Yesterday, as I walked in the city after an early theatre performance, I was commenting to my male friend how people were dressed. It was a warm Saturday night and people were very casually dressed. Yes, we live in a city by the sea, and the culture is a relaxed beach-type culture. More importantly I noticed how skimpy were women’s clothes. It seems that women are displaying all their wares for males, and women, to see. There’s nothing new here, it’s natural to try to attract the opposite sex with visual cues. But have we gone overboard? What is the right dress etiquette to stay attractive without being vulgar?
My friend admitted that women who show too much have no appeal to him. Men are still after the challenge, and a woman who bares too much also leaves nothing to the imagination, nothing for the chase.
There is etiquette on the lengths of skirts, but I do think that it’s really determined by the tightness of the clothing. And, sadly and unjustly, by the shape of a woman’s body. A dress that is worn too tight and short on a portly frame is going to more unsightly than a hugging dress on a very skinny girl. This does not mean that women with curves are unattractive at all. We all just need to learn what is attractive for our body shapes.
Cleavage also is predetermined by the shape of the body. Voluptuous women with ample breasts can sometimes have a sex appeal that a skimpily clad busty woman can not muster.
So, there are a few basic rules of attire etiquette. Most importantly, if you’re going to show off your legs with a short skirt or shorts, then cover your breasts. It’s one or the other… not both. In any case, rare is the woman who has fantastic legs and cleavage, so stick to your most favoured feature, and highlight it.
Unbeknownst to most people, your posture is most likely to by your best asset. Think of people who slouch. They send a message of weakness or sadness. Whereas a person who stands tall, with their shoulders back gives off an air of confidence and strength.
Smile. Yes, I can’t tell you the number of times a man has approached me and told me that he was drawn to my smile. Joy is very seductive.
Clothes that are clean and well pressed are much more attractive than crumpled dirty clothes. And least of all smelly ones.
Wear clothes appropriate to the season. It is ridiculous to see women in skimpy clothes in winter months, and just silly seeing women in thick winter wear during hot summer nights. It doesn’t matter that the clothes figure as the latest craze in the northern hemisphere.
If you’re going to wear men’s clothing (for effect), then make sure that you mix it well with a feminine piece. Great accessories, or fantastic high heel shoes. Or inject colour and contrast.
If you wear white, it invites trouble. You’re either going to display cellulite (easily masked if you had chosen black) or display more than you intended when lighting hits it at the right angle (recall Lady Diana’s early photo shoot in long white flowing skirt).
Oh, and my pet peeve. Never, ever, (ever… though a past write-up offers one recent occurrence for this etqt author), take off your shoes when going out at night and wander with them in your hands. If you can’t bear to walk, then take a pause and recover a while. Walking in high heels, like any skill, must be learnt. Practice wearing them at home for lengthier periods each time. Choose the right shoe for the event you will attend. Extremely high heels at a dinner party is fine when you’ll find yourself seated for most of the evening. Not so fine if you’re going to be dancing or standing all night. Cocktails are tricky. It’s always more appealing to see legs lengthened by heels, but sometimes it’s a painful price to pay. Once, again, practice it over several days, weeks if possible.
As to alcohol and it’s effects on appearance and attractiveness, I recall driving passed a pub with my pre-teen daughter a year ago, and thanks to the perfect timing, a very drunk, scarcely dressed, woman with smudged make up (I think you get the picture), meandered in front of my car, with sandals in her hands. I pointed out to my daughter that this woman was “cheap” (yes, I was being extremely harsh and judgmental, but please bear with me as I extoll the virtues of this tale), and sadly that this girl would only attract one of two men; a cheap man (slovenly and without virtue) or a fine man who was seeking a temporary fix (ie not a good man either). The moral to this tale is that you get what you put out. This applies to men too. Women are least attracted to drunks, bullies and overtly loud, obnoxious men. It served as a great learning device for this mum. Now, my daughter makes a point of showing me “cheap” girls all the time. Goodness, have a created a monster?
On a more contemporary note about attire for modern woman; if you’re confident that you know what message you’re sending with your appearance, and do not shy away from comments that could be made, then wear what you like. Good etiquette, above all, is about being confident without offending those around you. And fashion is all about expressing yourself on the outside.