I have never been sexy.

Cute, sure. Interesting, why not.

I don’t inspire #WCW, unrequited crushes, and discussions of my hotness.

I’m more of a grower. I reel you in with jokes about how single and alone I am, keep you interested by occasionally offering you free food, then slowly, gently, you start to wonder if you might actually be open to dating me.

It’s not that I’m unhappy with who I am. It’s just that I’ve always kind of wanted to be one of those hot, sexy people. You know, the type that throws on a t-shirt and jeans and looks incredible, can get away with taking pouty selfies, and is described as ‘hot’ or ‘well fit’ rather than ‘yeah, she’s friendly’.

So for one week (one work week, to be clear, because everyone needs a weekend break from being a sexual goddess), I made it my mission to find out if sex appeal is something you can learn, or something that’s innate, natural, and unteachable.

Meaning that for five days, I followed the most common ‘how to be sexy’ tips I found on the first few pages of Google and copies of old magazines.

Would I get constantly asked about by wealthy architects looking for the one? Would I finally fulfill my lifelong goal of being someone’s #WCW? Let’s find out.

Day 1: Wearing fancy underwear

For day one of ~sexy week~ I went for the sexy tip I’ve been hearing since the day I first started reading magazines: wear sexy lingerie underneath your clothes – it’s like a sexy secret just for you. And for other people, if you feel like it. You know the drill.

So I went to new lingerie shop Honey Birdette for a full-on fitting. They gave me loads of advice on how to be sexier, from the necessity of suspender belts (seriously, they instantly make you feel like one of those sexy people on TV) to very subtly showing off your bra straps.

I learned that I have sexiness limits. The Shibari red lingerie set, complete with knotted ropes, was a little outside my comfort zone (it triggered all my fears of accidentally strangling myself). I’ll probably never be a crotchless underwear person.

But it turned out I can pull off all the strappy, lacy, super sexy stuff and not feel like an idiot, which was a total revelation.

I walked out with two sets – each comprising of a bra, a suspender belt, and matching underwear.

That afternoon, I wore the first set while on a train to Manchester for a night out with friends. It was unexpectedly comfortable, and after the first hour or so of ‘ooh, I have a sexy secret underneath my jeans’, I kind of forgot I was wearing anything special. Oh.

For the night out, though, I made sure to wear a dress that showed off the strap detail of the bra, as the underwear experts at Honey Birdette advised.

I felt pretty good. I felt daring and bold and confident – mostly because I looked like a confident person who always wore jazzy bra straps. Faking it ’til you make it really works.

I didn’t get a significantly different response from people out at bars, mind you. No charming chatup action, just unsolicited groping and a rape joke from a guy who proceeded to get annoyed when I explained that I really don’t enjoy jokes about nonconsensual sex.

Just a classic night out. Sigh.

That being said, I did feel generally sexier on a personal level. Which is much more important than outside validation from people who aren’t total dicks. Right?

Sexy scores:

Sexy rating (how sexy it made me feel): 5/5

Would I do this again? Definitely. Hardly any effort required and in the changing room, I felt like a sex goddess. If I could afford a different lingerie set for every day of the month, I would do this all the time.

Day 2: Sexy body language

According to multiple ‘how to be sexier’ articles, being attractive is all down to subtle body language changes. I’m up for trying this one, because: A. it’s free, and B. I like the idea that just changing up my posture will suddenly turn me into a supermodel.

On this day, the tips I tried were:

  1. Exposing my wrists – apparently showing off this delicate bit of skin inspires sexy feelings
  2. Holding eye contact
  3. Subtly touching someone while talking

I began with eye contact, catching eyes with an attractive guy reading a book on the Northern line. We did hold eye contact, but then I panicked, looked down at my book, and refused to look up again because I knew I was bright red.

I did keep trying the eye contact thing, and managed to force myself to hold eye contact on my commute home, but it didn’t go any further then eyeballing. No asking for a number, no Rush Hour Crush the next day. Damn it.

The wrist thing was f***ing impossible and stupid.

Maybe it worked back in the days when people were covered up from neck to angle, and seeing a bit of wrist was a genuine thrill.

But I wear ripped jeans. My collarbone is nearly always on show. My wrists really aren’t that exciting and trying to work, text, and carry things while showing off my wrists was really difficult.

I also managed to burn my hand while trying to pour tea in the wrist-exposing way. F*** this tip.

And no, I did not subtly touch someone while talking because I have personal space issues and I cannot bear the thought of unintentionally making someone really uncomfortable by lightly touching their arm mid-conversation.

Sexy scores:

Sexy rating: 0/5

Would I do this again? No, all of this stuff left me feeling like an awkward idiot and I injured myself. Never again. Apart from the eye contact thing, that was almost okay.

Day 3: A sexy haircut

The second most common tip? Getting a blowdry.

I’d be down for that, but I’m a disorganised mess and hadn’t had a haircut in almost a year, so decided to combine the blowdry tip with a full on sexy hair makeover, too.

I went to my regular hairdresser’s, Taylor Taylor (complimentary cocktails and resident pugs. It’s the best), but instead of taking in a load of photographic inspiration or asking for ‘just a trim’, I chose to be bold, filled my stylist, Nick, in on my mission, and gave him the vague instructions of ‘please can you make me sexier and make me look quite different, but also not cut off that much because I like having long hair?’


