My Husband is More Stylish Than Me. And That’s Okay.

Posted on
Jul 25, 2016
21

I have a confession.

My husband, Rand, is more fashionable than me. This is contrary to everything that movies and television have taught me, where the female sex is supposed to be stylish, and men can run around looking like they’re in the middle of washing their car. Behold.

But that’s not the case with me and Rand. He consistently looks great. And sometimes, despite knowing better, that makes me feel really awkward.

The inherent sexism in all of it is clear: women are to be valued for their appearance (that bequeathed by both god and Barney’s) and men are to be valued for their brave efforts to pass cargo shorts off as formal wear. So I must commend my husband for bucking convention and gender roles in his dapperness. Because … dear lord.

 

I mean … what the fuck is even going on here?

 

It’s like a scene from The Most Interesting Man in The World: The Early Years. It’s like the sorting hat at Hogwarts put him in a house called “OH HELL YES.” He looks like he went to Jeff Goldblum’s Fashion Summer Day Camp for 9 straight years and earned lots of merit badges having to do with smoldering.

 

My life is a nightmare. I am married to a guy who looks good in 90-degree weather, while jet-lagged, while hiking the goddamn rock of Gibraltar, the latter feat being so preposterous that our friends who were traveling with us could only turn to me and ask, “Seriously, what the fuck?”

I don’t have an answer for them. I have loved this man for nearly 15 years and it has always been like this. He smells like cedarwood and incense and raspberries and competence and he rarely has cake frosting on his shirt.

 

Australian comedian Celeste Barber recently wrote about her life with her hot husband and all the difficulties it carries with it. She has to deal with random people walking up to her and saying “Well done” while gesturing to her dishy partner, which is sort of complimentary in an incredibly insulting way (like when dogs hump your leg. It’s like, “I guess I’m flattered, but WTF.”)

This has happened to me occasionally. People will look at Rand appraisingly and usually give me a proud nod. But more often than not, they don’t even realize we’re together, because the dude looks like he’s from an entirely different tax bracket.

 

And I look like I’m cleaning out my car circa 1998. I look like it’s Casual Friday at an accounting firm manned by hobbits. I look like promotional consideration has been paid for by apathy, color blindness, and the irregular clothing section of Ross (which is, for the uninformed, the entire store).

 

I look like a crazed fan who’s been standing out in the sun for hours hoping to get a photo with the star she has an interminable crush on (an analogy that isn’t even that far from reality).

Dude is flawless. All the time.

 

Here Rand is wearing a shirt by an indie French designer and I have on a tank top that I got on sale at Ann Taylor Loft even though it was the wrong size. I literally slept in it the night before and was like, “Ah, what the hell.”

Rand looks like he isn’t even warm and it was literally a hundred degrees.

 

My editor recently asked me for a placeholder author photo for my book, and I had to send her one from 2012, because that was the only one I could find where I didn’t look like I was shipwrecked.

And I know what you are thinking: for fuck’s sake, quit complaining and just LEARN TO DRESS YOURSELF. But darlings, I have tried. That’s the terrible part: this is me trying. I’m wearing jewelry and make up and I’ve done my hair, even though it seems like I picked this look out of I Think She Just Came From the Gym Magazine.

Society as a whole has created the impression that as a woman, I should just know this stuff. That once you start menstruating, you also understand whatever the hell a sheath is, and how to find one that works perfectly with your body type (even if that body type is, as once described by the saleswoman I encountered in a London boutique, challenging.) There’s this understanding that the female sex is supposed to be fashionable, and those of us who have male partners are supposed to dress them, because boys are utterly clueless, AM I RITE, LADIES? HA HA HA HA HA SOMETHING SOMETHING CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN.

This bullshit misogyny goes both ways. We think that men – and in particular, straight men – aren’t supposed to understand fashion. If they do, it somehow negates their masculinity. I’ve had straight women tell me, bemused, how they have to buy all their male partner’s clothes because their guys just HATE to shop. And when I tell them that I’ve tried to buy things for Rand, but I usually miss the mark because he’s so particular, they just sort of stare at me for a long time.

