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My husband doesn't know how to dress! How can I help him?

Q: My husband refuses to wear anything I suggest - to the point that I've been turning down formal party invitations. How can I get him to see the light?

A: This is probably the most common question I receive from women, and it does not fill me with sympathy.

Women must share the blame for this imbalance. As young women - as teenagers and even in university - they fawn over the scruffiest boys. From our earliest years, girls reward a supposedly manly nonchalance about appearance. And even when you met your husband, I bet that you admired his ruggedness, his lack of pretension.

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Now your social circumstances and possibly your values have changed. But his haven't. I am sorry that you are embarrassed by your husband, but you chose him for who he is. Here's an idea: Take him to the next formal event and let him wear something inappropriate. Chances are he will realise once he's there that he looks out of place. And he will feel awkward. And he will start to get it. And if he doesn't, he never will.

Russell Smith's latest novel, Girl Crazy, was recently published. Have a fashion question? E-mail style@globeandmail.com .

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