How to woo a man... flash 40% of your flesh: Science (and a few nights out) solve an old dilemma
It is the question that has troubled many a young woman as she dresses for a night out: How much should she dare to bare?
After all, if her clothes are too revealing, she may catch the eye of the wrong kind of man.
But too prim and she may attract none at all.
British scientists believe they have the answer, with an outfit that reveals 40 per cent of a woman's skin providing just the right amount of attention.
Teri Hatcher shows off about 40 per cent of her flesh - perfect for attracting the right amount of male attention
To hit on the figure, Leeds University psychologist Colin Hendrie sent four female researchers to one of the city's biggest nightclubs.
There, they stood on a balcony overlooking the dancefloor, and noted what the female clubbers were wearing and how many times they were approached by men.
All their observations were taped on dictaphones hidden in handbags.
Dr Hendrie said: 'The location served as a "hide", as did the age and attire of the observers which were similar to those of the people frequenting the nightclub.'
What to bare to successfully woo a man
Seventy hours of recordings revealed that a man was much more likely to ask a woman to dance than vice versa.
While this may not seem surprising, it is important because it meant that the female clubbers had to compete against each other for male attention.
And clothing - or lack of it - was one of the factors that helped them stand out.
Specifically, women who showed off around 40 per cent of their skin were approached by twice as many men as those who were more covered up.
For the purposes of the study, each arm accounts for 10 per cent, each leg for 15 per cent and the torso for 50 per cent.
The head, hands and feet are not included in the calculation.
Suitable outfits might include a sleeveless dress that skims the thighs.
But showing off any more flesh than this could be counterproductive.
Dr Hendrie said: 'Any more than 40 per cent and the signal changes from "allure" to one indicating general availability and future infidelity.
'Show some leg, show some arm, but not any more than that.'
The women who proved most popular combined the 40 per cent rule with tight clothing and sexy dancing.
The 15 per cent that fitted all three criteria were approached by 40 men, the journal Behaviour reports.
However, some suitors fared better than others. Dr Hendrie said: 'The male couldn't be too thin and he couldn't be too fat.
'Most particularly, he couldn't be too tall and he couldn't be too short.
'He must be more than a head taller than the female and certainly not shorter than her.'
At least some of the men passed the height test, with the researchers noting that 30 per cent of people leaving did so as part of a couple, compared with 20 per cent of those arriving.
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