When you’re single, there are certain staples in your wardrobe that go without debate. Maybe they’re your cowboy boots, your bulky jewelry, or the yoga pants you wear even though you’re not on your way to yoga. No matter the trend or cultural relevance, it’s your staple. It’s your comfort zone.

While fashion choices are supposed to reflect the wearer’s individuality, I’m learning that after marriage, there’s more to it. At this point your wardrobe has an obligation. Your spouse is the one that has to see it every day, and depending on your inclination to vanity, you only have to see it a few times in the mirror.

So as a newlywed, I’m learning to balance what my husband likes and what I like when it comes to my clothing choices.

For instance, the baggy pajama pants and oversized T-shirts have taken a backseat to my fitted loungewear. It’s not like college when I came home and threw on an XL Spurs T-shirt, only to cuddle up on the couch with my roommate, Katlyn, all evening. Those were good days. We didn’t dress for each other but mostly for our couch activities. The only down side of that season was that a semester of regular Dairy Queen runs and Comedy Central didn’t help my productivity or weight maintenance.

Fast forward about two years, and there I was sitting on the couch at my bachelorette party.

I’m days away from marrying my forever roommate. No longer single, no longer filling my evenings with studying, blizzards, and Family Guy. It started with a game where my sister-in-law, Emmie, asked me questions that Z had answered earlier that week. I’ve seen the game played on the newlywed show a thousand times, but now I was the contestant.

why dressing up for your spouse matters

“What is one thing in your wardrobe Zach would get rid of?” Emmie asked. I smiled with confidence before I answered. “All of my baggy clothes.”

“Nope, guess again,” she shot back. What? That’s the only thing he’s ever mentioned. I was shocked. “That’s what he always says, so it has to be something like it.”

“Nope,” she said again, with a lingering grin on her face. I quickly resigned from the question, “just tell me then.”

“Your band T-shirts!” The room full of girls ignited in laughter, probably because they all knew exactly what t-shirts Z was talking about because, well, I wear them all. the. time. I sunk back into my seat, and the game continued. From that point on, my thoughts were on overdrive. Surely my husband is aware that I’m a music fanatic, and those T-shirts are my prized possessions. Of course he knows I’ve been collecting for years. I wear those t-shirts so often, has he hated them all this time? Why didn’t he say anything? Would I have taken it well if he had? Weeks later I’d confirm with him that he does, indeed, hate my band t-shirts. I didn’t surprise me, though it did sting a little.

The news was shocking, but to be clear, I didn’t run into my closet and throw out all of my beloved band t-shirts because that’s certainly not what marriage is about either. Rather, it’s a fine balance of give and take. I simply accepted that my wardrobe choices aren’t only for my enjoyment anymore, and that when you have a partner, those choices matter. I hear that men are especially visual, and before my bachelorette party, I never thought about the effort I should put into my appearance for his sake.

The lesson I learned at my bachelorette party was a valuable one.

Since then, I try to communicate with him and wear things that I know he likes. If his suggestion is an uncomfortable one, we compromise. Of course I still wear my band t-shirts sometimes too, but I usually try to add a more attractive element to my ensemble just in case he’s looking. So if you were like me and didn’t know it, remember that dressing up for your spouse matters because he is the one that’ll be looking at you for the rest of his life, for better or for worse.