I have great delight in introducing to you a brand new type of post today. The Mid Week Man’s View.
As inaugural guest writer, I am beyond delighted to introduce my husband, Mr Shandy, who is the first person I turn to as a fount of common sense when I get myself tied in fashion and style knots. He’s also a talented and committed writer in his own right, and I look forward to including his posts here as and when he has the ideas for them.
Why am I including a men’s point of view? Because the fashion industry sells us things we don’t need under the promise that if we use them, we will attract men and if we don’t – we will repulse them. I could take apart these myths myself – and have taken a good stab at doing so for some of them – but sometimes it’s good to hear from the supposed target audience for these endeavors and see what they thing!
So without further ado – here it is. Mr Shandy says so.
One of the occasional problems of living with Mrs Shandy, other than the cats trying to jump on my crotch with their claws extended and the extreme danger of coming home to discover that she’s in the middle of watching some kind of girly movie that makes me honestly worried that I might turn into a full blown woman, is that she will occasionally suggest, ever so sweetly, that she would find it extremely helpful for me to write her a post for her blog.
Hello, Mr Shandy here. You may have guessed.
Unfortunately, I have several problems when it comes to writing a style blog post in that my sense of personal style is laughable at best. When confronted with this, Mrs Shandy very kindly suggested that my sense of personal style is much better than I give myself credit for (notice how she butters me up) and that I always have something to say on the matters of feminine appearance.
“But why would your readers give a hoot about what I think about what makes a woman attractive or not?” I asked one day when she was being particularly insistent.
“Well, because you’re a man and therefore you are, by definition, a different viewpoint.”
I didn’t really have an argument to that point so here I am.
So I suppose that in order to put these comments into context I should tell you a little bit about myself and where I’m coming from.
I am a straight man in his early thirties who likes his clothes comfortable, preferably clean and relatively hard wearing. I own numerous plain t-shirts, several pairs of jeans and jumpers that are chosen for warmth rather than any pretense of style. I own two suits, one good one for important occasions (tellingly bought for me by Mrs Shandy) and an older cheaper one, made from the remains of several other suits, that I wear on those rare occasions where my job requires it.
I own three pairs of shoes. One set of boots for general day to day use, a pair of shoes for those formal occasions that I mentioned and a pair of trainers for those horrible moments where it becomes necessary to do some exercise. My coat was chosen on the basis that it keeps me warm and dry. I am overweight (Mrs Shandy would object if I described myself as fat) and very, very bald, which limits my hairstyle choices to comb-over, pony-tail or buzzcut. I chose buzzcut.
So what do I find attractive in a woman?
Well women are naturally attractive as a whole, so I find this difficult to define.
Once, while on a quiet day in work my colleagues were talking about their ideal physical type for a partner. Various female members of staff argued for muscles, cuddlyness, bum, arms tall, short etc. The men debated the benefits of breasts, legs and bums (men tend to have less imagination than women when it comes to these kinds of debates). I hadn’t joined in the debate and eventually my boss turned to me and asked me whether I was a leg or a breast man. After first checking that we weren’t talking about chicken, I declared that I was a woman man, I like the entire package.
In my time I have been attracted to tall girls, short girls, large ladies and skinny waifs. I’ve liked long hair and short hair in the entire spectrum of colours, and I honestly cannot answer when someone asks me “What’s your type, Mr Shandy?” because as far as I can tell, I don’t have one. Women are graceful, delicate, smooth, warm, soft and just generally awesome from the tips of their toes all the way up to their fully stretched out hands.
But it never ceases to amaze and amuse me the lengths that they will go to in order to appear attractive.
The rules seem complex and bewildering to me. Why that pair of shoes is better than this pair of shoes? What is the exact skin tone that is most desirable? What is the perfect hairstyle? How much flesh should be flashed? DOES MY BUM LOOK BIG IN THIS?
I find the shoes thing particularly strange. I was once cornered at work by two women who were arguing over a pair of shoes. I swear I’m not making this up. The two women were debating which pair of shoes one of them should take back. What seems to have happened is that one of the women had gone out shopping, having decided to treat themselves to a new pair of shoes on their lunch-break in an effort to lift their failing mood. But on the way back from the shop with one pair of shoes in her bag she was walking past another shop where there was a sale on. I understand that something genetic happened and she blacked out (her description, not mine). The next thing she knew she was she was inside the second shop and buying a second pair of shoes because, and I quote “I needed to get them in case someone else got there first.”
The problem was that she could only afford one of the two pairs and so she had to take one of them back to get the refund. (It also seems to me that clothes shops have a different set of criteria for giving refunds but that’s a completely different question.)
The woman in question hadn’t got the response she wanted out of her friend and colleague and so she turned to me and in a loud voice asked that question that drives fear into men’s hearts all over the world.
“WELLLL?” she demanded.
“Well what?” I responded, looking for the nearest exit.
“What do you think?”
I peered at her for a minute, honestly perplexed, “What do I think of what?”
“The shoes man, the shoes.” She turned back to her friend and rolled her eyes.
“Ummm, what about them?” I was wondering if I could get to the fire alarm before either of the women noticed.
“What do you think of them? Now be honest.”
From a deep and primal part of my brain I gasped out three words.