Somehow, he actually managed to translate that nonsense into a genuinely lovely haircut that I never would have known to ask for, with some eye-skimming fringey bits that do, shockingly, make me feel sexier. The addition of a few layers adds loads of ‘peeking out from under a fringe’ opportunities. Sensual.

But anyway, walking out of a salon with a full, bouncy blowdry is when I feel my most attractive. I also got significantly more appreciative looks on the train journey home, so I count this as a win.

Sexy scores:

Sexy rating: 5/5

Would I do it again? I would, but I’m really sh*t at drying my own hair and I can’t afford paying for twice-weekly blowdrys. God, being hot is such an investment.

Day 4: Eating liqourice and doughnuts. Sexily.

I’m down for any challenge that involves eating, so when StyleCaster told me that simply eating liqourice and doughnuts would make me sexy AF, I was interested.

Apparently the scent of liqourice increases blood flow to the penis by 13%, while the scent of doughnuts sends 32% more blood down south. Exciting.

I forgot, however, that liqourice is absolutely disgusting and not at all a fun snack to consume at work, even if it is in cute gummy bear form.

I forced my way through half a pack and felt nauseated, bloated, and not even a tiny bit sexy. I don’t think spitting the first licorice bear into the bin was one of my finest moments.

That being said, when I walked down to my office’s canteen to get pasta an hour after eating the licorice bears, I did get chatted up by a guy in a suit. That was unexpected, and I blame it entirely on my alluring liqourice scent.

I need no excuse to eat doughnuts and had two in the afternoon in the hopes that it would make me extra sexy.

It didn’t, unless severe bloating is ‘extra sexy’, but I regret nothing. Doughnuts are my everything.

Sexy scores:

Sexy rating: 2/5 – licorice is gross but possibly effective. Doughnuts are delicious and you can use them to make graphic gestures at people you fancy.

Would I do it again? Yes to doughnuts. I also might look for perfumes with a liquorice scent because clearly it has magical powers.

Day 5: Wearing red

Women in red is, like, a thing that gets referenced in songs and films, so you know this is a legit sexiness tip.

Looking in my wardrobe and discovering I own nothing red other than one deep maroon jumper put a spanner in the works.

Popping to all the shops near my office and discovering they weren’t selling anything red put a larger, more annoying spanner in the works.

I ended up having to text my mum to ask if she could rummage around my teenage home to see if I owned anything red. This is what a sexy, adult woman does, apparently.

I managed to get hold of a red blouse with buttons down the front. Which is not exactly the fitted red shift dress I had in mind, but hey, it works.

I wore that red blouse to work, around Oxford Street, and home again. And yes, I did notice a lot more people looking at me.

Basically, wearing red acts as a beacon, designed to catch people’s eyes and draw their attention directly to you. That part works.

But to be honest, I just felt a bit self-conscious throughout. Wearing bright colours isn’t really me, and having more eyes on me just made me uncomfortable. I didn’t get asked out, either, so I think it’s more attention-grabbing than ‘sexy’.

Sexy scores:

Sexy rating: 2/5

Would I do it again? If I magically became comfortable with lots of people staring at me, found red clothing

What I learned from ~sexy week~

1. Being ‘sexy’ takes a sh*tload of money and effort

If I were to try to tick off all the things on the ‘sexy’ lists, I would need to drop loads of cash on lingerie, give myself a blow dry three times a week, always ensure my nails are groomed, and replace my wardrobe of neutrals with bright red.

I’d also need to invest energy in making sure to have a sense of humour that’s safe and man-pleasing. I’d need to invest time in being comfortable flirtatiously touching people’s arms. I’d have to make sure I was on high alert for other sexy people so I could maintain eye contact.

2. And it can involve changing a lot of who you are

According to traditional ‘sexiness’ articles, there’s a particular formula for what a sexy woman is.

She’s relaxed, easygoing, funny but not too funny.

I would need to give my personality a complete overhaul to be what’s traditionally considered sexy, scrapping my dark sense of humour, fixing all my awkwardness, and going through therapy to resolve all my issues with anxiety and panic attacks (yes, I know I should probably be doing that anyway, but I’m not going to do it just to be sexy).

3. Yes, you can learn how to be sexier…

…But it might not be in the way you expected.

Not everyone will be sexy by wearing a white T-shirt and giggling. Some people will, but they are those blessed, naturally sexy types.

The rest of us have to find our own types of sexiness, whatever that may look like. Forcing myself to fit into a mould of traditional sexiness, complete with arm-touching and eye contact, just didn’t work. I felt stupid.

Sadly, I will never be a Victoria’s Secret model.

I’m not saying I’m gloriously sexy the way I am. This isn’t one of those TV specials about self-esteem and self-acceptance and all that other jazz.

But what I’ve learned is that forcing myself into sexy stereotypes really won’t work. It’s perfectly alright to pick and choose the things that make me feel good and just keep doing those ones.

I’ll probably never be the naturally sexy type I see on TV. But if I put in a little effort, I can be the better, sexier version of myself. Which is, you know, fine.

Also doughnuts are great, liquorice is disgusting, and fancy lingerie should be free for everyone.