Sex appeal: Between vulnerability and confidence

Monday, February 28th 2022
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*Updated: We've added a couple of images of creators rather than models - Luke and Nicolas*

By André Larnyoh

Over the Christmas holidays, I was stressing about what to wear to an event where the dress code was ‘cocktail attire’. I exclaimed to friends that I didn’t own anything even close to that category. At my young age, I have little to no need for it. It’s just not a priority.

My friend Michael did give me a suggestion that has stuck with me though. It’s not cocktail attire that I need, he said, but rather ‘night time’ clothes. Garments that are purposefully made and bought to be worn out in the seedy hours of the evening. Here, I found myself lacking.

Clothes for drinks at a low-lit bar; those long dinners with friends that stretch out till closing; performances and all those impulsive nights on the town that usually tend to follow. Mysterious and provocative, these clothes draw a hard line between work life and personal life. But above all, they have sex appeal.

I was always told that tailoring and classic clothing was meant to make a man feel powerful and authoritative. Nobody said it could also be sexy. Those two previous characteristics certainly have their place: the navy double-breasted suit is for the career man in Whitehall, and it's hard to respect the authority of someone who can’t get their trouser length right.

But sex appeal in menswear is an elusive, ephemeral thing. If you look at the runway shows during the most recent Fashion Week, you might see glimpses of it. Sharp cheek-boned models walking for SS Daley (above), open shirts billowing in the wind, vest underneath and a neck full of pearls. Not to say things need to go to this length, but I want to know where the sex appeal is at all in ‘classic’ menswear. Because I just don’t see it.

Instead there tends to be a desire to hide in elevated basics, or to be very buttoned up - dressing somewhere between a mid-century Geography teacher and a fisherman.

Unfortunately this look is usually carried from day into night. We love the idea of investing in pieces that can survive that transition, but I’ve come to the realisation that the separation is important. Unstructured tweed, oxfords and brown chukkas are all well and good, but after 5pm they need to go. This change keeps things alive, slick, and is a chance to literally loosen up.

Some pieces have more of this appeal than others but, when you think about it, it’s mostly due to cultural associations.

The Schott Perfecto (below) is a good example - an incredibly sexy piece of Americana that owes its image to rebellious characters from years of cinema classics. Having tried it myself - and not having a face like Lou Reed - I’ve accepted that I am not at that level yet. Not everything is for everyone.

The opposite end of the spectrum is something like the preppy clothes described in the 80s satirical classic The Official Preppy Handbook, by Lisa Birnbach. Strangely, I’ve actually met people who have openly referred to this as a guide, both ironically and very much unironically.

Being of the firm opinion that there is nothing sexy in that book, I can only wonder why, seeing as the stance of such a book (tongue in cheek or not) is that yuppies aren’t sexy, money is. Without the family American Express account, I doubt the pink chinos and Sperrys would have gotten them very far. 

In pulling together a ‘night’ wardrobe, you start to seek more refined yet bold substitutes for the standard basics – to stand out without being flashy.

Accessories like silk shirts are a great start. Until around the mid-20th century, a simple white silk shirt was considered standard for evening wear. Ignore the cheesy printed numbers from the 70s and 80s, and consider that a silk shirt can be a subtle, refined and louche alternative to a run-of-the-mill poplin.

In terms of colour, the search has meant reaching for the darkest shades possible. As much as I love earth tones, experience has taught me that you stick out going to a last-minute, late-night event in a brown corduroy suit. Everyone else had various shades of navy, grey and black on. Someone even called me out on it!

So after that humiliation, I’m reconsidering the black suit. Anything black can work as far as I’m concerned, but it seems the black suit is still a contentious one. It’s seen as too fashion-y, too sombre, or plain bouncer-like. Yet I still believe in its ability to work. The secret is in the details: a material that has texture like linen or a fine cord, and maybe a double-breasted style rather than single. Anything that firmly separates it from both the navy office standard, and funeral attire.

As far as silhouette is concerned there are two schools of thought: louche and relaxed, or sharp as a razor.

Currently I’m interested in tailoring that is in line with the latter, accentuating the natural lines of the body rather than subduing them. Almost sculptural. Fully canvassed, shoulders with more structure, longer jacket lengths and lapels with more interest than your average notch or peak.

Brands such as Husbands in Paris (above), or newly established bespoke house Lawton (below) have options for this kind of tailoring, and the imagery is both inline with their house styles, and inspiring.

