Monday, June 30, 2014

The Importance of Variety in Your Appearance

There is a girl in my office that is extremely attractive. She is good-looking, but she is much more than that. She has great posture, always fixes her hair well, smiles frequently, is confident, and she generally radiates an air of femininity that is painfully lacking in many girls’ demeanor.

One thing that always stands out about this girl is the way that she dresses – specifically, the variety of clothes she wears. Every day she wears something completely different. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen her wearing the same thing twice. I am not making a statement about the quantity of outfits she owns or the size of her wardrobe; I know plenty of girls who wear different outfits every day but still look boring. This girl actually looks different every day. One day she will be wearing jeans and a blouse, the next day she will be wearing a long, close-fitting dress, the next day cotton dress-pants with a loose, flowing top, and the day after that a pencil skirt. I've seen this girl wear clothes and dress types that I didn't even know existed. I realize that might not be saying much coming from a guy, but the point is that she is very clearly an outlier relative to other girls when it comes to the variety of clothes she wears.

It would be hard to underestimate how much men love this – and I say that with confidence because I've talked about it with several other guys and they agree categorically. Her daily choice of clothes is the topic of our lunch conversation more often than is probably healthy. It’s worth pointing out that this attention isn't the wrong kind of attention. Plenty of girls could work their way into our conversation by wearing short dresses, small tops or tight skirts. In fact, plenty do, and we talk about them too. But we come back to this girl way more than the others because we are constantly surprised and impressed with the variety. It’s hugely refreshing to see her every day in a different outfit.

While I am sure that women can appreciate variety in male fashion also, I am convinced that this is something men appreciate much more than women. I've explained before how strongly men crave sexual variety, and I've explained the importance of visual stimulation. By varying her appearance, a woman appeals to both of those masculine desires. Of course she can’t actually be someone else; but by looking different every day, she can come close enough. I don’t have a huge amount of evidence to support that claim, but when I think about how tempted I would be to cheat on the girl I am describing versus other girls that are equally attractive, there isn't much of a competition.

Having thought about it a bit recently, I can break down this girl’s fashion success into three factors:
  1. She takes risks. This girl doesn't always look good. In fact, I've seen her look downright horrible at times. One day she came in wearing these shitty gypsy-looking baggy pants and an ugly shirt, and I almost cried. A couple times she's worn colors that washed her out completely. I’d say that roughly 5-10 % of the time, she looks bad. But I realize that no one can pull off the kind of variety I am advocating without fucking up occasionally; besides, the variety and successes are both well-worth the mistakes. In fact, I would even be fine with more mistakes if it meant I’d get a girl who was equally dynamic in her wardrobe.
  2. She doesn't pay attention to office fashion norms. In other words, she doesn't think “this is a professional environment; a sun dress is inappropriate.” She might not always be wearing clothes that are “appropriate,” in the sense that they play down or divert attention from her looks, but neither is she dressing overly sexy or provocatively. Trying to bring women into the workplace and expecting them to dress like men is about as ridiculous as asking men to stay home with the kids and forcing them to dress like women. Women need to be allowed to be women, and “appropriate” has unfortunately been defined largely by a society that doesn't fully understand that.
  3. She enjoys looking good. There is no way that a girl will be able to force herself to dress in such a varied manner if she doesn't enjoy doing it. And although you shouldn't try to force yourself to enjoy it, you can let yourself enjoy it to whatever degree you naturally do. I said a lot about this in the post Femininity, Authenticity and Compatibility, so I won’t repeat myself here; but I want to make one additional point in that regard: you don’t need to be a supermodel to enjoy looking great, and you don’t even need to be hot for men to appreciate how you dress. Let yourself enjoy looking your best in as many ways as possible.
Of course, these principles apply to make-up and hair also. The important principle is appearance variety, not just wardrobe variety - but you can draw the analogies.

For the record, I recognize that having a wide variety of clothes can be expensive. And I am not going to pretend that women with less income are without a disadvantage here. That's life. If it helps stomach that fact, you can remind yourself that wealth disparities affect men in their dating lives far more than they affect women. But anyway there are plenty of ways to work the concept of variety into your wardrobe without breaking your bank, and there are plenty of girls reading this post right now who spend all kinds of money on wardrobes bigger and more boring than this girl’s. Make the most with what you have.

