One Dress, Two Ways: Girls’ Night vs Date Night

Do ever think about how you would dress if you were going on a date or, conversely, if you were about to spend an evening with a bunch of your girlfriends? I don’t think about it very often given that I am married to my favorite girlfriend but when I was single, I soooooo remember how differently I would approach date dressing and girls’ night dressing. It is part of the reason I started Man Repeller! But that’s another story.

Surprisingly, seeing my girlfriends was always a more difficult occasion to dress for. That shit was an ongoing runway show wherein Blackberry phones were the street-style camera. When dressing for a date, it is almost always easier to “play it safe.” Throw on a dress that doesn’t say anything and a pair of shoes and call it the world’s lamest outfit. The dressing equivalent of pale toast. Fine, but not particularly tasty. But after Harling pitched a story about what she wears when she’s dressing for her girlfriends, I got to thinking: If I were me but single, would the clothes I wear on a date differ from the clothes I wear in life?

Ultimately, I decided probably not — but this wasn’t for the reason you probably assume. (To hell with what a man thinks! Wear what you want, when you want! This is true, but also obvious, so why beat a horse?) Rather, I like that my clothes tend to indicate that I am a million different people. Sometimes I am super-sassy (patent-leather skirts), other times I am Amelia’s dream human, the artist formerly known as Muffy von Muffling (she lives in Nantucket and sails, wears lots of cable knit, etc). Sometimes I like to look sexy, or proper, and when I do, I go with that. Part of dressing for yourself is actually listening to your own cues, right? The point is: You don’t have to have a million different items in your wardrobe in order to lean into these identities. You can, for example, take a singular dress and make it say 100 things.

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HVN dress, Gucci sandals, Olympia Le-Tan book clutch

See, this is the kind of thing you wear when you are damn sure you want to marry the person you’re dating. If you run into his parents, they will be like, “Ooooh, what a lovely girl,” not knowing at all that you murdered three people — one of which was your own aunt — yesterday! It is delicate and it is soft. Though it conceals the majority of your body, it still celebrates what is covered and in doing that, amends Adele lyrics when it says, “We could have it all.”

When you get a little creative, though, turning your closet into a hurricane and your person into its aftermath, you are left with this.

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J.Crew jacket, 3×1 T-shirt, Rosie Assoulin knitted bra, Adam Lippes skirt, Alaia sandals, Pawaka sunglasses

So much more fun, right? Much more pointed! The kind of thing you wear when you don’t know what you want to say but do know you want to say something. Everything, as a matter of fact. In this look you are singularly telling the world that you have no idea what you’re doing, but that you’re committed to that. You commit! It’s a good look for a night out with your female friends (provided they enjoy outfit dissection) because there are so many variables at play, and a great look for a night out with yourself because you can spend a lot of the night trying to figure out who you are.

I know that example took a dress and made it say two things, not 100, but the year is young. Stay tuned.

Photos by Edith Young.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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