This often translates into confidence and attitude. For Kimberly Lawton, sex appeal is as much about how clothes make you feel as the garments themselves. “Anyone wearing something that makes them feel confident will in turn exude a strong, and sexy allure,” she says.

Yet she does understand men’s hesitation in pushing the boat out - despite idolising style icons who do just that. “This probably stems from some kind of subconscious sexism,” she says. “It’s easy to think that [sexier tailoring] and fashion are a ‘women's thing’ and therefore unimportant or non-essential.”

Just like Kimberly, everyone that I’ve spoken to - both inside and outside of menswear - agrees that it isn’t what you wear that defines sex appeal, but the way those clothes make the wearer feel. If I were to draw a Venn diagram, it would sit in the intersection between ‘bold’ and ‘comfortable’.

You have to be incredibly comfortable in yourself to carry off something that might be considered at the very least, striking.

 

Speaking to Luke Walker of the brand L.E.J. (above), his view is that one way to subvert expectations is to play around with the menswear standards. Seeing as the invention of a new garment in menswear is very rare, the trick for him is to make them bolder and more personal.

“What I find interesting is having the same templates but using them in a very personal way, which for me means fabrications that are more luxurious, refined and colourful; details which are slightly, ever so slightly outré, and perhaps even feminine,” he says.

Ultimately, all of this is to say that sex appeal is much more than just undoing a few buttons on your shirt (though if you’ve got the chest for it, be my guest). It’s about exuding an aura; a vibe that is both masculine and feminine. The clothes and the wearer should suggest an assertiveness that is not aggressive, but gentle and humble.

It is also somewhat vulnerable. To communicate this kind of energy through your clothes asks that you drop a few barriers and reveal something of your character, both literally and figuratively. It can be scary for the individual, but often alluring for everyone else. That is sex appeal: a middle ground between vulnerability and confidence.

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Gary Mitchell

”Without the family American Express account, I doubt the pink chinos and Sperrys would have gotten them very far”
oh I like that comment, how so very true. The same as how celebrities can dress and look cool in the same clothes that would make normal folk look foolish.
There is more to fashion and style than fashion and style it would seem.

BRAD TOMPKINS

I am not sure I agree….I think what is “sexy” is very subjective and that is driven by the customs of the community of which you belong. I grew up in New England, and very much was influenced by the “Prep” style, and I assure you, the women were just as into it as the guys, AMEX or not. Prep was NOT all about money, it was at its roots about respect for the culture, respect items that were used and fit for purpose, and not about consumerism of materialism. I remember fixing my loafers with gaffing tape in middle school even though I could easily afford a new pair. It was part of the “look”.
That said, I 100% agree for the celeb comment…..

P.A.

As a French, the article reminds me of old-school pictures of Parisian nights, Yves Saint Laurent and Nicolas Gabard of Husbands.
Suits that are both structured and slouchy at the same time, with strong shoulders and wider cuts, high rises and long jackets. When you look at Nicolas Gabard’s interviews, there is sexiness in the way he lives in his clothes, a feeling of confidence and relaxation.

Peter Hall

As someone whose usual attire is definitely unstructured teacher, with Breton and Land Army fripparies, structure, sharp and black for anything inside during night time.
Stimulating, intelligent piece of writing.

David

Thanks for the interesting article. In the photo of the Velvet Underground, my thinking is that John Cale (L) looks incredibly cool. It’s the all black look, and the tapered trousers paired w Beatle boot / Chelsea boot. Contrast them w the man in the background and they really come across as “socially disruptive”. Black Polo neck / turtle neck look borrowed from the “beatnik” era.

m

I used to wear that look during most of my early 20’s, I was inspired by Slimane. A lot of black designer stuff, skinny jeans, Chelsea boots, YSL style button ups, black turtlenecks in colder months. Mostly french chique, less Cali skater.

Boring to be honest, fit for boys, not for men.

PB

When you leave something undone, whether an extra button, a tie, or an article of clothing, it can connote a state of mind somewhere midway between the bar … and the bed. A lot of these sexy looks have that vibe.

Shoddy

The issue of how to have disitinctively evening wear (without resorting to black tie) is a very important topic. Sexiness… well that’s a very different matter. Where even to start?