“Oh. That must be … nice.”

Because clearly, if a straight man likes to shop, something is very, very wrong with him. It’s fine if a gay guy understands the traditionally female domain of clothing, but if a straight guy does it? Well …

Rand occasionally gets homophobic slurs hurled at him (most recently while walking down a street of a major Midwestern city). He obviously doesn’t mind if people think he’s gay (because, you know, being gay isn’t an insult. Duh. A few weeks ago, a handsome young man stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Rand coming around a corner, looked him up and down and said, “Oh, my.” Rand smiling ear to ear, looked at me afterwards and said, “Still got it.”), but he does hate the hate. He told me he was grateful for the glimpse at what so many of our friends go through – and also sort of amazed at the judgments people make based on how you look.

That you can get harassed even if you look nice. Hell, you can get harassed because of it.

And while so many of us are great at not being superficial when it comes to others, we have trouble extending that same human decency to ourselves. I would never pick on a friend for wearing her old Converse shoes out to a bar, but I do that to myself all the time.  I consistently feel self-conscious because the love of my life … well, he cleans up better than me. I say this not as a desperate attempt to conjure up compliments for myself, but as a statement of fact. As though that’s somehow what’s important.

Let me be clear: clothes are great. They keep us warm, save us from lots of awkward interactions with family members, and prevent us from getting injured while cooking bacon. They are a great vehicle for expressing yourself. But there isn’t a right way or a wrong way to do it. If it’s what you are passionate about, that’s awesome. But stop picking on yourself if you can’t figure out the whole high-waisted short thing. Because – and I know we all hear this all the time, but it bears repeating – it’s really not that important. How we look is due to dozens of things we can scarcely control: circumstance, genetics, our income and the income of our parents’. It was decided at a million different junctions in our lives: when we were in the womb, when we decided to shave our head in college, when realized that we hated running and high heels and that we loved pants that felt like pajamas.

And none of it really matters.

If Rand wants to take a stand against traditional gender roles and sexism, and do so while looking downright gorgeous? I need to be cool with that. I need to remember that it’s not a reflection on me. If I want to dress up, I can. But I don’t have to prove my worth as his partner via my appearance. I’ll wear cargo shorts while he turns heads.

But make no mistake: that pretty little thing all dolled up in the corner? The one with the legs that keep going and going? He’s with me.

Leave a Comment

  • Elle-Rose Williams

    Geraldine the pair of you together are the coolest, most awesome, hilarious, handsome, beautiful couple. It’s a thing you’re totally working together, both outside and inside.

    Although, I won’t lie, I have remarked several times over the last few years how Rand is definitely ‘upping his style game’. He has more style in his moustache than I’ve ever had my entire life.

  • J Tidrick

    I’m married to one of these as well- and he just keeps getting better looking as he gets older- just had a group of mid-20 year old girls nickname him tansome- he truly is old enough to be their father, and I think the male 30 year old bartender the other night was trying to pick him up, sigh.
    I love your “looking like I’m shipwrecked” line- as I age, I find I’m just invisible. You are adorable- always- Rand knows he is a lucky man.

  • JessLHutton

    This is my life. I’m a college-era Goodwill trainwreck that happened across a decent pair of boots somewhere in my life. And Dave, God love him, looks amazing all the time. Even hiking up the side of a mountain. But I just tell him I’m here to make him look better. And I’ll always make key lime pie. 😉 You’re invited – any time!

  • I love your self-deprecating humor because it makes the fact that you’re genuinely HOT and very much in Rand’s tax bracket all the more endearing.

  • Ellie

    Oh my gosh I’ve never related to a blog post more! I’m about to marry the most dapper and fashion forward guy I know. I once tried to buy him a shirt and we had to return it – he is so particular!

