What Men Want – Dress

So what do men want from how you dress?

Of course this article comes with all the normal caveats; some men are different, some want tattoos and biker leathers, that’s all true. But what do most men want?

I think the answer is simple enough.

1. they like their women feminine. Consider wearing dresses if you usually stick to trousers. A dress these days is rare enough that a woman in one always looks elegant. It says “I bothered”.

2. They like you and want to see you. This means fitted clothes that flatter your shape, including plus size. No hiding away. Men are more visually stimulated than women and are attracted to the female form, so display it by form-fitting clothes.

Make sure whatever you wear shows your waist. Waist to hip ratio is a scientifically proven quotient of attractiveness to men throughout the ages, no matter what your size. Many plus size pieces are cut to show that waist.

3. They operate a double standard and don’t want to see you in anything too revealing. We can debate all day long as to why this should not be so, but the fact remains for most men it is, in fact, so. Don’t go too short, too low-cut, or too clingy or see-through.

4. They want to see you look pretty, elegant and groomed. As well as appreciating you, men are territorial. There is a big part of them that wants to be proud of the woman they are with. Rightly or wrongly, they feel she reflects on them. The unlovely term and concept “trophy wife” comes from this basic idea; a man wants to be proud of the woman he’s with.

5. This means, good fabrics and cuts, blow-dried hair, simple make-up that looks like a more polished version of you.

And that’s it. The basic, elegant, feminine look most men want. They envy another man whose wife or girlfriend looks like that. Yes, I believe women should dress for the man they love. This fundamental idea of caring about, and acting on, what your partner wants is attacked by many as unfeminist. Nothing could be further from the truth. Feminism is about equal rights and opportunities for women. It is not about seeing men as an enemy; it is nor about denying the urge women have to please the men they cherish.

And of course, it is not a one way street either. You expect your man in a suit at your sister’s wedding. I like men who lift weights. In a love partnership, each does not consider themselves alone, but what the other likes and desires. Women are less visually stimulated than men, so you may not have an opinion on Hugo Boss for him, but he will be obliged to do things for you purely and solely because you are into it.


  1. Rebecca · May 31, 2013

    “Men are more visually stimulated than women”/”Women are less visually stimulated than men”
    Evidence? Or are you just parroting ‘common knowledge’ which snowballed from the misinterpretation of a single study?

    “Many plus size pieces are cut to show that waist.”
    Have you ever even looked at a plus size catalogue? For example, say I want a dress for summer but can only pay high street prices. I look at the Evans selection and eliminate all the dresses which don’t have a defined waist. I eliminate the cheap, sweaty synthetic fabrics and the large, ugly patterns, and anything with tacky embellishments. I eliminate anything over 50 quid (it would be 30, but I’ve accepted I have to pay that much for basics). I order the two or three dresses left. Chances that when I try them on they will suit my body shape, hang correctly and not feel too cheaply made? Slim. Much as I’m expected to be if I want to have decent clothing.

  2. Dom · May 31, 2013

    Well that’s 1 unhelpful comment. Sounds like contradiction just for the sake of it. Indeed men are much more visually based than women and the idea that a man needs to be proud of his partner is spot on. As an intelligent person, it does feel very uncomfortable to be in that frame of mind but nature is nature and I can’t get away from it, no matter how hard I try to intelectualise it. If you feel your partner isn’t at her best or doesn’t make an effort in general, you do feel disappointed and maybe even a little embarrassed. This isn’t about wanting the hottest looking girl, or barbie doll. This is about just what’s written in the blog, we instinctively like a woman who looks elegant and has natural looking makeup. It’s the kind of makeup that could fool a man into thinking his partner has only to put on a little lipstick and maybe eyeshadow and think the rest is her true beauty. Indeed just a little polish.

    We like discreet makeup to clown makeup. We prefer a rounder figure to size 8. We just generally prefer natural women. If a plastic woman shows interest in us, it’s the interest that attracts us, not her plastic side. That’s just about accepting the other person how they are. Love is blind after all.

  3. Rebecca · June 3, 2013

    As a fat woman, I object to a thin woman telling me that most of the clothes available to me flatter my figure, when in fact the opposite is true.

    Still don’t understand what is meant by “men are more visual than women”. The studies are hardly conclusive and no-one is really able to articulate the actual effect of this “fact” on relationships/attraction. I am very aware of physical appearance, clothing and shapes and silhouettes. I’m pretty sure this blog post could be flipped around and similar things written about what women want in a man’s appearance.

    • James · December 13, 2013

      You are probably right Rebecca, about being able to flip it round. The thing is though that most men wouldn’t care enough to read it.

  4. Pingback: For whom are we writing, anyway? | Kate - it rhymes with 'irate'

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