Up Front by Emma Hart


The Up Front Guide: Dressing for "Success"

During the discussion over Boobquake, something struck me, something I'd never really been fully aware of before. As we all know, women signal their sexual availability through their clothing. This is so easy that we actually struggle to leave the house some days without accidentally telling every man we meet that we are Totally Up For It.

What I thought was this: poor men. If only there were some way for them to effortlessly indicate, solely through their clothing, that they were on the pull. Some outfit they could wear where they could just stand in a corner and have women come up and hit on them all night. It's really not fair to make them go to all the extra effort of using their words to indicate sexual availability.

So, drawing on my vast experience, I've made a list of outfit suggestions for the Man on the Prowl. They're not guaranteed to work, because of the unfortunate way women have been conditioned to not express sexual appetite. Rest assured, however, that if you choose to follow my advice and still fail to get you some, Society is to Blame.

The Dark and Brooding

You Will need: A hero coat. Boots. A lot of black. To be brunette, and over twenty-five.

Women love a tortured soul, and also we adore being ignored, it drives us crazy. Scowl constantly and keep your chin tucked down by your chest, just above your undone top button. Standing leaning on the bar or slouching right back in a chair are the best ways to display the essential coat. Remember, it's cold when you're a loner on the outside.

Archetype: Angel

If You Cock This Up You Will Look: Like an emo. Or that guy from Twilight.

The Rocker

You Will Need: Boots. Tight trousers, preferably 'distressed'. A sleeveless t-shirt. A short-cropped heavy-weight jacket. Biceps.

You just got off your bike, right. Which you cruised down here on after a gig, by yourself, because that's how you roll. Edgy. Spontaneous. Dangerous. Sneery. The advantage of The Rocker is that it allows you to be loud and outgoing and actually talk to people.

Archetype: Billy Idol

If You Cock This Up You Will Look: Gay.

The Preppie

Don't. Just don't. This hasn't worked for anyone since Matthew Broderick.

The Uniform

You Will Need: A uniform. Army or Navy dress, or police blues. NOT fatigues, cammo gear, scrubs or Nazi paraphernalia. The arse to pull this off.

It's true. Women love a man in uniform. Those black New York cop uniforms? Yes indeedy. The Uniform can be worked in two different ways: the 'I am on duty and totally business' attitude, and the 'I just got off duty and am looking for a Good Time'. Whichever you choose, remember to iron your trousers and shine your freaking shoes.

Archetype: Richard Gere

If You Cock This Up You Will Look: Super-ultra 'George Michael video' gay.

The Slightly-Disreputable Working Class Boy

You Will Need: Jeans with holes in them. Sneakers. Stubble. Beer.

The 'rough trade' approach does work. The trick is to look like you might be just a little bit dangerous, but that you basically have a heart of gold. Perhaps you like to dance when you're not pumping gas or working construction. Also you need to be capable of at least appearing to have a body shaped by hard physical labour.

Archetype: Bruce Springsteen

If You Cock This Up You Will Look: Like you're trying to score some weed after a hard day shopping for Led Zeppelin t-shirts at the Hornby Mall.

The Stripy Shirt

You Will Need: A white shirt with narrow vertical stripes and a poppable collar. Lynx. Product. A beer neither imported nor working-class.

The most common pick-up dress technique, and I'd hope one of the least successful. The Stripy Shirt has persisted, despite being much harder to carry off now that Aviator sunglasses, hi-tops and brown bomber jackets are no longer really acceptable in public. You will want to choose your venue for this approach carefully. Avoid anywhere, for instance, where people may be playing Spot the Stripy Shirt. If a woman asks "Where did you go to school?" and you say "Christ's" and everyone around you laughs and possibly money changes hands, you're in the wrong bar. Try some place where you're more likely to be mistaken for an off-duty Black Cap.

Archetype: Tom Cruise

If You Cock This Up You Will Look: Like Tom Cruise.

The Stripy Shirt is completely venue-incompatible with

The Dandy

You Will Need: Tailored clothing. A cravat, and the knowledge to tie it. Personal grooming. An insouciant air of suave depravity. Not to be told to iron your trousers and shine your freaking shoes

This is very difficult to pull off, and not for amateurs. It's also only useful for pulling geek chicks and liberal arts majors. You should be able to support it with detailed knowledge of cocktails and cigarillos. It should never be attempted in any bar that doesn't know how to make a dirty martini or a pink gin.

Archetype: Dorian Gray

If You Cock This Up You Will Look: For an ambulance.

The thing about men dressing like he-whores is that hopefully it will become self-perpetuating. The more men who do it, the more acceptable it becomes, so the more men will do it. In practically no time at all people will be watching men spill out of bars saying things like, "Well, he's no better than he should be," "Boy, I bet he's hot in that coat," and "Do you think we should put him in a taxi? He doesn't look safe to walk home." Enjoy.

Emma Hart is the author of the book 'Not Safe For Work'.

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