Welcome to StyleCaster’s Summer of Sex! Until the end of the season, we’ll be bringing you scintillating content about—you guessed it—all things related to our favorite three-letter word. A few things to expect: Answers to pressing questions you always wanted to know but were too afraid to ask, ways to boost your own sex appeal, what being sexy means to various people, and lots and lots of eye candy. And that’s just the beginning. Brace yourselves, people: It’s going to be one hot summer.
How to be sexy is a precarious question, especially since there’s no real formula, and sex appeal—like beauty—is highly subjective. Sure, studies have been done about how to become more appealing to the opposite sex, but actual real-deal sexiness is a relative attribute, and it’s almost always in the eye of the beholder. (Case in point: some men think gazelle-like Karlie Kloss is the sexiest woman alive, while others favor a curvy bombshell like Kim Kardashian, and others still go for a woman with edge like Alexa Chung.)
But, it you’re curious about how to start to increase your appeal, we’ve compiled 50 tips—some science-backed, others simple actions that’ll give you a noticeable sexy boost. Read on for 50 ways to be sexier right now!
1. Always make eye contact.
And not just with your partner—looking everyone you’re interacting with squarely in the eye won’t only will boost your own confidence, but it’ll get people to see you as confident and in control, which usually translates to sexy.
2. Focus on Dynamic Attractiveness.
Sure, physical beauty is a key component in innate sex appeal, but dynamic attractiveness involves the expression of our emotions and our underlying personality—and can critically boost your personal charisma. According to Psychology Today, expressing positive affect—smiling, employing an upbeat attitude, having expressive eyes, are all associated with sex appeal.
3. You’ve got a brain—use it!
A sharp, healthy mind can be akin to healthy body when it comes to being sexy. This means occasionally challenging yourself by having challenging conversation, expressing interest in new things, reading books on new topics, or even just watching a documentary about something you never knew. The more you know, the more you can talk about in an informed way, which is a defining factor in real sex appeal.
4. Humor counts.
Yeah, we know that razor-sharp wit isn’t something that can be learned, and we’re not all able to be truly funny all the time, but not taking yourself or the world around you too seriously is a key component in being sexy (how many magazine stories have we read in which both sexes claim “a sense of humor” is number one on their potential mate checklist?)
5. Get your hair blown out.
As most woman can certainly attest, when our hair looks bad, we often feel bad. Turns out, that’s not all in our heads, either: Studies have shown women spend around 20 years of their lives suffering from a bad hair day, and that it can greatly affect mood and confidence.
6. Expose your wrists.
No, not because they’re attractive but because the glands in your wrists emit pheromones which can trigger feelings of attraction in others.
7. Eat black licorice … and donuts.
Screw the oysters—some studies suggest the scent of black licorice turns men on. The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago conducted a study that looked at how various smells played into sexual arousal. The findings? The smell of black licorice increased blood flow to the penis by 13 percent. When combined with the smell of donuts, that number jumped to 32 percent.
8. Test out some sexy lingerie.
Along the way, lingerie became synonymous with tawdry—dare we day porn-y—pieces that look as if they belong on women eagerly awaiting the arrival of the hot young pizza delivery guy rather than modern fashion-loving girls. And while that’s true in some respects, there’s also quite a lot of very elegantly sexy underpinnings out there that are sexy without being tacky. Here are some to get you started.
9. Don’t assume showing more is sexier.
Ladies, you’ve heard it before: Showing tons of skin does not always translate to sexy. Bootie shorts, skin-tight clothes, insanely low-cut tops all can make you look less sexy, or like you’re trying too hard. Love your body and want to show it off? Great! Do it ways that are truly sexy, as opposed to flashy—a fitted skirt, tight jeans and a silky top, or a long-sleeve mini-dress with ankle boots.
10. Unfollow people who make you insecure.
Whether it’s the one fashion blogger who only posts bikini shots, a specific celebrity, or Victoria’s Secret’s Instagram, stop following people whose social media photos make you feel less than, even for a second. Social media is supposed to fun, not make you feel less sexy.