Stuart

I want to know the outcome of what outfit was selected for ‘coctail attire’!?!!
‘It’s about exuding an aura; a vibe that is both masculine and feminine’ is a great statement and a welcome alternative to the goal of being a ‘gentleman’ – whatever that means – that so many in the menswear world seem to esteem. I fear that a maculine and femine aura is something that many PS readers will struggle with however as it would require some some of the hyper masculine tendencies that traddtional menswear aligns with to be put to one side.

BRAD TOMPKINS

I’d say he killed it there….as did you, Simon. I have recently seen a more playful take on formalwear at night. Maybe a vintage double-breasted velvet tuxedo/dinner jacket with denim western shirt, etc from the likes of Matt Hranek and Jay Fielden. Oftentimes the “sexy” bit comes from the confidence to pull off something unexpected, without being clownish.

Karol

Black suits can be great, silk or rayon shirts can be awesome too, but I can’t get behind a few points you made. If someone told me I shouldn’t wear earth colours at night, I wouldn’t give a damn. Literally everyone outside of our little tailoring circle is wearing blue and black 24/7. And it’s honestly fine for me, it’s their comfort zone and what they feel like wearing. But this is mine. Besides, brown or olive mixed with black are great.
And about that model… I can’t help but be reminded of that old MFA thing. Step one, be pretty. Step two, don’t be ugly. Step three, wear whatever tf you want. Seriously, can all of this make an out of shape, ugly guy look sexy, and the lack of those elements deny it from the model whose photo you posted? I doubt it.

Scott

Well Simon certainly a suit will make an out of shape guy look better. However, I must challenge you just a bit on the sexy part. May I suggest that looking better is the appropriate description.

André

By all means go ahead and wear earth tones at night, I won’t stop you by any stretch. In fact some people can pull it off and I don’t bat an eyelid. It just ain’t for me. Prince of Darkness vibes.

And yes an out of shape person can have this appeal, I see it all the time. They push the envelope and wear whatever tf they want, knowing they look good for no one else but themselves. That kind of self love speaks volumes. Wish I had more of it.

Scott

Andre, in the PS piece on cocktail clothes I thought you looked fantastic in your suit with the roll neck. It was simple yet elegant, perfect for cocktails I thought. Is this look now something that you’re getting away from?

Stephen S

Hi,
I’ve been reading this blog for many years, learning a great deal along the way. I have always endeavoured to contribute positively (even when I disagree – which is what debate should be about) or to seek guidance that is always generously provided.

With the above in mind I have to say this is a poor article that’s nowhere near the normal high standard.

It reads as stream of consciousness on insecurity about achieving ‘Sex appeal’ (seriously in this day and age?!) Not what I would expect in a place where articles talk to mature (not old – rather grown – up style) and relevant issues such as working conditions and sustainability.

Sorry to appear negative and neither is offence meant or indeed implied, however I believe challenging feedback is as valuable as that which is complimentary.

I’m sure Simon is well placed to address some of the stylistic questions suggested in the article in his usual knowledgeable, comprehensive and professional manner.
Best.

Stephen

Hi Simon,
i think we’ll have to agree to disagree on that point. In my opinion in its literal sense (not something like it’s not a sexy job) sexy in a clothing sense suggests outmoded connotations of sexual allure. Rather the aspiration could be to be, attractive, well put together, polite, considerate and dare I say with dash of charm.
I don’t think many women today (of all ages) really want to look ‘’sexy’ and therefore I’d suggest the same applies to most men who are comfortable in their own skin and not looking for an assurance that likely means very little.
BTW, I am likely in the upper age group of your readership so my opinion is not coming from millennial mindset.

Stephen

Just a light hearted thought: if being ‘sexy’ could be compared the being ‘cool’ , trying to be cool is doomed to failure and if one thinks oneself cool, then by the very nature of being cool , means one isn’t. Whatever sexy means to the individual or the associated semantics I’d suggest the same applies.

Stuart

I’m a 34 YO married man with children and i like to feel sexy in the things i wear. I take great pleasure in it in fact. And for the record dressing sexy for me rearly if ever involves a suit. Generally the more simple the out outfit the more sexy it can be. I like to subtly highlight some of my more masculine features whilst also ensuring that the overall outfit feels casual and does not standout to much. This is easier in the summer but can be done all year round. For me the key is understanding what my attractive attributes are and subtley drawing attention to them or framing them without appearing macho, flash or self concious. Its a compelling challenge and very rewarding when done right.

zo

out of interest, would you share an explicit example of how you’d do this? say, a tight shirt to accentuate chest, or high rise to accentuate narrowing waist or something?

zo

Yeah I think with looking sexy its the opposite…you need to feel like you’re sexy to look like you’re sexy.

