Gordon Patzer, PhD, has researched the phenomenon of physical attractiveness for 30 years. He’s the leading expert in the field.
Paltzer says, “It is not a gender thing, age thing, race thing, or geographical thing. It is not a male-female thing, young-old thing, or white-black thing. Nor is it any thing in-between. It is not related to a particular education or socioeconomic descriptor. It is also not a small town thing or a big city thing, or a thing unique to the United States. It is not any one of these things. It is all of these things. It is pervasive. It impacts all people in all these groups and more.”
So what does it take to be labeled attractive? Dr. Paltzer considers hair an important factor. He notes that it’s the last thing we look at or fuss with before a meeting or social engagement. Another person's hair is one of the first characteristics we notice upon meeting.
Nancy Etcoff. PhD, sums it up with the title of her book, “Survival of the Prettiest.” She notes that cavemen chose their mates on the basis of survival. In other words, which woman was likely to give him the healthiest children, ensuring that his tribe would multiply? He could size her up in an instant, and she was likely to have healthy shiny hair, sparkling eyes, good skin, good teeth, an ample bosom, and a shapely figure made for child-bearing.
Women, on the other hand, looked for a caveman that was the proverbial “tall dark and strong” type – all the better to protect their little ones.
It’s pretty much the same way we choose our mates today.
Etcoff also notes that tiny babies gaze at attractive faces and disregard those that are not attractive. It’s much like going to a museum. We linger over the attractive pieces and skip the ones that aren’t so pleasing to the eye. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Most studies do suggest a correlation between attractiveness and success. I would argue that it’s not Hollywood glamour that we need to strive for. It’s a classy and refined look that guarantees the most success. Even in the animal kingdom, the higher-status animals are the most regal and powerful.
Here’s what I’ve found about attractiveness and, consequently, success:
•Rich and bright colors are perceived as more attractive than dull drab ones. That’s why men are perceived by women to look sexy in red ties; and by the same token, recent university studies say that men find women who wear red look sexy. Even male birds attract mates easier when their feathers are brighter or richer in color. So-called jewel tones are perhaps the most attractive colors for women, and this includes royal purple, royal blue, emerald green, ruby red and related colors.
•Garments that are tailored and fit well are perceived to look the most professional and classy. Resist khakis and baggy jackets.
•Strive to be impeccably groomed; no scruffy shoes or unkempt hair.
•Choose quality accessories: leather belts and shoes, for example. “Statement” jewelry for women adds clout.
•We like pleasing lines not only in artwork, but also in terms of facial features and body shapes. We prefer rounded shapes over angular ones for women. Men are expected to have angular jaws and pectorals, for example, while women are rounded in those areas. Shoes with square toes look unattractive on both men and women
•We like shiny objects, but not in overwhelming amounts. For example, bright shiny eyes delight us. So does shiny hair – and lips. Use neon and acid colors like lime green and bright orange in moderation.
•Styles come and go, but those that are unflattering to the body rarely stay in vogue.
•Dress to impress and you will dress for success.
Sandy Dumont is an image consultant with clients on three continents. She is the author of several books, DVDs and boxed sets on the subject of image. She’s the Go-To person when business casual has morphed into “Business Casualty”. Contact her at www.theimagearchitect.com.