“I don’t have anything to wear” really means, “I don’t have anything to wear for who I need to be today.”

“I don’t have anything to wear” really means, “I don’t have anything to wear for who I need to be today.”

I love this quote from Caitlin Moran:

> **You know when we stand in front of a full wardrobe and say, “I don’t have anything to wear!”? Obviously we have things to wear. You can see all the shit from where you are standing, fully dressed, ready to leave the house. What we mean is, “I don’t have anything to wear for who I need to be today.”** What women wear is incredibly important and not just because we live in a society with a $1.5 trillion fashion-industry, and spend most of our spare time looking at cut-price Marc Jacobs handbags on theoutnet.com.
> As we are the half of the world that still doesn’t get to say as much as men (see stats earlier), how we look works by way of our opening paragraph in any social setting. Think of all the different kinds of looks women can have, depending on their clothes, hair and make-up: “Slutty”. “Ball-busting”. “Mumsy”. “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”. “Gym-bunny”. “Mutton”. “Nerdy”. “Unfuckable”.
> Now think of all the ways men can dress. It’s basically “some trousers”. Ninety per cent of what men wear is “some trousers”. You’re just getting up in the morning, putting on your trousers and getting on with stuff.
> And we fret about all this — appearance, clothes — because it matters. If we’re still getting talked-over at meetings, is it because we’re not dressing powerfully enough? If we’re getting sexually harassed, is it because we’re wearing the wrong skirt? In 2008, a rape case was overturned because the judge decided the alleged victim must have consented to sex, because her jeans were “too tight” for the accused to remove on his own. This is what we’re thinking about, when we stand in front of the wardrobe. Will this outfit define the rest of today? Will it, if I am very unlucky, affect my life? Is this going to be the subject of a court-case? Could I run for my life in these shoes? Do I have anything for who I need to be today?

[From Esquire](https://www.esquire.com/uk/culture/advice/a9641/things-men-dont-know-about-women-caitlin-moran/) — full article isn’t about fashion, just this bit.

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Comments ( 34 )
  1. Rodrat
    July 6, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    As a guy I have to disagree. I care deeply about what I’m wearing everyday and I fully understand it effects how people view me as well.

    I’ll sometimes try on three or four shirts before I decide on the correct one. Jeans being a passion of mine it is correct in that I’m most likely going to throw on yesterdays pair to keep the fade train going but sometimes depending on what I’m doing, I’m worrying and spending all too long deciding which chino or slacks to wear to make the best first impression.

    Then I have to decide on my shoes and I have which ones… Are these going to make me too masculine and come off as a hardass? Maybe I’ll wear my monks but then I have to make sure whatever it is I’m going too isn’t going to think I’m being dandy. (I’ve had other guys accuse me of being less of a man because they thought my monk straps were girly shoes)

    Also that last bit about affecting your life and being able to run. That thoughts there as a man too. At to me it is. As someone who has been attacked before while trying to walk home that’s an all too real thought.

    Edit: I realize I’m probably going to get downvoted to hell and back for typing this but I’ve decided to leave it as I feel its true.

  2. bleucheesefan
    July 6, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Wow, this is super accurate. I always felt guilty and sometimes ashamed when I’d look in my overstuffed wardrobe and not want to wear any of it. But it’s completely true that some days I’ll need to “be” a certain version of myself, and I just don’t have clothes that reflect that.

  3. avicennia
    July 6, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    I’ve never thought of it in that way before. I’ll need to pay more attention the next time I say it to myself!

    It also brings up the question of, is this more a problem of sense of self? If you’ve settled on an identity for yourself you’re comfortable always being seen as, will you say “I don’t have anything to wear” less often?

  4. Tfwbf
    July 6, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    Nah its cuz I haven’t done laundry

  5. gingergirly89
    July 6, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    Wow ❤️

  6. cafecoffee
    July 6, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    That’s such a good way to put this. So many of my clothes represent different phases of my life / mood – from ‘I need to wear something that fits’ to ‘I want to look cute’ to ‘I want to look professional and power ladylike’.

    This has really motivated me to do a wardrobe purge at the end of summer – anything I don’t wear at least once this summer that’s a ‘summer look’ is out.

  7. Mynsfwaccounthehe
    July 6, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Watch the BBC doc Century of the Self (it’s on YouTube). It’s interesting to learn that this entire feeling was created by people trying to sell more things. The ideas of lifestyle and dressing to show off who you are. All created to make women buy more shit they don’t need from insecurities.

  8. i_amtheeggman
    July 6, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    I feel like this whole article was written in an attempt to advertise for “the outnet.com”. Which I have never heard of, but apparently everyone goes on it every night. Of course the author honed in on the #metoo phenomenon, which gives it instant credibility and support. Basically you were just scammed.