Most people will freely tell you that there’s nothing more cliché (read: boring) than a girl who doesn’t eat—especially on a date. If you think not ordering dinner will make you appear skinnier, sexier, more feminine, or more mysterious, guess what? It won’t. What it will do? Probably make your dude a little uncomfortable. Plus, if you’re weird about eating, he might think you’re weird about other pleasurable things (read: sex.)
12. Find a good tailor.
When clothes are too boxy, too long, or generally ill-fitting, it looks like you’re trying to cover up your body, which intrinsically translates to conservative or generally un-sexy. No need to prance around in skin-tight numbers, but a well-fitting dress with a nipped waist and a flattering hemline, a blazer that skims your body (and whose sleeves aren’t too long) or pair of slim well-fitting jeans that just hit your ankle will show your figure in a way that’s sexy without being overt.
13. Invest in chic specs.
Need reading glasses? No shame in that! However, it’s a known fact that most drugstore readymades aren’t the most youthful. Instead, seek out a modern pair at sites like TrendyGlasses.net or ReadingGlasses.com. Of course, it’s worth getting an eye exam to make sure you don’t need a stronger prescription, in which case, your chic-specs options will be even larger thanks to hip affordable eyewear sites like Warby Parker and Steven Alan Optical.
14. Stop plucking your eyebrows.
Full brows are associated with youth, while super-thin eyebrows can give your face a harsh appearance. As we age, our eyebrows gradually thin, but quitting the tweezers and using makeup to fill them in can work wonders, and completely change your face for the better.
15. Borrow his shirt.
There’s a reason that so many man cite “my shirt” as one of the sexiest things women can wear, so the next time you’re lounging around at home, get out of those sweats and into one of his is oversized button-downs.
16. Slow down.
According to sex coach Sean Jameson, slowing down your movements and your speech by around 10% can make you sexier now. For example, instead of rushing down the hallway, slow down and accentuate your movements. Another example: When you’re making a point, don’t wave your arms about quickly and erratically, or ever feel like you have to get every word out of your mouth as quickly as possible.
17. Initiate sex more.
This one is sexy in the literal sense: Even if you’re not tremendously assertive, initiate sex more often with your partner. This is hot in and of itself, but it’ll also imply to your partner than you truly enjoy sex, which is one of the biggest turn-ons.
18. Use touch.
A killer way to get a person’s attention in a sexy way? Touch them very subtly on the arm or the back when you’re saying hello or goodbye, when you agree with something they’ve said, or if they’ve said something funny.
19. Wear high heels.
One of the quickest ways to feel sexier? Slip on a pair of your highest heels. Not only do they give you an empowering boost, but the right heels can make your clothes hang better, and—especially if they’re the color of your skin—can have a leg-lengthening effect.
20. Challenge yourself.
Whether it’s at work or even something as small as taking an advanced fitness class instead of a beginner one, succeeding will you give you an air of confidence which will travel with you, making you much sexier.
21. Don’t only wear sweats to bed.
Obviously, comfy clothes are amazing, and—after a long day—there’s nothing better than chilling out in sweats. However, if you notice that your sex life is either lackluster or non-existent, swap out the sweats once in a while for something that makes you feel sexy. If you feel it, your partner will feel it, too.
22. Let your natural scent do the work.
It’s not surprising that scent plays a big role in sex appeal, but—despite what perfume companies would have you believe—your best bet isn’t piling on a cloud of scented spray. In addition to good hygiene habits, a subtle spritz of a musky scent is fine, but you should be letting your natural pheromones shine.
23. Use sexy women to your advantage, rather than compare yourself to them.
Instead of comparing yourself to other women who you think are sexy, take cues from them instead. For example, stop bemoaning the fact that you’re not as tall, thin, or busty as a Victoria’s Secret model, and start using things you know make them sexy to your advantage. This might mean taking an extra 30 minutes in the morning to create the same bombshell waves in your hair, getting a light spray tan, or rocking a push-up bra on date night. There’s no proof that these women are innately sexier than you, they just put in more effort.
