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Why Do Women Wear Revealing Clothing?

Fashion trends like crop tops celebrate the female form and empower women. Despite that, arguments about what women “should” wear continue to spiral through popular culture. So, why exactly do women wear revealing clothing?

Women have the right to wear what they choose, whether that style celebrates female empowerment, personal expression, or fashion trends. But women may also select to wear clothing that reveals their bodies in hot weather or to fit in at the beach. Sometimes a desire to look like a celebrity can also dictate clothing choices.

In this article, you will find out what makes the subject of “revealing” clothes so contentious. You will discover fourteen reasons why women choose to wear these clothes. Finally, you will find tips to help you manage your personal style.

Why Do Women Wear Revealing Clothing

What is Considered Revealing Clothing?

In modern Western society, clothing that displays a lot of skin or closely outlines the female body is often called revealing. Other parts of the world apply even more stringent standards to what is considered revealing–for example, in some places, a woman risks her life if she shows an inch of her hair in public!

You could make an unending list of clothing certain groups of people would label “revealing.” This can range from booty shorts to bikinis to knee-length skirts or anything that might shift in a breeze to accidentally show the outline of a woman’s curves.

The question that should be asked is, why does the world still think it has the right to dictate what women can wear? It took a long time, but we have reached the point where first-world countries recognize that women deserve the same basic human rights as men, including the right to vote and the right to bodily autonomy.

Ask yourself this–how often do you stumble across a massive online argument about whether a male celebrity showed too much chest or flashed too much leg at a public event?

Here is the key thing to keep in mind when talking about “revealing” clothing. What is and is not considered revealing in women’s clothing is always determined by the cultural mores of a particular group of people. It is a shifting target that changes from one group of people to another and constantly evolves.

To put it in more simple terms, setting the rules for what is considered “revealing” clothing is a way to try to take control of women’s bodies.

Why Do Women Wear Revealing Clothing: 14 Key Reasons

Woman in revealing clothes

Women may choose to wear clothes that display their bodies for many different reasons, ranging from making a feminist statement to wanting to look like a celebrity. Please note that none of these reasons is a “right” or “wrong” reason for a woman to wear a particular piece of clothing. Once again, it is true that women should wear what they want, whether that choice is a bikini or a burka!

1. Fashion Trends

One of the biggest reasons women wear a particular type of clothing is because that style is trending, and everyone is wearing it.

You can see this today with trends like crop tops, cold-shoulder shirts, and heavily ripped jeans. Fifty years ago, mainstream culture would have labeled these styles immoral and outrageous.

You could argue that fashion trends also play a large role in determining what is considered revealing clothing at a given time.

For example, during the Regency era, made famous today by many fun Jane Austen movies and shows like Bridgerton, it was commonplace for high-class women to attend balls wearing thin linen dresses spritzed with water to make the gowns almost transparent!

Then fashion took a sharp about-face in the Victorian period, and women wore massive hoopskirt dresses that covered them from chin to toes in voluminous fabric. In that repressive era, it was scandalous for a woman to show even an inch of skin at her ankle.

2. Clothing Stores

Dressing provocatively

Similarly, the ready-wear clothes available in stores also determines what women feel comfortable wearing.

You can walk into any TJ Maxx, Target, or Walmart and find a rack of tank tops and sports bras in the women’s clothing section. The modern world loves its athleisure attire, but many of these garments–like leggings and tight tank tops–could be considered revealing.

But when everyone wears it and every store sells it, these garments become culturally acceptable. Of course, fashion constantly changes, so what is available in stores changes all the time, too!

3. Self Expression

Self expression

One of the most important reasons women choose to wear clothes that reveal a certain amount of their skin or display the shape of their bodies is that they want to express themselves through fashion.

Now that we all have access to social media like TikTok and Instagram, your appearance has become who you are in a new way. What you wear is a way to tell the world so much about you without words! For example, you might dye your hair a neon shade to show your vibrant personality or wear t-shirts with Hello Kitty designs to hint at your own cuteness.

The catch with self-expression through fashion is that, too often, people choose to read into your personal choices in whatever way they want.

