When I first met my boyfriend, I was impressed by his intelligence, sense of humor, and gentleman-like demeanor. We hit it off instantly and could talk for hours about anything. He understood me on all levels and I always looked forward to spending time with him. We still have that same connection, but with one difference. He no longer wears pleated pants.

Shallowness to follow, but his pants were just awful. Pleats have no business on a man’s body. Why should a man’s frontal region look like a mini hot-air balloon ready for take-off? I don’t understand what designers are trying to accentuate there.

I love my boyfriend very much, but he has the wardrobe of a wacky college professor. I didn’t know it was possible, but his clothes make him look like he is in a constant state of confusion. His shoes have massive holes in them. Most of his wardrobe is over 10 years old, with the holes to prove it. I fought it long and hard, but I eventually had to ask him about his style choices. I didn’t want to be shallow, but if I put in effort, why shouldn’t he? I couldn’t take the outdated Cosby sweaters and flood khaki pants any longer. I finally broke through and asked why he wore pleated pants.

His response was, “What are pleats?”

He had no idea! The pouch of extra fabric on his waist that I had been avoiding looking at for so long wasn’t even on his radar. I laughed at his response, but I was jealous of his innocent ignorance for clothing. My whole life I have felt pressure from peers and the media to stay on top of trends. I have been trained to care what people think and to place value on people based on their clothes. I feel the pressure to keep up. After we got to talking, he admitted he was absolutely clueless about clothes. He gave it no thought at all and just wore whatever he had.

Don’t get me wrong. On most days you will find me wearing jeans and hooded sweatshirts, with the occasional skirt and cardigan thrown into my wardrobe. The only real fashion tip I live by, is that the perfect way to take an outfit from night to day is to fall asleep in it. That being said, I watch What Not To Wear, which I think qualifies me as a moderately informed dresser, but I am by no means a style maven. I just know that pleats are out, unless you are Rashida Jones and can marvelously pull off some kind of retro-secretary thing, but I don’t think that is what my boyfriend is going for.

I wondered if anyone had dismissed me solely based on my clothing. I thought about the countless hours and dollars I have spent on my appearance, and for what? I compared my time and money spent to his honest reaction when I asked about his pleated pants. Clearly, fashion was not something he placed importance on, or even had on his radar and he has made it just fine through life. I wanted in on this unselfconscious lifestyle! I wondered if it was time to invest in pleated pants.

Essential to any great relationship, our conversation about clothing led to self-reflection. Who was I to laugh at his pants? He obviously came out on top of this situation for not caring what anyone thinks. I compared that to my mindset, where most days I have an inner dialogue of people’s potential reactions to my pants on loop. It is a cyclical, horrible conversation I have with myself about how I look. Who is the psycho in this situation? Definitely me.

There is nothing wrong with liking clothes. What we wear is an expression of who we are, but how much emphasis do we place on our fashion choices? How often do we dismiss people based solely on their clothes? Where is the line between keeping your identity and keeping up appearances? I always thought it was unfair to judge someone based on their clothing, but sometimes I find myself doing just that.

After going through his clothes, we made a joint decision that it was probably time for him to join this decade of men’s fashion. We had a blast going through his ridiculous collection of t-shirts and cargo shorts, most of which he still had from middle school. It ended up being a lot of fun and I didn’t feel like I was turning him into something he was not.

The conclusion that I came to after the 2012 No Pleat Revolution, was that clothes do matter a little bit, whether we like it or not. They are a small representation of you. Just avoid being obsessed with your appearances. Like most things, getting in that mindset is easier said than done.

My boyfriend’s oblivious attitude towards clothes influenced me to care a little bit less about what others think. If you are dating someone who doesn’t dress well, please don’t write them off.

There is life after pleats.

You can read more from Abby Lucas on her blog and follow her on Twitter.

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