Single ladies, do you know how to pick a good man?

I began to wonder, as I was finishing up my column in the September issue of ESSENCE (on newsstands now). In “He’s Got the Look,” I explored whether women who focused on a man’s style (or lack thereof) were superficial. 

To drive home that point, in that article ESSENCE included four pictures of the same guy in different outfits, then asked you to choose which guy you would want to date.

In coveralls and holding a wrench, our guy was giving “The Blue Collar Brotha.” Fifteen percent of you chose him. We put the same guy in Birkenstocks and cargo shorts (think Shazza Zulu from “A Different World”) and 25 percent of you went for him. In a business suit and a folded copy of The New York Times in hand, our guy evolved into “The Banker,” which another 15 percent of you picked. The last guy was “The Baller” aka “The Player,” the one wearing so much swagger, sunglasses at night, and yes, even a wedding ring was the winner by a landslide with 45 percent.

Yes, 45 percent of you skipped over “The Banker” who looked like he could pay the mortgage on time, “The Boho” who looks like he might help with the housekeeping and child-rearing and “The Blue Collar Brother” who might work double shifts to make sure his lady gets what his lady wants. Instead, 45 percent of you chose the taken “Baller,” stereotypically a dude who is full of himself, and always on the scene, often with a bevy of women in tow. And that made me question if some or our woes with the opposite sex could stem from the choices we make.

Sure there are a plethora of reasons why women may be single when they don’t want to be, but could the men we find most attractive be one of them?

There are many reasons why 45 percent of ESSENCE readers could go for the guy with the cocksure swag. He looks confident, like he knows how to talk to a woman, skills he’s learned by the many he’s approached and juggled at the same time. And it’s a rare woman who doesn’t go for a man who shows up dressed to a clichéd tee, and appears in all his confident glory that he’s your best option for the foreseeable future. I get the attraction.

But, being the type of man that most women fall for, many times he will take advantage of the situation and use it to his advantage. Confidence and swag are important, but what does that get us in the long run?

My friend Enitan O. Bereola, author of “Bereolasque: The Contemporary Gentleman & Etiquette Book for the Urban Sophisticate,” helped me put things in perspective and maybe he can help you too. ”You’re born naked,” he said. “Fashion is a luxury, a cool accessory to life, but it is not dire.”

A man’s look is important, but perhaps not as much as some of us make it out to be.


Demetria L. Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE and the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. She has recently been nominated for an African American Literary Award. Vote for her now on

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