Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why Am I So Dressed Up?

15

15

15

Works Cited--Outfit 15
sweater: urban outfitters
skirt, tights: gap
belt: old navy
wedges: target
necklace: macy's

One of the strange side-effects of dressing a bit differently than people around you is garnering the "Why are you so dressed up?" question. I'm sure it comes from a well-meaning or curious place but I'm stumped about how to respond. Do you say "thank you"? Or the evasive but honest "No reason, I just like to feel put together"? Or a teasing-but-pointed "Why are you so dressed down?" I try not to ask this kind of question to others because I feel like it makes people feel self-conscious, especially when someone is trying to put more effort into his/her appearance and might feel apprehensive about a wardrobe-change (how about "You look great!") But I still don't know the best way to respond to this innocuous question! Especially when I'm not "dressed up" for anything special, unless you count cuddling with E.M. Forster and making a sunny bike-ride to the library wedge-worthy :)

81 comments:

Sian said...

I get this sort of question a lot, especially from my family, so it's at least a bit easier to answer to them! I just tell people nowadays either "I'm always over-dressed" or "I just like dressing up"! Anyway, I love this outfit, the wedges are lovely =)
http://xrebelangelx.blogspot.com/

Carmia said...

Hmmm... Maybe it's the combination of black with a shiny necklace? That necklace is a real statement piece by the way, love it!

Nodakademic said...

You really hit the nail on the head with this. Your bio says you're in the midwest--I am too-- and I wonder if this has something to do with it? When I lived on the west coast I felt like I could wear practically anything (or nothing!) and no one would care either way. In the midwest, every time I go so far as to wear a skirt people wonder what fancy event I might be preparing to attend. I actually have a post in my drafts folder about my wardrobe as a whole, and part of it touches on this subject. So this was a really timely post for me to read. :)

Allison said...

Oh my gosh, I get this all the time because my office is VERY casual (to them dressing up is wearing a skirt..)

My latest question (yesterday I might add), was "Why do you look so done up today? Are you going somewhere fancy later??" I just said "nope, I'm dressed up for work!" and smiled.

I've realized that sometimes embracing a backhanded compliment just defers the awkwardness to the other person :).

BiblioMOMia said...

I hate that question. It sucks.

Yesterday, a colleague in my department (who is notorious for wearing old hoodies, ratty jeans, and running shoes to teach) did the whole "oh my god, how can you stand wearing heels like that all day!" thing to me. Well, because I like them. Because I feel confidant wearing them. Because, no, my feet don't hurt. And most of all, because I want to keep an appropriate ethos on campus by dressing well. Arrgh.

Lovely but subtle neutral mixing here--you know what a fan I am of that!

minuteobsessions said...

It is an awkward question! The dress code at my office is business casual, heavy on the casual, and although my co-workers seem to have gotten to used to the way I dress, I do sometimes get "Do you have an interview?" I usually shrug and just tell them that I felt like looking polished today.

And your necklace is lovely! Really pops in the outfit!

Jeanni said...

I get this all the time! It's so not just the midwest though, I get it all the time on the East Coast. It's like the idea of wearing something other than jeans, leggings, or sweatpants hasn't occurred to people yet. :/ I usually just say I'm not and then there's an awkward silence where I feel good about myself, and my questioner is confused.

Melanie's Randomness said...

I get that question alot when I wear skirts and a nice top at work. I have a very VERY casual job where the guys sometimes wear sweatpants. I do it to feel extra girlie sometimes. =) I love your necklace! =)

Melanie's Randomness

bw said...

look at your cute shadow!

kdr*S said...

My husband gave me the perfect answer: "Because i enjoy wearing my clothes!" There is no such thing as a "life dress code" so wear your best everyday and live it up!

You look fantastic!!!

Carly said...

You could say "I do what I want!" ha.

Melanie said...

I get this question all the time too. I just smile and say, "I'm not." That usually suffices. :)

AW said...

I hate all questions about personal appearance. They're never in good taste. I also never quite know how to respond, so I usually end up muttering something and changing the subject quickly. A compliment is easy, I just say, "Thanks!" But a "why are you so dressed up?" is harder to answer.

Emily said...

I was watching What Not to Wear last night and Stacy and Clinton were bemoaning the pajamafication of America. So you could say, "I'm fighting the pajamafication of America." :)

In all seriousness though, I usually just say, "Because I felt like it!" No one ever really has a comeback for that.