Now, all this being said, there is some value in the adage “looking good every day is more important than looking different every day.” While I suspect this statement was popularized more more with men’s fashion in mind than women’s, I also want to make it clear that I am not advocating wearing ugly clothes or crazy make-up only for the sake of variety. You need to indulge in variety wisely, choosing colors and cuts that look good on you. But within the limits of what you know suspect makes you look good, don’t be intimidated by the pressures of “what is acceptable” or what feels safe at the expense of what is different. Different counts for a lot.


Related Posts:
1. The Most Important Time to Dress Well
2. Feminine Beauty is Highly Controllable
3. Men and Sexual Variety
4. The Importance of Taking Fashion Risks

61 comments:

  1. Hi Andrew, this is a little off topic, but you could you answer this quick question please?

    If a woman was dumped by her ex, what is the best way to explain that to future men she dates? For example, if your ex broke up with you because he didn't love you as much as you loved him, or wasn't ready for the level of commitment that you wanted, how should you go about explaining that to future men, so as not to make you seem.... less desirable. I'm referring to when those get to know you and your past questions come up when you are dating someone new.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd probably frame it as a conversation about how things haven't worked out before because of mismatched goals and needs in the relationship. I think it's best to vague as most guys aren't going to ask very in-depth questions about your past and have no entitlement to know that anyway.

      Delete
    2. Or just don't discuss your past! I never do. It's over and done with. It may have made me weak/sad/angry for awhile, but that is my burden and not the next guy's. Just my two cents... Plus, there's no shame in getting dumped

      Delete
    3. If you never discuss it your potential love interest might think you have something to hide.

      Delete
    4. Huh? What does it matter that you were dumped by your ex? How or why would this even come up in conversation? The past is the past - why do you need to discuss it?

      Delete
    5. Actually as a guy i'm usually curious about such details about people i'm close to - whether they are female or male, whether we're dating or just friends. It's not out of line to ask; it's out of line to pry. I want to know because it helps me learn more about you. In fact, be wary of the partner who DOESN'T ask such questions - he or she may not be as into you as you think. Lastly, if my partner is overly guarded about this, i would worry about her emotional maturity ("has she really gotten over it?") and/or her true feelings for me ("have we not built up enough trust yet?")

      Delete
    6. I guess. It's never been a subject I felt I needed to know anything about.

      Delete
    7. No guy has ever asked me about why I broke up with an ex. The only way I could see this possibly coming up is if your ex is someone that your new guy knew. Otherwise why would he care or make any judgement about it? People break up all the time for all kinds of reasons. I guess maybe if you were married or together for a very long time (like a decade or more) it might come up.. but other than that, I would just not mention your ex. And if your current boyfriend asks just brush it off with short answers. Example: "So why did you guys break up?" Answer: "We were just too different/grew apart/wanted different things in life" End of story. No details necessary. Definitely do not say it was because your ex didn't love you as much as you loved him. That sounds like you are still hung up on the guy, and is not something your new boyfriend will want to hear.

      Delete
  2. Thank you for the tips. I don't often have much opportunity to vary my look but I'll give it try. Anything that makes someone appear intriguing is a good spot

    ReplyDelete
  3. WOW - this is so great and new info for me. It never dawned upon me that men like variation in style. I even didn't thought they apreciated nor noticed it! I kind of expected the opposite to be true. Like if a man compliments a dress/colour/style I have worn I've tuned my clothes more and more in tune to his compliments meaning I have narrowed down my variations a lot. Thanks for bringing up this topic.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is an incredibly helpful post. Out of all your practical posts this one , for me, is the most important.

