What Does It Mean To Dress For The Female Gaze Or The Male Gaze?

When it comes to personal style, we make decisions based on the clothes we love, and also the clothes the people around us are wearing.

By Alyssa Vandermeulen3 min read
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There is an entire industry based on “influencing” the items we buy and the clothes we wear on a daily basis. Celebrities set trends, social media photos affect our closets and wallets, and the style preferences of others slowly become our own.

But what we don’t often realize is that we dress for the appreciation or “gaze” of the people around us. And for many of us, regardless of relationship status, we dress for the appreciation of our date or the man we hope to attract. These motivations make sense. The male gaze can be an instant attraction that leads to a long-lasting relationship and future marriage commitment. The female gaze, on the other hand, can lead to fun, girly friendships that foster a supportive and encouraging community of women. We need both!

Basically, we dress differently depending on the company we plan to share our time with. A girl’s night out means time with the girls, so in most cases, we dress for the female gaze. Baby showers, wedding showers, weekend brunch – female gaze. Bars, date night, weddings – male gaze. 

One of the newest trending series on TikTok is focused on styling specific items for either the male or female gaze. Melina Mancini, through her video series, has reopened an engaging conversation in the world of women’s fashion: Who motivates the way we dress? And is that okay?

We’ve all heard the phrase “dress to impress,” but who are we dressing to impress? A female coworker at the office or the handsome stranger across the room? The reality is it can be both…for different reasons. 

What Does It Mean To Dress for the Female Gaze?

Dressing for the female gaze means choosing an outfit that is likely to be complimented on and appreciated by the women we know and the women we meet. We all have that outfit that women instantly comment on, whether it's a cute pair of shoes or a soft, flowy top. 

The female gaze is friend or influencer motivated. As women, we notice the fashion and looks of the women around us, and we often channel those same ideas into our own outfits and style choices. The female gaze is the same reason we rely on girlfriends for shopping trips and style advice – we want to fit in and be just as (if not a little bit more) stylish and pretty than the other women around us. It’s the female version of status, rooted in our primal desire to be accepted as part of the group.

If a boost of confidence from a friend is what you need, then the female gaze is likely the motivation for your style choices!

Tips for Dressing for the Female Gaze

When dressing for the female gaze, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, acknowledge both fashion trends and timeless staples when choosing an outfit. Monochrome fits are flattering and noticeable, so expect women to notice how you style this classic look. Another way to dress for female attention is to closely follow a particular trend, like the coastal grandmother trend or get inspiration from trendy celebrities like Hailey Beiber. You're much more likely to be wearing a pair of Golden Goose sneakers with a matching set and your hair slicked back in a bun if you're dressing for the female gaze.

Speaking of beauty, your hair and makeup will be noticed when hanging around other ladies, so enjoy it! Spend time on self-care and establish a fail-safe weekly beauty routine, so you have the opportunity to play with your look when it's time to go out. This is the perfect time to try a new eyeliner wing, a more dramatic makeup look, or try a bolder lipstick shade. A fun hairstyle or a trendy manicure are more ways to dress for the female gaze, and are even more exciting if you're getting ready with a girlfriend. We might think we’re doing these steps for male attention, but in reality, women are the ones who will truly notice and appreciate a new lipstick color or haircut! 

The female gaze is all in the details. Accessories are essential! Wrap a silk scarf in your hair, add a few bracelets, and grab that Chanel handbag before you head out the door. 

Dressing for the Male Gaze

Dressing for the male gaze simply means dressing for the appreciation of a man. The desire for male attention is not an uncommon desire, especially as you search for a future spouse or continue to impress the man you married. Don’t be fooled by the media; it’s totally okay to dress for male attention (but that doesn’t mean barely clothed)! 

Men appreciate feminine beauty, so highlight those features in your look. A simple, clean makeup routine with an emphasis on a full, natural lip and soft pink cheeks will show off those feminine features. Leave your hair down and wear simple accessories. 

Don’t be afraid to show off your shape as well. Your silhouette is key when dressing for the male gaze; embrace clothes that enhance or give the illusion of an hourglass figure. Heels make your legs appear longer, and softer fabrics look and feel feminine. Stay away from boxy silhouettes and choose clothes that reveal curves without being obvious, like a pair of jeans that fit perfectly or a form-fitting midi dress. 

A few basic outfits that are perfect for the male gaze are sundresses and skirts, which pair nicely with confidence. Confidence is one of the most attractive features in a woman! Dressing for the male gaze doesn’t always mean skimpy or overly tight clothing. It can be as simple as wearing a mini dress or choosing a pair of heels over sneakers for a night out. If that spritz of perfume is there for a man’s appreciation, you’re dressing for the male gaze. Have fun with your look and your man!

Closing Thoughts

Motivation is key, as we know exactly who we're dressing for when we add those final details. Regardless of who you're dressing for, make sure your look is still representative of you!

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