  9. IBakeDaCakes
    July 6, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    For me it’s always been the need to be everything. One day I might want to show that I’m this, the next day I need to show that I can also be that. I can buy flexible, mix and match pieces but that doesn’t always cover all of my perceived “needs”.

  10. OmNomNomNinja
    July 6, 2018 at 5:01 pm

    I love the part of this that finally articulates why I often feel that I have nothing to wear while standing in front of two bulging closets.

    Succinct and personally accurate.

  11. kayemgi
    July 6, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    Caitlin Moran is a brilliant goddess. Thanks for sharing this article!

  12. radicaldonut
    July 6, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    So, my opinion was called for. u/rodrat is my husband.

    He cares deeply about fashion and will go through 5 or 6 outfits before he picks one. He actually thinks more about what his outfit says than I ever have.

    He may not deal with the slut shaming women do, but he and many men do have care about how they dress.

    I often get impatient and pick whatever I know wont make me feel exposed. He will then spend 30 or 40 minutes debating pants, shirt and shoe combo. He thinks about the dressiness, weather, activity and image he will project with each outfit.

    Edit: I’m not sure I own clothes to be the me I want to be though.

  13. gazork_chumble_spuzz
    July 6, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    I can’t really relate to any of this…particularly the bit about not getting to say as much as men. I mean, society is full of women’s voices – in the media, online, on the radio, in businesses, on the street, in the entertainment industry, in science and tech. A lot of care is given to ensuring that women are represented and heard. I don’t know what she’s on about…maybe if you live in India or Afghanistan or Ethiopia then this would be the case, but here in Canada? down in the US? all across Europe? Sorry, not buying that idea at all. Western women aren’t oppressed. I don’t think most of us need to worry every single day about having to run for our lives or about being assaulted or raped, either…our countries are statistically pretty safe. I don’t know, this seems like hyperbole to me. I’m not saying that there aren’t women for whom this is reality; it is, but I don’t think it’s nearly as widespread or as common as the writer implies it to be.

    And I think women can indeed just get up in the morning, put on some trousers, and get on with our day. We don’t have to spend an hour straightening our hair and putting on a full face of makeup and ensuring that we look like a magazine ad in order to succeed in our work or be respected or taken seriously by our peers. Most men around us won’t give a flying phrack, and the ones who do can be told to cram it while you walk by on your way to get shit done.

  14. Banantics
    July 6, 2018 at 5:55 pm

    This is almost word for word “Postcards from the Edge” by Carrie Fischer.

  15. IntergalacticFig
    July 6, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    Here’s an image/writeup that I love on the topic:

    >Indeed, this is why women have so many clothes! We need an all-purpose black skirt that does old fashioned, another one to do proper, and a third to do flirty… at the very least… and all in casual, business, and formal. And we need heels to go with each (stilettos = provocative, high heels = flirty, low heels = proper, etc, plus we need flats for the picnics and beach weddings etc). And we need pants that are hemmed to the right length for each of these pairs of shoes. You can’t wear black shoes with navy pants, so you’ll need to double up on all these things if you want any variety in your wardrobe. I could go on, but you get the picture.

    >Women’s closets are often mocked as a form of self-indulgence, shop-a-holicism, or narcissism. But this isn’t fair. Instead, if a woman is class-privileged enough, they reflect an (often unarticulated) understanding of just how complicated the rules are. If they’re not class-privileged enough, they can’t follow the rules and are punished for being, for example, “trashy” or “unprofessional.” It’s a difficult job that we impose on women and we’re all too often damned-if-we-do and damned-if-we-don’t.

  16. jackandjill22
    July 6, 2018 at 6:07 pm


  17. gofigure85
    July 6, 2018 at 6:11 pm

    If I say that, it means I need to do some laundry and I’m probably wearing a bikini bottom for underwear

  18. kittenboooots
    July 6, 2018 at 6:14 pm

    While I agree with so much of this, men say a lot with their wardrobe too, but there are fewer, broader categories of dress in general for men.

  19. andthischeese
    July 6, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    A lot of it for me is that I have changed over time, but don’t want to spend (or haven’t been able to spend) money on myself. So I have clothes that feel stale or out of date, and newer cheaper/more disposable clothes. I actually have appropriate clothes but they don’t represent Me at all anymore. Hard to start from scratch.

  20. Daniellewhatever
    July 6, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    I loooved this book and this was by far the most bang on description of why it’s so hard to decide what to wear.