  • I relate to this so much. I have a style that could best be described as “teenage dirtbag.” Meanwhile, my boyfriend is literally starting a clothing line.

  • My husband, while not nearly so fashionable as Rand, also appreciates the occasional up-down and approval nod — often finding even more validation when it comes from men than from women. So I love this!

    Though you should think about easing off of the self-deprivation because you are gorgeous. Why is it that the hilarious, witty, intelligent female writers of our society feel such a strong need to put themselves down publicly? (Case-in-point: See any Tina Fay film, *especially* “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” which is her attempt at being serious, but she still can’t refrain from having male characters say that she looks like a boy every 5 minutes.) It’s like they feel they need to make up for all of that awesome sauce by pointing out that they lack elsewhere. Which they usually don’t. Which only makes the rest of us normal, half-witty slobs feel worse.

    (Though I do see your point that it’d be hard to dress to impress while standing next to someone who’s obviously as put-together as Rand. But no one would assume you’re not together because it’s kind of hard to miss the cartoon hearts that burst forth from both of your eyeballs and meet with lusty, charismatic explosions somewhere in the middle. So really, so one’s looking at your damn tank top. 😉 )

  • My husband, while not nearly so fashionable as Rand, also appreciates the occasional up-down and approval nod — often finding even more validation when it comes from men than from women. So I love this!

    Though I have to ask: Why is it that the hilarious, witty, intelligent female writers of our society feel such a strong need to publicly self-deprecate? (Case-in-point: See any Tina Fay film, *especially* “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” which is her attempt at being serious, but she still can’t refrain from having male characters say that she looks like a boy every 5 minutes.) It’s like they feel they need to make up for all of that awesome sauce by pointing out that they lack elsewhere. Which they usually don’t. Which only makes the rest of us normal, half-witty slobs feel worse.

    (I do see your point that it’d be hard to dress to impress while standing next to someone who’s obviously as put-together as Rand. But no one would assume you’re not together because it’s kind of hard to miss the cartoon hearts that burst forth from both of your eyeballs and meet with lusty, charismatic explosions somewhere in the middle. So really, so one’s looking at your damn tank top. 😉 )

    • Everywhereist

      Hi, Katie! Thanks for the kind words and for being my sister in having to endure gorgeous spouses. Re my self-deprecation (though I’d like to call it self-awareness. :D), the point I was trying to make is that how we look really doesn’t matter. That people should embrace looking schlubby, that we should even be afraid of the word “ugly” when describing our appearance, because there is so much more to us than that. It sounds like you get that, though, because as you noted, no one is looking at my damn tank top. 😀 <3 <3 <3

  • MenArePigsWomenAreSheep

    hmmm…. hipster isn’t stylish… it’s sort of dumb. Like a curly cue mustache (yes, I know there is probably a cool word for this)… which he also has. Just saying.

  • EJ

    My wife works from home, a lucky demographic but not one traditionally known for weekday sartorial splendor. This very morning, she walked into the kitchen wearing a cute skirt and a shirt with buttons, and I said, “wow, laundry day??? haha” but no, “no, I just wanted to look cute today.” And she did, by God, as she has every day for the last 19 years. Meanwhile, I’m wearing somebody else’s too-big, too-pilled workout capris and a T-shirt that was probably free in the first place, and I haven’t had a haircut in at least 3 months. If I could grow a big scraggly beard, I’d do that too, and just be done. Damn xx chromosomes.

  • Ash Stevens

    What a lovely batch of thoughts! I love how you hit on society’s immediate and bullshit judgments, while reflecting on what it means to be a woman in today’s world, while exploring the insecurities that can arise in a relationship when we compare ourselves to our partner. That’s gettin’ pretty deep! And there were loads of jokes all along the way! YES!!! 😀

    I used to feel like an idiot around my husband because… He’s a gorgeous dark-skinned African from Congo (Brazzaville). He also plays African hand drums like a damn pro because he started when he was 5 so he now has over TWENTY YEARS of experience. He also happens to be an insane dancer because he lived both in Africa, and in Paris where street dancing became his thang.

