Exactly What Your Girlfriend Needs To Hear While Getting Dressed For An Important Occasion

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:

  1. Do not let even one note of sarcasm creep into your voice. If she suspects you are not sincere, it’s over.
  2. 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.

Here goes…

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. TC mark

image – VarnishDesign

More From Thought Catalog

  • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

    You might be overdoing it, just a smidge.  And if that dress came from F21, there’s a good chance it fits like a burlap sack.  

  • Burger King

    what the fuck is this

    • liz

      my thoughts exactly.

    • Anonymous

      I believe it’s an article on a website, though I could be wrong.

  • your cousin

    You just better be fully dressed and ready to walk out the door while you’re saying this. When she’s ready to go, there is no more time for you to put on your shoes or brush your teeth. Car. Now.

    • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

      Yup.  Just like that.

  • liz

    I don’t…get it.

  • Anonymous

    Oh no.

  • margaret

    whipped.

    • ew

      but pass-ag resisty enough to publish this

  • http://twitter.com/iamthepuddles irreverent puddles

    but like, actually. i really hope ladies don’t comment on this all huffy like “omg not all girls want to hear that” because for realsies, we do.

    • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

       Honestly I have never ONCE asked a boyfriend “how do I look”.  I swear to you on this.  Truth is, if I don’t feel good about the outfit, that’s probably because it doesn’t look good on me.   I don’t need to put him in an awkward place to validate that opinion so I can be annoyed with him for . . . telling the truth? 

    • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

       Honestly I have never ONCE asked a boyfriend “how do I look”.  I swear to you on this.  Truth is, if I don’t feel good about the outfit, that’s probably because it doesn’t look good on me.   I don’t need to put him in an awkward place to validate that opinion so I can be annoyed with him for . . . telling the truth? 

      • http://twitter.com/tallicachild michaela smith

        Me neither! That, and I know he has no appreciation for how much effort I’ve gone to in making sure every element of my outfit goes together. 

        Then when I’m all done and ready he’ll tell me I look nice in an off-hand comment and that’s much nicer than me forcing it out of him, and him telling me I look nice even though I don’t just to avoid any possible wrath. 

    • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

       Honestly I have never ONCE asked a boyfriend “how do I look”.  I swear to you on this.  Truth is, if I don’t feel good about the outfit, that’s probably because it doesn’t look good on me.   I don’t need to put him in an awkward place to validate that opinion so I can be annoyed with him for . . . telling the truth? 

  • Katgeorge

    HILARIOUS. A girlfriend of mine once cried because she was ready to go out and when she asked her boyfriend how she looked his reply was “fine!”

    IDIOT!

    • Rpulvino

      I was that idiot once and boy did I learn my lesson. It’s been two years since that incident and I haven’t made the same mistake again.

    • Rpulvino

      I was that idiot once and boy did I learn my lesson. It’s been two years since that incident and I haven’t made the same mistake again.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gregpphoto Greg Petliski

      Yeah. We’re the idiots. You spend 50% of your life earnings on clothes shoes and earrings, take five times as long as a man to get ready, and then cry when you don’t get an essay in reply to “How do I look?”

      But you’re right, WE’RE the idiots. We are. Surely, we must be for putting up with your mouths constantly flapping about meaningless shit. No, I don’t care about your cat, your dress, or that your best friend has the same one cuz she’s a bitch. You’re stupid for even breathing. Just drink bleach and die already. Hows that?

      • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

        Okay, this last part sounds like you just broke up with someone.  It’s going to be okay Greg.  I promise!  

      • http://www.facebook.com/gregpphoto Greg Petliski

        You will promise me dick. I havent been in a relationship since January, perhaps that is part of my anger, I wont rule it out. But I think its focused more on how hypocritical and contradicting women are. Men can be this way too, but its not even comparable to women. That, and the fact that, despite me falling into most of the categories women find attractive, I fail to find what I am looking for. So no, it wont be ok, not until the grave.

      • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

         Stop being dramatic.  I’m single too.  For nearly a year.  And yes, I too can’t find what I’m looking for.  No one ever said it would be easy. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/gregpphoto Greg Petliski

        In the past six years I’ve been single for all but about 16 months.

      • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

         In the past six years I’ve been single for about five of them.  But I’m not the one licking my wounds, am I?  Chin up, Petliski.  No one likes the dude sulking in the corner. 

      • Lola

        Oh noes, some “nice guy” got his feelings hurt!

      • Robert.

        shut the fuck up. both sexes have their faults, and one of yours happens to be that you’re a condescending prick.

      • http://www.facebook.com/gregpphoto Greg Petliski

        Thats not a flaw though.

      • http://somuchtocome.blogspot.com Aja

         Hahaha.  When did you become so mean spirited?

      • http://www.facebook.com/gregpphoto Greg Petliski

        In the womb.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612928768 Samie Rose

        You’re a douche. I love it. Be my friend?

      • http://www.facebook.com/gregpphoto Greg Petliski

        Maybe.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612928768 Samie Rose

        Cool.

      • Lola

        Enjoy muttering that to yourself the next time a woman turns you down again. 

  • Anonymous

    The overdoing it on the compliments led really nicely into the quick bit about her needing to change clothes. I laughed really hard at the beat there.

