| June 25, 2013

Take a good look at those two guys up there. Does one of them seem slightly more attractive than the other? According to a new study, the answer is yes; it's the one on the left.

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University in the U.K. found that women will perceive men as healthier and more attractive when wearing a plain white T-shirt with a black "T" across the front. It has to do with a man's waist:chest ratio, or WCR, which is seen as an indicator of masculinity.

"The wider barred 'T' seems to emphasize the upper chest when upright, which accentuates men's optimum shape," says Dr. Andrew Dunn of NTU. "WCR is one of just a number of body measures that humans use to judge attractiveness and health."

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Researchers gathered data for the study by first showing a group of women male bodies in plain white T-shirts, and then having those women grade the men on three factors: attractiveness, health and intelligence. The women repeated the process with pictures of men wearing shirts with upright and upside-down "T" shapes, and they graded again.

What they found was that men with upright "T" shapes on their shirts were seen as roughly 10 percent healthier and better-looking. Unfortunately, the men wearing the shirts with the upside-down "T" were seen as 10 percent less attractive and less healthy. (Interestingly enough, the women rated their intelligence as the same.)

So what does this mean for the future, other than a sudden spike in the number of men defacing their own wardrobes with black Sharpie markers?

"Clearly there are individual tastes and preferences, but we can see here how fashion could have an implicit positive or negative effect on perceived attractiveness and health," concluded Dr. Dunn. "We think the findings could be of use to fashion designers and tailors who create bespoke clothing for their clients."