Is it better to be conventionally attractive…

Or is it better to look interesting?

I’ll tell you what I’ve noticed about the effect this has for women, but first, let me tell you about guys who have tested this idea.

“Peacocking” is rooted in Mother Nature’s design for male birds.

In many bird species, the male looks significantly different to the female. His bold visual display is designed to attract female attention.

The peacock is one example. The female is brown, perfectly camouflaged to blend into the landscape, while the male is iridescent blue with a huge tail span. The male’s exceptional appearance doesn’t help it survive in the wild, but it does help attract female interest.

From these natural beginnings, “peacocking” became popular in the 1990s among a subset of men in the bar and club scene. These men found that, the crazier they looked, the easier it was to pick up women. They wore wild shirts, dyed their hair, and added piercings. Everyone noticed them. Women, far from being repulsed, were curious.

It takes a certain personality to pull off an outrageous outfit. For many people, that much attention wouldn’t feel good. You’d have to be comfortable with being stared at. You’d have to be okay with being asked why you’re wearing that crazy thing.

What a person wears is highly personal.

There’s a lot of information out there about personal style, picking the right silhouette for your body type, and so forth. For most people, the idea is to look the best you can with what you’ve got.

But there’s another school of thought that favors originality. Cutting-edge fashion is less about making the wearer attractive than it is about exploring lines, texture, contrast, and other design elements.

You don’t often see women dressed as if they’d stepped straight from the pages of Vogue in the aisles of your local grocery store, because this kind of fashion isn’t for everyday wear.

But imagine if you did see such a woman behind a grocery cart, perusing the apple display. Wouldn’t you be curious?

Wouldn’t you admire her confidence, to wear such an outfit to the shop?

Wouldn’t you have an easy excuse to go up and talk to her? “Excuse me, but I love your outfit, and I was wondering where you got it.”

Those are exactly the reasons some men swear by peacocking.

Dressing in an unusual way gets you noticed. People automatically assume you must be quite self-confident to dress that way. It’s easy to start a conversation with a stranger when you’re wearing a ready-made topic of discussion.

Peacocking doesn’t have to mean dressing like a clown, a rock star, or a fashion victim.

It can simply mean wearing bolder colors than normal. Red is the sartorial equivalent of a siren, and for good reason. A red dress can stop traffic. Red lipstick draws his gaze like a bullseye. Even a red purse or red heels with an otherwise neutral outfit will get his attention.

Dressing slightly more formally than expected also draws attention. If everyone is in jeans, wear a dress. If it’s comfortable, strut your stuff in heels rather than sneakers. You’ll turn heads for all the right reasons.

I’m not going to give you fashion advice you could find in any magazine, but I do want to caution you about one thing:

Peacocking works best when you’re in a crowded environment where you’re jostling for attention with everyone else. There’s a reason it was designed for bars and clubs. It takes a lot to get noticed in that kind of atmosphere.

If you’re meeting someone for coffee or a date, then dress the way you know best. Let him see the real you through your choice of clothes.

But if you’re going to a festival or a party where there will be lots of other people, don’t be afraid to pour on the glitz and glamour. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Try on a new persona.

If dressing to be noticed makes you uncomfortable, take your clothes for a test drive. Put on an outfit you wouldn’t normally wear and hang out at a shopping mall for half an hour. Do you like the glances you receive?

See how you feel as you walk, sit and stand. Do you move with greater confidence, or do you feel like shrinking?

You don’t want to wear anything that makes you feel embarrassed or awkward. That defeats the purpose.

But everyone could use a little boost to stand out from the crowd. Fashion is a fun and easy way of achieving that. Just ask Mr. Peacock.

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