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1. When do you feel at your most attractive?

That's very hard to answer. "Attractive" has always been a dilemma key-word for me - its literal meaning, i.e. someone who attracts others, who has a quality that's appealing to most people, means basically everything I want to be, and aim towards when I choose what I wear, but I feel a bit confused about the particular archetype that's evoked by the word itself. When I think of the word attractive the image that comes to my mind is of an average-looking woman, that kind of obviously straightened hair whose ends look like they've been delineated with a felt pen, wearing something that's blatantly meant to cause an impression - either a really expensive dress, a lot of make-up, some sparkly sleeveless outfit and a very particular kind of excitement, dressing up, looking attractive. It's just a very particular archetype of - I don't know, glamour? A desirable lifestyle? So much about appearance is more about what kind of person you appear to be, and who you're attractive to, rather than sheer beauty.

So I guess I feel attractive when I know what kind of person I want to be, and I feel that my outside appearance suggests it accurately. For most of my life people have described my style as "grungy" and "girl-like" (as opposed to woman-like). But that's because for most of my life I have felt like a girl, obviously, and I wanted to be the kind of girl who looked relaxed, friendly, not intimidating, casual, and maybe with a bit of luck, brainy and interesting. When I was 16, I did feel The Glow of feeling at my most attractive just as much as any other girl, it was not at all like I didn't care about it. I felt The Glow when I was, for instance, sitting outside during a party smoking, wearing my dad's sweater and worn-out jeans, and a cute guy sat next to me. I knew what he was expecting. I was witty, deliberately non-flirtatious, a bit rude, and what I wanted them to think was, "What a nice girl". I wanted them to think I was attractive.

Now I try to avoid the grungy nice-girl look because I don't want people to have that impression of me anymore, I want to look more like an impressive woman. But the basic feeling is exactly the same.

When I get out of bed in the morning and only have underpants and a T-shirt or top of some sort on, and I walk to the bathroom and see my body in the mirror, and every single day this same thought pops up: you are skinnier than you think you are.

When you’re 30 weeks’ pregnant at age 39, that answer is very particular to this time and place. Oddly, I find the best looks for me right now are more fitted, not loose or blousy. You gotta see the basketball clearly outlined and enjoy its exaggerated (and unambiguous) shape. Another odd sartorial observation: maternity clothes are usually swamped by horizontal stripes, and this seasonal EVERYONE is wrapping themselves in stripes, so summer 2013 is officially a stripe-a-thon. While horizontal stripes don’t generally favour the non-pregnant, for the pregnant they’re an optical-illusion bonanza. Practically everything I own this summer is striped; I am literally a Zippy Mama.

In a skirt and comfortable shoes, with a top that reveals as much body art as possible, so usually a tank, anything that is a bit unusual, pin-up inspired hair and makeup.

When I am exercising.

Clean hair, clean face, clean clothes, sitting next to someone who loves me when I’m dirty.

After a reading or a class, when I did not sweat through everything and everything goes soft again. Whenever someone I love looks at me. Anywhere near my sister. Running under streetlights late at night. Anyplace I know food, songs, or ritual.

When I'm all dressed up with rainbows in my hair and on my arms and on my legs. When I am covered in sparkles and colours and I feel like the outside represents the inside of me.

I just recently bought a vintage Valentino nightgown, and I can tell you I feel pretty fucking attractive when I put that on. I swish around the house, looking for my wine, reading poetry in that thing. I feel the most attractive when I’m wearing something that suits my mercurial nature. I like something that is feminine but almost borderline opaque. So the nightgown, for example, is long and not see-through.

I feel most attractive when I am wearing clothes that both fit me well and represent my personality. I think body image plays a large part in this equation.

When I'm not in a lot of pain, and my favorite clothes are clean, and my hair is clean, and I have somewhere fun to go.

I feel my most attractive when I'm wearing something that I feel is interesting or creative, that I put together thoughtfully, and that somehow reflects my mood. And when I'm with other people, having a good time.

I feel unattractive when I didn't think at all about what I put on, or when I'm wearing something that is at odds with how I'm feeling. Or when I'm being lazy and not doing what I know needs to be done.

After a glass of wine but before dinner. Standing up. I don't feel attractive sitting down.

