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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Column: Duds or dudes?

Well readers, it’s been grand. I thoroughly enjoyed blathering about all sorts of different fashion concerns that I found relevant in college life. For my last column of the winter, I would like to address an issue that is constantly in the back of my mind: Is bold fashion considered attractive by my male counterparts? And despite the answer, should I even care?

Growing up as a young girl, outfits were always geared to look cute, and once we hit preteens, even a little flirty. The brand names were to impress our fellow girlies, while the figure-flattering fits were for the boys to notice. Although many females still function on similar fashion standards, I seemed to have veered off this line of thought at some point. In fact, I think it was while I was standing in line at the cash register of my favorite thrift store holding a large and chunky crew neck sweater and an all-over bow print that I realized I was no longer dressing for the guys.

This realization ticked quietly in the back of my mind while I purchased a belt in the shape of a snake, but was not availed until my latest issue of Harper’s Bazaar fell open in my lap to the article titled, “Can You be in Fashion and Still Get a Man?”

The fashion gods had heard my fears.

This article, written by Leandra Medine, explored the idea of the Man Repeller and the Man Getter. The Man Repeller, a persona that I found myself creeping towards, is more concerned with looking hip than hot. She loves the bold looks of the runway and enjoys sporting elements of high fashion, such as turbans and harem pants, in every day life. The Man Getter, who appreciates fashion in a different way, looks instead to how fashionable clothes will flatter her body and make the gentlemen drool.

Medine, author of the blog, “The Man Repeller,” clearly sides with the high fashion style of life, although she does admit that most men do not understand her style of dress, memorably noting, “I recently went on a date with a handsome Englishman. He said, ‘Everything about you is cute, except those stupid high-waisted shorts.'”

I, a fellow high-waisted shorts wearer and lover, looked upon this moment as a turning point and accepted that, as Medine said, “If he asked for a second date, I’d know he was a keeper or perhaps gay.” I am way too young to start sacrificing my own tastes and preferences in order to keep up on the man market. For now, I’d rather enjoy tripping around in saddle shoes and giraffe earrings than worry about snagging a date for Saturday night.

Admittedly, this phenomenon is more prevalent on the streets of Manhattan than on campus at UC Davis, but in such a highly interactive environment of youthful people, there is still a lot of pressure to look attractive. At parties, guys may overlook the girl in the maxi dress and turban; instead enjoying the girl in the booty shorts and tank top. Parties are a place to mate, and if mating is your goal, you may have to leave full-length jumpsuits at home.

College is, on the other hand, a repercussion free environment for self-expression. The university will not fire you from your position as a student for an outrageous eighties throwback look, and that sort of leeway may not be available in your next life chapter. The people surrounding you are also most likely pretty accepting of your fashion choices, and although they may not want to date you, they will appreciate your creative endeavors. Your endorsement of bolder fashion choices may also attract the eyes of like-minded peers, both male and female, and lead to some new friendships.

The answer to Medine’s query, of whether one could be in fashion and still get a man, is not an absolute no. I happen to have a straight male friend who loves to see girls in purple velvet leggings and corduroy floral frocks, so there is still some hope. Instead, I think that the question was posed not to induce us to think about our potential dating problems, but rather to make us evaluate our priorities. Would we rather dress to please ourselves or the opposite sex?

In my opinion, the only person my fashion needs to please is me. If I happen to attract the eye of an interested male with my elephant print dress, then more power to me.

BRITTANY NELSON is proud to call herself a man repeller. Let her know on which side of the fence you fall at blnelson@ucdavis.edu.

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