Job and Rachael said...

haha that is so true! Whenever I wear anything but jeans and a T-shirt I get that question. But I am going to prevail and start dressing up more anyways :) Because sometimes I just feel like it! ;)

Married In Chicago said...

Yikes! I recognize myself as someone who asks that questions. You are totally right - it probably does make people feel self-conscious. I've got to work on cutting that question out of my conversations!

Bailey said...

I love how all the comments are like, 'I get this a lot.' I love that. The blogosphere, saving fashion one dress or skirt at a time.

But in all seriousness, I get this a lot. People usually assume it's because of my job (which it usually is), but really, it's because I can't really think of a good reason not to. It's comfortable for me, I love wearing heels, and it makes me feel good about myself and gives me confidence. So...why not?

Alessandra said...

It used to drive me crazy. In Italy I was used to wearing a skirt with wool tights, boots, a sweater and whatever...and going about my day. When I wore that kind of outfit in college in the US, I was constantly getting asked why I was so dressed up!
I'm in double digit reunion years so you get a sense of how long it's been going on.

Anyway, keep wearing these gorgeous outfits. You look wonderful.

KP said...

I work in an office with a dress code, and I put extra effort on days I know I will be in work (especially in the training lab with faculty). However, dressing up is not required of graduate assistants and student workers.

I used to be more of a jeans/tee/sandals or sneakers sort of dresser;I didn't like it. But I receive similar comments often from other grad students in classes and even the student employees I work with.

I'm also in the Midwest. Perhaps there is something to that...Anyway, you always look great!

Paige (Final Clothes-Out) said...

I hate that, too. Can't a girl just look nice?

Also, I don't think you're THAT dressed up. But maybe everyone around you is super casual all the time.

Courtney Erin said...

I think this is a really nice mix of dressed up but still sort of casual - basically you just look really pulled together!

xoxo ~ Courtney
http://sartorialsidelines.blogspot.com

wearonearth said...

Yeah, I agree with the commenters above I don't think you look all that dressed up.

I think this is sometimes discipline dependent as well. In my discipline (Geography), faculty and grad students don't "dress up" for anything and flip flops, jeans and a t-shirt is a standard teaching outfit. My colleagues think I'm odd to want to look nice and professional for teaching but I have gotten some (of the younger) grad students that sometimes its good to get "dressed up."

Genny said...

I just wrote about something similar the other day - wearing dresses/skirts/heels in my small town is always a cause for raised eyebrows. Then I added a big pink flower to my outfit. I got lots of comments - many positive, but several questionable remarks veiled as compliments.

I think it's great that you wear so many cute skirts and dresses! Keep 'em coming!

gennyalexander.typepad.com/alexander/2011/02/take-two.html

What Would a Nerd Wear said...

you all have such terrific suggestions and ideas--i can't tell you how excited i was to read these comments!
i agree that midwesterners are more likely to dress casually--maybe that's a part of it!
(and bibliomama--i am with you 100%! we wouldn't ask a person "why are you wearing tennis shoes?" it's so frustrating to get the "why are you wearing heels?" i hear you!!) xoxo

Futurelint said...

Your necklace is so pretty with that grey - for some reason I'm really into soft pinks and greys together for spring for this ballerina color palette!

I never know how to respond to that either! Now that I've worked at the same school for three years, most staff and kids are used to it, but when someone mentions it I usually just shrug and say "Every day it's something different." because I do feel like my look changes a lot from day to day.

Megan said...

I agree with everyone who says it might be a Midwest thing. I live in a college town in Kansas and the majority of the students come from farming families. Their definition of fashion is sweatpants and Ugg boots. Sometimes I feel limited in my clothing choices because of the weird looks I get. For example, wearing tights is unheard of. Maybe it's just a college thing?

Also, I would try and take their question as a compliment! This outfit is really cute and I'd totally wear it (if tights were acceptable..)

Julia said...

Just smile and say, "I just felt like it today," or "sometimes it's nice to change it up a bit," or "why not?"

Kirsten said...

I totally know what you mean! I don't even usually feel like I look dressed up but peoples around here usually like to do the cowboy look and when theres me standing amongst them wearing a dress or a fancy necklace, I tend to be the add one out!
Im so glad I am not the only one that happens to!!
I think you look adorable today tho! Loving that necklace.
Kirsten

tastymoog said...

