Archive for February, 2012

Fashion ‘Holice Oscars Special

Welcome to the to the inaugural edition of the Fashion ‘Holice – the Soho’s very own take on celebrity style that attracts men.  Which styles draw rave reviews from women and repel men (hint: peplums) and which cross gender lines?  There were four key trends at this year’s Academy Awards that illustrate the difference between men and women, and within those trends, it’s a story of contrasts.  We’ve got sleeves vs. shoulders and demure vs. vampy.  Now let’s break it down.

Shoulders – Bridesmaid Kristen Wiig, The Artist’s Missy Pyle and model/actress Milla Jovovich nailed the rules of attraction by bearing their shoulders.  I’ve got a post on shoulders coming, so I don’t want to throw a spoiler into the mix and will keep it brief.  Men love a shoulder, even more so if you only let them look at one.  Leave them wanting more is the lesson (see JLo), so for now, I’ll leave some mystery for my coming post.

Sleeves – When Gwyneth Paltrow arrived in a cape, the Twittersphere started to buzz about a new trend – maximum coverage. I heard one stylist position this as an empowerment thing: women exercising control over what they reveal. I believe women are more or less in control of that anyway, unless of course they are celebrities, so my guess is that they opted for high fashion over high control. And to men, high fashion = high risk.  Any guy who saw Shailene Woodley in a bikini for most of The Descendants is wondering why she chose to cover all last night. As for Gwyneth, she was proud and statuesque and very grand dame. Women loved it, but I’ll bet that while some men appreciated the idea, the look left the majority lukewarm. Who got the reveal right? JLo. While her nipple received the most PR for exposure, the woman continues to master the fabric-to-skin ratio.

Demure – What a mixed bag. The gamine thing seems to work consistently for Natalie Portman, probably because she is so very beautiful. Known sex bomb Penelope Cruz looked a bit like a prom queen, albeit one with an amazing rack. But there were two standout fashion failures in this category.  It pains me to say that Emma Stone’s bow was not only derivative (see Kidman, Nicole) but is the type of feature that confounds and potentially terrifies most men.  Also, kudos to Michelle Williams for wearing attention-grabbing coral that showcases that alabaster skin, especially on her open back, but was that a… gasp – peplum?  I once purchased a peplum skirt after a fashion editor convinced me it was ‘timeless, elegant and fashion forward.’ When I tried it on for my… gasp – mother, she simply said, ‘Honey, that’s a boner shrinker.’ The tags hang on that skirt to this day.

Vampy – No surprises here; men love a vamp and a few celebs played the part last night.  Notably, we have Angelina Jolie in her go-to goth get-up with a slit that got her right leg its own Twitter feed. Men might have been amused watching her work it like a kickstand, but they do like an, ahem, slit.  She also had a good red pucker, ‘bedroom hair’ as we’ve come to define it and a surprising glow.  Analysis? She and Brad had sex in the car.  Rose Byrne also showed her edge in her black asymmetrical situation.  The jury is out on this one. While the dress is surely sexy, her stick skinny frame couldn’t hold it up.  I also wonder if that heavy fringe and parting scrambles a male mind – it’s entirely too intentional.  On the subject of confusing fringes and eating disorders, I give you Rooney Mara. Yes, Rooney, you’re edgy and you’re fashion, but was last night’s dress the success we’d expected?  Men may like her dominatrixy vibe but if you intend to show some skin, you might want to be a bit more flesh and less bone.

Finally, in the area of hair and make-up, I want to give a shout out to Jessica Chastain, who just looked outstanding.

So what have we learned? 1) When it comes to style that attracts men, ask first ‘What Would JLo Do?’ 2) If it’s got a peplum, think twice. 3) We need some male feedback on the fringe.

What’s so right? What’s so wrong? Over to you?

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Yellow

I don’t have to tell you that men like yellow.  Chris Martin already has (though admittedly, some of those lyrics boggle my mind).  So did that guy who likes those teenie weenie yellow polka dot bikinis.  It also doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that if you walk into a room wearing yellow, you’re going to turn some heads, many of them male.

