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Love me, love my ugly. The case for bad fashion.

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It might seem extreme to think of clothing as a relationship barometer. But there are some instances when a book’s cover is the only way to judge. Far from being a benign and superficial part of life, fashion can be a far truer expression of your happiness than anything you’d whisper to your girlfriends over a decaf soy latte.

Clothing can be a joyful expression of individuality. It can also say ‘I am afraid to be myself’ or ‘I don’t want to disappoint you.’ To neglect one’s personal clothing preferences in deference to another is a warning signal that should be ignored at your peril.

For example, if you have a favourite middrif marle-grey jumper with rollerskate fluro motif on the front that has been languishing in your cupboard ever since you’ve been dating that boy who ‘hates that colour on you’, it might be time to ask why. It’s a cool jumper. It is perfect for most occasions. You like it, but he doesn’t. Is that reason enough to stop wearing marle grey forever? MARLE GREY IS A REALLY COOL COLOUR!

It can be an fuzzy line between dressing to please your partner and choosing your wardrobe on their preferences alone, but if you are no longer happy in your clothes, it could be a sign that something underneath them is getting itchy. Not your psoriasis, but your sense of self.

If your partner starts picking on your favourite jumper, it might be your favourite music next or your favourite friend. I’m not suggesting we choose dates based on who scales the sycophantic slope the quickest; but frankly, criticism is unsexy. Why would you want to spend time with a person who metaphorically spits on your shoes/clothes/hair/personality at every opportunity?

So what about when the shoe is on the other foot? When it’s all you can do to not burn an offensive item belonging to your partner? You give it evil stares, hoping to burn it from their back; but there it remains. Dorky, ugly, not-of-this-decade.

Whether your partner favours a scuba suit and flippers or a tuxedo made of himalayan goat hair, it’s important that you are proud to hold their hand.

Feeling at odds with the fashion choices of your special friend can be an obstacle which seems insurmountable even with scented candles or couples therapy. It may be that you’re a shallow bitch but often the fact that your mate’s wardrobe is making you unhappy can be a manifestation of a deeper disconnect.

For example, my friend was dating a man who wore a suit. At dinner he wore a suit and that was entirely OK; but then Mr Penguin showed up at a saturday afternoon movie. It made me… I mean, my ‘friend’ wonder if this guy could relax and get dirty. In the end, it wasn’t this man’s affinity for formalwear that doomed the pairing but the fact that he wasn’t able to enjoy picking melted Malteser bits off his pants.

Similarly, spending an hour shining yourself up for a hot date can be a bit of a moot exercise when Prince Charming turns up with crumply shirt and no hair gel. ‘That’s not ‘bohemian’, it’s lazy,’ you say. ‘It’s high time I put my glass slippers back in the cupboard so they wont get slurried by this unworthy suitor’.

In this case the seemingly mismatched effort can speak volumes. But before you slam the door in his face and resign your pretty self to watching crap TV and attaching a bag of Doritos to your face, it’s worth zooming out and asking why you insisted on looking like princess while he’s happy wearing yesterday’s shirt.

Oftentimes, Prince Charming will be lacking the fundamental telepathy skills to know exactly what you planned for the evening. All you said in your text message was ‘dinner’, but suddenly you have turned into a man-eater and he is the main course.

I encourage you to pause before you decide a) he just isn’t that into you, b) he is a disgusting lazy pig or c) he is obviously cheating on you with that large breasted girl he said ‘hi’ to three months ago at the supermarket. When you have stopped breathing fire consider whether that yucky feeling is really about clothing.

It’s oh-too-easy to project yesterday’s disappointments onto today’s ill-chosen outfit, but it is not worth ruining an evening over. And in the absence of advanced mind-reading skills, all you have to decide is whether it will be a fun date. Because as much as us girls hate to be judged on our clothes, so do our dates. It’s the same ugly game – incidentally nowhere near as fun as twister.

I’m not suggesting that a happy relationship requires complete fashion consensus. Teasing each other’s quirky decisions is part of the fun. But if you are with someone, you need to decide that you can love them from the inside and outside, and accept nothing less in return. It sounds black and white, but it’s more about appreciating shades of marle grey.

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