    I felt like merely attempting to move my feet next to that guy would make me look like an ass. I didn’t think I could do ANYTHING. Part of me was so incredibly proud to call him my husband, and another part of me was completed awed and delighted that I had such a ridiculously attractive, energetic, and talented man. Then there was another part of me… A part of me that felt like I was less than him and I could never be as great as he was.

    Well, after three years I’ve realized a few things. This great guy wasn’t just looking for some boring old maid. When he met me he was totally blown away by my fiesty yet compassionate nature, my intellect, my open mind and hunger for new knowledge and experiences. And yes, I also brought bedroom matters to a level that surpassed anything else he’d ever experienced by an average of 100-1000% (thus, he married me).

    I slowly started to gave myself credit where credit was due, and my insecurities dissolved into an empowered confidence and sense of assurance that got me to step out of my shell. Once I stopped thinking I was an idiot that could never live up to him, I decided to step up my game. So I began watching videos with modern African dance and salsa footwork and began playing around with some different moves and styles to expand my confidence on the dance floor. And I wore clothes that “felt like me” and allowed me to feel sexy and confident in the way that came naturally to me. And when I did my writing, I pushed myself to go deeper while pushing higher than ever.

    I felt bad looking at my husband because I saw him for all of his best qualities and I felt like crap because I wasn’t like him. And while I think the YouTube videos were obvious and necessary (Hello! Have you heard Davido’s Skelewu? How can you NOT dance to that?!), I came to see that we both have a great greatness that brought us together, and our greatness help to bring out the best in each other. Neither of us is better than the other. We just bring a greatness to the table that helps push us to both be more intelligent, and compassionate, and energetic, and influential. We don’t need to be like our partner. We just need to let them shine, and allow them to shine through us in the process. 🙂

    P.S. There’s no fucking way you can ever compete with Rand’s mustache. Even if he dressed like crap, that thing shines like the sun. So just do your best to compliment it with your mouth. 😉
    P.P.S. Rand knows one serious secret to easy style, and that’s his damn sweet hat. I had one just like that until I forgot it at my husband’s show. I’m kicking myself in the ass now. I went from disheveled-mother-with-hair-that-hasn’t-been-brushed-in-two-to-five-days to instantly being a cool blond. Don’t underestimate the power of a good hat! 😀

  • Ash Stevens

    By the way… How the fuck does Rand do that to his hair?! I’m a blond woman and mine looks like total shit compared to his. Thank God it’s long so men don’t notice and women are jealous, but for real. Rand knows things that I DON’T! 😀

  • Sarah Weise

    Geraldine, you are so gd funny. What a way with words! I was chuckling throghout this post.

  • That picture with you in the skirt and tennis shoes made me laugh because I so relate to this. Travel wardrobes are so hard for women! My husband isn’t as stylish as Rand but I feel like when we’re traveling, he can pack half as much, try half as hard and look twice as good… regardless of the weather, terrain, cultural considerations and everything else. Just know, you’re not alone.

  • Nadeem

    Geraldine, you are just amazing 😀 You are really just great with using the words! I was just laughing hard while reading your post throughout. Keep posting such amazing stuffs 🙂

  • The Enthusiastic Amateur

    Geraldine,
    a love note to your husband, a treatise on freedom for you and other women and a damn funny post. Gave me a good guffaw. Worry not about any of this, my dear, I turned 50 this year and when you hit that age women become invisible which in, a weird way, completely frees you up as a woman. Great post.

  • Montecristo Travels

    Oh heck yes! I mean I can hold my own in the style department but the part that resonated for me was how people think there’s something “wrong” when a man loves his style. It’s so strange. And the whole “he must be secretly gay” thing…ARGH!!

  • My Travel Con

    nice photo looking cool and made for each other ..http://www.mytravelcon.com/day-trip-to-agra.html

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