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Picking the perfect Tinder profile pic is not an exact science, but rather an art: Do you choose a carefully crafted selfie? Or a candid group shot to show how fun and popular you are? These are important considerations, but new data suggests that less thought is put into what users are actually wearing.
The analysis, provided by Tinder to Mashable, looked at 12,000 profile photos of male and female users between the ages of 18-40 in New York City, L.A., and Atlanta and found that a few major trends emerged. The numbers show that 72 percent of men and 56 percent of women are wearing neutral basics in their profile photos as opposed to an eye-catching jewel tone or fetching print.
Jessica Carbino, a sociologist for Tinder, told Mashable that clothing provides “signals” to potential matches. “A large segment of both male and female users wear clothing that signals a clear indication of masculinity or femininity,” she said.
For a large percentage of men, it seems, a long-sleeved, button-down shirt is the way they convey their manhood: 32.8 percent of men in the sample were seen wearing one in their primary profile photos (with 22 percent in a suit.) While a button-down seems like an innocuous piece of clothing, it is actually loaded with meaning: particularly one with stripes.
When you search “striped shirt” on Urban Dictionary, you get a few results, with “douche bag” as the top related term. There’s even a 2008 book called Look At My Striped Shirt! based off a viral 2005 comedy post by the same name.
Look at my button down striped shirt! Fucking look at it! This shirt means one thing! I’m coming home with some pussy tonight! That’s right! It’s been a long week at the office and it’s time to blow off a little steam! I am a Junior Vice President! I have business cards that say “Junior Vice President” on them! They’re glossy and magnificent! Here! Have one! Take it!
So if that’s the vibe you’re going for in your Tinder pic, definitely go with the button-down—and don’t forget the stripes.
Conversely, of the women analyzed, not a single one was seen wearing a button-down shirt. They also did not have any one item that was as much of a staple as button-downs are for men, but approximately 21 percent were said to be wearing dresses in their primary photos.
One thing the sexes did have in common is a love for the color (or shall we say “shade”) black: 30.6 percent of women and 32.3 percent of men donned the reliable staple for their first impression shot.
While Mashable says your lack of Tinder success may be due, in part, to your “basic” outfit, the analysis doesn’t actually lend any insight about the success rate of people wearing black, dresses, button-downs, or black dress button-downs. It mainly indicates that people like to play it safe in their primary photo, opting to not scare off a match by wearing, say, a bird-print shirt when the person might be afraid of birds.
The point of a profile photo is to be yourself. And if “yourself” is a person who loves a good neutral knit, go forth and prosper.
Photo via Thomas Leuthard/Flickr
Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.