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Whenever my single friends get the urge to mingle, flirt, and maybe more, we hit the big, noisy bars, where we know we'll find dozens of men with an agenda similar to ours. But it's not that easy. We end up ordering cocktails and standing around, scanning a sea of suits. It's not that we're shy, we're just waiting to spot a cutie who we hope will be a little different—a little better—than the rest.
What are we looking for? Not what you might think. Yeah, good hair and an easy smile are eye-catching, but they're too common to pique our curiosity. Here's a list of the more rare characteristics that won't just turn our heads—they'll also get our butts moving across the room to say hello.
Bend Fashion to Your Will
The strategy: Demonstrate you're a leader, not a lemming. Add an irreverent, original element to your outfit that hints (not screams) that you don't break the rules, you make them.
How to pull it off: Keep 90 percent of your look appropriate to the occasion—you're fashionably astute, after all. Then throw on something ballsy. Suede New Balances with a designer suit (no tie) for an event at a swank lounge; a classic tweed jacket over a retro T-shirt for a dinner party; plaid wool pants with a hooded sweatshirt and Chuck T's for a concert.
What she'll think: You have the confidence to do things your way, and the savvy to do them well. You're witty, hip, and a bit of a troublemaker. (That's hot.)
What she'll say: "Nice pants."
Hang with Slobs
The strategy: Look appealing by surrounding yourself with your loudest, sloppiest friends—guys who emit female repellent. This can make you look, sound, and smell like Prince Charming. On this night, your goal is to attract women, not bond with the boys.
How to pull it off: Sip while they chug, talk while they scream, smile sanely when they're laughing so hard Sam Adams is streaming out of their noses. And be the one to deal politely with the waitress and bartender.
What she'll think: You're not swayed by peer pressure, and you're in control enough to be a gentleman on a boys' night out. Plus, her maternal instincts will kick in, making her want to rescue you from those animals.
What she'll say: "Always so well behaved?"
Read, Watch, Listen
The strategy: Know something about everything, so you'll have something to talk about. Party talk ping-pongs between politics, film, music, and celebrities, so the more you've seen, heard, and read, the more seductive your banter will be. It takes just one hit—"I love Fountains of Wayne!"—and she'll want to spend more time with you.
How to pull it off: It's not often that a man who reads The Economist and owns a Fellini box set ends up with a girl at each elbow. We like a guy who's seen last night's Daily Show, reads Radar, and knows which blogs deliver the best dirt. Do a quick late-breaking-news-and-gossip check before heading out for the night and then drop what you know when a beautiful woman can overhear it. (And it's okay to read The Economist; that strategy works wonders with educated Euro babes.)
What she'll think: Finally, here's a guy who can tell her something she doesn't already know, something she'll want to repeat to her friends in the morning.
What she'll say: "I'm sorry, did you just say that Katie is having Tom's baby?"
Barely Notice the Überbabe
The strategy: Remain calm when a decked-out bombshell strolls by and you'll be sending the message that you're too smart to be wowed by a Wonderbra and red lipstick.
How to pull it off: We don't blame you for looking. But it makes us cringe when one male head after another swivels in her direction. What we love to see is a man who raises his eyes to see what the commotion is about, nonchalantly registers the hottie, then doesn't seem to give her another thought.
What she'll think: You've had too much experience with high-maintenance women to become excited by yet another would-be model. Or, even better, you prefer women who look as if they have more interesting things to do than primp in front of a mirror.
What she'll say: "I hope you're not gay."
The strategy: Appear thoughtful by focusing intently on something unobtrusive.
How to pull it off: Wander away from the crowd, take in the scene, then find a painting, book, view out a window, whatever—not the jukebox—and pore over the details. You're oblivious to the commotion.
What she'll think: You're sensitive and smart and, if you furrow your brow, intense. Women love intense. It's very mysterious, very sexy, very Benicio Del Toro. She'll want to plumb the depths of your brooding mind.
What she'll say: "What's so fascinating?"
Give Someone a Hand
The strategy: Loud, crowded places foster an "every man for himself" attitude. To rise above it, go out of your way to be helpful.
How to pull it off: Help a girl who's trying to reach over people to get her drink from the bartender. Give your place in the unisex bathroom line to an anxious-looking woman.
What she'll think: You're so thoughtful . . . Could such a great guy still be single?
What she'll say: "So chivalry isn't dead."
Get Some Air
The strategy: Establish a thoughtful-loner vibe, and facilitate conversation.
How to pull it off: Stepping out for a cell call or smoke is off-putting, not alluring. Going out for some air is romantic. Make like Bogart, sans cigarette, and lean against the wall, hands in your pockets, gazing into the middle distance. If a conversation starts, great. If not, women will notice you as an individual before you rejoin the faceless mob.
What she'll think: We're out here; everyone else is in there. Maybe it was meant to be.
What she'll say: "Hey there."