André

Writing in a stream of consciousness manner sounds about right to be honest… does it stem from insecurity? Maybe at some point it did but that I think is what ultimately gives perspective on these things.
It’s a shame that you found it to not be on your standard, but what I will say is that this is a mature topic written for mature people to understand a different perspective. Seeing as human beings are sexual creatures (yes in this day and age!), it’s something that passes through my mind every now and then as a clothes horse.
However, I agree with you; challenging feedback is always valuable so thanks for the honesty!

Scott

Agreed! I suspect that Daniel Craig and the late great Steve McQueen would have a good laugh at this article. Mr. Craig can change his shirt and tie for a roll neck and keep the same suit on and look fantastic and extremely attractive to women. Why? Because men like him and McQueen exude confidence and masculinity that women really like. In a word, men who dress in a masculine manner who have excellent taste in clothing know how to dress for nighttime events where they will achieve sex appeal.

Martyn

Haha, these two men would not be top of the list of any women i know. Steve Mcqueen was known to be very unpleasent. File these two along with the ‘gentlemen’, massive watch, aston martin, stretchy suit crowd. James bond and Steve Mcqueen are painfully predicable asperations and not one i can relate to at all.

SamS

I love that this is actually being discussed on PS: the idea of sex appeal (and even attractiveness) seems to be somewhat tabu in menswear. Admitting that you want to look attractive seem to be a touchy subject for many men, but as Simon has pointed out, compliments from women (or whatever gender(s) you are attracted to) tend to influence mens choices more than we’d like to admit.
That being said, I feel the halo effect may be influencing the authors reasoning. Most of those “sleek”, “sexy” clothes are being modelled by people who by contemporary standards could be described as “sleek” and “sexy”. There is a reason why catwalks are full of young, fit people with sculptured cheek bones: they are specifically picked to look cool and confident with styling and good lighting. Having done several years of fashion photography, I can tell you a LOT of production goes into creating that image of sex appeal. If you’re a fit 20-something at a trendy gig, by all means wear sleek black suits and silk shirts. You’ll probably rock it. The rest of us will look like twerps, though.
Oh, and don’t underestimate looking like “a mid-century Geography teacher”. “Hot for teacher” is a real thing.

Rogey

Thanks for the laugh, Sams, but I think Van Halen meant a female teacher.

SamS

Don’t be so sure, I’m sure some of those rock stars… experimented a bit at times.

But seriously, the “teacher crush” is a thing for both men and women. I’ve had more female friends confess to having had a crush (in their adult life) on a teacher than who have had one for runway models.

Ben

I actually think this hits the nail on the head: the most attractive quality in a person is self-confidence. It’s not so much about the clothes one wears, but the attitude one adopts to wearing them. A Schott jacket would not look good if worn self-consciously; equally a navy DB blazer can evoke a sense of sex appeal if worn by somebody who feels comfortable in it. People on catwalks look good because the world constantly tells them they do.
What I like about this article is that it really squares up to the notion that we dress at least in part for other people, and that is a good thing! As much as clothing enthusiasts love to say they dress for themselves, there is a part of us all which loves being complimented on how we look, and there is no shame in that (quite the opposite). But it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy – if you wear something and feel good, you’ll project that into the world, and more often than not it’s reflected back at you. So I think try the silk shirt next time you go out fo a flash dinner – you might surprise yourself.

Ben

Yes, thank you, completely agree Simon. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario, and it’s hard to say for certain what precedes what. You can express all those virtues – charm, humour, self-awareness, confidence – through what you wear, and in turn what you wear helps you refine those qualities. But this is a great topic to foster discussion about what clothes are for and why we wear (and to some extent obsess over) them.

