As women, we tend to generally dress for 3 categories of people:
3. Other Women
French psychologist Nicolas Gueguen has found empirical evidence that men — at least on an unconscious level — are more attracted to painted ladies.
Gueguen recruited two women in their early twenties to go to bars for sixty sessions on twenty nights, and sit at a free table near where they were highly visible. The women either wore makeup or not — and when they did, they applied to it to their eyes, cheeks, and lips. Observing the women were members of Gueguen’s research team, who counted the number of men that approached the girls and the minutes lapsed before and between approaches.
The results? Although men approached the women in every session, the come-ons were more frequent when women wore makeup. It took less time for men to make a pass at the women (an average of 17 min vs. 23 min), and more men approached the women per hour (a mean of 2.0 vs 1.5).
What draws guys to lipsticked mouths and darkened eyes? There may be several reasons. Makeup simulates high-estrogen qualities that peak at the time of a woman’s cycle when she’s most likely to conceive. Eyes appear wider, lips plumper, features appear more symmetrical. Moreover, made-up women with high-contrast features catch the eye (just as blond hair does). And just as women who dye their hair blonde may appear to desire attention, so do women with makeup. Men might assume, at least subconsciously, that it’s a attention-seeking cue (“look at me!”) — and as a result be more attracted. And it may be a virtuous feedback loop: the more confident a woman feels in her own skin, albeit under a few layers of macquillage, the more attention she seeks — and the more attention she gets.
Further, cosmetics can send signals about status: one study published in the International Journal of Cosmetics Science has found that people judge women wearing cosmetics as higher earners with more prestigious jobs (Nash et al., 2006).
Researchers have even looked at which components of makeup are most attractive to men. A recent study has found that eye makeup has the most powerful effect on female perceived attractiveness, followed by foundation; lipstick, surprisingly, was found to have little independent effect.
So now that we know that make-up works, let's talk about how to dress up guy-hot or girl-hot. (Part II)