You might choose to wear a cute bikini to the beach because you like the fun fabric in the swimsuit. Still, the guy a few yards away playing beach volleyball could assume that since he can see the outline of your bust, he has the right to aggressive sexual actions like whistling or catcalling at you. This is not OK, and you can read more about the long history of judging women based on their clothing later in this article!

4. Confidence

Of course, many women wear fashion choices like low tops or short shorts because the outfit looks good and provides a confidence boost!

You can make a case that women should not have to display their bodies to feel that they look good. But on the other hand, there is no reason women should not feel comfortable wearing clothes that highlight their bodies. This should be a personal choice, not something a larger group of people decide for women.

5. Positive Body Image

Possibly the best possible reason for women to wear “revealing” clothing is that they want to celebrate a positive body image!

Body image is such a hard topic for many young girls and women in a culture that always judges women based on their appearance. If a woman can make the brave choice to love how she looks and wear clothing that displays her love to the world, we should all cheer her on!

6. Empowerment

Cute revealing outfits

Some women wear clothes that display more of their bodies as an empowering feminist statement. At many points in history, the men in power set the rules and required women to wear bulky or concealing clothing that completely hid their bodies. Think about the Puritan culture of New England with its concealing “Pilgrim” style dresses, or the enormous hoop skirt dresses of the Victorian Era.

Because misogynistic groups so often object to women displaying any part of their bodies, some women use their bodies as a symbol of subversive fashion. They reclaim the right to wear what they want by wearing more revealing styles.

7. Copying Celebrities

Some women wear more revealing clothing as a way to keep up with hot new celebrity trends. As with most fashion choices, a lot of what becomes hip at any given moment depends on what celebrities wear.

This is not necessarily a choice to try to look super sexy or movie-star-like, though. Many celebrities like Taylor Swift and Beyonce also have a reputation as strong, powerful women that other women want to emulate.

8. Hot Weather

Provocative clothing

Sometimes practical reasons drive a woman’s choice to wear clothes that reveal more of her body. In hot weather, it makes sense that women wear sundresses, shorts, tank tops, or even bikinis to keep cool.

This holds true historically as well. Cultures that developed in hot climates often created female fashions with more revealing styles. Ancient Egyptian women of all classes wore light sheath dresses that often left their shoulders bare.

Obviously, men make the same choice, often choosing to mow the grass shirtless or even stroll through the neighborhood to walk the dog while only half dressed. The difference, of course, is that men’s bodies do not get objectified in the way women’s bodies do, so no one freaks out at this sight!

9. Fitting In

Exposing dresses

The desire to fit in and look like everyone can influence a woman’s decision to wear more revealing clothing. When you think of peer pressure you may imagine the hallway in a public high school full of teenage girls who all desperately want validation from their peers. But the need to fit in and look like part of the group stays with many women for their whole lives and can strongly influence their fashion choices.

Again, this may seem like a negative reason–and it can be, in some cases! But the fact is that humans are social creatures. Displaying physical symbols of how you belong to a group might look like wearing a sports jersey while your team plays a big game, or it might look like wearing a bodycon dress when you go clubbing with your gals.

10. Looking Attractive

Provocative dresses

Looking attractive is also one of the reasons women might choose to wear revealing clothing. Certain styles like low-cut dresses or short skirts traditionally have an alluring style.

Indeed, women wearing revealing clothing such as miniskirts or V-necked dresses often look more attractive to men. But one very important note here is that just because a woman chooses to look attractive does not mean she wants to attract you (or anyone). She may just want to enjoy looking pretty for herself.

It is also important that society stops perpetuating the myth that women wear certain clothing as a means of attention-seeking. This is an excuse people like to use to explain their own bad behavior–such as men making inappropriate comments in the workplace.

11. Poverty

Poverty can impact a woman’s clothing choices in many ways. First, it makes it more likely that the woman has to buy fast fashion that comes with a lower price tag. This means she likely has to buy whatever is in style at the moment, such as crop tops from Walmart or leggings from Ross Dress for Less.

Second, poverty can also influence women to wear more revealing clothes for more controversial reasons. Growing up in a culture that values women for their sex appeal, you are much more likely to trade on that value by displaying your body. This is not an immoral choice or a bad reason to wear this kind of clothes–it is just another way women sometimes try to blend into the world they know.

