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What should I do about my boyfriend's wardrobe choice?


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My boyfriend and I were together for 3 years (and lived together for over a year). When we first met, I was really busy and he had confidence issues and anxieties and what have you. He didn't have a steady job. I didn't like him dressing in rags, but he couldn't exactly afford new clothes, so I overlooked it. In the time we'd been together, he started eating healthier and got more active with me, shaved his beard, lost his 8-month-pregnant belly, and got a steady job. But he still dresses in rags! I mean, one pair of pants ripped up his butt and he stitched them back together and didn't even try to do a good job of it, he made a thick seam with off-color thread where the thread goes around and around the outside of the seam. His shirts have holes all over. But he insists on it, because it's how he wants to dress and he's not trying to impress anyone. I mean, I'm the last person to give anyone fashion advice. I'm a jeans and a t-shirt kinda girl. When you're not trying to impress anyone, you buy a $9.99 pants from Walmart and a 6-pack of cotton shirts. He buys $49.99 jeans that ALREADY HAVE HOLES IN THEM!


The first time he met my parents, they were horrified. They had nagged me about how I dress my entire childhood, so I know exactly how it feels to be nagged about your clothing. I developed a deep-seated belief that I just don't understand fashion and can't give any sort of advice. Still, the second time he met my parents, I nagged him into wearing $9.99 pants from Walmart and a plain cotton shirt. My parents weren't as horrified. But he returned the pants and shirt the next day "because it's not him."


I told him many times that the way he dresses just isn't acceptable to me. He pretty much told me to take it or leave it. I didn't leave, so I guess I signaled that I would take it. Now he wants to get married. And I'm seriously thinking of breaking up. But imagine this breakup speech: "I love you. We have all these hobbies in common. I can't imagine my morning run without you. But I was never okay with you looking like a bum when we first met. I only dated you because I was busy with my work and you were a low-maintenance boyfriend. Somewhere there I fell in love with you, and that's why I stuck around. I appreciate how much of your lifestyle you changed for me (beard, healthy activities, weight, steady job), but your wardrobe is still not acceptable. So I think we'll be better off as just friends."


I understand I'm being ridiculously shallow. I love him for who he is, not how he dresses. (... definitely not for how he dresses...) But every time I see him in his everyday clothes now, it's a sore irritation to my eyes. I'm not bringing him to my family's Thanksgiving this year because he won't dress normal. I don't invite him to nights out with coworkers when everyone else brings families and significant others. Some of my coworkers NEVER saw him and don't even realize I'm not single. He KNOWS all this, but he'd rather not go at all than "wear fancy rich people clothes." Because a $13 outfit from Walmart is fancy rich people clothes, and $70 rags are not.


I feel horrible, because even as I'm thinking of breaking up with him, there's a hope in the back of my mind that if I turn down his proposal then he might wake up and notice that this is really important to me and maybe stop wearing his rags.

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Well...hmm... I do understand your impasse here, nobody likes to have their significant other dress sloppy and wearing 'rags' as you put it. But I am also thinking...are you sure they are 'rags', or is this just his fashion statement? I mean, a $50 pair of pants can't really be rags... and distressed jeans have been the rage last year and this year. If that's the type of outfits he's into and is comfortable with, you can't do much about it. There is a big difference between someone who is a slob, dirty, stinky, etc and someone who just has a more 'out there' style.


But in the end, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that his dressing style is making you uncomfortable and he is not comfortable with what you think is decent, so you two may just not be a good match? There is no point in getting frustrated all the time over his choices, why not look for someone whose clothing style is more in tune with what you like?

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The problem seems to run a lot deeper than clothes.


You chose him when your confidence was low, now it's higher, and it seems to me like you are ready to trade up. Am I way off?


He could start wearing different clothes but he will still be him. He's changed and has grown while with you, and it's still not enough.


I can only imagine how much it would hurt him to read what you wrote here. I only dated you cause it was easy at the time, then I fell in love, I want you to change more yet so I won't be embarrassed to be seen with you.

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$50 for "rags"? Do you mean distressed jeans? That's a type of style, not to my taste but it's not rags.


Bad sewing job and shirts with holes is another story though.


It sounds like he just likes to dress a bit "out there" to make a statement, which is "I don't give a rats ass what you think".


To me that's his attitude in life and towards people, and he's expressing it in all ways he can, including his clothing style. Since you mentioned he had confidence issues and anxiety, I feel like he might still have those issues, and only way to not feel that way is to stop caring. If you don't care what others think about you, you don't feel so bad.


In any case, he was right, this is him, you either take it or leave it. Truth is you got involved in the first place out of convenience and became attached over time. To me, you should've never started in the first place, with someone you didn't deem to be to your taste (I would have never date a guy that I considered to be dressing in rags, having dated someone before whose style I didn't like, never again).

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I can totally understand why you feel the way you do. I would absolutely hate it too. Dressing in old clothes full of holes is just plain YUCK (imo), and yes, even though he buys jeans for $50 with holes in, technically they may not be rags, but they certainly look like it. I feel for you.


That said, OP, unfortunately (for you), this is a case of "what you see, is what you get", because he has made it clear that he has no intention of changing and this IS who he is. You are going to have to either learn to accept this part of him, or it is time to re-think the relationship. Whatever you do, do NOT marry him when you are still very conflicted with this issue. Either you accept him fully, or not.

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Sorry, but I laughed thinking about a big orange ass crack sewn onto some blue jeans.


Look, he told you what it is. You take it or leave it. My girlfriend has bought jeans with holes in them and I've told her to save $30 and let me cut some holes in her jeans. She won't do it. But how she dresses is how she dresses. If it were a deal breaker, I'd have already left her.

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