Things Women Wear That Men Love

While it may seem self-evident, albeit stereotypical, that heterosexual men don't pay much attention to their attire, that isn't always the case. Sure, some may be content in t-shirts and jeans. Others are happy to don a suit and tie for specific occasions — while still others take any opportunity to flaunt their fashion flair. But when it comes to what women are wearing, you can bet that men notice.

Though multiple studies have found that men typically find certain physical traits attractive — especially ones that indicate strong reproductive health, such as wide hips and clear skin — it isn't all about appearances. Personality matters, and style is an extension of personality. It can show that a woman is flirtatious and confident, modest and reserved. That said, it isn't realistic to try to be everyone's cup of tea.

Picking an outfit shouldn't be about what others will think of you, but how you will feel about yourself. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology revealed as much, showing that the right item of clothing can boost confidence and job performance. You become what you wear, so to speak. Still, it's nice to feel desired, right? If you're curious to know what looks men find most attractive, rest assured we've got you covered.

You can't go wrong with a little black dress

Karl Lagerfeld once famously said, "One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a Little Black Dress" (via W24). As it turns out, black isn't just a necessary wardrobe staple — it can also be a wise fashion choice on a first date.

A 2018 field study published in Evolutionary Psychology analyzed over 500 daters from the British reality television show "First Dates." Most contestants, the researchers found, wore black on the first date. "While red may increase perceived attractiveness through evolutionary mechanisms, daters appear to rely more heavily on black in order to attract a potential mate," the authors wrote. "This suggests that cultural and/or societal influences (e.g., black is seen as fashionable and hence attractive) may play a much larger role in the way people dress than the use of evolutionary signals."

A survey conducted by U.K. retailer Buy T-Shirts Online may have another explanation for the color's popularity: 64% of men said that black is the color they would most associate with "confidence." And confidence can be especially attractive to men, as it can signal strength and independence (via HuffPost). Let's just say that the sex appeal of a classic black dress has stood the test of time for a reason.

Men like to see your natural beauty

You've probably heard a time or two that men prefer a bare face. Well, research confirms it. In a 2014 study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 44 women were photographed after applying varying amounts of makeup, from a light application (a little lipstick and blush) to full coverage (foundation, mascara, eyeshadow — the whole shebang). Observers, which comprised both men and women, were then asked to look at the photos of the women and note which look they found most attractive (via Time). All preferred the women wearing less makeup, but female observers said that they thought their male counterparts would most desire the women wearing a full face of makeup.

The authors of the study wrote: "Taken together, these results suggest that women are likely wearing cosmetics to appeal to the mistaken preferences of others. These mistaken preferences seem more tied to the perceived expectancies of men, and, to a lesser degree, of women" (via Time). However, a 2017 survey conducted by marketing research firm Ipsos and beauty brand Sally Hansen found that women wear makeup because they want to, with 84% of respondents agreeing that "beauty can be empowering." Take that, patriarchy!

High heels are irresistible to men

While most of us are aware that high heels give women a seductive strut and alluring femininity, they also enhance the curvature of the lumbar spine, a 2017 study reports. Why is this significant? As the researchers of the study found, when a woman arches her back, it can signal that she is ready for sex, much as many female animals in the wild do to attract a mate.

In the study, 56 women were photographed wearing flats and heels. The photographs, which cropped out the women's faces and feet, were then given to 82 male participants, who ranked each model's attractiveness. The high-heeled women ranked higher than the women wearing flats, and their attractiveness increased further the closer their lower spine reached the optimal 45.5-degree angle. This curve can also signify that a woman is constitutionally better built to bear children, says the study. Those evolutionary signals are hard for men to resist!

Casual clothing will make you seem more relatable

Jeans, sneakers, a baseball cap — the "I'm hot without trying too hard" look has major appeal with men. A woman who feels secure enough to dress comfortably around him oozes "relationship potential."

Casual wear also makes men feel less intimidated, as researchers at the University of New South Wales and the University of Queensland in Australia found. The study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, first asked men and women to look at photos of people wearing business and casual attire. They were then asked to rate the economic status and attractiveness of those people. The results showed that while men found the women in business attire to earn more, they also saw them as less attractive, indicating that women who have more "economic independence" have less sex appeal.

It could be, too, that men simply feel more relaxed around women with a low-key style. Verily Magazine interviewed two dozen men to find out what looks they find most attractive. As one respondent put it, "I like when women wear T-shirts and football jerseys. I think it says 'I value comfort, I'm laid-back and relatable, and I like to have fun.'"

