Accessorizing For Love
Wearing specific clothes or accessories to advertise romantic/sexual interest
In many cultures, people who are romantically and/or sexually available advertise this through the wearing of specific items of clothing or accessories. This extends both to what is worn and how it's worn, as an item can take on different meanings depending on either or both of those circumstances. It can even extend to indicating a person's preferences of gender and/or sexual practices. This does not apply to skimpy clothing in general, or for items of clothing that are designed to accentuate physical features such as a corset. The item(s) must also be worn on the body, either as clothes or an accessory. Compare Ready for Lovemaking and Diamonds in the Buff. Contrast Wedding Ring Defense.
- In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Cmdr. Decker tries to get through to the Ilia probe by putting a headband on her that he'd given to the real Ilia when they were in a relationship. The novelization reveals that wearing this headband is a sign of being in a relationship akin to betrothal, a significant cue for the hypersexual Deltan race. Decker just thought it would look nice on her.
- In the Vorkosigan Saga, Betans wear earrings that mark their sexual preferences and availability.
- In Esther Friesner's The Sword of Mary (part of the Becca of Wiserways series), Becca is tricked into wearing a paper flower that indicates she's a lesbian, potentially getting her in trouble with the law. Different flower colors indicate different interests at an underground bar.
- Toyed with in the short-lived TV series Good Sports, when former jock Bobby Tannen tries wearing a single earring for the daily broadcast. His co-host, Gayle Roberts, cattily quips, "Ever thought of wearing that in the straight ear?" This gives Bobby pause for thought.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, wearing an Amulet of Mara, the goddess of marriage and romantic love, signifies that you're looking for a spouse.
- In El Goonish Shive, early on, Justin wore an earring in an attempt to advertise he was gay to attract gay men. He stopped wearing it after a while but wore it again to gain the attention of one guy whom he's sure is gay.
- In Tales of MU, "middling"note elven females wear a veil over the lower half of their face to indicate that boys are off-limits. They can also gift this veil (as well as other things, such as underwear) to someone to indicate their interest in them, which is how Grace and Nicki's relationship begins.
- It's generally believed that if a Hawaiian girl wears a flower behind her right ear, it means she's single; behind the left means she's taken.
- In the mid- to late 2000s, a fad among schoolgirls was wearing colored gel bracelets. This led to a scare about the possibility that the bracelets were a code to what they'd be willing to do with guys, which was debunked by Snopes.
- The traditional Irish Claddagh Ring can be worn 4 ways to indicate "single", "in a relationship", "engaged" or "married".
- In Victorian England, green ties were worn as code to indicate homosexuality.
- The "hanky code" from the 1970s gay leather bar scene was an intricate code of colored bandannas worn in the back pocket. The color/pattern and which side it was worn on would indicate specific fetish and dominant/submissive preferences.
- Engagement and wedding rings are a two-layered inversion. When worn, they're a sign that someone is not available. However, for someone who is no longer engaged/married for whatever reason and isn't wearing their ring(s), the rubbed-smooth skin on their ring finger is a sign that they're available again.
- Inverted by Bewitched actress Elizabeth Montgomery, who wore a heart-shaped locket (both in Real Life, and on-screen as Samantha) as a symbol of her marriage with her third husband, William Asher. After they divorced, she no longer wore the locket.
- The apron that goes with the Bavarian dirndl-dress. The side on which the ribbon is located indicates whether a woman is single or married, or a widow. Most commonly seen on the Oktoberfest nowadays.
- The typical hats of some regions of the Black Forest: Black means married, red means unmarried. At the time when the custom originated, unmarried women would have been looking for a husband by default.
- Inverted with all kinds of headcoverings for women. Nuns originally wore a veil to signal that they were symbolically married to Christ, thus not looking for a spouse. Jane Austen allegedly took to wearing a bonnet, the mark of a married woman, once she decided to remain a spinster.
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