A Mother-Daughter Dressing Dispute

On a recent Saturday afternoon, my 35-year-old daughter Facetimed me.  She was looking for help in deciding what to wear that evening as she was going out with girlfriends to an upscale bar/restaurant in the city. First option was a very sexy top with leather pants…Whoa! “That looks fabulous, but only if you were going out with your husband!” Option #2 was another sexy lowcut top – “Gorgeous again, but not for a girl’s night.” I replied.  That’s where the call ended. 

She ended up wearing one of the sexy tops. She felt great and she had fun. The next day we had a dispute/discussion that made me rethink some of my ways of thinking on how to dress.  I have always believed that what you wear sends a message, it’s a way to express yourself to the world, your outfit being your personal ‘book cover’.  I always thought that a married woman, when not in the company of her husband, should avoid overtly sexy attire because it sends the wrong message.  Daughter Hayley believes that if the situation is appropriate for sexy attire, it is perfectly fine to ‘send a message’ of confidence and sexiness even if she is out without her husband. She claims that looking sexy doesn’t necessarily mean ‘looking for action’. Feeling both confused and challenged, I thought of a similar personal situation going back about twenty years…

As a member of the Tango Society of Boston, I would go tango dancing every Wednesday night – without my husband of that time because he did not enjoy it.  Do you think I dressed conservatively?  Of course not.  I dressed appropriate for tango dancing: mostly in black, always form-fitting, lace stockings, high heels. Never encountered a problem of any sort. So why did I advise my daughter differently and why am I more conservative today when out without hubby? 

Maybe a part of me was mama bear protecting her daughter?  Or was I just stuck in an outdated way of thinking?  I think the latter. The more my daughter and I talked, the more I felt that she was right – wear what is appropriate for the situation, and wear what makes YOU feel good.  Period.  Perhaps the reason that I pass on provocative attire when without hubby is that it does NOT make me feel good, it feels wrong.  These are almost always times when I am alone and traveling for business. Even after hours I am not out ‘partying’, so more conservative attire feels appropriate. 

You can teach an old dog new tricks!  Thanks to this dispute with my daughter, I see things a bit differently today, and it feels right on many levels.  While ‘what to wear’ guidelines can surely be helpful to many women, let’s not go back to archaic rules that limit our creativity, confidence, and joie de vivre!  If an outfit is situation appropriate and it makes you smile, that’s all that counts. 

Would love to hear your thoughts!  


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  • Very well written and thoughtful! Being of the same age, my wife and I don’t really dress up, except those odd times. Last night at dinner, I went to a very popular sushi place. My wife came from a play, dressed nice, and I dressed up a bit. My girls dressed up beautifully!!!!! Classy!!! One daughter’s boyfriend dressed like he got off a scoccer field, baseball cap etc. in the restaurant, beautiful woman dressed up, dates or husbands in board shorts or ugly t shirts. You wrote about this, I concur. Sucks!!! When in doubt, dress up and show the world you and your style. Whatever makes you comfortable, right!!! Your husbands a very lucky man to have you and vise versa. Woman tend to show off there hard work and efforts, so I’m okay with seeing that confidence expressed and it’s not that you’re looking for another guy. He’ll work out clothes are sexy as all hell. Bathing suits sexy. Classy sexy is just letting you express you and letting that diamond ring sparkle that you’re a very happy woman!!! Mine has lots of diamonds and a big sparkly ring. You have style and tremendous confidence. You be you, and only ask your hubby’s opinion. I have three beautiful successful girls, and a recently retired top film executive wife. I’m a blessed man. They all dress to the 9’s! Sorry so long..

  • I agree with both you and your daughter. Yes, we should all feel free to dress in what we each feel is appropriate for the occasion. At the same time, our attire does send a message. If I’m dining or traveling alone, I’m not interested in projecting a message that could be misinterpreted. Even though it’s 2022, the way men react to women’s attire hasn’t really changed. It’s the way men are wired. And I’m in NO way excusing it. Should that impact me and the way I want to dress? No, but unfortunately it’s still the way it is.

    • That is true Kellie! Probably why I am more cautious myself when out on business…appreciate you taking the time to comment!

  • Candy, this is very late comment on this blog post, but I just want to say I think it’s excellent that you had this conversation with your daughter and were willing to rethink the issue. I’ve had the same conversation with my 25-year-old daughter, and she feels just like your daughter. I relaxed a bit and I have to let her be her AND I also agree with the commenter just above who said that men are wired a certain way and while it’s not letting them off the hook one teeny tiny bit, I am afraid there are too many men who see a woman in sexy attire and do believe she sending a message… And I worry that may put my daughter somewhat at risk. Anyways, I really appreciate the thoughtful post!. Also will say that I love that you just say plain and simple that it’s vanity that keeps you taking care of your physique and looks. Quite frankly, I believe that’s the same for me (though I do want to age strong) and it’s freeing to hear you say it too! Love your joy of life as well! Keep posting! 🙂

    • Faith,
      Thank you so much for taking the time to respond – you literally made my day and you have given me incentive to keep writing…THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!


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