“How do I look?“
It’s a question heard every day in bedrooms and boardrooms, at bars and in the gym all around the country. Heck, all around the world. Women asking their boyfriends, roommates, husbands, co-workers, friends and strangers they stop in the street for assurance about their appearance. We want to know what you think about our shoes, our hair, the shade of lipstick we’re sporting. We want to know our whole “look” is working. And we’re not afraid to ask.
But I’m here to tell you: It works both ways.
While us ladies get a bad rap for fishing for compliments when it comes to our appearance, men want to hear – at least from time to time – that they look good too.
Over the summer, I met up with an old friend. As he walked up, I noticed he had on a pair of shorts I’d recommended to my readers earlier in the season. My initial reaction was one of pride. I assumed he must have bought them on my suggestion. When he didn’t mention them, however, I decided not to either. In my head, I berated myself for thinking I wielded that kind of influence over his shopping habits – or anyone else’s, for that matter. In belaboring the whole situation, what I never thought to say was this:
“Hey, I like your shorts.”
A few days later, I saw him again. He asked about work, and then said, “Those shorts I had on the other day were ones you recommended.”
“I noticed!” I replied too loudly. “I meant to say so! You looked great!”
I tried to play it cool, as my days-late compliment hung in the air. He looked at me with eyes that suggested a bit of betrayal: “Sure, sure. I doubt you even noticed.”
My intended style high-five, downgraded to a weak wave.
What was he supposed to do anyway? Gesture in the direction below his waist and go, “Eh? Ehhh?” No, this was on me. I noticed that my friend looked stylish – not just in nice shorts, but shorts I had recommended on Style Girlfriend – and I didn’t say anything. I should have – I meant to, but I didn’t.
If you notice, tell him
After a few more minutes of my back tracking – complimenting his new haircut, asking where he got his shoes, I think he felt better. I didn’t, though. I missed a perfect opportunity to reinforce good style behavior from a guy, and I totally dropped the ball.
The takeaway: When you notice a friend, colleague, or significant other looking particularly put together, say so. Even if you didn’t recommend any part of their outfit!
If you think they got their shoes shined, or their hair cut – mention it. If the watch they’re wearing look brand spanking new, point them out. If you just really like the color combination in their sweater and pants, bring it up.
It can only make the other person feel good to know their effort doesn’t go unnoticed.
Guys, tell me: How often do you receive compliments on your look? Do you wish it happened more often? Is there anything in your closet you wear more because you’ve been told before that it suits you?
And ladies: are you guilty of the unspoken compliment like I am? What prevents you from speaking up?
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