A Question Of Attraction

The way in which we dress invariably has an impact on the way we are perceived by members of the attracting sex. From my perspective, a woman I perceive to be well-dressed would naturally attract more attention, even though she may not be the most attractive woman in the room; being ‘well-dressed’ is unusual. It is a sign of self-assuredness and quality of mind. However, I often wonder how important it is for my contemporaries to exaggerate or understate their own personal style in order to retain the attraction of those they wish to attract.

If I were to ask certain friends of mine whether this was a serious consideration when shopping for clothes, there would be a mixture of responses. One response would ridicule the idea of shopping to please another person. This scoff would be further qualified with suggestions that men should identify first and foremost with themselves – if the women aren’t interested, are shocked or put off, so be it.

Another response would carry a certain caution; that some of my friends are not willing to appear ridiculous, though they would dearly love to express themselves in the clothing they dream of. There is in these respondents an itching desire to be free from the convention of the day but it is a tiny flame, easily doused by the waves of insecurity. They also confess to a strange comfort in anonymity.

Then there are those who would respond, quite honestly, that they often plead with girls, generally ones they are not attracted to, to go shopping with them in order that they do not select items which would compromise the image they wish to project. They are not always shy in nature. They are simply cautious. They tend to enjoy being single, have a varied social circle and, most importantly, consider sexual attraction the most important pastime in their lives.

Some of them have no interest in clothing at all. The majority however have come to recognise the importance of ‘standing out’ when playing the field. However, there are many things they just will not do. One of my friends asked me why I wear bow ties. I informed him it was because I liked wearing them. He responded that he could never wear one unless it was part of his evening wear. Vaguely intrigued by his commonplace response I asked him why: “Because” he said “I’d look like a tit!”

Looking as ‘different’ as that is generally considered by men to be a non-starter in the attraction department, especially for heterosexual men. Indeed, even women can be rather scornful and abusive about men who they accuse of ‘trying too hard.’ Though they may quietly applaud the bravery of a man of idiosyncratic style, they generally have an asexual response to extraordinarily well-dressed men.

When I proffered photographic examples to some women (three in their twenties, two in their forties) recently for their opinions on the approachability and attractiveness of the gentlemen concerned, the immaculately and idiosyncratically dressed men – aside from Johnny Depp – received very low responses for reasons of ‘stiffness’ and ‘utter absence of sexual appeal.’ The moderately well-dressed gentlemen – jacket, trousers/jeans, no tie, no pocket square or other accessories – received the highest response. The reasons given were ‘ease of dress’, ‘avoidance of fuss’ and consequently, ‘strong sexual connection.’ The badly dressed men didn’t score as well on the whole but they often scored far higher than the immaculately dressed men, even amongst the older women, for reasons of ‘brazen sexuality’ and ‘gruff masculinity.’

When I suggested to these female respondents that it was preposterous of women to moan about badly dressed men when they themselves credited them far higher than those who practice clothing perfection, they agreed: it is preposterous, they said, and it makes absolutely no sense that somehow their sexual mind should prefer scruff over splendour. However, they suggested it has far more to do with current perceptions of fashion and style – not to mention the fact that they are but a tiny sample “I bet loads of girls” one of them said “would think a guy in a bow tie was hot as hell…” – and that there are likely to be perfect partners for every category of gentlemen presented. Lastly, I asked them to state, in their experience, taking into account all the possible views of their sex what they considered the ‘safest’ route to take to secure attractions. Without hesitation, they all selected the moderately well-dressed gentlemen.

The irony of all this is that gentlemen who fall into the category of the ‘immaculate’ might very well tone down their more eccentric ensembles when consorting with single women – and, when fully ensconced in a warm and loving relationship, take the first opportunity to express who they really are; “Honey! I’m breaking out the bow tie…”


  1. Fashionista said:

    Personally speaking, a man who has a contemporary dress sense is able to exude sophistication in a more youthful light. (For argument’s sake) When you compare an older woman with a younger male companion, they are especially appreciative of the fact that some men of their junior have acquired a level of maturity through the way they dress.

    July 28, 2009
  2. I completely concur with your sentiments. At one point I tried to dress to attract the type of women I thought I wanted, but after a lot of self reflection I realized that I would be compromising my character and who I really was for someone who would never fully appreciate it. Furthermore a true lady not only appreciates a well dressed man she would expect him to be, as they are reflections of each other. Sartorially we should never bring ourselves down to the levels of mediocrity rather we should elevate others in dress and manner. Hopefully your words will inspire others to be themselves and in time bring the well dressed gentleman back to the forefront.

    July 29, 2009
  3. Patrick said:

    I’ve heard the same things from female friends. The general sentiment is that they don’t want a guy to be prettier or look more primped than they are.

    Historically, it seems that the the level of dress of men has coincided with the growing social equality of women. The increasingly simple dress of men helps to maintain romantic gender roles in an increasingly gender neutral society.

    Perhaps a solution is seek out better dressed women, so that you’re sitll comparatively “manly.”

    July 29, 2009
  4. I think it is, at least in part, current social conditioning and fad. Take a look at tv, film, music. Men who are considered “sexy” are rarely dressed formally. Same with women. With men, it’s more of a “brooding, bad-boy image.” With women, it’s about how the clothes reveal/show off their bodies. Women who dressed in par with the more formal style we discuss in these pages might have to look several decades back into the vault of Vogue to find shots of women celebrated and showcased in more formal clothes.

    Unfairly, formal clothes in every day life are perceived as being stuffy. Lawyers, talent agents, and executives have more leeway because it’s considered part of the environment. Elegance for BOTH men and women is an older art. Not less beautiful but less common these days.

    July 31, 2009
  5. Tanya said:

    Maybe it’s just Vancouver, BC, Canada – where everyone tends to dress casually – many of my girlfriends answered “Style” when I asked what they are attracted to in men! (These are women in mid-late twenties to early thirties.)

    While I’m not surprised that style and well-dressedness play a role, I was shocked that it was the first thing to come to their minds! 😉

    August 2, 2009
  6. patrick said:

    I wonder what a Vancouver girl’s definition of attractive ‘style’ in a guy is… abercrombie and a fleece?

    August 3, 2009
  7. Age Guys said:

    These days, ladies are pushing up the bar as to the kind of men they would like to date and, eventually, be their spouses. They are keen on the hygiene that men keep as they would not like to stay around someone who does not know how to keep themselves clean.

    August 13, 2009
  8. Daniel said:

    first of all, i must say you write in a way i would love to write. Unfortunately, my writing style will have to suffice.
    from my experience talking to hundreds of women and looking at their subcommunication reactions on being dressed differently.
    Women tend to prefer the best dressed men in the room. plain and simple. this talks of sophistication and resources. It should be trendy and most important it should be somewhat sexual (not uptight) a shirt should be open not buttoned up.
    what happens now is that your value is extremely high. so you must act cool that you are used to being the attention plus you must be very nice to people otherwise women perceive you as arrogant and they will shoot you down dropping your value.

    September 9, 2009

Comments are closed.