Nothing screams sex appeal like the color red

This one is practically a given. Sexy red clothing abounds in pop culture — those skimpy red bathing suits from "Baywatch," anyone? Scientific research is also full of evidence showing that red has a strong connection to sexual fertility. In one 2012 study, for example, 25 men were asked to look at two photographs of the same woman wearing a white and a red shirt. Not surprisingly, the men thought the woman in red would be more open to having sex and thus found her more attractive.

But if you think you need to wear a red catsuit (à la Britney Spears) or sport a bold red lip (à la Taylor Swift) to elicit this reaction, guess again. "It doesn't have to be a red dress or a sexy outfit," Adam Pazda, a psychologist and one of the study's authors, told Science. "It can be a red T-shirt."

While associating red with sex may seem like it objectifies women, research shows that wearing the color can be empowering. One study in the European Journal of Social Psychology revealed that women rated themselves as more attractive in red, while another study, this one published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, found that women chose to wear red the most when they thought they were meeting an attractive guy on a date. Looks like women know the power of wearing red just as much as men do.

Yoga pants are irresistible to all

Since yoga pants made their foray into fashion, thanks to high-end athletic-apparel companies like Lululemon, they have been all the rage with everyday women. Sweating it out in the gym, running errands, adorning a cute sweater dress in the wintertime — leggings are as commonplace as jeans. As Meagan Morris wrote for Cosmopolitan, "They're like luxe pajamas that don't force me to suck in." Amen to that!

But it isn't just women who love this form-fitting fashion item. Men are all about women in yoga pants too. The Clever says leggings are "super seductive" because of how well they complement the female figure. Yoga pants also "accentuate [the] low waist to hip ratio incredibly well," which points to fertility, according to Men's Yoga Journal. This, as Psychology Today notes, has an evolutionary appeal to men. The fact that exercise is a mood and energy booster can't hurt either (via Mayo Clinic).

But don't go too wild with leggings. The material often used to make them — polyester, nylon, spandex — isn't breathable and can cause acne from bacteria sitting on moist skin for prolonged periods, according to experts who spoke with Today. So, make sure to wash your leggings regularly and don't wear them all day, every day.

Blue will make him feel zen

If you're someone who isn't too keen on wearing bold colors like black or red, blue might be your jam. A study published in Evolutionary Psychology analyzed the effects certain colors had on perceived attractiveness. In the study, 20 Caucasian undergraduate students aged 18 to 22 (half men, half women) were photographed wearing t-shirts of six different colors: red, black, blue, green, yellow, and white. The photos were shown to 30 observers, who ranked the attractiveness of the models on a 10-point scale (1 being the lowest, 10 the highest). The men ranked blue as the third most attractive color, behind red and black, but chose it as the most "pleasurable" shade.

Verywell Mind suggests that blue's widespread popularity might be due to its calming effects on the psyche. While blue can sometimes be associated with sadness, it can also prompt feelings of positivity and well-being, the site explained that blue "is often seen as a sign of stability and relatability." Who wouldn't be drawn to those characteristics?

Show your edginess with a leather jacket

Despite the leather jacket's style variations throughout history — from the flight jackets of aviator icon Amelia Earhart to the haute-couture looks gracing catwalks these days — it has remained an emblem of female rebellion. Just as the leather jacket imbued men like James Dean with masculinity, so too did it give women an instant androgynous appeal. Think of when Sandy, played by Olivia Newton-John, traded in her tidy pastel midi-skirt and cami for black spandex pants and a matching leather jacket in the 1978 hit film "Grease." Or who could forget Cher's 1989 music video "If I Could Turn Back Time," where she sashays in front of a ship of cheering male sailors while wearing a barely-there body suit and motorcycle jacket?

But what is it about a woman in leather that turns a man to putty? Perhaps, as NPR points out, humans have an evolutionary predilection for risk-taking. This is because those with a dangerous streak both excite us and give us a sense of security, the site notes. We're willing to bet, though, that when it comes to women in leather jackets, men just find it damn sexy.

Shocker! Men like cleavage

As one guy put it to Cosmopolitan, "[Cleavage is] like a magnet to each and every man's eye. It's like watching a suspense movie ... it makes you think what's next after that picture." A FitRated survey shows he's not alone. Conducted with more than 2,000 people of different sexual orientations, the survey asked participants to choose their preferred body part and body type. The heterosexual men selected "curvy" as their favorite body type and "chest" as the most attractive body part.

It's no secret that men have one thing in mind when they see the slightest hint of a woman's bosom. And a field study published in Psychological Reports confirms it: Cleavage, to many men, equals sex. In the study, 108 men were observed over 16 nights in two different taverns. The time it took for men to approach women in "suggestive clothing" was "significantly shorter," and the men rated their chances of having sex with these cleavage-baring women to be "significantly higher."

