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How To Bag A Man

I'm an attractive, intelligent woman in my early thirties. I've been having an ongoing discussion with a female coworker about my wardrobe. I'm in good shape, but I wear a lot of very baggy clothing in pretty colors -- mostly pastel linen for summer. It's not that I'm trying to cover anything up -- it's just the style I've worn for years. She thinks I should dress in more form-fitting clothing, since, when she and I aren't arguing about the way I dress, I spend a lot of time complaining that I don't have any men in my life. I understand her point, but shouldn't I just be myself, since I want men to be attracted to me for what's inside, not outside?

--Inner Beauty

IF YOU WANT to trap a bear, don't run off into the woods carrying a salad. Likewise, if you hope to attract a man or two, don't trot around town in some sadistic fashion designer's update on the burlap feed bag. Men are visual creatures. They are drawn to the female form. You'll improve your chances of their being drawn to yours if they aren't required to don infrared glasses to find it.

Yes, yes, you want them to like you for what's inside. Frankly, though, you could have the wit of Fran Lebowitz and the genius of Stephen Hawking, but if you dress as if you are hiding the body of Drew Carey, few men will experience the breadth of your mental charms. To figure out how to package yourself, don't bother turning to women's magazines.The very same publications that run and rerun articles like "Men -- How To Find Them And Make Them Love You," encourage women to spend thousands of dollars on clothes that make them utterly invisible to the opposite sex. For example, several such magazines recently featured a padded $2,040 Jil Sander trench coat that would make even Kate Moss look like The Michelin Man. On the other hand, if you open this month's Playboy, you'll note that the woman pictured most amply clothed is one in an ad who is poured into a purple lurex body stocking.

Now, I'm not advising you to start going to the office in lurex, lycra, and feathers. Just split the difference between the wardrobes featured in women's magazines and those featured in men's. Give your old clothes new life as tablecloths and car covers, and start dressing so as to give men some indication that you have a waist. Wear tailored tops, pants, and skirts and stretchy sweaters. If you must wear baggy bottoms, top them with body-hugging tee-shirts.

Now, don't bother whimpering about what makes you comfortable. Those linen mumu's may be easy to wear, but they can't match the comfort you'll feel when the man in your life rubs your feet while you read Tolstoy or kisses the back of your neck while you peer into your electron microscope.

Copyright ©1998-9, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, Ask The Advice Goddess, which appears in 60 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.