09 January 2008

Epiphany: 'dress-for-success' ain't just for the office


Let's face it, whether we're in the city, the country or the suburbs, in a pulsating nightclub, an ESPN Zone or a local dive bar, we as females -small and large, alike- know the easiest and most reliable way to avoid having to open up our pocketbooks and pay for a drink is to put forth a flagrant display of tits and/or ass.

Not saying it's right, not saying it's wrong, just saying from what I've heard and what I've witnessed, it's about 94% effective.

And if you're a blonde with streaky, chunky highlights and a set of acrylic French tips, tack on three more percentage points.

Because of that, because there is such a predictable male effect to the cause that is scant female dress, how can I fault all those plunging metallic halter tops and low-rise dance pants enrobed women to whom I shot "don't touch me, don't touch my shoes" looks last Saturday night at K St. Lounge? When I think about it, these women were there for a set of premeditated purposes, chief among them to meet men whose lady-frame pawing would make them feel desirable and whose open wallet policies would enable the lovely feeling of their last inhibition slip-slip-slippin' away.

Now, if I had seen a pair of fur-trimmed biker boots and a bejeweled romper with cutouts and built-in balconnet bra dancing tabletop where we started the evening, I'd have just cause for the "here's what you should've worn, instead" judgmentalies. Since that wasn't the case and since HRL and I were the ones who committed the venue-inappropriate offense by wearing into the sweaty sin-pit our delicate cocktail dresses and formal overcoats, I realize now, in this moment, even though it would be more satisfying to rip these girls apart, Bebe accessory by Bebe accessory, to do so would be incredibly hypocritical. Therefore, I'll just fold my hands, smile and nod deferentially and be darn sure to have on-hand a more appropriate little number for the next time my dear friend wants to explore K St. nightlife.

In a way, the aforementioned tabletop dancer and I are more alike than most of you might think. Sure, we both throw down the same quote-making gesture whilst performing the 'running man', we both think there's no point in buying fishnets that aren't full of rhinestony goodness, but there's something beyond the obvious -- a deeper, more substantive lifestyle parallel: just like I believe a polished office look can help give me an extra professional edge, she too runs a dress-for-success operation.

Same concept, slightly different definition of "success."

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

hahaha. HRL got her own label.

Anonymous said...

hilarious. and true.

brown rowergirl said...

when i first saw the picture in this post, i was thinking damn, weren't you going to start posting less about you and more about fashion?? then i realized it wasn't you at all but some other brunette in your favorite friday night outfit.

hah!

great post.

k st. lounge regular said...

I think it's narrow of you to think women only dress sexy in a club for free drinks and casual sex. I know when I go out with my girls to a place like K Street lounge (I like it there), I dress sexy for me, NOT THEM. I'd say you were just jealous but I don't think you are...just snobby.

lol girl said...

It's funny that you call the author snobby, when the K St. Lounge is probably one of the (needlessly) snobbiest clubs around.

Anonymous said...

Please, no woman dresses sexy for herself. Women dress sexy to get attention, and I am including myself in that statement.

dc lawyer said...

I agree wholeheartedly with the last 2 comments.

Melissa said...

J: considering venue appropriateness, how would you dress for bowling league night at the Village Lanes? Keep in mind that the shoes are already decided.

Noelle said...

"Please, no woman dresses sexy for herself. Women dress sexy to get attention, and I am including myself in that statement"

Do others really think this is true? Maybe I'm deluding myself, but I love walking around my apartment with just heels on. And not because my boyfriends' on his way over, but because I like to feel sexy and not for anyone's attention.

haterrrr said...

Noelle, maybe you're just really narcissistic. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

N said...

So I left that comment about women dressing sexy for others. I will absolutely put on a dress that I love and just sit around in my apartment in it. But, I also know as soon as I leave my apartment people are going to notice I look good in said dress, and I love the attention.

priya said...

there's a difference between dressing sexy for yourself and dressing sexy for others. the kind of beautiful dresses Johanna posts on her site can be both, but the outfit pictured here in this post, come on, the only feeling those kinds of clothes evoke are in the wearer are how much attention they guys will pay to it/her. I'm guilty of it as well!

