Maybe you’ve heard that men love women who proudly put their décolletage on display. Or perhaps you’ve been told that guys really go for a woman decked out in tomboy attire. The fact is, trying to figure out what constitutes sexy when it comes to style isn’t easy. So why not let science lead the way?
We’ve tracked down research that has examined everything from the allure of the color red to the come-hitherness of long arms (really, who knew?). Want to dress your sexiest, without tipping over into slutty territory? It’s time to study up.
1Work Your Curves
It’s not a stretch to think emulating Marilyn Monroe’s hourglass figure is going to earn you points in the sex appeal department. But there’s scientific evidence to back it up: Several studies show that women with narrower waists than hips (the ideal waist-to-hip ratio is between 0.65 and 0.75) have the most attractive body shape to men. Weight in the hips typically signifies fertility and health. So be proud of those child-rearing hips and show ’em off with curve-friendly clothes that emphasize your tiny waist. Don’t exactly have an Hourglass shape? Fake it with a great belt, which will cinch your middle and give the illusion of Marilyn’s 35-22-35 measurements. Not a belt-lover? A figure-flattering wrap dress is the easiest way to create hourglass curves.
2Wear More Red
To look more svelte, it’s tempting to fill your closet with clothes in black, black and more black, but if you’d like to spice things up, add a few pops of red. A 2008 study out of the University of Rochester found men associate the color red on women with sex (and, in a follow-up study in 2010, they also found the same was true when it was women judging men in scarlet). So break out of that all-black style rut and reach for something crimson. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you if guys start throwing their attention at you.
3That Goes for Red Lips, Too
This isn’t just lip service—guys really can’t help but focus on your painted pout. According to a 2010 Manchester University study in the U.K., men were most drawn to the combo of full, red lips. If you’ve been going for the natural look, it may be time to reach for red lipstick once in a while and pucker up.
Most of us have heard that old adage that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach—but it’s also by way of his nose. A study by the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation a few years back found guys were most aroused when they took a whiff of lavender mixed with pumpkin pie scents. Flowers and pie? Really, who could resist that cocktail?
5Show Off Your Arms
We’re sure you know males who consider themselves breast men, leg men or booty men, but it turns out there are plenty of arm men out there, too. Who knew? A study out of Australia’s University of New South Wales published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology found that along with the obvious measures of attractiveness—waist, height, age—was a surprise factor: arm length. Women with long arms were rated as highly attractive by men. Good to know. Tanktops, here we come.
6Hop Into High Heels
Flats may be trendy where fashion is concerned, but if you’d like to get noticed by the opposite sex—sorry to break it to you—but your best bet is to reach for heels. A 2012 study from the University of Portsmouth in the U.K. looked at women wearing both flats and high heels, and researchers found those in heels were seen as significantly more attractive than those in flats. Why? Heels cause “increased femininity of gait, including reduced stride length and increased rotation and tilt of the hips,” according to the report. “We conclude that high heels exaggerate sex specific aspects of female gait and women walking in high heels could be regarded as a supernormal stimulus.” Supernormal stimulus? We might be willing to strap on our stilettos for that.