    What do men think of those flowing tops? I've been generally trying to avoid them, which is hard because they're everywhere, because they hide my figure. Are they ok? Is it fine to have a couple to wear with tight jeans, or should I stick with the form fitting tops? Or even if they're not as flattering as the tighter ones it is still good to have the variety?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Insightful post. Does this mean women have the green light for more shopping? lol

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great post, Andrew! In the context of sexual variety, would you say that mere variety is what's attractive, or high quality w/o variety? You touched on it wrt attire, but in the context of sexual variety (the earlier post you wrote), you allude to being able to live without sexual variety (e.g., being satisfied with one woman)... Clothes vs. sex, yes, they're different, but I guess my question really is how important is sexual variety (with one woman vs. more than one woman)? Is there such a thing as sexual variety with one woman?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Emily L, are you implying that variety is bad?

      Delete
    2. @Jo - Probably lol I reread this, and without the final paragraph or two, it’s a different piece. The first section, when read alone, gives a different impression than the last part. The first part makes variety seem like an essential, must-have. The second part advocating looking good more than looking different is more mature and tempered. My two cents: It’s something that needs to be done sensibly and in moderation, depending on what kind of style one has (I-don’t-care, classy, grunge, etc.). If the question is about sex, I’d say the same: sensibly and in moderation, depending on what kind of style one has (church girl, whore, slut, etc.).

      Delete
  7. Does dressing too nice/cute ever discourage a man from approaching you? As in they may assume you would be too high maintenance, or that you aren't casual/down to earth enough? I sometimes wonder if there is such thing as a man favouring "plain jane", especially when it comes to settling down or marrying said woman. Maybe they find it too much of a responsibility or pressure to keep up with a woman who is attractive and has other men noticing her. Maybe a semi-cute plain jane is safer and end up being more marriage-material. Is this ever the case? And I'm referring to average guys here...not low-esteem beta types, and also not the other extreme of super confident alpha types...just the average guys in the middle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Although i'm one of those super confident alpha types you speak of, i can safely tell you that men don't think so much when selecting a mate. If he wants a hot girl he won't care if other men drool all over her. If he falls in love (yes men do that too) with a certain personality, her beauty will only be in the eye of the beholder (his).

      Delete
  8. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post because it reminded me of what my co-workers say about me. I'm petite, feminine with a round baby face. I work in an office job that is predominantly male. I like to be diverse with my clothing and defy the title dismal coloured office attire. My choice of clothing seems to be a talking point amongst men and women - they often compliment me on my garments and crack jokes about that I might be wearing the next day. I definitely agree if you can afford to be diverse do so, even on a budget.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. was meant to say typical dismal coloured office attire

      Delete
  9. Andrew, Im curious to know your take on women who dont like wearing pants. I quit this year because I think skirts and dresses are 1000x more flattering on me. I do like to experiment with cut, color, and length, but Im sure the only pants I own are for the gym. Does this hurt my variety score?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I sympathize with a preference for dresses over pants, but pants can still be attractive. Yes, it hurts your "variety score" a bit.

      Delete
    2. I think I understand, thanks for replying! I can mix it up a bit with no problem :)

      Delete
  10. Andrew,

    You wrote: "If it helps stomach that fact, you can remind yourself that wealth disparities affect men far more than they affect women."

    I presume you meant to confine your statement in the arena of dating culture; however, I wanted to point out that since women are much more likely to be victims of poverty, your conjecture could be easily misconstrued if you don't clarify your language. Just a thought.

    Victoria

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Point taken. I updated the wording.

      Delete
  11. I don't know if such a variety of clothes is necessarily a good thing. Sure, variety is nice, and a lot of variety may get my attention, but the main takeaway I'd probably have would be, "Good lord, this girl really likes shopping..."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suspect that you are confusing "final takeaway" with "main takeaway." in other words, the fact that the girl likes shopping might be your conclusion or final thought, but that doesn't mean it will influence you more than your initial reaction, which is one of attraction.

      Delete
    2. I used to work in an office and we had a secretary who was exactly as the girl you described in this post. Sure, my initial reaction was one of attraction. But I got over that fairly quickly. In that instance, my main and final takeaways were just as I stated above, to the point where I disregarded any idea of making a move on her.