  • Kindnewyorker

    I only got a little ways down, but Guster is my favorite band, and I love the hand-drum solos. Also,  a woman might ask “How do I look?” to her boyfriend, but we really don’t care. We know you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

    • margaret

      yeah we know when we look good, duh!
      i rather have you tell me if there is something that DOESN’T look good so i don’t look like an idiot, like if I have a stain on my shirt i didn’t notice or i need to iron my skirt again…….

  • http://www.facebook.com/iamahmad Ahmad Radheyyan

    Thanks for not being Ryan O’Connell or Kat George.

  • http://twitter.com/genesseT Blake

    I’m gay, and perhaps if I followed this script I could have saved my most recent relationship. #sigh

  • cait

    As someone currently in the midst of grad school/internship applications, I totally endorse the physical/mental/emotional toll my getting ready takes on my bf. Sigh.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612928768 Samie Rose

    Be my boyfriend.

    (This is in response to me loving everything you write, just not this piece in particular, though, surprise, I love this piece as well.)

    • Josh Gondelman

      Thanks for the kind words! I really appreciate them! I already am someone’s boyfriend, but I hope that does not diminish your enjoyment of things I’ve written! Can we be regular friends? Am I making this weird? Why have I not deleted this?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=612928768 Samie Rose

        It’s okay. Someone is already my boyfriend, too, so we have that sort of kind of in common and apparently we’re both kind of awkward at writing comments, too, so we also have that. If I ever run into you in a library or book store, I will say, “Hello, Josh,” and not “Hello, Boyfriend.” Best I can do, pal.

  • Menotyou

    The only prob I see with this is. if she doesnt look as good as you portray she does and she over hears another female give a bad comment on how she looks,  it will come back on you worse than her not being able to find something. help her pick things out it will go one of two ways she will decide you have no taste and that you should not be helping and you will not be asked again and wont be blamed when said girl makes bad comment. If she decides you were good help then the process goes faster aswell. Her mood will elevate because she thinks you care enough to help even though you just want her to hurry the fuck up !
    Oh yah if another  girl makes a bad comment about her after all that just say that bitch is just jealous she looks like shit.

  • CarmenOhio

    God, women aren’t robots.  All of these contrived compliments make women seem one-in-the-same.  You hate women, don’t you?  You think you’re all high and mighty and have it all figured out, huh?  Ya, that’s what I thought, jerk.  I’m staying in and I’m filling out my grad school applications tonight.  Screw this event and screw you!           –    That’s what you’ll hear if she truly believes the things you’re saying and realizes for the first time that you’re just playing the game.  That or she’ll be happy you’re trying.  Or even worse, I have no idea – women are frickin crazy sometimes and I’m officially resigning from any attempt to predict them starting now.  Good piece, though.  All guys everywhere agree with it.

    • Josh Gondelman

      A+!

    • http://www.facebook.com/gregpphoto Greg Petliski

      They ARE one in the same.

  • Ani Reina

    “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.” 
    Best quote, by far. 

    Why are you so great? Your GF is so lucky. 

  • Anonymous

    ta.gg/5bc

  • Natalie

    I hope someone punches you and your girlfriend in the face. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/gregpphoto Greg Petliski

      Start with the gf.

      • guesst

        Start with Greg Petliski

    • Robert.

      no, just him.

  • Anonymous

    How very patronizing. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregpphoto Greg Petliski

    I got a simpler way of doing all this. 

    #1 “Yeah, you look good! Now fuckin get ready quick, I’m hungry, bitch.”

  • Anonymous

    ta.gg/5bc

  • Robert.

    you forgot to mention the fact that if you actually cared about her, complimenting her and saying she looks beautiful would come natural, rather than feel like a fucking hassel, asshole.

  • Robert.

     the reason she is taking so long to get ready is because she is in competition with other girls. 

    with that said, the biggest compliment you can give a girl doesn’t even involve words: keep your eyes on her while you’re out in public. it works wonders. next time, maybe, just maybe, she won’t care so much about every single accessory, because you actively made her feel beautiful. compliments don’t have to be verbal.

  • Josh Gondelman

    Hey, guys! Thanks for reading and commenting. I generally don’t feel like the need to explain or defend stuff I write, but this is getting crazy-go-nuts.

    Firstly: To the folks that enjoyed this as a piece of humor and satire that playfully discusses the (frequent but not constant) tendency of women to spend more time than men preparing to go out to social events, thanks! You guys got it! 

    Secondly: To the folks that think I’m an anti-feminist jerk, that’s totally fine for you to think. I don’t really put a lot of stock in personal attacks leveled by semi-anonymous internet commenters. I sincerely appreciate that you took the time to read and engage with the piece. I hope you read other things I write.

    Thirdly: To the folks who took this as an excuse to be woman-hatey and angry, I can’t get on board with that. I’m a comedian and a feminist, and I didn’t mean to arouse anyone’s rage at women (or at men). I love my girlfriend, and I tell her sincere, nice things all the time, and I honestly do not begrudge her the extra time it takes her to get ready if it makes her feel happy and confident and beautiful.

    Obviously some women get ready for things quickly and others take longer. Same with men. I had considered that kind of a given when I wrote this.

    Anyway, have a great day, and stay safe from the weather if you’re in Irene’s path.

    Thanks, as always, for reading.

    Josh

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