Do you think you are sufficiently decayed?
If the "Britain's 100 Sexiest Men" articles which liberally bestrew the glossy magazines through which Lady Bracknell leafs in an incredulous manner when visiting her coiffeuse are anything to go by, the hearts of modern young women are stirred by a very different animal altogether. Gone are the beetling brow, the piercing eye, the chiselled jaw-line and the commanding posture. The replacement for the Heathcliffs and D'Arcys of yesteryear is an altogether slighter and less prepossessing figure. Heads are shaven, skin moisturised, and body hair removed so that, whilst not in any way, shape or form even coming close to appealing to Lady Bracknell, the young men in question can at least be assumed to excel in the area of aerodynamism. (There is no faster way to feel every one of one's advancing years than to realise that one's interest remains resolutely unstirred by one hundred out of Britain's one hundred supposedly sexiest men.)
Of course, once a lady has reached the age of reason - an age which has rather more to do with psychological maturity than with simple chronology - she eschews the physical standards which the media would have her believe are those of the perfect man and, over time, develops her own list of preferences. Whilst Lady Bracknell has no truck with those who believe that all should strive to conform with the current idea of physical attractiveness (and that those who cannot do so are doomed to a life of abject misery and social failure), it is also true to say that one is not attracted in a romantic capacity to every gentleman one meets, regardless of how charming he may be. There must, therefore, be certain physical attributes (albeit not necessarily the conventional ones) which either attract or repel each individual. These, fortunately, will be as varied as is the eye of the beholder in which their beauty is, or is not, found. Were it not so, some otherwise excellent persons would indeed be unfairly exiled to the fringes of society.
Having pondered the matter at some length, Lady Bracknell herewith presents (in no particular order) her own list of attributes which are likely - either for good or ill - to catch her eye.
Laughter lines - Lady Bracknell is well aware that she has said this before, and on more than one occasion. But she remains unmovable on the point of laughter lines being the single most attractive facial feature a human being can - or could wish to - possess. A gentleman who cannot laugh at himself long and hard is a gentleman who cannot pique Lady Bracknell's interest, no matter how handsome or well-mannered he may otherwise be. (Lady Bracknell is very pleased to report that laughter lines are at long last beginning to appear on her own face. It is something of a challenge to develop facial lines when one is stout of figure and possessed of a clear complexion, but Lady Bracknell's hard work in this area has begun to pay dividends.)
Avoirdupois - it is Lady Bracknell's considered opinion that a gentleman who has reached his middle years should be able to demonstrate in his person the effects of his capacity to enjoy the innocent pleasures which life has to offer, be those pleasures of the cake variety, or the ale. Lady Bracknell views the whippet-thin middle-aged gentleman with suspicion, assuming that he is either coldly austere in his personal habits, or possessed of such a degree of nervous, fidgety energy that no calorie he consumes is ever given the chance to transmute into a gram of fat and come to rest on his slender frame. Ladies with seriously-injured backs cannot comfortably think of reclining in trysts with gentlemen who cannot keep still.
Apparel - one can deduce a considerable amount about a gentleman from the fabrics in which he chooses to clothe himself. A gentleman who prizes tactile pleasure will plump for natural fabrics such as cotton or linen, and for textures such as moleskin, corduroy and leather. No gentleman who clothes himself in polyester will ever have a place in Lady Bracknell's heart, no matter how "easy care" his laundry requirements may be. Whilst he need by no means be a stickler for formal dress codes, the gentleman who wishes to win Lady Bracknell's heart will know that there are some garments which are simply incapable of oozing sex appeal: e.g. the anorak.
Hair (or the lack of same) - no lady worth her salt would reject a gentleman on the grounds of his simply being bald. There is, however, a vast gulf between those gentleman who - on realising that their hair is receding - merely shrug; have it cut short; and continue with the important matters of life uninterrupted, and those who make futile endeavours to disguise their ever-widening centre parting. Comb-overs are grim beyond Lady Bracknell's talent to describe. If Sir Elton John, with all the money he has at his disposal, cannot purchase a solution which convincingly replicates the appearance of a full head of hair in all weather conditions, then Lady Bracknell believes it is safe to assume that no such solution exists. Baldness per se is not unattractive: desperate attempts to conceal it, on the other hand, are.
Height (or the lack of same) - Lady Bracknell has never understood why so many of her gender will automatically reject men who are not significantly taller than they themselves are in their highest and most teetering heels. A gentleman's height is wholly irrelevant to Lady Bracknell who, as her regular readers must by now be aware, pays very little regard to the "norms" which society in general attempts to impose on her. The view that a gentleman must be taller than the lady whom he is escorting is an entirely arbitrary one, particularly given that we live in a time in which it is unlikely that a ravening bear will leap, with murderous intent, into the path of a courting couple and submit to being beaten off only by a man of superior height and consequent reach of arm.
So there we have it. From reading the above, it has become clear to Lady Bracknell that her only absolute physical requirements in a gentleman at whom she might be drawn to setting her cap is that he have laughter lines, be comfortably upholstered, and avoid synthetic fabrics like the plague. She trusts, therefore, that no-one could accuse her of being either overly-particular or "hung up" on physical appearances.