What do people expect you to wear, pjs and crocs? It's not like you're wearing a ball gown to the library.

Lexie, Little Boat said...

i actually think when people say that they are trying to give a compliment ... i just smile and say thank you! sometimes dresses/skirts are more comfortable than pants, etc etc.

tastymoog said...

haha, I just read Emily's comment about the pajamafication of America. So gross. Sorry, I just can't hide my disdain for the act of wearing pajamas in public!

Rebecca said...

I love the pink necklace with all of those neutrals. It compliments the grey well, and looks very springy.

Meredith said...

Having been a grad student too (very recently) I too often got that question. I thought that moving into the workplace would end that, but it hasn't. My current job is fairly casual so I still field comments about heels and skirts. They're finally starting to get used to me now. Glad to hear other people have had the same experiences!

Kate said...

I'm a grad student in the SW and I get this question a lot. I think the same would be true if I were in the NW (where I grew up).

Just yesterday a professor who is always put together had this quick convo with me as we were both walking into the restroom (I was wearing a skirt, boots that I wear about 3 school days per week, a simply top and a cardigan):

prof: "You look nice! Do you teach on Wednesdays?"
me: "no..."
prof: "You just dress nicely?"
me: "I try to."
prof: "It's working!"

I've found that wearing skirts and dresses always makes people think I'm more dressed up, even in the case of this professor who regularly wears dresses and skirts.

Cel said...

Yeah, I get that too from time to time, especially when I'm wearing some of my more "formal" 70's dresses. I just tell people no, I just like putting thought and effort into how I look.

KadryLiz said...

Wow, the same thing happened to me twice this week. I really didn't try to look different, but everyone still asked me, if I had something special planned for those days. I also don't know how to respond and try to change the subject someway. But you look just great :)

Jewelscapes Handmade Jewelry said...

You look great, great necklace.
I live in a small town where the norm is to wear jeans and t or even holey sweatpants and sweatshirt to the grocery store, so when someone asks me why I'm so dressed up or ask me if I'm going somewhere special, I take it as a compliment! I usually respond with a smile and say "I just like to dress up!"
I love what Emily (above) said - "I'm fighting the pajamafication of America." :)

Eclectic Flair said...

I know, I hate that too! Usually I answer, "oh am I? Thanks! I didn't notice, I guess this is just how I dress" and then sort of laugh it off.

Lidi @ Eclectic Flair

mrmella said...

I like your shadow in the hands on hips photo:)

hurricanekerrie said...

I get this all the time, too! I work at a private preschool that doesn't enforce a uniform but I still get this question along with, "Aren't you afraid of ruining your (Insert clothing item here)?" All I say is nope. I mean, if it's going to be ruined, fine. It's just clothes. But I wear what I wear to feel confident in myself, you know?

Books and Looks

Lori said...

I think you look beautiful and that necklace... I want it.
I understand where you are coming from. Being a stay-at-home mom, I always feel a little overdressed everywhere I go. At first, I felt weird about being asked why I was so dressed up. Now, if people ask, I tell them that I feel better and more put together if I'm dressed.
Anna Wintour had a great quote about being dressed up and fashion in the "The September Issue". I wish I could remember it :)

Check out my cowl scarf give-away!

Miss. Studios said...

Aweee! Cute thought!!

grace said...

looking cute per usual- and i love the pink of that necklace!

Justine said...

I don't know how to answer "why are you so dressed up today?" either. Maybe the weather is nicer so I try to put more effort into my outfit could be one reason. I agree, "You look great!" or a compliment of a certain piece will do it's justice.

But you do look great! Take advantage of the weather! :)

Just Better Together

the other emily said...

It's funny, I think this question always arises when you stand out of a particular sartorial context, be it geographic, professional, disciplinary, etc.

When I was in grad school, I was never asked this - my classmates were all either from NYC or London/Shanghai/Seoul, and stilettos were de rigeur for many of them. Then when I worked in NYC, I got comments like this all the time at work, from my very jock-ish, mostly male co-workers. I'd always get flustered and stammer something about, "I'm not dressed up, I just dress this way..." I guess to a lot of people, 'dressed up' means simply 'dressed.'

