Does anyone tell you what to wear? Should they?

Tom tells Katie what to wear. That’s the breathless way it’s being reported by gossip mags after an off-hand comment she made in an interview with US Elle. Here’s what she actually said:

The actress, 30, says Cruise, 47, often critiques her clothes.

“He usually likes everything, but sometimes I’ll walk out and he’ll say, ‘I think that dress might be wearing you. You don’t need that,'” she says. She appreciates the feedback. “Tom has great taste,” Holmes gushes.

Leaving aside all the baggage about Tom controlling Katie and blah blah blah, is there anything really wrong with this? Is it a bad thing for a guy to express his opinion about what his partner is wearing?

Ask a woman who she dresses for and she’ll probably reply “myself”. If she’s fashionable and honest, she may admit “other women”. But either way, the subtext is that men are clueless and irrelevant when it comes to judging women’s clothes. And that male fashion opinions reside in their trousers…i.e guys would like us all to dress like Julia Roberts in the hooker phase of Pretty Woman. Rubbish, I say.

Here’s what I’ve noticed: men generally know what looks good on women. Often, they know better than women themselves because they’re not influenced by celebrities or labels or magazines.

Take the empire line. This is a top or dress, which is tight around the bust and then drops loosely. Women love empire lines because we think they look feminine and we don’t have to suck in our stomachs. All men hate empire lines for one reason: maternity-wear.

“Oh I hate that!” agreed one guy I asked. “It’s that awful pregnancy look. You can’t see what a girl’s hiding under there and it makes you nervous. Is she pregnant? Fat? Deformed? A bloke?”

Men may not be fluent in fashion but they’re highly conversant in what’s flattering. And what’s not.

I am one of many women who suffer from fashion blindness – the inability to see that the cool look that rocked on Kate Moss actually makes me look like an obese midget. Or a cross-dressing troll. Or simply a try-hard loser. The fact it has a Stella McCartney label does not reduce its troll-factor.

So why do so many women dress to flatter their fashion egos instead of their bodies? Why are there millions of dollars worth of ugly, unflattering clothes currently hanging in women’s wardrobes around this great nation?


Possibly, because we scorn the male fashion opinion and then hold an emotional gun to their heads until they tell us we look great. And thin.

Funnily enough, as I write this, I have been ducking in and out to ask my husband about my outfit. I have an important meeting to go to and I need to look kind of corporate and I’m not that good at judging corporate anymore. I’m good at judging jeans and I’m OK at judging fashion.

Just when I thought I had nailed the perfect combination of serious-with-a-wee-nod-to-individual-and-fashion, he helpfully pointed out I had food stains on my top. I reacted calmly and maturely by throwing my handbag on the ground and storming off.

What do you think? Are men better at knowing what looks good on us (not to mention identifying food stains)? And how much influence do men have on what you wear?

Have there been times in your life when you were more/less influenced by a guy you were with?


The fashion differences between Sydney and Melbourne

How many sizes do you have in your wardrobe?

I helped save Australia from recession, one shoe at a time

…and then I tucked my stomach INTO MY JEANS

Why are gay men in charge of female fashion?

WTF am I wearing in this photo?

Butt-cam: coming to a fitting room (or your nightmares)

Big boob prejudice – does it exist?

The labia prom dress