Peter

I really enjoyed Dag’s reflections on this topic of evening / ‘sexy’ dressing in your excellent ‘future of tailoring’ video conversation with Saman Amel

Mark Hayes

“dressing somewhere between a mid-century Geography teacher and a fisherman“
Hilarious! I acquired a sensitivity to clothing too late in life to rescue my 1980s New York after-hours club adventures. I was always the dorky straight guy who looked like he was on the way to the office in an off the rack suit or on the way home from it. It’s taken me several years to even understand the geography teacher style, which I recognize in some of the Steve McQueen pics from the old days.. That’s me now on a very good day. But I still enjoy the great writing and insights in posts like this. Well done, Mr. Larnyoh! Looking forward to your next one. I’m sure you looked better in the brown cord suit than I would in almost anything. Not everyone you’ll meet is so judgmental.

Adam

I enjoyed this piece, but I have to say that discussing a wardrobe for nights out requires a certain level of optimism.

André

At the moment nights out are a regular occurrence for me so I’m just planning accordingly. Maybe too regular…

Josh

I also thoroughly enjoyed this new avenue and the perspectives offered, especially because, as highlighted, it seems to contradict a lot of the guidelines we have fostered here on the blog and elsewhere in classic menswear. The blurring of the gender binary is a welcome and intriguing aspect of this kind of style.

And to those who worry the tips only apply to ”fit” twenty-somethings, I would argue there are countless icons featured in the blog over the years who don’t fit this criterion and yet exude their own sex appeal while applying precisely the stylish twists detailed here. Ethan and Kenji of Brycelands immediately spring to mind, but there are many others in the “How to dress like…” series and elsewhere. Thank you, André and Simon

Neil

Not Sure!
Clothes are very much situation specific and also a reflection of you and your mood.
Clothes for daytime / workwear are normally designed to show authority or trustworthiness in your chosen profession. Style is an advancement of this.
Clothes for night-time have varied impressions dependent on the “event” and your intention. Check with your partner when you are wearing your “sexiest” clothes when going out without them or vice versa.
Our clothes are also defined by our bodies. If one is 6’6″, with a 38″ chest, your impression is completely different to that of someone 5’6″ with a 48″.
What is our relationship to those we are wearing the clothes for.
More importantly are we trying to express the best version of ourselves or be someone completely different. This is an internal mirror, which only we can answer.
An interesting article, but I would have liked the “intention” to have been more specific.

Neil

Wouter de Clerck

Well written article! I fully agree with the point made about the value and fun of evening wear, but I doubt the principal problem is that too many men carry “unstructured tweed, oxfords and brown chukkas” into the night. Personally, I’m already very happy if there are two or three other guys in the restaurant wearing a well-fitted jacket and good shoes, colour or cloth regardless. Full disclosure: I am that guy wearing unstructured tweed, jeans and brown suede shoes from dusk till dawn – on purpose, to avoid standing out too much from the casual crowd.

And

I’m happy if I even count one, to be honest. Actually, I’d even settle for restaurants having a coat hanger in the first place. It’s become a rare luxury, I am almost always told to leave my overcoat on a chair. I keep asking though.

Gary Mitchell

And its the right thing to do…..

Rogey

This article is provocative, wonderful, and opens an enormous can of worms. In my tweed jackets and AngloItalian trousers, Mr Larnyoh is unlikely to find me sexy, and I’m okay with that. But in the past week, I was standing in the airport security line, wearing my boldest tweed checked jacket, flannels, and an eight panel cap, when two young women, at different times, commented on my jacket (“I like your jacket,” said one; “I like your jacket and your cap,” said the other). What followed was some conversation and laughter. At 66, I don’t kid myself that any of this proves I’m sexually attractive–that, if it ever existed at all, was in the last century. It does show that enjoying yourself and being comfortable in your own clothes and style is contagious.

Russ

I’m always amused when men write articles about what they think other men should wear in order to look sexy. So very often the advice is miles away from what women really like to see when out with a guy. Why do we frequently also ignore the fact that many women prefer a man in a tailored suit?

Stuart

I dont think Andre is saying what you should wear specifically, he more suggesting an attitude that could be applied to a suit or jeans and a t-shirt. In my experience men like to think women preffer them in a suit but in reality its quite the opposite at least amongst the women i know.

André

It’s not really about what I think other men should wear, it’s about what *I* as an individual think I should wear to feel that way about myself. Then I forget all about it and live my life.
Also I can tell you from experience walking around the happening spots of town in a two piece and tie just cause does not work. You just get a lot of Mad Men jokes thrown your way.

