August 5th, 2010
02:23 PM ET

Women buy sexier clothes when most fertile

If you're a woman who loves to shop, your purchases may be unconsciously influenced by your hormones.

A new study, to be published in the Journal of Consumer Research, finds that women at peak fertility are more likely to buy sexy, revealing clothes than women of a similar age range who are at less fertile points in their cycles.

Near ovulation, women are more likely to conceive. Previous studies have shown that women prefer more masculine men during this fertile time period each month. It makes sense that they would also want to show off their bodies more then, says lead author Kristina Durante of the University of Minnesota.

"Our mating choices need to be optimized at that time, so we need to make sure that we’re looking good," Durante said. "Since poor mating choices have very high consequences when you’re ovulating, it makes sense that you need to really be on your game."

The study instructed women to shop for clothes using a website created specifically for the research. They could choose 10 items of clothing, without brand names, out of 128 - half of which were sexy and alluring, and the other half of which were more conservative. For instance, there was a mini-skirt and a longer skirt to choose from.

The researchers believed that women might be choosing the sexy clothes because they wanted to impress men, or because they wanted to beat out their competition, or both. So, in one phase of the study, they showed some women photographs of attractive men, and others photographs of attractive women, before doing the shopping test.

It turns out that seeing attractive men made women shop for sexier clothes regardless of their fertility, perhaps unsurprisingly. But the ovulation hormones seemed to kick in to explain the clothing choices when they viewed images of attractive women.

What's more, the study found that women were most likely to choose the revealing attire when presented with other attractive women who were said to be local. Women did not behave the same way when told that the attractive women lived 1,000 miles away. Somewhat related, here's a study on mate-copying.

The women were 18 to 27 years of age. Half of them were single and half said that they were in committed relationships, and their relationship status did not seem to affect their shopping behavior in the study, Durante said.

Being aware of this effect may help women who are trying to regulate their shopping behavior, Durante said.

For anyone trying to sell clothes: Using more local, "everyday"-looking women might make women more likely to buy than famous models who obviously don't live in the area, she said.

soundoff (124 Responses)
  1. Pragmatic Mom

    What a strange thing to study!

    Pragmatic Mom

    August 5, 2010 at 22:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. toni

    Listen up men, women have hormones too, so don't blames us when we just can't control ourselves and end up hooking up with a hot guy. It's just biological, you know how it is. We have needs too.

    August 5, 2010 at 22:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Lucy

    I'm also more confident and happier when I'm ovulating...any woman would have to be brain dead to not realize how she acts differently during different times in her cycle.

    August 5, 2010 at 23:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      I wish my wife would acknowledge her mood changes and be more pleasant during the week prior. She tells me it is "normal" and "besides what am I suppposed to do about it!". 25yrs married and it gets worse every year.

      August 5, 2010 at 23:47 | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    Women are most attractive and level headed during ovulation. Its amazing how they transform into different people the week prior to menstuating. It is what I call the Dr. Jeckel and Mr. Hyde syndrome only from a female perspective. It is scary!

    August 5, 2010 at 23:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. dee

    and hungry people buy more food at the grocery store!

    August 5, 2010 at 23:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Show Me Some Skin

    Please, no matter what time of the month, show some cleavage and you'll attract men. Period. (no pun intended)

    August 6, 2010 at 00:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Shunyata

    Did you know that — The new science of attraction has discovered that 24 hours before ovulation a woman's hands and ears alter their shape to make her face more symmetrically attractive? This has been documented by studies conducted at Liverpool University.

    A woman's breast, cheeks and lips are shaped by estrogen, which sets the rhythm of the feminine cycle of menstruation.

    August 6, 2010 at 01:46 | Report abuse | Reply

    I used to work as a dancer in a Topless Club in Texas.

    I made $300 a night when NOT ovulating, $700 when I was. I told one of my best (guy) friends, who worked at Dell Computers, in sales. He was astonished.

    Biology is Very Simple. And strippers aren't dumb.

    I am sure those Phd. dudes (and I do have a degree from Boston University) probably never thought to just ask a WOMAN. So simple... and by the way, never cut your hair AFTER the Full Moon. Lest you get grey hairs and your hair grows thinner.

    August 6, 2010 at 01:50 | Report abuse | Reply
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    August 6, 2010 at 02:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. chris

    To the nimrod that stated women only 'love' their children because of hormones, let me just say this...if that were the case, you could fall out of love when your hormones hit the skids. Women fall out of love with men all the time. I have two children. The love you feel for you child...whether they are biological or adopted is not something a woman who has never had a child CAN UNDERSTAND. Frankly, if you think love is nothing but hormones. YOu shouldn't have a child. Nuff said.

    August 6, 2010 at 02:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pedro

      scandinavian/polish/ukranian girls don't waste time, they can be very aggressive in what they want. North American woman are used to being pserued, chased, wined dined, teased. you need to make yourself seem of value. sad but true.

      April 9, 2012 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
  11. Noble9

    The irony of course, is the sexier the outfit is, the less time she will be wearing it.

    August 6, 2010 at 03:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Admiral Ackbar

    IT'S A TRAP!!!

    August 6, 2010 at 03:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Admiral Ackbar

    It's a trap!

    August 6, 2010 at 03:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Kendalll

    Simple... Women dress to impress other women... Guys would prefer all women in Daisy Dukes and Bikini tops, or School girl outfits. Women have tougher issues with other women then they do with guys... I do love the mall though... I remember the last time I was there 10 years ago...

    August 6, 2010 at 06:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Sarah in Texas

    While I believe this fact may be true, the description of this study is ridiculous. To perform such a flawed experiment on a tiny segment of a population and try to make general conclusions about it is just dumb.

    August 6, 2010 at 09:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Manuel Mota-Castillo

    Rob: Could you show me a case of so-called Conduct Disorder or Oppositional-Defiant Disorder that didn't become "non-oppositional" and had no problem with conduct after the real diagnosis was treated?
    ADHD is a real disease but what money has purchased is the fallacy of a 7-10% prevalence. The suffering of thousands of youths is not a trivial matter and nobody deserves to be "treated" with an amphetamine when his or her mind is racing out of control. Of course they are "hyper" but hyperactivity is a symptom of multiple conditions not just ADHD as those who receives millions for "research and education" have successfully spread out in the mental health field.
    Finally, to the other participant, yes, I am Hispanic and I use commas following the Spanish rythm. The truth is only, with or without good grammar. In fact, deceivers are good in part because of their excellent command of their language.

    August 6, 2010 at 09:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Captain Obvious

    women just want a hot guy to get preggers with and a rich dork to pay her bills. who do you think the red dress is for?

    August 6, 2010 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
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    • Victor

      I think in other contries they are used to Foreigners, but in America for some rsaoen foreigners are usually considered jokes (especially guys), not always but usually their portrayed on T.V in a comedy style I'm not sure where your from but say for example a middle-eastern guy in America if you watch T.V our image is that of Borat or a greasy hairy guy with gold chains and lots and lots of cologne etc Asian's are always smiling and running liquor stores etc Even for women say a Russian woman would be considered a mail-order bride.I know it sucks but it's true!!!! America is filled with stereo types.So if your going to get a date your going to have to find someone who has a specific attraction for foreigners especially if you have an accent.

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