Certain people make me feel attractive, just as certain people can also make one feel unattractive, clompy, aware of one's own edges. My 90 year old grandmother, Waltraud, makes me feel attractive- especially when she tells me things like "You no longer look as pale and sickly as you used to when you lived in the United Kingdom." I also tend to feel attractive doing things I really love to do. In and around sunshine.

When I let my concerns go and just own the outfit/the moment. That is usually accompanied by a dress and a cocktail.

When Prince is playing and the dance floor is just getting going.

in jeans and a blouse with little makeup and clean hair or in a blousy silk low cut dress with a good waist and sleeves.

There are two moments in the day:
1. when i wake up after a great nights sleep.
2. when i am ready for a hot night out with friends or date (prep for which involves #1, possibly a brisk hike, and the execution of nail, hairs and wardrobe perfection)

It doesn’t depend on something I’m wearing, if it’s new or old, if I’m wearing make-up or not, or if I slept well or enough, although it might influence it. It’s something in my mind that switches, for reasons I have yet to discover. Probably related to the amount of sunlight.

When I know I look good/feel comfortable in what I’m wearing and how I’ve put it together. A great pair of heels never hurts; instant confidence (I’m 5’5”).

After doing something difficult. Accomplishment is attractive to me and also looks good on me.

When I look in the mirror after spending some time getting dressed and I think I look sexy.

When I’m happy. When I feel happy or capable or strong, I seem to like aspects of the way I look, or at least feel like I’m projecting something pleasant, appearance-wise, into the world. At the same time, I can fix my hair and put makeup on but still look awful if I’m feeling tired, sad, lonely, angry, agitated, listless, etc. But if I’m happy, then I think I look good even if my hair is crazy and I’m wearing pajamas. I think it’s something in my eyes that conveys it – not my eyes themselves but the look behind them, what they’re communicating. When I’m happy, I think they relay some sort of confidence that transforms my appearance into something pleasing.

I feel most attractive when all the elements work well together – hair, clothes, face – or when they juxtapose perfectly. Sometimes I see something – or someone – that is attractive (like a movie, a person on the street, a person in a magazine) and that inspires me and that inspiration makes me feel like I, too, could look good. Then in turn, sometimes, I feel good.

When I wake up in the morning and my hair has assumed it's most perfect bedhead form. My eyes are their best blue and my outlook is promising. I also generally feel quite attractive in shorts.

I usually feel at my most attractive after a run. I feel particularly strong and look really healthy.

In the morning

Summer, summer, summer. When it’s humid-hot out, and my hair is curly and I have a tan, and am hardly wearing any makeup or clothes.

When I'm wearing one of my best dresses - I have a lot of dresses, enough to wear a different one every day of the year, the result of a sustained practice of op-shopping since I was a teenager. Only a few of the dresses are truly great, however, maybe 20? It's like they have almost magical powers which I don't want to expire, so I only wear them on special occasions, when I need magic beyond that of the everyday.

When I'm working. Or have just worked.

When I'm not depressed.

When I'm ovulating. Not sure if that is most attractive- but the most *wanting* to be attractive to someone, anyone, anything else.

For me, feeling attractive — like radiant, magnetic attractive — is a near mystical experience. It seems to be a combination of:

All biological systems go — feeling healthy and energetic, no digestive issues or bloating, skin in relatively good condition, having exercised at least twice within the week, probably not menstruating.

Taking time for self-care. I feel most attractive when I get to enjoy the processes — bathing, shaving, painting my nails, hair care, thoughtful consideration to selecting clothing and accessories. Undertaking these acts with thoughtful intention is important. Looking in the mirror a lot seems to help, too. I don't know why.

Clothing that fits well, wears easily and conveys the desired emotion. Sometimes a tank top and jeans feels the sexiest — a declaration of nonchalant independence. Other times, it's a dress with heels and jewelry to convey a confident self-consciousness. I feel my best when clothing acts a second skin, a visual representation of my inner landscape.

There is a piece to feeling attractive that is relational too, having to do with receiving wanted attention. The electric synergy of experiencing someone else enjoying my beauty while likewise reveling in theirs is, for me, the most sublime experience of attractiveness. In that state, it doesn't matter what I'm wearing at all.

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