Anonymous said...

That girl looks like she's have a f*ckin' blast, and I say more power to her. She's at a club, not an office, not a church. She looks like she loves attention, loves her body, and wouldn't give two sh*ts about what any of us "young professionals" think of her on a DC fashion blog.

elle said...

I *cannot* stop laughing at the 'running man' remark.

m street admirer said...

ironically, J, the thought of you in those "sexy" plastic shoes you link us to is about as appealing as taking that girl in the picture home to meet Mom and Dad. that stereotypical trashy look works for some women but for you, not so much.

I know that wasn't the point, but since I haven't commented in a while, I thought I would throw out the first thing that came to mind.

Jules said...

For me I couldnt feel sexy in such a trashy outfit but if she wants to dress that way fine. Girls like her give my friends and I a giggle when we are out n about.

N said...

Priya expressed much better what I could not.

dara said...

unless that getup is a required go go dancer uniform, that girl left her house begging to at least get eye f**ked by every guy that walked by her. she may be having a blast but she should also be aware of the image she's getting across and how that might affect men's treatment of her. I think I read Dave Chappelle's "she may not be a whore but she sure wears a whore's uniform" quote on this blog, right?

rings true here.

Anonymous said...

please don't ever stop writing this blog.

Anonymous said...

dara,

I always eye-f*ck guys in Armani suits. Why? Because, to me, power, taste, and wealth are sexy.

To some guys, outfits like the one in question warrant an eye-f*ck. To other guys, that kind of outfit sends a very UN-sexy signal...deserving of an eye-ful, not an eye-f*ck.

Of course that girl is probably aware of how her outfit will affect the way men (and women) view/treat her. It is her CHOICE.

Anonymous said...

1. I never knew lucite stripper spikes were that cheap.

2. I like to think that the aforementioned ladies at K. St. and the men that find them attractive are a self-selecting group. They get one another off of the market, it's a net gain for all parties involved.

dc girl said...

oooh how was westend? i tried to get a table for this saturday (boyfriend's parents in town) but couldn't nab one. is it really as good as its reviews?

Johanna said...

Anonymous 6:02-

I'm crossing my fingers along with you on that one. Self-selection is right!

dc girl-

Westend is definitely worth waiting for. Our food was spectacular.

best,
J

Anonymous said...

Don't you know what you are getting into (aka the slutty clothes) when you are deciding where to hang out? You know that if you go to a certain type of club that you will see a certain type of dress. So if you don't want to see it, don't frequent those places. And honestly who really gives a shit what some other girl is wearing??????

Laura said...

This post is RIGHT on. I had a similar experience at Park this weekend (first timer). It was full of unattractive older men with too much money, women dressed inappropriatley for their body type (or for anyone to take them seriously, for that matter), creepy foreign guys, etc. EW! From what I gathered (being new to this city), having enough money to get table service (and being willing to spend your money on it) at a "hot club" in DC makes you trashy, not part of the elite.

PS I was walking home tonight and saw a girl with a northface fleece, goucho pants, and flip flops. ARE YOU SERIOUS???

Johanna said...

Anonymous 8:22-

Sorry, I should've linked you to the post I wrote earlier this week where I described in detail how this was my first trip to the K St. strip after hours. I honestly had no idea what I was getting myself into.

And um, the entire point of this post was to say that I *don't* give a shit what these club chicks are wearing.

Laura-

My first (and last) experience at Park was very similar. Like clothing, I know my style pretty well when it comes to nightspots. I like quiet, elegant and Eurotrash-free.

p.s. gaucho pants are every woman's enemy

Anonymous said...

do you know where this girl got her outfit? I'd like to get my girlfriend one just like in every color for our nights IN ;-)

kate.d. said...

re: dressing sexy for yourself -

"men look at women. women watch themselves being looked at." - john berger

i think the reason it can feel good for a woman to look cute while she's alone is that she's not really looking at herself, exactly - she's seeing herself through other people's eyes, even if those people are hypothetical.

