Style as a Structural Attractor

One of the interesting things about writing is the opportunity to develop friendships with people with whom a man would never have contact otherwise. One of these friendships I developed years ago with a man named Athol Kay.

Athol runs a great site and coaching service called Married Man Sex Life. Don’t let the ambiguity of the name fool you, it’s a site geared towards helping men improve their sex lives with their wives. There is a ton of information and Athol really knows his stuff. However, to boil it down to its essence, I would say his overall philosophy is that most relationships ¬†suffer because husbands stop doing things that build attraction as a result of being too focused on building comfort.

All marriages need both attraction and comfort. Without the former it’s not really a marriage, it’s a business and/or roommate agreement that involves finances, household responsibilities, children, etc. Without the latter, it’s not really a marriage, it’s a sexual liaison with the potential for separation as soon as a better sexual option presents itself.

jennifer-aniston-justin-theroux-terry-richardson-01

One of the key points that Athol hits on is the idea of building structural attractors. These are things that take some initial effort up front, but once they’ve been established, really only require maintenance. The two examples he uses most commonly are that of having a well-paying job and getting into shape.

Both of these make sense. Women are not only attracted to, but also find comfort in a successful husband. It demonstrates his ability to provide but also exert a level of control over his sphere of influence. Whether a man finds a great job, builds a business, or combines some measure of the two, attaining a high-level career requires a lot of initial effort. There are long hours to be worked, ambitious hurdles to jump, key relationships to establish, and other time-consuming steps. However, keeping and even excelling in a great job typically requires less effort than landing one.

The same goes for getting into shape. As I’ve started to learn from personal experience, effectively losing fat and building muscle requires a lot of meticulous effort. There are calories to be counted, macros to be conscious of, cardio to be done, weights to be lifted, and sacrifices to be made. The first few weeks or even months in the gym can be discouraging. They require the mental exercise of learning and developing proper form, on top of the physical effort of performing the actual lifts. Breaking out of the meal inertia of eating cheap, easy junk food is difficult and can often upset the balance of the whole family. However, after a little while the lifts come naturally, the food is easier to prepare and eat, and less discipline is required as a man’s body takes on its proper form.

The point of both of these is to have them be something that can be done on autopilot once an acceptable level of accomplishment has been achieved. They become passive systems in regards to the amount of effort a man has to put in, while still remaining active systems in building attraction with women and respect from men.

double-breasted sportcoat

Style is another great structural attractor. It should come as no surprise that women while find a man more attractive and men will find him more respectable if he not only knows how to dress appropriately but how to dress well.

The initial process takes some active effort. It means paying for new clothing, learning guidelines about how to dress better, discovering the unique strengths and weaknesses of each man’s body and building a wardrobe that works within those constrain, adjusting to new, unfamiliar fits and styles, building a wardrobe wherein each item works with the others, and even finding clothing that is consistent with a man’s lifestyle.

It’s not easy at first and does require a lot of effort and investment. However, once a man has the foundations of a good wardrobe established, it becomes incredibly simple and passive to be well-dressed.

A maintenance level is easier to attain than most men think. It doesn’t require a closet as big as a guest bedroom and a different pair of shoes for every day of the month. In fact, the whole reason I write about the Staples is to give men the key pieces needed in a well-rounded wardrobe. Sure it’s nice to have things beyond just the basics, but they’re unnecessary when it comes to building a competent closet.

Once that structure of a stylish wardrobe is established, it frees a mans mind and time to focus on other, more important things – which is really the point of all of this. Clothing is a means to an end, and once a man’s style is established, it can be a passive means, freeing up his mental energy to work on other elements of being a better man.

Meet The Author


Tanner is the founder and primary author of Masculine Style. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with his wife and two kids, and helps run Beckett & Robb – a men’s clothing company built around custom suits and shirts.

  • carvak

    I am sure that you are aware of your international readers. I am one of your regulars from India. Which shows that the basics transcends country or culture.
    While the theme of this particular post as usual hits the bull’s eye, I will digress. The man in the second image seems to be wearing a nato. My recent addition of few natos left me somewhat disappointed . They seems to be clashing with my daily wear unless it is white shirts and grey trousers. I think that a strip of bright colors at the wrist is making me uncomfortable. I was wondering whether other people share the same feeling.

    • MasculineStyle

      I’ve actually experienced that same thing with NATO straps myself. The best solution is to get a few different straps. I just picked up one in a plain, subtle navy that works well with almost everything and doesn’t draw attention to itself.

  • Hey man, long time reader here, and I just wanted to corroborate the assertions in your post (as if you needed corroboration). I’ve recently begun giving away a TON of clothes that I know I’ll never wear, or I might reach for once every 6 months. It’s amazing, because the effect is that I’m a more stylish dresser in general now, as I’ve only kept the clothes that I know fit me well and are congruent with my persona. Now that all the detritus has been purged, what’s left is my own personal version of The Staples.

    I also wanted to add that downsizing my available wardrobe has resulted in forcing myself into a maintenance phase. I have a mindset now, that when I go out in public I put on my “uniform,” so to speak. And my “uniform” generally consists of different combinations of the same few items. The clothes just become an extension of the man, and I can focus my energies on enjoying whatever moment I happen to be in, rather than being self-conscious.

    In conclusion, thank you for carving out this niche. May it continue to help boys become men for some time to come.

    • MasculineStyle

      Awesome experience man. There’s something so easy about building and adopting a uniform that means you’ll always be well dressed. It’s a way to free up your focus on other, more important things while still having your style work to your advantage.

  • Sux3bu

    Came to this site when Athol posted it on his blog. Good to hear you two are still close. And please tell Athol I wanna thank him for leading me here ;).