12. Cultural Expectations

Similarly, some women may elect to wear more revealing clothes because that style is expected in their culture or community. College girls on spring break in Miami face a strong cultural expectation to wear beachy clothes like bikinis and sundresses, for example. Other cultural clothing choices may have their roots in a person’s ethnicity or heritage.

13. Freedom From Past Cultural Expectations

Of course, the flip side of that concept also holds true because many women choose to wear more revealing clothes as a way to subvert the cultural expectations around them! This is especially true for women who grew up in conservative or strictly religious communities. For these women, wearing clothes that defy the rules they grew up with is a way of claiming their independence and autonomy.

14. Why Not?

Finally and perhaps most importantly, why shouldn’t women wear clothes that reveal and celebrate their bodies? You can see from this list the wide range of reasons that might influence women to wear a particular style of clothing. But the most important reason is that women have the right to choose what they wear.

Of course, everyone, regardless of gender, should dress thoughtfully under certain circumstances. Your workplace may have a dress code, for example. If you attend the funeral of a family member at an unfamiliar church or mosque, you may want to look up the expected type of attire for that religious organization.

These fashion choices show respect for the people you visit when you step into their world. But there is a time and a place for everything, and you should also keep in mind that the world does not have the right to tell you what to wear!

The Culture of Shaming

Even in a modern, feminist world, it is common to see women shamed for choosing to wear a certain style of clothing.

Judging women based on their appearance and clothing is pretty insidious.

  • It can look like a school principal standing at the door to measure the skirt every female student wears as she walks past with the excuse that this tactic prevents girls from wearing “suggestive” clothing.
  • For young girls, it can sound like parents who claim to mean only the best for their daughters, yelling at them for wearing “slutty” clothes.
  • Parents may even explicitly tell the girls that they are responsible for the sexual thoughts men have about them. (For any teenage girls reading this article: you are not responsible for the thoughts or feelings of any other human being. It’s enough work to take care of your own thoughts and feelings!)
  • For adult women, it can sound like a stranger on the street calling out graphic things as you walk by.
  • Or a stranger is online posting a comment below a photo listing all the things he would like to do to you as if he has any right to objectify your body in this way.

Shaming women for their clothing choices can destroy their confidence in their own bodies. It damages their ability to express themselves freely. It perpetuates rape culture and the “blame the victim” mentality.

Is it ever OK to comment on women’s clothing in a public setting? Generally speaking, no. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you understand the woman’s reason for wearing the outfit.

Plus, many environments like workplaces provide legal protection for women, which means you cannot make comments about a woman’s appearance.

This is especially true for strangers or people you only connect with online or through social media. In this context, it is never appropriate to comment on a woman’s body or clothing. This is just another way to objectify women for entertainment.

On an even more serious note, blaming a woman’s clothing for terrible things like rape is never OK. In courtrooms today, lawyers and assailants still too often try to use the excuse that the victim was “dressed provocatively” as if this excuses rape. It is not OK to make sexual comments to a woman without clear and verbal consent from her. It is obviously never OK (or legal) to engage in any kind of sexual interaction without complete and open consent from both parties.

Feminism and Revealing Clothing

Feminist fashion trends kind of pinball all over the map, ranging from boxy or powerful styles made popular in the 80s to sexy or revealing styles today. This is because everyone can (and should) be a feminist, which means you believe that men and women deserve equal rights!

The basic concept behind feminist fashion is that women should be free to choose what they want to wear.

It gets more complex, though, because some feminists argue that this means women should feel empowered to wear more revealing clothes. Current trends do tend to lean this way, probably somewhat as a backlash against the long history of repressive clothing rules women suffered through in the past.

Other feminists insist that women should not feel they “have to” look sexy to be good feminists. Instead, they should choose a style that feels right to them.

It should go without saying that you can believe in feminist values and choose to wear whatever style of clothing you prefer, whether or not that style reveals your body in any way. You may be a feminist and also embrace a religion with certain standards of dress, which is your right just as much as someone else’s right to wear a bikini at the beach! The right to choose means that you can choose a baggy sweater instead of a crop top if that is your preference.

Poverty and Revealing Clothing

Poverty can also influence a trend to wear revealing clothing. This is especially true for women trying to climb up the ladder in a workplace or attempting to “pass” as more affluent than they are.

