I love listening to books on tape. Whenever I'm in the car, it's often a dilemma on whether to play the spoken word or my usual hip hop, though lately I’ve been immersed in a fascinating scientific study called A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals about Desire. It looks very closely at what men and women find arousing, and why, and the very nature of the differences between our brain software.
Yesterday, I was in the middle of a section on what women find desirable in men in terms of fashion. Apparently, many of us love our guys in uniform, whether it be military, police, or firemen. Somehow, women like to feel more protected and safe, and this type of outfit, though it seems politically incorrect, allows us ladies to feel like we can be helpless and sheltered at the same time, which researchers claim many women crave.
Uniforms, however, have never been a turn-on for me. They make me think about getting in trouble for doing something I’m not supposed to, and I don’t like this feeling. Maybe I’m atypical, but the notion of what women like fashion-wise for their partners got me thinking.
My boyfriend, Chris, is the love of my life, but when I first met him, I have to admit that I was completely turned off by his outfit. I know he put a lot of thought into what he’d wear for our first date, and said that he looked in the mirror and thought he was all that. But a button-up plaid oxford shirt, with a bit of belly spilling over the top of a pair of uber conservative khaki chinos just didn’t do it for me at all. The wire-rimmed reading glasses also made him seem older than he was, and the entire look was way too professorial. My whole feeling was that this guy was just too different from me in terms of style, but I figured he’d seemed so excellent in our earlier conversations, that I might as well stay for lunch.
Obviously, I was able to get past that first impression; we had an incredible time filled with enthusiastic conversation, and a second date was definitely in the works.
The next time we met, even though I hadn’t said a word about style, he looked completely different. I remember feeling a sense of relief because this time he was dressed down, instead sporting a black sweatshirt with the logo of his son's football team, a pair of shorts, and running sneakers. This casual look suited him so much better: he had told me that he was a coach for several of his sons’ sports, and that day, it felt like he was more “himself,” rather than some guy just trying to impress.
For me, what is attractive in a man is not what I would necessarily choose for him to wear, but whether the clothes he puts on are a reflection of his true self. It sounds kind of cheesy, and perhaps a little too new age, but it's the truth. You can tell when someone does not feel comfortable in his clothing. Not that I think sweatpants are hot, but when my guy is physically relaxed, he just looks better.
In the wake of each of our own divorces, we have learned to rediscover ourselves on many levels, and Chris in particular has evolved fashion-wise. Though he has grown into more of what I like to call “surfer dude,” wearing lots of colorful string bracelets and growing his gorgeous gray hair long, it was a series of life events that allowed him to become more sexy in terms of his own personal style. (I won’t get into these, because I’m hoping he will write a guest blog on the topic).
I came up with the term, “mountain man,” to describe Chris’ best style. Like I said, he has this beautiful long gray hair, and his eyes are a striking blue, surrounded by curly, dark lashes. The combination of these colors, plus the fact that his childhood freckles have faded so that he appears to have a bit of a tan all year long, makes for a beautiful canvas. He’s got great coloring, and is one of those men, now in his fifties, that has gotten better-looking with age.
My favorite outfit on him is a faded gray Duke University t-shirt, along with a pair of khaki or camouflage cargo shorts. (He was one of those crazy boys that wore shorts year-round in chilly New England, and continues to do so). For shoes, a pair of hiking boots or Adidas, unlaced, sans socks (again, this is how he dresses himself). The whole vibe is easy-going, and sometimes I even forget that Chris is actually a bit of an anxious person. Perhaps this outfit counteracts the tendency, at least on the surface, as he looks super relaxed in these clothes.
Isn’t what is most attractive to all of us someone we feel good being around? Someone we’re comfortable with, just like a pair of our most well-worn jeans or an old sweatshirt that belonged to a college love?
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