24. Wear the color red.
In American culture, the red effect—emotional reactions in men and women sparked by wearing the color red—is very real, and has been proven time and again in studies. Researchers believe that there are several biological factors that actually make women appear more attractive to men when wearing red and that men appear more dominant or aggressive wearing red.
25. Don’t wear underwear on a date.
It’s totally cliché, but sometimes having a sexy secret makes you feel—and appear—sexier. Whether you want to keep it to yourself, or let your date in on it is up to you.
26. Nix panty lines.
Speaking of underwear, panty lines are never, ever sexy. Every woman should invest in nude, seamless underwear, or a good thong. Trust us on this one.
27. Be kind.
No matter what you look like, nothing will knock your innate sex appeal down faster than being rude to people. You don’t need to—for lack of a better phrase—kiss people’s ass and be phony, but treating everyone—waitstaff, friends, new people, your elders—with basic kindness and respect is an attractive quality.
28. Get a manicure and pedicure.
Much like getting your hair blown out, it’s often the small indulgences that make us look and feel our best, so making time for on a pro mani-pedi once in awhile can do wonders.
29. Get a spray tan.
Likewise, having a healthy glow not only makes most women feel sexier, but it also has a slimming effect. Win-win!
30. Travel in a pack
Anyone who’s watched “How I Met Your Mother” knows that Barney Stinson often references the “cheerleader effect”: when average-looking women appear more attractive as a group. Turns out, he may be onto something: People do come off as more attractive when they’re part of a clique than they do alone, according to a recent study published in the journal Psychological Science. Read about it here!
31. Hone your talents.
Lots (and lots) of rock stars, writers, actors, and artists aren’t traditionally attractive, but there’s a reason why they seem so damn sexy: Talent. There’s something primally attractive about someone with strong skills, so take time to develop whatever it is you’re gifted in.
32. Invest in yourself.
This doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of money on material items like an It-bag, but rather investing effort into the things you know for a fact make you look and feel sexy, whether it’s something small like some bras and underwear, something transformative like keratin treatments, or something brainy like signing up for a class.
33. Be assertive.
Wet blankets aren’t sexy. If you want something that you believe you deserve, if you know you’re correct, or if your date suggests going somewhere you don’t want to, speak up. Being assertive is different than merely being pushy, and happens to be a sexy—and admirable—quality. Wishy-washy can get real old, real fast.
34. Play up your best features.
When it comes to our looks, we all have certain attributes we like better than others, so why not make them the first thing people see when they look at you? Got lips to rival Angelina Jolie? Play them up with gloss. Love your striking blue eyes? Make them pop with mascara, liner, and strong brows. Got great legs? Swap the boyfriend jeans for a pair of skinnies, or a great mini skirt.
35. But don’t be obsessed with your appearance.
Put as much effort into your appearance as you want before you go out, but when you’re around people, focus your energy on making solid conversation instead of running to bathroom to brush your hair, reapply your lipstick, or check the mirror every five minutes. Overt vanity is not sexy.
36. Turn on the lights
Sure, it can be sexy and natural to have sex in the dark, but try keeping the lights on once in a while. Not only will this feel more spontaneous, but it’ll allow both of you to really see each other, which can be super-hot. Not loving the harsh glow of your bedroom lamps? Light a bunch of candles, or buy a dimmer.
37. Don’t appear shallow.
Just because three of your favorite things in life happen to be Chanel, “Sex and the City,” and manicures doesn’t automatically mean you’re shallow—what girl isn’t into those things?—but if you constantly talk about them to everyone you meet, it may make you appear vapid, not sexy. Gossip about bags with your fellow Chanel-loving friends, not the guy you just met at a bar, or the people you were introduced to at a party. There are other things to talk about.