/stupid theory stuff

dee said...

I've been lurking here for a couple of months and never felt the need to comment, but this post (and the previous one that referenced the "Real Housewives" tops-- I've never understood all that money and such ugly clothes!)is so spot on. And Dara is right, this is exactly what Dave Chapelle was talking about.

I love your blog, and my skin loves its new daily moisturization routine :). Thanks!

Dave said...

You can't dress sexy for yourself. Sexy is "1. concerned predominantly or excessively with sex. 2. sexually interesting or exciting; radiating sexuality. 3. excitingly appealing."

By definition you are sexy if you are appealing to someone else in a sexual way. You are dressing sexy for a reaction from someone else. If you wear your sexy outfit around the house you may feel like you're attractive and feel good about yourself, but you aren't sexy until someone else comes into the equation.

L said...

While I've only been to K St. once, I think that a few of the ladies there that night had a "professional edge" of their own, only with an emphasis on professional. I imagine they didn't just have drinks bought for them, but that they were paid for their company as well (while at the club and for what happened after...).

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:58 PM --

"To other guys, that kind of outfit sends a very UN-sexy signal...deserving of an eye-ful, not an eye-f*ck."

I disagree. You are giving guys way too much credit. Men are men are men are men. They are inherently pigs. Have you ever watched a porn? 99% of those women aren't sexy -- they're trashy. Yet men keep watching the porn. They don't care if its classy or trashy. All they need is T&A and a little V.

That said, I am totally not justifying dressing like a slut to a club. Just saying its not all that much different to a drunk and horny guy when it comes down to it.

Anonymous said...

"having enough money to get table service (and being willing to spend your money on it) at a "hot club" in DC makes you trashy, not part of the elite."

You hit the nail right on the head. The only people who feel the need to get bottle service are the former frat guys who have convinced themselves that spending $300 on something you could buy at the liquor store for $50 makes you attractive and desirable.

Honestly, I was under the impression that most people thought bottle service was tacky and show-offy, but apparently not.

DC has great restaurants and really shitty bars/clubs. There are only about 4 bars in this city I can stomach, and they don't have dress codes, bottle service or ridiculous covers. They are probably too plebe for most of this blog's readers, but they work for me and my ragtag group.

T. said...

help settle an argument my friends and i have. does being one of those typical guys who buys a drink for a hot girl automatically make her lose respect for you or is it a case by case basis.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, you should chat for a few minutes first. Only then, if she's receptive to you and you're enjoying each other's company, should you offer to buy her a drink.

I don't like it when the first thing out of man's mouth is "can I buy you a drink?" It's even worse if he has it "sent over" by the bartender or waitstaff. It makes a girl feel obligated to talk to him, when perhaps she's just looking to unwind with friends, not engage in barroom small talk with strangers.

But I'm sure a lot of women feel differently than I do.

Anonymous said...

I think bottle service can be, and often is, done for the wrong reasons, namely to show how frivolous one can be. However, for a guy whose time is very valuable to him, getting a table keeps you from standing in queue at the door, having to ever get a bartender's attention, or having to plan your evening ahead of time. It gets you a relatively comfortable seat for the evening to boot, and isn't all that much more expensive than what the cumulative bar tab for your entire party would be hadn't you reserved a table. While this may be the minority of vip patrons, I assure you that some of my ilk exist.

kathy said...

i assume you're aware, but didn't see any comment on this: you're on the washingtonpost.com city guide home page right now, for the opening of tattoo (which i'm guessing is the k st. bar you're discussing here). you're famous!

Johanna said...

Kathy-

Actually, the bar I'm talking about *is* K Street Lounge. The photo was taken at Tattoo, which was our destination after dinner and before the "sin-pit". I liked Tattoo about as much as I like a loud, thumping nightclubby bar.

thanks for the heads-up!

best,
Johanna