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The question

I prefer to wear jeans, a T-shirt and sneakers on weekends. Is there a way to stay true to my tomboy roots and still get men to notice me?

The answer

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A lot of guys – particularly those who are athletic themselves – go for tomboys. And a lot of guys claim they don't care about clothes, as they are only interested in a woman's character. I only know those guys exist because they write to me. I don't move in their circles. But that is the kind of guy you want to meet, isn't it? You don't want to meet the unhealthy guys who stay out late at clubs where women wear dresses and heels. I hear a familiar tension in your question, the having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too tension: "I don't want to be the kind of person who changes the way she dresses for guys, but, if I were that person, how would I change the way I dress for guys?" You actually know the answer (tighter clothes, longer hair), but you don't like that answer. Neither do I: It is embarrassing to admit that most of us will notice long, swinging hair before we notice a charming, educated woman in a ball cap and sweats. But what can we do? We are crude machines. Do you really want to be noticed by the likes of us?

Russell Smith is a novelist. His recent memoir, Blindsided , is available as a Kobo e-book.

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