While some may see this as discouraging to the advancements women have made toward equality, an optimistic take is that women are taking control of their sexuality, despite longstanding norms and cultural barriers. "If dressing sexy makes us feel good, what's the harm?" Rachel Wright, a sexologist and psychotherapist, told The Zoe Report. "The movement of reclaiming our sexualities is huge and the way we dress is just one way to express that."

Wear a pencil skirt to accentuate your curves

If one skirt was meant for the hourglass figure, it's the pencil skirt. Hollywood bombshell Marilyn Monroe was a fan. And since it burst onto the fashion scene in 1954 — thanks to Christian Dior's H-Line collection — it hasn't shown any signs of slowing down (per Vogue Australia). But it's not just women who love the curve-hugging skirt. Men are fans too. Shy Magazine surveyed a group of men about what fashion items they find sexy on a woman, and 60% said a pencil skirt.

The downside to the pencil skirt, however, is that it isn't universally flattering. Alas, not all of us are built like Jennifer Lopez or Kim Kardashian. While it's true that most men find a small waist and wide hips attractive, they're more focused on the lumbar spine. You read that right! Research from the University of Texas at Austin revealed that it wasn't the size of a woman's butt that made her most desirable, but the curve of her lower spine that gave the illusion of a rounder rump. Well, it's at least good to know that men are ogling our lumbar spines rather than our derrières.

Baring your shoulders can be very seductive

Wearing an off-the-shoulder top or dress is a great way to feel sexy if you're the type to leave a little more to the imagination. A woman's shoulders are incredibly elegant and feminine, sexy with a whisper instead of a scream. It also seems that baring a little shoulder is a happy medium for both men and women. Research conducted by Asda, a British supermarket chain, found that 42% of women would rather show their shoulders than their cleavage, and 19% of men said they find shoulders sexier than chest and legs (via Prima U.K.).

Men who spoke to Cosmopolitan echoed this "less is more" sentiment. As one guy explained, "I like shoulders because they're sexy. It's teasing to look at a girl who exposes the shoulders, unlike those who expose the cleavage, which is a giveaway already." Another put it this way: "I like the shoulders because it [shows how] a lady exudes confidence. And I'm a sucker for collarbone exposure."

Even the demure Kate Middleton has taken to the trend — as she has been spotted dozens of times flashing those lovely collarbones of hers, including at the "Top Gun: Maverick" U.K. premiere, where she wore an off-the-shoulder, form-fitting, black-and-white gown. Whether you go simple or full-on glam, baring your shoulders is sure to turn a few heads.

Flaunt your legs in thigh-high boots

Was anything sexier than Julia Roberts' long legs in those patent leather thigh-high boots in "Pretty Woman"? Richard Gere's character didn't think so. Many men go weak in the knees for long legs, according to a study published in Evolution and Human Behavior. Researchers asked 218 men and women to rate the attractiveness of people in photographs after digitally altering their leg length 5%,10%, and 15% beyond the average male and female height in Poland, where the study was conducted. The results showed that regardless of observers' own body type or height, the majority found the models with the increase of 5% leg length to be most attractive.

Boguslaw Pawlowski, one of the study's lead authors, told New Scientist magazine that this could be because "long legs are a sign of good health" (via The Guardian). Martin Tovee, a psychologist at Northumbria University in Newcastle, also suggests that a woman's leg length could be linked to evolutionary features that men find attractive. "[Women's] legs stop growing once they reach puberty," he noted (via The Guardian). "So if a woman has long legs it suggests she grew up in a good environment and that has a positive effect on fertility."

Bare your midriff in a crop top

Has there ever been a time when a woman's bare abdomen hasn't been sexy? From Shakira's undulating midriff to Demi Moore's pregnant belly gracing the 1991 August cover of Vanity Fair, a woman's midsection has long stood as a symbol of beauty and strength. Psychologists at Texas A&M International University conducted a study that analyzed how long male participants spent looking at a given part of the female anatomy. They found that the face, breasts, and midriff received the most attention, "supporting the evolutionary view that reproductively relevant regions of the female body are important to female attractiveness."

Researchers at the University of Helsinki also found that a symmetrical belly button could be a sign of genetic health; that is, a woman's chances of having a healthy baby may be higher. And, as evolution has taught us, men find physical markers of fertility extremely attractive.

Whether or not you have a symmetrical belly button or six-pack abs, bodies of all sizes can rock a crop top. Trust us, any guy worth going on a second date with will find your confidence much sexier than washboard abs.