      Delete
    3. Unfortunate Virgin - you just made me think of similar women I’ve seen at work. Interesting points. Any ideas on why she’s single (if she is)? It’s great to have variety with fashion, but that approach kind of suggests she’s putting a hell of a lot of effort into dress, or she’s quite the fashionista. More power to people who do that!

      Delete
    4. She was indeed super stylish. But when I see a girl who never wears the same thing twice or has such a variety, I start thinking along the lines of, "Jesus, how much does this girl spend on clothes? She seems to care an awful lot about her looks. Is appearance what matters most to her...?" That starts undoing any initial attraction I may have felt. Sure, you may get a lot of attention and become the subject of conversation, but it's like one of the other commenters asked - indeed, if you start dressing too nice (or varied) then you run the risk of men thinking you're high-maintenance.

      Delete
    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    6. eh...on the other hand it's great to have one's own individual style, which is great and makes us all unique :) A girlfriend of mine is a fashion blogger who attends runway shows, styles celebrities, etc., and even her wardrobe is classic and stylish, with tempered variety. I'm more on the conservative side when it comes to too much variety, but that's my personal style. I was photographed for a magazine feature, and when figuring out what to wear the basic conclusion was to wear something I'd wear and not go for something too over-the-top. I was happy to hear that bc I was comfortable and the photos looked great. I think comfort is impt too, so if people need a lot of variety or are happy with their own level of variety or need to (or not) use fashion in a particular way, to each his/her own I guess lol Agree that appearance reflects who a person is.

      Delete
    7. Jo H, yes, they do, if by "gossiping" you mean "drooling over"

      Delete
    8. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  12. Andrew, I have to say, I don't agree with this post.

    This isn't a slight against women who like to experiment with their clothes. I like to as well, though not as much as your coworker you describe. But it seems to me like the take away from this post is "women of the world, you have a problem. Men crave infintie variety, you crave monogamy. Since you can't be more than one woman, try to dress like more than one woman. That way, he won't stray, and if you're single, you'll get his attention."

    But if you are in a relationship and feel like you have to do this in order to keep him, you're relationship is in trouble. And if you are single and catering to an unknown man's lust for infinite variety, you are catering towards the wrong kind of man!

    My alternate advice: always try to improve yourself. Not just your looks, but also your kindness, gentleness, trustworthiness, intelligence, etc. Be authentic. And (most importantly), only date/marry a man with deep-set morality and good character who loves you. He'll resist the lure of infinite variety in favor of the life and love he has with you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep. And that's why I asked Emily L what she was trying to say because I think that's what she was hinting at (not trying to put words in your mouth Emily L) while trying to not seem mean to Andrew. The post is not one of Andrew's best, for sure. Comes across a immature, and makes me really wonder whether guys really do sit around obsessing about women and getting their rocks off together.

      Ash, I agree with most of what you say also. On the being "authentic" comment, I think there's a difference between self-improvement and being authentic. Self-improvement lends to being kind (and other attractive qualities) perhaps more than it means authentic, unless of course someone is kind to begin with. If someone is an asshole, that person being authentic would be unattractive.

      Delete
    2. Why would the relationship be in trouble if a woman feels the need to dress up? How is dressing with variety somehow worse than other visual forms of self-improvement? I work out and eat clean because it makes my man happy, is my relationship in trouble now? If you are not willing to dress with variety, there are plenty of women who are. They also happen to be just as authentic, nice, intelligent and thin as you may be.

      Maybe you are not capable of it, but I can incorporate variety in my wardrobe and also be nice and trustworthy! Shocking I know. I can also do it at the same time!! wow.

      Delete
    3. Oh I think looking nice is great! I definitely try to - I think it makes me more pleasurable to be around, and also feel better about myself.

      You'll probably notice I never said anything about dressing up in my comment - or even dressing with some variety. I was addressing the level of variety Andrew described in this post - the kind where you "never wear the same thing twice."


      Delete
    4. Yeah, I mean, I didn't suggest that you need to dress with a lot of variety to keep a man, I just said that men find it very attractive.

