When my husband Waqas and I met 10 years ago, it was clear that we had different relationships with style. I’d been in love with fashion since I was old enough to discern what clothes were, consuming countless issues of Vogue as a youth, unbeknownst to my parents. He, on the other hand, considered clothes to have a single, practical purpose: to keep his body covered.
I was surprised to fall in love with someone who often sported mismatched socks that were pilled and torn from months (maybe even years) of wear, but the greater shock came nearly a decade later, when I agreed to let him dress me for a week in the name of editorial fodder — and what turned out to be something resembling personal growth. Scroll down to see how it went.
Sunday is the first day of the working week for us in Dubai. The weather has been getting chillier, which means it’s finally appropriate to start wearing warmer garments. Temperature was pretty much the only consideration Waqas had to keep in mind on his inaugural day of dressing me — plus the fact that he and I were both meeting up with friends after work.
He pulled out an old tiger-print jacquard mini by Adam Lippes circa 2017 and paired it with a relaxed black sweater from Mango. I loved it! It worked! We debated shoe options (my vote going to a pair of kitten heels from Liudmila, while he wanted me to wear something higher and sexier). I won because we both agreed I couldn’t wear five-inch heels for 12 hours straight.
Like me, Waqas loves blazers, and luckily I have quite the collection. He unearthed an old Acne one that I bought years ago when we were both still living in Doha. Admittedly I hadn’t worn it in years, and he insisted it needed reviving. That very same day, a Rosie Assoulin dress I ordered arrived in the mail. I instantly tried it on (because that’s what you do when new clothes show up at your door), Waqas had me put the Acne blazer on top of it and to our mutual surprise, it looked great. I threw on some Celine sunglasses and shoes, and we called the outfit complete.
While commuting into work in a car, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the window and was instantly catapulted back to our early days in NY as a newly minted couple, trying to get our bearings by understanding each other’s likes and dislikes, habits, hobbies, etc. How was it that the very guy who wore the same jeans and hoodie to school almost every single day was responsible for this rather lovely ensemble I was wearing?
The two requisites going into today were a) I needed to be comfortable because the day was going to be a long one and b) layers were important because the temperature was supposed to drop at night. Waqas pulled out my comfiest jeans and a T-shirt from Kule that he knows I love. But, as it stood, the outfit lacked oomph! So he reached for my Kennith Ize men’s blazer I purchased on a recent trip to Lagos and suggested I top things off with a pair of Rosie Assoulin shoes. The final look was undeniably another win. I said so and changed absolutely nothing about Waqas’s suggestions. Instead, I simply stood in front of the mirror, checked myself out from at least four different angles and made that face you make when you’re impressed.
I had a low-key schedule planned for today, starting off with working from home, then running errands, followed by a dinner date at night. Waqas loves when I wear dresses. He picked out a white Rhode Resort one because of how “feminine and pretty” he thinks it looks on me.
“What shoes do you want to wear?” he asked generously.
My temptation to take back the control was palpable. When I hesitated, he suggested a pair of two-tone black-and-white Prada brogues.
“No!” I said immediately. I had been eyeing my tan cowboy boots from Ralph Lauren all week. Now was the time; it was finally cold enough to wear them out in Dubai. I nonchalantly suggested it, he shrugged….
I might have broken the “rules,” but I loved the way the look turned out. It was the perfect combination of our two aesthetics — minimally chic like Waqas, sprinkled with a little bit of Anum.
Thinking back on yesterday’s quasi-lapse, I decided on the last day of the challenge I would stick to our agreement and let Waqas call the shots. I had a number of business meetings to attend during the day, so Waqas opted to keep it classic, professional, but with a twist. He cutely glanced my way during his morning cup of coffee, remarking that I should rep the clothes I design more often (referring to a three-piece N-DUO suit from our Fall/Winter 2018 collection, which he told me was one of his favorites). I nodded happily. With a simple black turtleneck styled underneath, pearls to match and a pair of Chanel slingbacks, I felt ready to take on the day.
Since I had a casual social engagement later that evening, I decided to change out of my work wear and enlisted Waqas for a final outfit hurrah. He put together one hell of a BBQ-appropriate look, composed of a floral-printed silk Dries Van Noten button-down, a pair of denim shorts, a fun purse by up-and-coming designer Soraya Hennessy, tons of gold jewelry and a comfortable pair of baby blue By Far shoes for more color and zhuzh. I loved it. It was his most daring creation yet.
Reflecting on the five days as a whole, I realized that some of my fashion-obsessive knowledge seems to have rubbed off on my formerly style-ambivalent husband. Waqas dropped words like “Dries Van Noten,” “Kule,” “Jacquemus,” and “Rosie Assoulin.” He asked me where my brown Celine booties from last season were when helping me sift through my closet. Could it be? Had he actually been rapt with attention the whole time when I spoke about the collections after fashion month, and showed him pictures of things I bookmarked and liked on Instagram? Even if he continues to be a total utilitarian when it comes to his own clothes, I appreciate this evolution.
Ultimately, letting my husband dress me was a challenge for both of us. For me, it meant learning to give up control over my external presentation, and for him, it meant trying to understand the nuances of my taste while marrying them with his own. The outfits he picked weren’t always 100% “me,” but they were completely and totally us.
Photos by Waqas Farid.