Breathless: Can You Date Someone If You Hate Their Style? | #tinder | #pof


We’ve all been there: You’re on a Tinder date and the guy shows up wearing a very, very large scarf. Do you run? Or do you stay and pray for “good conversation”? You sort of hate yourself for caring about your date’s style malfunction. But you care. You really care. Of course, there’s truth to the old adage that clothes don’t make the man. True love is about connection, trust, intimacy, and compassion. And yet, no one wants to date someone who looks like shit.

Style is important to me. It’s sexy, and it makes being conscious far less boring. To quote the iconic street style photographer Bill Cunningham: “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life,”and everyday life is difficult enough without throwing a deep V into the mix. If you’re at all sartorially inclined, can you date someone if you hate their style?

A few years ago, in a momentary lapse of judgement, I let a friend set me up on a blind date. The guy sounded great on paper: an architect, well traveled, had built an orphanage in Mexico (or something low-key colonial like that). But then he showed up wearing jeans that gripped exclusively around his thighs and a tank top with confusingly large arm holes. Red flag(s). Halfway through dinner, he told me that he’d done ayahuasca more than 60 times. I was like, “Dude, I already knew that—I could tell by the little rock in your braided anklet.”

It’s often said that it’s both misguided and superficial to judge people by their clothes, but I think you can tell a lot about someone from what they’re wearing. The way we dress is part of how we construct our personal narrative. Our clothes are the most visible manifestation of our desires and our identity, and I don’t identify as someone who dates a man with a pocket square. (Instead, I dress like Elle Woods at a sex party, but in a way that attempts to be meta and self-aware. I think it’s working?)

My friend Clara agrees that style and substance have far more in common than we’re led to believe. Clara worked in fashion in New York until her recent move to Los Angeles. Initially, she was excited about her new, aggressively meditative, Prius-sponsored, dad-jeans L.A. life. But as soon as she started dating, she was hit with style culture shock.

“L.A. is like an early retirement resort,” Clara told me. “If you just wore workout shorts and flip-flops every day, you’d be fine. Most people don’t even own real pants. I thought we’d made fun of fedoras so much that no one would dare wear them, and yet, in L.A., you find every form of fedora and its cousin. And beanies in 90-degree weather. It’s like, you’re a 38-year-old man, why are you wearing hats?”

Clara’s friends tell her she’s a snob—that if hats are a deal breaker, she’ll never date anyone. But she argues that style differences can be representative of larger incompatibilities. “If I met an amazing guy and he wore a terrible hat, I could probably work through that,” she said, pensive. “But we don’t make style choices in a vacuum, and it’s hard to take someone seriously if he’s wearing a shirt that shows his nipples. If you’re looking for a life partner, then you don’t want to date someone with a Burning Man wardrobe and a Burning Man house and Burning Man life goals.”

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