      Delete
    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    7. Thomas: you take things waaaaaaaaaaaaay too seriously, but tell you what, I will delete the comment and say: #1 a group of men drooling over one woman every day at lunch is weird in an abnormal way, drooling or not, #2 this is not one of the better posts on this blog, #3 his follow up comment contradicts some of the earlier ones. Much of what you said is poorly thought out...non-sequitur ;) Not sure why you of all people seem to be so offended by my honesty (FYI seems Andrew is smart enough not to care the way you do). Is this the blog where we all lie and only the positive ego stroking comments are to be made? So much for the ugly truth haha

      Andrew I am a fan of your blog and will keep my subscription.

      Delete
    8. Can't we all just get along? Drinks are on me guys lol ...anything in the name of peace :)

      @Jo - my question was an actual question more about sexual variety. I do tend to go out of my way to be kind/nice to people. Sometimes it's appreciated, sometimes not. I don't find bitterness or anger to be valuable investments of time, but I recognize some people enjoy living their lives being mean, hurtful, and even unforgiving towards others. I'm not saying that you are (I'm not judgmental either because I am well aware of my flaws, I know I'm not perfect, and am always open to constructive criticism) any of those qualities either, just explaining my choice of "niceness" over bitterness, anger, or being petty in resorting to personal attacks on people. I also know that "helpful" intentions might not always be welcomed, so anyway, that's also kind of why I ended up at the "to each his/her own" conclusion. My game really is love and kindness lol

      Drinks still on me!! :)

      Delete
    9. I challenge that only 1 person was offended by the tone and wording of Jo's "honesty". (raises hand at the back of the classroom)

      Andrew already explained, but I'm not sure why some are upset with the takeaway of this post. I don't think Andrew was saying that if your closets aren't full to bursting, good luck finding a man. He also didn't seem to be saying that men discuss and analyze women who vary their clothing choices like amateur fashion critics. Men aren't women! What I understood from this post is that, men find the clothing choices of women stimulating. As in:

      "She's wearing tight jeans today - I didn't know her ass could look like that." "She's wearing heels today - her feet are really hot." "She's wearing overalls today - wow, those things really hide her awesome shape, why the hell would she buy those?" "She's wearing a little black dress today - I really want to screw her."

      Compare that to maybe:

      "She's wearing tight jeans - her ass looks amazing." "She's wearing those tight jeans again - her ass...drool." "She's wearing those tight jeans again today - I wonder what she looks like in a mini skirt." "She's wearing those jeans again - does she own anything else? Oh wow, that other girl looks phenomenal in that short skirt..."

      Why is this offending some women who (I assume, since I'm here for this reason) are reading this blog because they WANT to attract the opposite sex?

      Delete
    10. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    11. I will email you Andrew.

      Delete
    12. It is not offensive to me Eva. I agree with you.

      Delete
  13. Funnily enough, real life example that happened a few days ago:

    Romeo showed up at my door to pick me up for an outing (yes, we're back together, that's another story) and I answered the door wearing black fleece leggings (LL Bean long underwear actually) because my house is cold. The very first thing he said, very excitedly, was "wow, this is the first time I've ever seen you not wearing a skirt. [=true] Wish I had my camera so I could take a picture."

    Black long underwear for goodness sake.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also - important to note. I truly love him. And we spend every moment together for the past year...and things JUST got bad these past few weeks.

      I'm not sure if I am in denial and being a total delusional freak, or if his responses aren't clear. Wouldn't he have explicitly said "We are broken up", instead of dramatic texting?

      Delete
    2. You are very single. You're also in denial. Your relationship has been over for awhile now, he is only trying to end it now. There are a dozen or so posts on this blog which explain this.

      It isn't easy but you need to cut him off.

      http://www.therulesrevisited.com/2011/08/dealing-with-breakup-or-rejection.html
      http://www.therulesrevisited.com/2013/02/the-importance-of-silence-after-break-up.html

      Delete
    3. I second that. MO, just from that snippet you come across as a mentally ill person. I seriously doubt any man in his right might would give a second thought to dating you unless he's blind, insane, and has no self-respect (notice how I say "and" and not "or"). I also doubt that you even know what love really is. That guy dodged a bullet and he's probably trying to find a way to cut you off without hurting your feelings or suggesting you check in to a psychiatric clinic. You need a reality check. Funny enough, you yourself don't seem to have any self-respect either, which totally reflects your value on the 1-10 scale: 0.