(Still, I'll take "Why are you so dressed up?" over "You look tired" any day - why on earth do people think that's an acceptable familiar greeting??)
the other emily

Elisabeth said...

I often respond with "Oh, just because."

Jess said...

Major BEA ad on the side of this page right now, and I got momentarily jazzed because I'm going this year :)

I think that necklace is really pretty. To me it's always seemed like my wearing a skirt is the defining factor for dressing "nicely" or "up", especially in a workplace where pants usually rule the day. If someone asks why I'm so dressed up, I respond with a stubborn and confusing "thank you!" because generally it makes people realise that I've decided to take their comment as a compliment.

Anna said...

nice outfit. why are you so dressed up?

anna
the hummingbird haps

Stef / Diversions said...

I am sure some people ask that sort of question out of innocent curiousity but whenever I hear it there is a pointed edge to it and I know I am not just imagining the accusatory tone. I tend to go with a shrug and a flustered smile. Not that that is a great answer it just always seems easiest at the time.

mcmanda said...

I have a female coworker friend, that basically wears tshirts and jeans everyday. But if one day, she wears a nicer jacket (instead of a hoodie), or wears tall boots--she knows she will get asked why she is so dressed up (we work with alot of year round shorts wearing men) so to avoid being embarrassed by them, she just doesn't wear those things. She hates it but would rather not be asked than look a little nicer on some days, ha.

Jessica said...

Ooh! I've been reading your blog for about a year now and this is my first comment! So before I comment, I just want to say thanks for putting together such a great blog!

Re: your post: I have been on both the asking and the answering side of this question; when I ask, it's always for the opportunity to compliment someone, even if that compliment is slightly delayed by wishing them luck at whatever they've dressed up for (if that happens to be the case!). This could be because I teach in a music department and it's not uncommon for my students to have auditions or recitals mixed in with regular class obligations.

From Suns To Moons said...

I`m so happy you wrote about this and that so many other bloggers agree because I felt like the only person bothered about this question at my work. See, I work in a very casual ESL school where Korean students always say inappropriate things like ``You`ve gained weight`` or ``I can see your makeup.`` I am probably the only teacher who doesn`t just wear jeans and a tee so I always get asked: ``You have special plan tonight, teacher?" It really bothers me but the other teachers think I'm being overly sensitive! From now on, I should just use your idea and retort with "Why are you so dressed down?" Maybe they'll start to catch on.

inday_adin said...

You look great! I guess you just have to start answering them like "You feel great, that's why"? Maybe? hehehe... :)

Pixie in Pumps said...

love this, it's so soft and sweet. I get that question a lot too. Typically I just say I just felt like it... even when the real answer is I'm not dressed up, but I usually just go with the other so not to make someone else awkward about asking.

Kayla said...

I never know how to answer the "why are you so dressed up" question. I find it strange that people find it strange that I would want to feel good and put together in my clothes!

Ramblings of a Small Town Girl

aj said...

I get that sort of question all the time it seems. Even at work, where we are supposed to be dressed "professionally" (it's a public elementary school and some teachers consider professional dress a sweatshirt, jeans, & tennis shoes). I never know how to answer it either - I've said, "Oh, I just felt like wearing this today." I need some better answers though...

On another note, I can't believe I'm halfway through the 30 for 30 as well! I love all of your outfits so far - they are all so different but all well put-together! Great job. :)

http://all-about-aj.blogspot.com

SIENA.STYLE said...

well dont worry because you DO look great!!I love this outfit!
kiss from prague
im also remixing 30 for 30 right now:)

Nena Nadine said...

I totally agree. I've thought about posting about this recently. As I've started to wear makeup more often. Or just dress nice ( I wouldn't even say dressed up just not jeans and a t-shirt). I get comments more like "You're wearing makeup" to which I respond thank you captain obvious or really, I didn't notice. With the why are you dressed up one I do comment back in the why aren't you vain. Whether they are being intentionally or the more likely unintentionally rude it needs to be pointed out to them that they are being rude.

everyday katie said...

That is the prime reason I get scared away from skirts. I prefer skirts. I look better in them. But I get that comment every time. I end up not wearing skirts as often as I want because I feel like I'm too dressed up for the grocery store or library story time. Sheesh! Why do I let the thoughts of others run my wardrobe?

I always thought maybe that didn't happen to fashion bloggers...like maybe you all had different kinds of outings or different kinds of friends. Knowing that you get the same comment gives me more courage. Thanks.