38. Never wear things that you can’t walk, eat, breathe, or talk in.
Obviously, you always want to look your best, but wearing 6-inch stilettos you can’t walk in, or a dress that’s so tight you can’t freely move around isn’t sexy at all. Instead, wear things you know look good on you but won’t hinder you from being cool, calm, and collected.
39. Wear lace.
Not only is lace one of this year’s hottest fashion trends, it also has transformative powers. “Wearing a lacy top or dress can transform a woman into a seductress. It’s a way to express your feminine side because when you slip into lace, you automatically feel girly and romantic. Lace has a magical effect on men because they anticipate what’s going to happen when the lace comes off,” Dr. Ava Cadell, relationship expert and founder of Loveology University, told our sister site Daily Makeover.
40. Hold back a little.
We’re not saying you have to become a full-on creature of mystery, but we’d advise against spilling personal details people don’t really need to know right away, such as your parents’ messy divorce, your chronic stomachaches, your huge fight with your best friend, the fact your obsessed with planning your wedding, or that you’re only meeting losers on dating sites. Keep it to yourself—a little mystery goes a long way.
41. Put your phone away.
This is a big one, ladies: The act of obsessively checking your phone every two minutes could be a bonafide deal breaker when it comes to sex appeal. There’s nothing ruder than trying to have a conversation with a person who’s constantly staring at their screens—wouldn’t you be put off if someone were paying more attention to their iPhone than to you? Being present is sexy. Being preoccupied is not.
42. Ask the right questions.
On a date (or anytime you’re with another human, really) it’s a good bet that asking questions will always ensure flowing conversation. However, if you start grilling someone on politics, religion, their exes, or how much cash they pull in, you’re going to look nosy and abrasive, rather than sexy and seductive.
43. Undo yourself a bit.
Unbutton one extra button on your blouse, smudge your eyeliner, spritz some salt spray in your hair—sometimes appearing as if you just had fun in bed can make you feel—and look—extra-sexy.
44. Try new things.
Whether it’s a taking a dance class, trying a new restaurant in a new neighborhood, or booking a last-minute weekend getaway, trying new things can absolutely make you feel sexier. “Novelty is the greatest aphrodisiac,” Sandor Gardos, Ph.D., and founder of mypleasure.com told Redbook, and we couldn’t agree More: Living in the moment is exciting and sexy.
45. Don’t stalk people on social media.
Did you friend someone on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and start liking and commenting on every one of their Instagram photos the second you left the date? In the digital world we live in, that could be the equivalent of too much too soon, and could cause your sex appeal to plummet. Instead, play it cool (read: keep the mystery alive) and wait until you’ve really gotten to know someone before keeping up with them on social media.
46. Touch yourself.
Yeah, we’re going there. Women who masturbate know exactly what they like when they’re intimate with someone else, which only increases their sex appeal (remember: wet blankets aren’t sexy.)
47. Take up yoga.
A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who regularly did yoga actually felt sexier. Why? Researchers say it could be because yoga encourages a stronger mind-body connection.
48. Have more sex.
It might seem obvious, but the more sex you have, the sexier you’ll be perceived—for long periods of time. One 2012 study found that oxytocin—the hormone responsible for creating feelings of love—is elevated in men after sex, and that oxytocin drives men in committed relationships to stay away from other women.
49. Don’t be a snooze-fest.
This might sound harsh, because we know you’re not boring, but if people ask you questions, and you give one-word answers, roll your eyes, or seem generally disinterested, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Even if you look like a supermodel, people are most turned on by stimulating conversation, eye contact, and personality.
50. Be comfortable in your own skin.
As cliché as it sounds, nothing says sexy like the swagger that comes with truly being comfortable with yourself. If you’re not, do something about it, whether that means joining a gym, getting a new job, moving to another city, or surrounding yourself with more supportive people. After all, complete confidence is the key component of sex appeal.