In some ways, the yellow thing is an easy one to crack.  Perhaps it’s yellow, the colour of the sun and its warmth, or a smiley emoticon and its joy, that speaks to what most men desire in a woman:  ease, happiness, batted eyed approval – simplicity.

Once in a San Francisco gift shop, I saw a coffee mug for sale with an image of Marilyn Monroe on it accompanied by a sign that said ‘pour yourself into me’ and I’ll use this to make my point. Maybe it’s no coincidence that Marilyn’s legendary blonde hair also makes us think of yellow. Maybe, more broadly, many men are seeking vessels into which they pour themselves.

I hear you asking: ‘Isn’t this counter to what you wrote in your red lipstick post, Soho?  That bit about men wanting to take women on?’

Uh. Yes.  A reader who I deeply admire and respect read that post.  She said she liked it, but she didn’t agree with it.  She said that ‘men want to fuck a woman who wears red lipstick, but they don’t want to do the school run with her.’ I may not agree in full, but I do see her point – a point that brings us back to yellow.

Yellow is not only optimistic, it’s gentle – it espouses no political affiliations, claims to colour no US states and is a sartorial non-participant in the battle of the sexes.  I wonder if men see yellow and subconsciously fast-forward to dinner in the garden, a hand-delivered gin and tonic and a life of ease.  The girl you bring home to mum and dad wears yellow. So does that beautiful bride. So it ends in the school run, but not in baggy elastic waisted things.  I reckon that yellow has yummy mummy potential.

In saying all this, yellow turns out to be a surprisingly complex character.  Psychologists say that while it reminds us of all things bright and cheery, it also fatigues the eye and makes us feel tense.

Ain’t that just a clever little allegory for men and women?  Men want their women to be happy, attention-getting and easier on the eye and yet that slight sense of unease underlies what appear to be the most enduring relationships. Is it that complexity trumps simplicity after all?

Brad? Angie? Care to weigh-in?  You can borrow my red lipstick when you do.

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High Heels

Men love heels. And at the soaring height of 5’2, I love heels.  Always have.  Then years ago, I went to a fetish exhibit at the V&A and I learned an interesting fact that made me love them more.  According to the curator, various psychologists and symbologists (yes! It is a job outside of the DaVinci Code!), heels are the metaphoric gateway to sexuality for male babies.  Crawling on the floor, the first thing they see is the foot.  Foot bone ultimately connected to the thighbone and all that, and the eyes travels. Get me?

How about female babies?  I don’t have the backing of the V&A on this, but I do know this.  High heels were my ‘go to’ choice in the dress-up box because they were the gateway to adulthood.  Glamorous nights out. Real jobs. Relationships. And, I suppose, some latent knowledge of sexuality. Seems to me that whether boy or girl, heels are the focus of an early and lifelong mutual appreciation society.

I’m with them; I’m a member.  I used to work for an old school ad man, who way before Mad Men always had a great suit and a glass of whisky close to hand.  He was a member, too.  He said he was turned on by the very sound of the clack of a high heel on a hard floor.  For a man straight out of the 60s, he had a very modern view that it was the implied power in that noise that titillated him.  He also used to go all glowy at the mere mention of how a woman’s calve is elongated by a heel. I place an enthusiastic tick in both those boxes.

Mostly, I like the way heels force a woman to stand straight and master her swagger.  It’s the confidence that’s addictive – and what separates the heel from the disdained flat.  I get that flats are functional.  They can also be cute.  But cute is an aim-low look.  I mean, these non-threatening shoes literally shrink our presence in a room, and I just can’t stand for that.

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Red Lipstick

In a move straight out of porn, I was once dated my handyman, a silver-tongued Scot who made me request my repairs in a Southern American accent, addressing him as ‘Daddy.’ (Used in sentence, ‘Daddy, I’m ‘onna need you to caulk the tiles.’  Do men like this?) 