      Delete
  16. I started keeping a log of what I wear, hair and makeup included, in order to facilitate variety. It's partly to make sure I don't repeat the same outfits too often, but mainly it's to motivate me to pay attention to bigger picture stuff, like "oh, I haven't worn a skirt to school in a week, I should wear one tomorrow."

    ReplyDelete
  17. It takes soooooooo much time and money and energy to have constant variety in hair and wardrobe. If you have a proper job - and according to this men don't value that, but it happens - there isn't time to worry constantly about different outfits. This post has been a revelation in terms of realizing how shallow men are. What I take away from this is men care mostly about looks. And being nice enough. And looks. And youth. And looks. Pandering to his ego and need for sexual variety. And looks.
    I have wasted a lot of time developing a personality, interesting stories, skills (including cooking, planning functions, running a business), reading books and learning as much as I can. I live well, in a spacious apartment and I do great dinners with cocktails and flowers and really good food.
    I always thought women who never wear the same thing twice = vacuous high maintenance bimbos who spend too much on clothes and are incredibly self-absorbed
    Now I know men like these vacuous, self-absorbed bimbos, which I guess makes them rather self-absorbed also.
    I believe I am first a human being with talents and intellect I can put to good use. Being female is secondary. I did think I had lots of attributes - reliability, competence, humor, kindness, energy - that would contribute to a relationship. But I would rather make money and create things than go shopping. To be honest I find a lot of straight men a bit slow intellectually. I read this post and thought if this is what men really want, then I am better off alone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well women tearing each other down certainly doesn't help anything, does it? I don't think one needs to be a vacuous and self absorbed bimbo in order to enjoy fashion and style. I know I'm not - far from it - i work for a nonprofit and am working on my second graduate degree. But I still enjoy spending my spare time on style, and I enjoy being that girl who seems never to wear anything twice. (Of course i do wear things twice - but if you pay attention and plan carefully it's easy to seem like you don't).

      I don't think Andrew would say you should go to such extremes if you don't enjoy it. But as he suggests, you can let yourself enjoy it to whatever degree you naturally do. Taking care of yourself does not mean being vacuous and self absorbed.

      Be well!

      Delete
  18. Andrew...are you a Sagittarius?

    ReplyDelete
  19. I had comments from my boyfriends regarding the lack of variety in my wardrobe. They were so focused on my appearance. The easiest solution for me is to break up with them. I find it easier to change men than to change my wardrobe. If you are so fussy about my wardrobe and want to see new outfits then start splashing some money on me. It's easy to demand. Shopping is very time consuming and all that trial and error is so exhausting. Not to mention all the money you spend, and to do that every couple of months it's just not worth it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Andrew, did you find a girl looking better in pants than skirts? I am fit but I am short and I think tight pants complement my figure better. Do you think skirts are more attractive being a feminine element by definition or is it better to stay on what I find appropriate for myself?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Andrew! I've been reading your blog for about a year and I really appreciate all the concrete advice you give on how to become and stay more attractive :)

    You mention more than once that men love a girl who's able to pull off different looks as it gives a sense of being with a variety of women all in the same female. I'm really curious what you think of this woman I found on youtube who is able to actually LOOK like different people. She's Asian, but is able to come decently close to looking like Jennifer Lawrence, Angelina Jolie, Kylie Jenner, Mylie Cyrus, etc. She even pulls off male celebrities! (Not that men would find that attractive. It just shows how remarkable her transformations are.)

    Would this be appealing as it truly is like being with someone new? Or does it loose it's attraction because you know it's fake and won't last when she washes it off?

    JLaw:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RM9-pZp8hE

    Angelina:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfgZ9UJRraA

    Kylie:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRLYt-NaDds

    Aishwaya Rai:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3orYH0FbSVQ

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.