You look in the mirror as you’re getting ready for a date.
“Will she like what she sees?” you ask yourself.
Stylish outfit? Check. Sharp haircut? Check. Visible ink? Check.
Wait, stop! Visible ink???
Tread carefully. You’d date someone with tats, but will she?
I get a lot of questions about tattoos. Do women love them or hate them? Which tattoos will make you look sexy. Which won’t? What do your tattoo’s design and placement say to a woman? Read on…
#1. Are Tattoos Attractive?
According to a recent study, women don’t find tattooed men more (or less) attractive. They do think men with tattoos are healthier, more masculine, dominant, and aggressive, but that they make worse partners and parents.
MEN think tattooed men look more attractive to women, and also more masculine, dominant, and aggressive. The study hypothesized that this was because braving the physical cost of getting a tattoo signaled higher testosterone.
What’s The Takeaway?
While a tattoo may get you more respect from other men, it tends to tell women you’re more fling material than husband material. We’ll leave you decide for yourself whether that’s a good thing.
#2. Tattoos Women Find Sexy
A few years ago, women in a small survey by GQ magazine ranked male tattoos from the biggest turn-on to the biggest turn-OFF. Here are the results:
#1. Minimalist Tattoos
These are usually small with just a few crisp lines, often in plain black. When deciding on yours, consider the size of the pattern on a tacky novelty tie vs. one you’d wear on a date. The same principle applies when the pattern’s on your skin. In other words, keep it small and subtle. An understated tattoo also reassures her that you’re not compensating for anything.
#2. Foreign Language Tattoos
Only get this tattoo in language that you actually speak. Steer clear of any kanji characters unless you know SIGNIFICANTLY more Japanese than ‘kawaii desu’.
#3. Fierce Animal Tattoos
Signals power, aggression, and the possibility that you’re a tiger in the bedroom.
#4. Men’s Bird Tattoos
Suggest a free and aspiring spirit. Nautical swallows can also symbolize love and loyalty or a successful voyage, since they always return home.
#5. Nautical Anchor Tattoos
Represents what (or who) keeps you steady and grounded. Can be a subtle statement of Christian faith, or simply remind her of rugged, sex-hungry sailors.
#6. Tattoos Of Skulls
Reminders of death: not a good choice unless you’re John Donne.
#7. Flower Tattoos On Men
Doesn’t look very masculine. Why not just buy flowers for her instead? Women genuinely love flowers.
#8. Sexy Lady Tattoos
Not sexy to a real lady.
#9. Tattoos Of A Dagger
Maybe it makes her worry that you’d hurt her, maybe it’s just cheesy.
#10. Mom Heart Tattoos
Respecting your mom is attractive. Implying that she’ll always be the number 1 lady in your life is NOT.
#3. Best Tattoo Placements For Men
These are the results of the GQ survey from best to worst. Note that some of these, e.g. those visible when your’re wearing business attire, are more office-appropriate than others.
#1. Men’s Forearm Tattoos
Some ladies specified the underside. A safe bet if you don’t plan on wearing short sleeves at work.
#2. Full Sleeve Arm Tattoos
Tattoos of this size are a big commitment, and not one to make just because a survey says they’re sexy.
#3. Male Back Tattoos
With one caveat: “Just not wings. Never get wings on your back. You are not an angel or a bird.”
#4. Underside of Wrist Tattoos
These can be very visible when you want them to be, and easily covered with a bracelet or watch when you don’t. Go for the wrist you wear your watch on if you don’t want to get stuck wearing a bracelet. Go for the opposite wrist if you want to show off your tat and your watch at the same time.
#5. Men’s Chest Tattoos
Go for the upper chest – not too close to the belly.
#6. Tattoos On Knuckles
A terrible idea if you want the option of hiding them.
#7. Ankle Tattoos On Men
A bit too dainty.
#8. Back of Calf Tattoos
Women tend to like male tattoo placements that highlight your strength. Most of your extra muscle is in the upper body, so inked legs are less impressive.
#9. Full Leg Tattoos
Designs she has to peer at through a forest of leg hair aren’t too impressive either.
#10. Male Belly Tattoo
Even if you have washboard abs now, please do your older self a favor and skip this one.
What’s The Takeaway?
In my opinion, the best tattoo for the stylish professional man is a minimalist tattoo on your back (if you only want to display it to partners) or inside wrist (if you want to display it to rivals and potential dates.)
Why not double up the sex appeal? Some of the other tattoos that were highly rated by women would also work well as minimalist tattoos: a foreign language you speak, birds, anchors.
For something unique, why not invent your own symbol to represent the things, people, or values that are most important to you. Be ready to answer questions about it if anyone asks, but don’t be afraid to. Bonus: Good-looking tattoos make great conversation starters, so yours might help you break the ice in social situations if you’re a bit shy.
Would you like personal tattoo advice, but don’t have any stylish friends to ask? Let me introduce you to nearly 50,000 of mine.
My Facebook group is a friendly community where ALL kinds of men are asking style questions and getting helpful advice in minutes. Click here to check out the Real Men Real Style Facebook group.
Thanks to Imad Affaki for this question.