Matt L

This seems like an appropriate place to bring up the outfit that The Weekend wore for his “Blinding Lights” music video, and whether that fits well with what we’re talking about here?
Bright red jacket, with black for the trousers shirt tie and gloves, relatively heavy on the jewelry. I think it fits the requirement of being between confident and vulnerable, and would suit some people in the “drinks in a low-lit bar” setting where the red is less well lit. It’s not an outfit for the daylight, certainly.

The-Weeknd-Blinding-Lights-Video_featured_image.jpg
BRAD TOMPKINS

Andre, having seen the resulting outfit from your quest, I would say you nailed it. Many of us may disagree, but there are many reasons we choose to dress the way we dress, and one of them is most assuredly to be noticed by the people around us…..whether we agree that is synonymous with being “sexy” or not could be up for argument. I recently procured a vintage double-breasted velvet dinner jacket to wear to dinner parties, and other later evening events. I will pair it with a mix of more traditional formalwear, as well as, play it down with some fun items like denim and the like just due to the lack of fully formal events. My desire is to be “put-together” and show a consideration of style and try to communicate something about me from within with my outward expression. I think that is the true definition of “sex appeal”.

Rav

At the risk of sounding too simplistic and I’m not sure of where the exact distinction may lie, but my perspective is that it’s the confidence and comfortableness exuded by the wearer that matters most – “sexiness” will follow (depending on the audience). The clothes may be talking points (e.g., the compliment as a way to start a conversation) but it’s the way you wear them that matters more. Aside from modulating the wardrobe choice for the occasion, whether pool-side brunch or an evening out, one could be construed as “sexy” regardless.

Rav

Completely agree Simon and another thought popped up – the proper clothes can be viewed as veritable armor to protect oneself in a way that makes it easier to expose a more vulnerable side of the personality to external scrutiny. Of course self-confidence is a factor but surely there are numerous scenarios where the clothes themselves help generate that confidence directly. I’m certain that most PS readers feel that extra boost when they slip into certain ensembles, look in the mirror, and swagger out into the world.

V

A greatly underrated, but ultimately important topic. I’d love to see even more in-depth perspectives on the subject on Permanent Style. In the end we dress for many reasons and to signal many things and this is for sure one of them. Some readers might say they are not interested in conveying sexiness, but restraint or absence of an element is also a signal in itself and it is interesting to think why one might choose that direction.
I’ve been thinking about the changing of style after 5 p.m., as André mentioned in the article, for a while now and very much agree. I’ve seen too many fun, colourful clothes look quite drab in the dim light of the late evening. I think the reverse could apply as well: a sleek evening wardrobe might not come off that sexy in the bright light of day (Dag’s black linen suit from your video discussion might prove me wrong, though!).
Vulnerability is another subject touched upon which could certainly be expanded in relation to how menswear relates to the subject of masculinity (perhaps a future article?)

André

For my money, I could probably do an entire essay on the relationship between vulnerability and clothing. It’s noticeable in the smallest moments, like stepping out in that new coat you weren’t sure about.

Matt L

I haven’t seen the comments section this stirred-up since the guest article on alternative black-tie. There does seem to be a recurring theme of evening wear getting PS reader’s dander up!

Peter Hall

I think it’s because black/black tie was one of the few remaining rules people knew and were comfortable with. It’s an area almost off limits . It was so easy…

David

“Night time is the right time we all know” but it’s really just a question of colour and texture NOT of changing your tailor. Bryan Ferry is the perfect example. He sports exactly the same style pendant Le soirée as he does during the day but the textures and colours are very different – dark, sultry and sexy with a slight edge.

André

Good point, I’ll take that cause I dig Bryan Ferry. But, you gotta switch it up sometimes, just cause.

George

I read andrés opinion and all the comments. To the term sex appeal there is lot to be said. But first we must define what we find objektively sexy. Of course there is no such a definition because everyone has his own tastes but for most important is what women find sexy. Women like tall men with beautiful faces, beautiful and healthy bodys. If you have all the three you are sexy whatever you wear and you will always have nice compliments and conversations that most usual guys dont have so often. If you dont have those three but you have two of them you can overcome your genetic disantvantage with some style-clothes. The problem i notice at most guys is that they dont have a good basis of clothes to work around or they try too hard to look well dressed or they try to look very different from the others, goint to a not so pleasing to my eyes image. Of course everyone should have his style in his clothes based on your characterestics you have and what looks good on you( i have a little longer neck as most guys which is complemented/hidden from rollnecks shirts and very few tshirts. I dont wear all the time tshirts when i have the option for something more flattering but i wont go to the beach with something more than a tshirt for example). Some normal guys look very good with their “own” style and they sure are not the normal man that buys some very usual stuff and wears them till he tears them apart. They have tried and errored many times and have a wardrobe that fits well and know what to wear with what to be dressed above average. I wouldnt wear clothes that dont look so manly cause i like my manlines and wouldnt want to atract the same gender and there are so many good clothes that o can choose to not play with this grey zone. At the end what i find personaly sexy looking in a man is one who is clean, careful with his body and face who doesnt try too much to look like something different or needs to draw attention from his clothes, which complement his body and draw the attention to his face.

