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'Neat and tidy' trumps bulging six pack


Amanda Bryan

Studies say the most attractive features for men and women fall under the category of self care.

Studies say the most attractive features for men and women fall under the category of self care. Photo: Adam Hollingworth

Want to know what scores you the most points in the handsome stakes? Hint: it's not a chiselled jaw or bulging six pack.

When it comes to assessing physical features, the opposite sex awards the highest marks for things you can easily change, such as how well you present and carry yourself.

Those things you can't change like height, eye colour — and all those other seemingly vital stats — actually have significantly less impact, say social scientists.

That means attending to errant eyebrow hairs, grubby nails and scruffy attire counts for a lot more than having a perfect body or standing six-foot tall.

"Essentially, the most attractive features about a person, male or female, is that they put forth some effort to shower, groom, select some nice clothes, stand up straight, and manage their diet a bit. No plastic surgery, major gym time, or extensive overhauling required," said US attraction expert Jeremy Nicholson.

According to Nicholson, social scientists Albert Mehrabian and J.S. Blum first made this discovery back in 1997 when they studied the importance of stable features versus changeable features in order to figure out which combination of the two rendered a person attractive.

Surprisingly they found the most attractive features by a long shot fell under the category of self care: grooming, neat hair, nice fitting and good quality clothes, good posture, and healthy weight.

Three other physical feature groups they assessed — masculinity for men (shoulder width or a bigger jaw), femininity for women (long hair and bigger, rounder eyes) and pleasantness (a happy demeanour) — were each found to be only one-third as important.

Katia Loisel-Furey, dating expert and co-author of two-sided book How to get the man you want/How to get the woman you want said she found the same thing when researching her book.

"Cleanliness is more important than looks. It's especially so when it comes to women looking for men. Women are biologically attracted to success so when a man dresses well and looks after himself, he gives off an air of confidence," she said.

Pack a punch where it counts


This is one area that can make or break your attractiveness, said Nicholson — think hygiene, hair product and attention to detail: clipping, snipping and flossing.

"Guys should make sure they shower regularly and get a nice-smelling deodorant. Sometimes sweaty is sexy, but reeking like an old gym bag is not."

Women can also turn off in the presence of nose hair, ear hair, or a uni-brow, says Nicholson. "A bit of tweezing and trimming can go a long way. Otherwise, it can be an instant deal-breaker.

"Guys are apt to not notice these details without education about them, whereas women pick them up right away. This can result in guys being oblivious to why their partners are turned off and tuning out."

Grooming essentials: a man's guide


For another basic attractiveness boost, dust off the iron, avoid the baggy look and opt for overdressed versus underdressed, said Nicholson.

Guys can step things up a notch by stocking up on classics like plain dark t-shirts, nice jeans, dress shirts/pants, a few good pairs of shoes and a nice suit.

If you want to go the extra mile, accentuate these basics with a few well-made pieces from this year's fashion that flatters your body and colouring.

"This can send the signal that a guy is high status and in-the-know," said Nicholson.


Good posture is sexy, said Loisel-Furey, and it's also one of the easiest and cheapest ways to instantly boost your looks.

Just do a quick mental check list: don't cross your arms or legs, put your shoulders back, and always try to make eye contact and smile.

"Simple things like that can make a dramatic difference to how you rate in the attractive stakes and in life," said Loisel-Furey.


A great attitude can also overshadow physical imperfections. This is about owning who you are, and making others feel at ease, she said.

"Historically, when it comes to interaction, guys can be a bit unaware. Just being more interested in people around you makes you more attractive."

"Just show someone you like them. Focus on the other person. That takes the pressure off. It changes the whole dynamic and makes you more fun, relaxed and attractive.”


A potbelly or a lot of excess weight will definitely count against you in the attractiveness stakes, according to research, but both these things can be changed over time.

The good news here is you don't need a tight bum or washboard abs to get noticed, said Nicholson. Instead, he says aim for the "relatively healthy" look you get by eating well, and doing some regular exercise.

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5 comments so far

  • I think basing an article on one study could be a bit dangerous, however, i tend to agree that good grooming and flair in clothes can be a winner. Well makes you feel good and that carries forth.
    However, I know plenty of women who want a man 'taller than 6ft', then there are a smaller percentage, but significant nonetheless who will not date men who are not 'built' bottom line!
    That's fine with me, but don't give the scrawny false hope that a smart haircut and a bit of the products you are advertising will make up for lack of physical appeal :o)
    Signed 'the tall thin one'

    True, but...
    Date and time
    January 02, 2012, 1:41PM
    • Or just make a squillion ripping customers of and the hot tottie will flow all over you.

      Mr Cynical
      Lasseter's Reef
      Date and time
      January 02, 2012, 5:12PM
      • I'd agree with all of this. Although I prefer a guy who wears some nicely designed t-shirts rather than the suit look. Also I'm not very attracted to the gym junky look. You want a guy to care about his looks/health but not so much that he's always at the gym!

        Date and time
        January 03, 2012, 6:33AM
        • Well, duh! Who would have thought..taking care of one's appearance makes one attractive!

          Date and time
          January 03, 2012, 8:54AM
          • Yes all the above is true.. the only thing i would add, for men trying to attract women, is make sure you earn plenty of $$$.

            And yet so few women will admit it, this is a fundamental point of attraction for them.

            At the end of the day, if you can't earn $$$, (and you could be the loveliest guy in the world...) she will leave you - girls are just hard wired like that.

            And no, I'm not bitter at all, in fact the opposite - I'm LUCKY to be a guy!

            Assuming you're a good bloke/keep yourself in decent physical shape/stay well groomed and clean - it's actually easier being a guy because all we have to do is earn money/offer stability to attract the opposite sex, whereas an older and/or unattractive woman...well...she's pretty much stuck with her age/looks/body shape etc.. (i.e. things guys are attracted to..)

            So guys, don't make it harder than it needs to be, just play the game - it's easy!

            play the game
            Date and time
            January 03, 2012, 3:14PM

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