In fact, in the past decades, social studies have shown that women from poor backgrounds who wear sexier clothing like pencil skirts do better in job interviews than women who wear clothing that covers more of their bodies.

This is not a pleasant truth because it boils down to that people in power tend to objectify women based on the attractiveness of their bodies rather than valuing them for their job skills or abilities.

Of course, this is not a blanket statement! Plenty of organizations enforce fair hiring policies for men and women alike.

The Psychology of Revealing Clothing

Why you wear revealing clothing may give you an insight into your psychology. Because clothes show so much about a person’s mood, emotions, and behaviors, psychologists have started to study the psychology of clothing.

  • First, in a counterintuitive way, revealing clothing may serve as a sort of armor. It can make you look wealthy and successful or like a celebrity. This can give you a sense of power and protection from the world around you.
  • Second, clothes can influence your moods and emotions. You may feel down and bored if you go grocery shopping in your baggy sweats, but perky and upbeat if you wear jeans and your favorite slinky tee!
  • Third, choices like wearing flashy clothes with designer logos on them can mean that you want to fit in with a certain group that values name brands or that you want to make it obvious that you are wealthy enough to buy those brands.

Why Do Celebrities Wear Revealing Clothing?

One of the main reasons celebrities wear revealing clothes is that they have to promote the clothes offered to them by famous fashion designers or brands. Some parts of the fashion world still cling to the idea that women have to look attractive to men to be beautiful.

But celebrities might choose to wear revealing clothes for any of the fourteen reasons listed in this article, just like any other woman!

Some celebrities make a name for themselves by promoting feminist ideals and wearing power-statement clothes to support their principles. Others wear revealing clothes because it is part of their public image as sexy heartthrobs.

Why Do Women Wear Skirts?

Why Do Women Wear Skirts

Skirts can mean many different things to women, so there is no one reason why women wear skirts.

Historically, men and women both wore skirts or tunics because this simple garment provided some protection from the environment and allowed a wide range of movement. At other points in fashion history, skirts grew more associated with femininity.

Today, long skirts sometimes signal a more conservative style of dress, while short skirts subvert the idea of this modest style and have a more sexy appearance.

Why Do Women Wear Dresses?

Why Do Women Wear Dresses

Women can wear dresses for thousands of different reasons, including a need to look modest in a strict religious environment or the desire to look attractive at a bar.

Traditionally, dresses served as a way for women to express their social standing. In some cultures, only the wealthy could wear certain colors of cloth or decorate their dresses with lace, for example. And throughout much of history, only the wealthy could afford the huge amount of fabric needed to create the elaborate gowns worn by upper-class women.

If you want to wear a dress today, you have the freedom to choose from literally millions of different dress styles.

Is it Good to Wear Revealing Clothing?

Whether or not it is good to wear revealing clothing depends on your personal preferences.

  • Do you feel comfortable in revealing clothing? If not, this choice may not work for you right now. Instead, choose an outfit that makes you feel pretty and confident, whatever that might look like.
  • Do you want to fit in with a particular group or organization? In this case, you may want to tailor your own regular style choices to reflect the style of the group.
  • Do you want to look attractive? While you certainly do not have to wear revealing clothes to accomplish this, it may boost your confidence as you flirt with a person you like!

What outfits do guys find most attractive? Studies have shown that, in general, more revealing clothes draw more sexual attention from men. This does not mean that you are responsible for the thoughts or reactions of the men around you. But it does mean that revealing clothes may be a useful tool in your toolbox if you want to flirt with a guy.

What if you do not want to wear revealing clothes? This is your choice, and there is nothing wrong with it! In fact, you can often alter trendy clothes just a bit to make them less revealing if this makes you more comfortable. For example, you could wear a slip or a cami under a revealing dress or sew a ruffle on a short top to make it more concealing.


Women wear revealing clothing for many reasons, like wanting to feel empowered, attractive, or wealthy. Some women choose to wear less concealing clothing as a way to subvert traditional fashion rules. Others may wear revealing clothing as a way to fit in at a particular event or with a certain group of people.

The most important thing to keep in mind when thinking about women wearing revealing clothing is that women have the right and the freedom to choose what they wear. Shaming or judging women for their attire is wrong and even illegal in many instances.