not an unhealthy amount, just you look a little extra toned is all, not that you don’t normally look toned, because you totally do.
Absolutely, the dress is tasteful. No, definitely not too much cleavage. It’s sexy, but like, it doesn’t make your boobs look too big. Who likes big huge boobs? Gross.
Also, there’s no lipstick on your teeth, your hair is exactly in place, and your shoes are incredible. They look so fancy, but I bet they feel just like flats even though you’d never guess it.
Gosh, you’re stunning. I don’t even want to let you leave the house. I just want to keep you here all to myself. I mean, of course that’s not my prerogative. It’s 2011, and you’re a professional woman with hopes and dreams. Yes, I know that alludes to your grad-school application process, for which I apologize once more. I just did not want to insinuate that your comings and goings are subject to my whims. You are the captain of your own fate and the mistress of your own soul.
All I meant was that you look gorgeous. Seriously, you’re incredible. So put together but in a way that looks so natural and effortless. You’re a vision. I can’t wait to take you out on the town and have some time for just the two of us to really connect. We don’t make enough time for you and me to put aside everything that’s been stressing us out and just do something for ourselves. We’ve earned it. You’ve earned it. Working full-time and still doing those godforsaken applications. I don’t know how you find the time to do all that and still be so damn beautiful. There is not one molecule of your being I would change right now. You’re like a dream.
Yes, of course we have enough time for you to try on all the rest of your clothes in every possible mathematical combination.
I love you.
And I’m also sorry I scheduled my fantasy football mock-draft on your birthday.