Cassandra Beverly said...

Sometimes, I feel it is a midwest thing - skirts are only saved for holidays when the weather is warm. But, I love skirts and dresses and have them hanging in my closet so I may as well wear them! The funny part is I go to an all girls college in Minnesota and I get asked a lot "Why are you so dressed up?" and I never know what to say either!

thanks for blogging, I love reading! And your outfits inspire me to actually wear what it is my wardrobe! {love! love}

My Heart Blogged said...

I think it's funny when people do that. Like the other day I was putting on a skirt to go to Walmart, and my boyfriend said "What are you getting all dressed up for?".
My Heart Blogged

eleanor said...

I get this question A LOT. I was just talking to one of my blogging friends about this - I'm usually overdressed when I'm at uni, because I like to wear pretty dresses and boots, and everyone else is in trackpants/jeans/hoodies/t-shirts. Ah well. I like to dress up for anything!

This outfit is adorable, you DO look great :)

shealennon said...

Haha, that's a question I get sometimes too. Don't you love it? I love that soft pink necklace against the gray and black.

Lauren said...

I usually just say, "I just felt like being dressed up today" because oftentimes its true! I definitely have my slummy/comfy days but they need to be counterbalanced with some awesome dressy days too!

I really really really love this outfit by the way - the neutral interplay is fan-freaking-tastic!!

Small Time Style

Carla @ Chasing Cakes said...

I think you look great, Tania! The funny thing is that you just look nice, not overdressed, to me. I live in Sydney, Australia, and most of the girls dress in the same way that you have dressed today- black skirts, tights, flats, cute accessories. You'd fit right in here- all of us Sydney girls would be envious of your outfit! Keep on dressing the way you do, 'cause you look awesome! On another note, I used to dress like a Harajuku girl (fluoro purple tights, tutus, striped socks, the whole deal) and people used to say, "I didn't know it was a fancy dress party tonight!"...and it WASN'T! Ha ha!

Ana from Sweet Serendipity Design said...

This is so true. My family always asks me this question. I also never ever know how to reply. haha

Emily Maren said...

I'm with you, my goal is to wear a skirt to work so many times that my co-workers stop saying "Oooh Fancy!" whenever I do.

Sofia said...

Ooo, I love this look. I love the shiny black tights.

Jennifer said...

Well, I would just tell you, you look great! :)

Mandy said...

I never understand why people ask that question as its just so awkward. I never know how to reply other than assuming I don't look as nice on others day lol?

anotherfishinthesea said...

Ha I always get the same kind of question when I dress up... and usually just end up with the awkward "thanks!" You look great as always, Tania!

theresa said...

love the top! and skit! too cute!!

theresaisyourhomie.blogspot.com

Jenn said...

I used to get this question all the time when I started transitioning my wardrobe from dress pants to skirts and dresses. Nowadays, my co-workers are used to it. Sometimes, though, they will give me the "you're dressed up ..." and I'll just respond with the "no I'm not, I dress like this all the time ... "

Complex Cardigans

Anonymous said...

How about:

"Because the dress code for my life is Super Awesome."

Big smile. Walk away.

Bonny said...

because it's __(day of the week)__!! love your posts~

The Blissful Academic said...

Working in a lab and enjoying clothes, I have the same issue. People are always asking why I am so dressed up. You would think that they would be used to it by now. I enjoy it though, because it means they are noticing the work I put into my outfits.

kelsey said...

you look so nice all dressed up! :) isn't it crazy how we're such a dressed-down culture that people get asked weird questions like that? i don't dress up very much so people ask me that same thing lately now that i'm trying to be a little more put-together.

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SR Guzman said...

A couple people have asked..."What if I lived on the West/East coast?" I live in Los Angeles and it's almost worse here with the constant beach style. I think as long as you're comfortable--walk around like you own it!

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Kwesi said...

Interesting blog post.

I recently read blog post from an older blogger (a 60's child) about casual and smart dressing.

I thought it may be a class , peer pressure or upbringing influence that causes people to dress the way they do - Taking into account the effects of media and marketing.

Anyways a polite answer to the question could be "because I think it is appropriate". Not agreesive but assertive enough to put your point across (assuming that you believe it is appropriate).

Thanks for the interesting blog post.

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