Why do I mention him?  He was the ultimate alpha male, and as such, became my first focus group when it came to style choices that attract men.  When I first started banging on about red lipstick, he said – emphatically – ‘Yes!  I see a red mouth and I just want it on me.’  (Actually, he said something more crude, but I’m not ready to offend you… yet.)  Point being, he cut straight to the carnal male perspective.  Red lips are like a flag to a bull.

  • They are iconic and associated with the first women that gave men permission to want them.  Thanks, Marilyn.
  • They are red, a colour that scientists have shown time and time again that men just plain like.
  • They make your mouth a prominent feature.  Men like mouths for all sorts of reasons, I’m sure the most basic being that men like blow jobs.  But that’s a different blog.

As a woman, though, think about your mouth, in red, and what that means.

While most cosmetics resort to trickery, red lipstick doesn’t lie.  It is purposeful, overdone and symbolic, and when you wear it, you are conscious of that.  Even if you walk into a bar and there are 30 other hipsters looking retro in their MAC Russian Red, you feel like an exception. Your mouth is bold.  People are watching it move; more importantly, they are listening to the words it says.  The pressure is now on you to deliver.  This is not low maintenance make up.

And there in-lies the kicker.  I know men can be crude and carnal, and I don’t think that inflatable dolls have red lips for no reason, but at the end of the day, I think most men want us to take them on.  Any who are worthy of your time want you to bring something to the party.  They want you to nail your colours to the mast.  So go forth and make one of them red.

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Rihanna

That black dress

Today marks the birthday of the woman who currently features the highest on the ‘I would’ charts of my male British friends: Rihanna.  And why not?  This woman serves up her sexuality on a plate.  Did you see that black ‘Ode to Scarface’ number at the Grammy’s? That dress proves it. When it comes to dressing for men, Rihanna ‘gets it’. (And as a result, likely gets plenty of ‘it’, too.)

But is she getting it right or wrong?

At the risk of sounding old or possibly maternal, I worry about our RiRi. Here we have a woman who has been the victim of incredible violence within her relationship espousing in ‘S&M’ that ‘pain is her pleasure’ (and nothing else can measure, apparently). Her ‘We Found Love’ video features an addicted, damaged and abused woman – though I wonder if the lowest common denominator can divine if it’s a cautionary tale or an ambition. And even that dress – the one I loved – is based on Michelle Pfeiffer’s character in Scarface, Elvira Hancock, who despite being very desirable and snorting cocaine rather elegantly, is also drug addled and essentially owned by powerful men who mistreat her.

Believe me, my aim is not to attack Rihanna, especially on her birthday.  She is talented and beautiful and if I had a body like that, I’d probably walk around naked or nearly nude most of the time (hey wait, she does!).  What interests me about Rihanna is what sits at the heart of this blog – when it comes to attracting male attention, can we do it in a way that empowers us or is the very thought objectifying?

Women, Rihanna, MEN – hear me: there is nothing sexy about damage, and we can own our sexuality without emulating the most vulgar parts of it: promiscuity, domination or a loss of control. As this blog gets up and running and I talk about how to attract male attention, it’s because I am a feminist and I believe in anything – anything – that makes women feel good about being women.  That includes male attention (when it’s sought). And if chains and whips DO excite you, then I join Rihanna in saying ‘na, na, na, na, na c’mon’ to that, too.

All I’m asking is that we’re honest about why we make the choices that we do, whether those choices relate to our style or our lifestyle. Attracting men is easy; they are primal and visual and they are the first to admit it.  The trick is in attracting the right kind of attention in a way that feels guided by and true to no one else but you.

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The Soho Speaks

Want to turn men’s heads with a few simple style choices?  Welcome aboard.  Want to know why their heads are turning and what that says about them and us?  Good – then maybe you’ll stick around!

I’m finally up, running and ready to start imparting pearls of wisdom as soon as I spread the word and get a few more eyes here.  Please stay tuned this week.  There’s loads to be excited about. My first post on the wonders of red lipstick, real-time Red Carpet commentary with my best girl Jenna Milly on the inside, and then, in the spirit of our times — a Red Carpet round-up aptly titled Fashion ‘Holice.  With me?  I hope so.

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