“I.. don’t… care,” I shut my eyes, preparing myself for the horrible end as the two women eviscerated me. Instead with a muttered curse of “men” they stalked off. But the truth is, I really don’t. I couldn’t care less about brand names for clothes. I couldn’t give a damn about make-up brands or hair-styles or exactly what kind of fake tan the celebrities are wearing this year. I could give a crap about how expensive the jewelry is or who’s advertising it. I like what I like and if it adorns a beautiful woman who I love, then that makes it even better.
So what do I find attractive? What looks good on a woman?
Anything. Anything can look good on a woman, absolutely anything.
I mean it, I’m not teasing you or mocking you. Remember my earlier comment that women as a whole are beautiful…?
There are two conditions to that statement though, and they work hand in hand, although they are probably not what you think they are.
The first is that you feel comfortable in the clothes in question.
There are several very obvious examples of this. The first one that springs to my mind is this….
GOOSE BUMPS ARE NOT ATTRACTIVE.
It is now many years since I had the money and the energy to go out clubbing but when driving through any town centre in the middle of winter I still see this: girls wearing far too little, shivering their way from one club to the next. They get to the club, have enough time for a drink before they move on, their teeth chattering way. I’m sorry but the only drink that I would be enticed to buy you if I saw you in that state would be a hot chocolate, complete with the taxi fare for the journey home.
Wearing shoes that you aren’t comfortable in is almost as ridiculous. If the heel is too high, or the shoe is too narrow or too tight or whatever, you will end up walking with a limp and by that point, I’m not admiring you or even looking at your shoes, because you will either be forced to take them off and carry them or you will end up wearing yourself out and then need carrying home.
Wearing clothes that are too tight. Do I really need to go through this one?
Ok, as you insist.
Women come in different shapes and sizes. This is a fact and leads to wondrous variety within the females of our species. Some sizes or shapes of clothing are simply not suitable for a particular body shape. Wearing something that is not a suitable shape creates the illusion that you are too fat, often fatter than you actually are and this is quite the opposite of being attractive, in that I for one would run away screaming.
I re-emphasise that I have nothing against larger ladies. Indeed, I have been known to bemoan the lack of ample sized women in the world today (Mrs Shandy has just supplied me with a new word “plumptious” that describes what I’m talking about rather well). However, forcing yourself into clothing that is several sizes too small for you is simply not going to work in your favour.
The shape aspect is valid. I recently went out for dinner with Mrs Shandy and some friends where we saw a girl who was on the slimmer side of the scale, but she was wearing trousers that were meant for someone other than her. Just because you are size x and the clothing rail says size x doesn’t necessarily mean that the clothing will fit you correctly.
This leads me onto my next thing that makes a lady attractive.
In every list of things that people find attractive that I’ve ever read (and I’ve read many in the doctor’s surgery and on public transport), up there with a sense of humour, every single time, the most common thing that people find attractive is confidence.
Because if you don’t have the confidence to carry off your outfit then it won’t look good. If you’re too busy worrying about what people will think, about whether it fits right, or about whether or not someone else is wearing a better brand of skirt, I guarantee that you don’t look good.
My suggestion is not to care about these things.
Trust me on this.
If you decide that you don’t care what other people think, if you simply wear what you’ve chosen to wear and damn what other people think, then I promise you that it won’t be them that people will remember about the party. The girl who was wearing the trousers that didn’t fit? The ladies wearing the clothes that are a size too small? The girls shivering in their club wear in the middle of winter? They all know that their outfits don’t work for them. That lack of confidence is fatal to any outfit.
I was once privileged to see something at a Ceilidh dance. A lot of people had got themselves all dressed up to the nines, male and female. People were drinking and chatting and the band started playing. The poor band leader had a terrible job trying to get these overly self-conscious people up to dance in some way that wasn’t hidden by disco lighting, fake smoke and lots of other people.
Then as I watched as a group of people got up to dance. They stood up, finished their drinks and started to dance. They laughed, they shouted and yes, they fell over and looked a little silly, but then they got back up, their dresses and suits in disarray, giggling at themselves, at each other and most of all at the people who were watching them with disapproval and more than a little envy on their faces.
As I watched, the first few dances finished and the group broke up for a rest. Some went to the toilet, some went to get another drink and still more sat down to get their breath back before getting up for another dance.
I will leave it to your imaginations as to which group had the most attention from members of the opposite sex. Was it the people who didn’t want to dance because it might muck up their appearance? No, it was those people who knew they looked fabulous anyway.
Confidence. If you know that your jewelry looks nice on you. If you like your own hairstyle and colours and know that your clothing suits you and not some super-model that you are trying to emulate, then I swear that you look fantastic.
There are many more things that I could say but I think I’ve written enough for now.
So to summarize.
On those rare occasions that Mrs Shandy asks me that most dreaded of questions “Well, what do you think?” I always tell her that if she’s comfortable and confident in it, then it’s perfect.
Now she’s probably going to get me to write a sequel.
He’s right you know. I am going to get him to write a sequel. And I want to hear from more men too! Get in touch and let me showcase your pearls of common sense in the Mid Week Man’s View!
*[Got something to say? Submit to Project Shandy