    We are still judged by our appearance, for better or worse, and what we wear projects who we are, and when you are a woman/identify as a woman, that is some tough shit to balance. We are all parents/lawyers/car mechanics/self actualized sluts/government officials/athletes/admin staff/priestesses etc. into infinity every god damn day. But yet I still find myself debating whether I look too *sexy/stuffy/matronly/childish/slutty* just to get dressed to go the fucking grocery store.

  21. Loudmouthedcrackpot
    July 6, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    I read something like this a few years ago written by (I think) an academic who has to look professional to present at a conference.

    Her whole point was that there’s no default outfits for women. The men she was presenting alongside all just wore suits. Yeah, they could mix it up a little with ties or even suit colour if they wanted to, but, equally, if they didn’t want to express anything about themselves, they could just wear a black suit.

    She found herself questioning every aspect of her outfit. Shoes: how high is too high? Would flats be ok? Or would they seem dowdy and old? Open toe? Or is that too flirty? Dress: high neckline? Scoop neck? What about the colour? Even just putting on a standard black skirt suit would say something about her.

  22. Justtoseensfw
    July 6, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    This was really powerful to me today. I came to work in an old skirt and top, I did my hair and makeup and 4 different people came up and said I must have an interview because I put such an effort in.
    I did it because I felt good that morning and wanted to wear lipstick. I would never go up to a man wearing a Blazer and say something like that but for women we have to justify what our intentions are, I feel.

  23. Beefy135
    July 6, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    This…is really eye-opening. Here’s hoping the day you guys can wear “some trousers” without it impacting how you’re interpreted comes soon.

  24. verticalnoise
    July 6, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    I got that a while ago and it’s why I never prepare clothes for the next day.

    I’ll iron a dress at night and in the morning I’ll feel like I don’t wanna be girly in a pretty dress and sandals, I wanna be tough – so I’ll iron a black shirt and get out the boots.

  25. quay-cur
    July 6, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    “Who I need to be” most days is a functional adult who does laundry regularly.

  26. SwizzleSprocket
    July 6, 2018 at 9:37 pm

    I disagree about men. “Thug”, “geek”, “fedora tipping neck beard”, “power suit”, “quirky bizcas”, “surfer dude”. Then there are the actual trends like techninja, jock/gym rat, the faux coffee shop intellectual. They don’t have the dramatic variety of skirt vs pants but they have looks.

    Now, here is something interesting. For men – the clothes that appeal to women are also clothes that appeal to men non sexually. Accentuating male traits can be seen as powerful rather than just sexual. Because male traits are associated with stuff like power. Women clothes are different. Clothes that appeal to women are not the same as for men. And when women accentuate feminine features, the association is sexuality. Why? Because feminine traits are not associated with power but with reproduction and sex. Desirable male shape is upside down dorrito, right? Suits that show off narrow waist and wide shoulders. Men don’t fuck using their shoulders – that’s a relatively non sexual body part. Women accentuate waist to hips (“child bearing hips”) and tits. I angst about this all the time.

    But also at the same time, I disagree with her. I work in tech and women definitely have the default wear of jeans and hoodie. I don’t think they put a lot of thought into their generic t-shirts for the day. Just like the male counterparts. Also – they have as much say here as others. It’s the “outside of tech work scenarios” which are more convoluted when it comes to dressing.

    The ” I don’t have anything to wear” is a whole different and separate problem that has different facets.

  27. painballking
    July 6, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    Fuck you to whoever thinks you will be talked over because you’re “not dressed powerfully enough”

  28. celticride
    July 6, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    This is a line from Edina in AbFab..from years ago..throws open her wardrobe and says “who shall I be today.”.

  29. gaysnail
    July 6, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    > Could I run for my life in these shoes?

    That is actually a factor for choosing shoes when I’m in the city at night without a man :/

  30. DreyaNova
    July 6, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    I’ve loved this quote for years! I didn’t know it was from Caitlin Moran; her books “How to be a Woman” and “How to Build a Girl” are really awesome too!

  31. Drew2248
    July 6, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    For “whom” I need to be. And such an important topic, darlings.

  32. TheAbradolf_Lincler
    July 7, 2018 at 1:27 am

    Ah. I simply wear the first clothes that I can find that are not dirty. I also use 3 in one shampoo from Wal-Mart and use men’s deodorant. I save a lot of money, but I also look like a mess.

  33. laurasaurus5
    July 7, 2018 at 1:43 am

    Or once your friends have seen all your clothes, you gotta start finding new friends…

  34. trelloello
    July 7, 2018 at 1:46 am

    Does anyone else find it weird that women aren’t supposed to wear the same outfits to nice events? I don’t get why women rent or buy new outfits to every party and wedding….guys re-wear the same suit all the time.

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