Just what is it about a man in a suit?

Author: Lauren Franklin

“When a man puts a suit on he automatically becomes 74% more attractive,” my friend Kate, a consultant, tells us matter-of-factly over dinner.

The four of us, all straight women in our early to mid-thirties, nod solemnly in agreement. There’s no inquisitive eyebrow raise, questioning of where this stat was plucked from, or what it was based on. None of us even challenge or ridicule it.

Men in suits are 74% more attractive than when they’re in say, jeans and a T-shirt? Yep, sure makes perfect sense. Knock it down to anything lower and you’re a liar who’s being measly and rude; but veer towards the 80% realm, and well that’s just unrealistic. Come on, let’s not get carried away.

Now, not to sound like a romance novel cliché; but there really is something about a man in a sharp suit i.e. my current celebrity crush, The Bodyguard’s David Budd.

And if you’re thinking that I’m using this as a platform to open up about my personal life, then calm down, you’re not in the circle of trust just yet, as I’m in substantial company. A recent study found out that 78% of women swipe right for men in suits on dating apps, while those in uniforms only had a 63% approval rating.

Not only is my penchant for dapper dressers pretty common, there’s also a scientific reason behind it, body language expert Judi James tells me: "A man's suit redefines his body shape to create an alpha outline and it impacts on his body language, too."

“It's linked to affluence and maturity and resonates with memories of times when men became more serious and ‘stepped up to the plate’ like weddings and funerals or business-led events.”

“The man's posture and movement tend to be enhanced and restricted by the cut of the suit and the shirt that often goes with it. He will tend to stand taller and with his chest puffed in a look of confidence that is always magnetic. The buttoned-up shirt makes the neck more rigid and overall the posture reverts to the letter 'Y' with broadened shoulders and narrowed hips. The high contrast between dark suit and white/light shirt suggests power and good grooming.”

Well who am I to argue with the expert?

However, don’t go thinking that all suits are created equally and just anything will do, for as easily as the right suit on even only the right-ish man, can ramp up his appeal to dizzying heights; the wrong suit on any man can have him relegated to the fashion and social sin bin.

“Short sleeves makes him look like a little boy who’s been dressed by his mum,” winces my friend Lizzie, a marine biologist. “And those that don’t fit properly or have that nasty, garish shine.”

I agree, a man in a wrinkled or ill-fitted suit may as well be wearing a giraffe onesie. I’m left shaking my head and silently mouthing, ‘Why?’ as he trundles around the canapés at a wedding.

Don’t get me wrong, I know most of us don’t have jobs where we have to look pressed to perfection everyday, but to me there’s something about someone who can’t run an steamer over formal clothing, or even pick a half presentable outfit for an occasion, that just screams that they either don’t care, or still expect their mother to do everything for them. And that’s extremely repellent.

But am I being mean? Probably. But I spoke to Behavioural Psychologist Jo Hemmings to see if she could justify it.

“A good suit makes all the difference, it makes someone look powerful, confident and ambitious, but a bad suit can undo that,” she tells me.

“That’s the thing about a suit, generally speaking we find guys in them attractive, but if it’s poorly looked after or not clean or the tie is at a weird angle, all those things add up to someone who isn’t concerned about their appearance. Rather than even just looking neutral, they become the opposite of that handsome person we associate with the suit. They look like a fraud.”

But what about novelty socks or tie? Now I’m not averse to a man who accessorises with some louder colours, but women I asked across the board said anything a bit ‘out there’ was a huge no-no.

“It can look like the man is rebelling, but in quite a basic way,” Jo says. “If you’re going to put in the effort to wear a good suit, don’t spoil it by wearing something comical, it can appear immature.”

Well that’s me told.

Jo also wasn’t surprised about women being more attracted to a suited and booted fella on a dating app over a uniformed one.

“A man in a uniform immediately denotes lots of character types, even if they don’t ring true,” she explains. “Whereas a suited guy is a blank canvas.”

However, there was one woman on my quest who just ‘didn’t get the whole suit thing.’ My mother.

“Oh god no, Lauren. Who wants a bloke in a suit? Give me a rough and ready builder any day.”

You can’t please everyone.


Five lessons from my journey of discovery.

1. The suit maketh the man…

Science says you appear powerful and attractive when you’ve got a suit on.

2. …but it can unmaketh him too.

Pease wear one that fits you properly and that’s not creased.

3. Put it on your Tinder.

Those crisp white shirts get the swipes.

4. Save the wackiness for Harry Hill.

If you need to be a bit of a rebel, maybe come up with something a little more clever than a Mickey Mouse tie. Actions speak louder than novelty neckwear.

5. Quit the role-play.

Women prefer a man in a suit to one in a uniform… Patrick Bateman for next Halloween, anyone?

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