Aggro

Who is the maker of Andre’s white DB suit/jacket?

André

I wish that was me and that I had a White DB like that…

Thank you for thinking I look as handsome as Adrien Sauvage.

zo

I feel there is some discombobulation of two topics here: night time clothing and sexy clothing. I think both are important topics and should be delved in deeper. Also I’m surprised there no mention of Tom Ford here? Given he almost exclusively does night time clothes, and I think his goal in life is to make men look sexy.

Come on, sugar, tell me so

Somewhat on topic (but mostly off) I watched the first episode of Stanley Tucci’s food show. I very much liked his style – grown up, well put together, approachable. And dare I say sexy. The fact he appears to be no stranger to the gym helps but I thought he dressed well. Nice examples of warm weather dressing.

Seb K.

I don’t think a man has any business trying to look sexy. That smacks of desperation and vanity, both deeply unattractive characteristics. A man should appear confident, stylish and masculine (not macho). If he achieves that, sex appeal will naturally follow.
The reason this is seen so rarely on contemporary fashion catwalks is because of the current vogue for effeminate, androgynous boys.

Jackson

What a fatuous and judgmental remark.

Jackson

You’re absolutely right – that was rather incendiary of me. Apologies Simon.

I think I have a total intolerance for any sentence that starts with the words ‘A man should [insert reductive stereotypical behaviour description here]’
An intolerance all the more when these words are followed by ‘appear to be’ in a website’s comment section read chiefly for the purpose of honing ones ability to appear a certain way, found in a comment quite virulently criticising men who’d like to appear a certain way.
A tip for you, Seb. A man should understand that some men like to appear in some ways, whilst other’s like to appear in other ways.

Jackson

sorry that was still a little on the impolite side, wasn’t it. I find those kind of default judgements – ‘desperate, vain and deeply unattractive’ – to be unnecessary and harshly critical of other people’s choices. Of course, it follows that someone who would think those things about other people’s choices would be prescribing their own as inalienable truths, rather than what they are: personal choices.
I rarely try to appear to be sexy, but have nothing at all against anyone who does. In fact, during the day – as per Andre’s article – I might take a special pleasure in not appearing to be sexy. The joy of a slightly clunky Ivy look – split toe derby’s and white socks, with a raglan over-coat thrown over a baggy sweatshirt and a slightly dog eared oxford – doesn’t scream sex appeal at all. It’s a classic look; nonchalant enough to feel somehow quite cool, in a truant school boy kind of way.
In the evening, I’ll often swap in the blue oxford and sweatshirt for a darker coloured shirt and I’ll quite self consciously undo a couple more buttons to reveal a vest and a bit of chest hair. It adds something that is more rugged to the look. Not a desperate attempt to appear to be sexy, but no less self conscious than someone who takes pleasure in brightly coloured socks. I know the effect it has and lean in to it. I think pretending to be unaware of these sorts of choices – which I suspect most of us here probably make all the time – ‘smacks of’ insecurity.

Danny

I’d have thought the remark ‘ the current vogue for effeminate, androgynous boys’ to be far more incendiary than any of Jackson’s comments… that’s just me though.

André

Damn Seb, you went straight for the jugular there. Will say you missed the vein though. I effectively said everything you’re saying – a man should appear confident, stylish and masculine. With this sex appeal will follow. If you try then it’s going to stink of a try hard. What I’m communicating is that *maybe* men should be more conscious and aware of this aura. It exists, you can’t pretend it doesn’t.

Also on the comment about contemporary catwalks, I don’t think that’s particularly fair. Fashion is for all.

Scott

Well said sir!

