Saturday, July 23, 2005

Guys! Listen Up! 

I learned this rule last night, which I believe to be in a subset of rules under the "Does this dress make me look fat?" category.

If, when asked, you don't care for an outfit that the lady is wearing and there is no opportunity for her to change, you compliment the outfit and the lady.

If, when asked, you don't care for an outfit that the lady is wearing and there is an opportunity for her to change, you compliment the lady and suggest that the outfit isn't the best.




In the first circumstance, an honest compliment to general appearance, while avoiding the issue of specific attire that you find less than attractive, is a kind way to comment if asked. Complimenting an outfit you don't care for is neither truthful nor wise. If you say you like it, she may well wear it again to please you!

In the second instance, I'd only add that the way you offer your opinion is important. For example, "That shirt is not as flattering to you as other things I've seen you wear" is preferable to "That looks awful."

In short, "tactful honesty" is the approach I prefer when I am asking that sort of question.

By Blogger Jane Ellen+, at 9:28 AM  

Ryan, I think you had better just get ready to say things that’ll come across wrong. The notion that we might have access to a “right answer” does not withstand the test of long-term experience.

By Blogger AKMA, at 10:45 AM  

I've always thought that the right answer to "Does this dress make me look fat?" is "Does this tie make me look stupid?"

When not making smart-ass comments, however, I have found following Jane and AKMA's advice in the matter of SO-relations to be a path strewn with fewer random pitfalls than it would otherwise be.

I would add only that you have an obligation to warn your companions of any gender when their dress is likely to result in negative social consequences. "I don't think that is appropriate" is correct even when the outfit is otherwise attractive.

It would be better to leave or not go to an event if there is no opportunity to change, than risk embarrassment. This is why trust is so important in relationships. One caution: if you suggest that you not go to, or remain at, the event you had originally intended, you must take your companion(s) somewhere else.

By Anonymous Micah, at 11:08 AM  

"Does this dress make me look fat?"

While shopping in the store, you might get by with a fairly straightforward answer.

When she's trying to decide what to wear, you must be more circumspect, since she probably chose the dress in the first place.

When you're already out somewhere, something along the lines of "you look fine, dear" is often the only response.

And you didn't already know about this?

By Blogger Dawgdays, at 2:18 PM  

What great responses! I suppose I should state the specific occasion/question was, "Does this look bad? Should I go home and change?" I said, no, you look fine. I was told that was the wrong answer - if there is an opportunity to change, one should. All in all it was an odd experience. Surely this is covered in the "Man's Handbook" somewhere...


By Blogger Ryan, at 4:58 PM  

Personally, I don't think you should say anything unless she looks totally inappropriate for the situation, and even then, you should tread VERY lightly. My husband, intelligent man that he is, has told me on a few occaisions that he thought I wasn't appropriately dressed for work. That earned him a good half day of the silent treament. (It doesn't help that the first time he did that, I was in the first trimester of my second pregnancy. He informed me that I looked like I was wearing sweatpants and a shawl. Very, very bad idea.)

Yes, girls are stupid for asking for opinions when they don't necessarily want them. But honestly, your best bet is to find something to compliment.

By Anonymous Lacy, at 8:17 AM  

It seems you have confused, "do i look fat in this?" with "do you like this?" Her asking your opinion of an outfit is not an opportunity for you to assert you will and cause her to change. Asking do I look fat in this is asking for your validation. In my opinion, it is a sign that she needs a compliment at that moment because she's not entirely self-assured. And if you enjoy her company, giving her such a compliment will help keep you in it. Course, Jane and AKMA do indeed have great combined wisdom.

By Anonymous Hope, at 3:44 AM  

To resolve the issue from the other side, we've agreed in our household that the proper response to, "what do you think of this outfit?" or "does this make me feel fat?" or any variation thereof is to respond, "what do YOU feel like when you are wearing it?" and "is that the feeling that you want to hang on to during the event?" Amazing how this has made us both more thoughtful, more reliant on self-validation, and, on the whole, less prone to massive arguments. (On the other hand, it is nice to hear an unsolicited compliment - if truthful).

By Blogger Debra, at 3:09 PM  

I'm not sure I follow what you're saying, Hope - because it doesn't seem to follow Ryan's post at all. Where does asserting will and forcing a change of clothes come into play in Ryan's statement? It seems he's just made a new advance in inter-gender conversational strategy. He alludes to weight issues but only as an example of a no-win situation that women have a tendency to put the men in their lives in.

Ryan, maybe when I find some time for something other than school (not likely in the forseeable future) I'll let you know how (or if) that worked.

By Blogger BrotherBeal, at 3:23 PM  

There is so much to say.

First, if there is a handbook and men have been following said handbook, then i suggest we burn it and start over. If there is a handbook and we are not following it, then maybe we should.

And in either case, I have no knowedge of such a handbook. SOmeone hook me up.

When my wife says "Do you think I look fat in this outfit" I tend to feign outrage. "Why?! Has someone told you so? Who was it? I'll baptize 'em again if need be!"

Humor is lovely. This is why I like Micah's response.

I think my wife is beautiful. I tell her so daily. This sometimes helps her manage the "fat-making" clothing issue. It also means that I have a little credit in the bank when she wears something unflattering and I have to respond honestly.

"As the man who married you and thinks that you are the most beautiful woman in the world, I might suggest that you wear..."

She sniffs out the b.s. but it works.

By Anonymous Tripp, at 12:33 PM  

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