David

I think what Seb is driving at is that what this article offers is essentially a man’s perspective on what looks “sexy”. Though it may be quite an unpopular thing to say in this day and age, it’s a fact supported by decades worth of research in evolutionary psychology that women on the whole (there are exceptions as always) are attracted to attributes of strength, power, and authority. As André writes, classic clothing is meant to make a man look “powerful and authoritative” and that’s precisely what women find so sexy about it.

Jeans Lauren

Andre seems to be refining his taste more and more with every successive article, which is surely a good thing. However I can’t help but wonder if his musings are falling on deaf ears, or whether he’s looking to create a forum to gather new information instead of doing his own research etc?

André

Definitely not looking to create a forum, don’t think I have the time for it! Research, leads to musing which leads to discussion which leads to new knowledge and therefore new musing. At least that’s my formula. If it falls on deaf ears well then I tried.

Jeans Lauren

Try Allison Lauries book The Language of Clothes. Anne Hollander is also a well esteemed author, but I haven’t read any of her works so I can’t really wholeheartedly recommend them.

Martin

Interesting photos. Most sexy in my eyes are those figures sitting around naked with long pipes in their mouth. Least is Lou Reed who exudes the sex appeal of an incapacitated junkie.

Alexander

Great and very important article! Thanks! Just some thoughts:
1) For me sexiness is about taking a risk, daring to stand out, wearing something (at least slightly) unusual compared to most men. That could mean just one item. Not unusual from head to toe like a clown.
2) Well done and understood sprezzatura is definitely sexy.
3) Being obviously trendy is definitely not sexy to me.
4) Unisex can be powerful and sexy. I love it when women can pull off straight leg jeans, rather than the standard skinny ones. Vice versa I think unisex fragrances suit me (and women seem to agree).
5) I often come back to the saying of Lagerfeld who stated that clothes are not really that important for looking attractive. He mentioned 5-6 other things that are way more important. He was talking to women, but I believe it is also true for men.

Anthony

I find this all rather over complex.
Wearing stuff that makes you feel sexy is all well and good, but only up to a point. Nobody will notice if you are wearing over tight neopreme undies.
What actually matters is how others perceive you. Do they find you sexy? How much of that is driven by your appearance? Surely it has more to do with your demeanour, personality and charm than it does with what you’re wearing? James Dean in a white T shirt vs Frank Spencer?
I would venture that you could be wearing the “sexiest” outfit as variously described here, but not come across as being in the least bit sexy if you have slightly sweaty palms and a nervous giggle.

mike

In my opinion, when it comes to appropriate attire for a night out, one of the most difficult items to get right is the trousers. I’m curious about your opinion on black trousers, specifically the black trousers produced by stoffa in their previous launch.
https://stoffa.co/products/black-cotton-basketweave-single-pleat-trousers-fall-21

Nisha

I see the word “sexy” raised some questions and some hackles, as does the idea of sex appeal – perhaps ‘sensual’ is a more internally-oriented and easily-understood concept to go for? Fabrics that are nice to touch, for starters, and clothes that the wearer finds comfortable or at least not UNcomfortable, if that makes sense?

This doesn’t have to translate to covering yourself in puddles of silk and cashmere (nice as those feel), but ease when wearing clothing is an absolute must, whether it’s jeans with a nice jumper, or jeans with a tshirt, or a suit (with whatever underlayer you prefer) or whatever. And knowing how to dress for the occasion/weather of course. A roll neck might look great in a photograph but if you’re given to being sweaty and you wear it on a day that’s warm, any attempt at sex appeal is gone right down the toilet. Not everyone has to dress like Haider Ackermann, but having a good handle on textures and an idea of your own tastes is a helpful starting point.

Stefan

Finally you are writing about this. 🙂
I love tailoring, but for many years I have thought that most of the traditional brands and most of the #menswear persons are too boring and conservative. This has make young people look like their grandfathers with high waisted flannel pants and brown tassel loafers going out for the night. 🙂 Nothing wrong with classic suits and jackets, I love it, but it must always have some sex appeal. Women do this much better than men, both during the day and night. Yes, black is a great color for the night. I’m so tired of all the hate black suits gets from the people that know the classic tailoring. I think it’s strange that their aren’t more brands today that are good at classic tailoring and are “cool” at the same time. Some brands like Saman Amel do it quite nice, but that aren’t that many to be honest. For cocktail attire, I would go with black chelsea boots and a black baby camel double breasted jacket. 😉