Posted in Movies, What Women Like
June 24, 2016

A Century of Hot Men: My How We’ve Changed

By Elizabeth SaFleur

Call this blog post “the post that almost wasn’t.” I started to write about alpha males through the ages. I sought to answer one question: Have our ideas about what makes a man an “alpha” changed over time? Know what I discovered? It didn’t. An alpha is an alpha is an alpha. Any man with a confident and commanding personality who enjoys control and generally stomps through life leading others can be considered an alpha. And, alphas never go out of style. I mean look . . .

Untitled design (7)
Yes, I spent a ridiculous amount of time creating this collage.

You know what did change over the decades? Our idea of male beauty. Let’s explore attractive males through the ages, shall we? Warning: The rabbit hole on this topic is deep, my friends. Hang on. And, fill that comment box below with all your thoughts on the trip down. We welcome pictures of who you consider a good-looking guy today or in the past.

Let’s start with 1910 and go from there. Here are four leading men, and the epitome of all things manly, from 1910 to at least the mid 1940s.

1910 to 1940

Notice anything? Besides the swashbuckling, coming-to-the rescue, genteel type of savior they portrayed? How about how pretty they look. All that slicked back hair, clean shaven chins and dapper duds.  In researching these decades and all its manly gorgeousness, a shocking lack of diversity emerged.  Not that men of different races and cultures weren’t to die for. But I just couldn’t find that many images of displayed male hotness that weren’t white men. Well, Harry Belafonte showed up. Wow, was he beautiful or what? But even this image was taken just into the 1950s.

by Dorothy Wilding,photograph,25 February 1954
Harry Belafonte

Researching the 1950s revealed our image of “best looking” guys made a sudden turn. Yes, we had our collegiate frat boy and our slick office guys idolized in the popular TV show, Mad Men.

mad men
More slick hair!

But a tougher “look” became idolized. Still baby-faced in some ways, but more of a fighter’s energy seemed to be behind those lashes.

James Dean

Look at these teenagers trying to mimic James and Marlon. You can always tell what’s “in” regarding looks by checking out your local high school. Seriously. Try it sometime.

1950s teens
1950s teenagers

The 1960s brought us a whole new level of grit. Steve McQueen, Clint Eastwood and James Bond ushered us into one of the greatest decades for cinema — the 1970s — and changed what (who?) we grew hot over.

Clint Eastwood

Of course the 60s and 70s also brought us hair. Lots and lots of hair. Good-bye brylcreme.



By the time 1975 rolled around, a certain slickness returned, and ushered in a whole new glamour for men that the previous two decades had ditched.

John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever

The concept of “sexy ugly” emerged sometime between the 1970s and 1980s. (I think.)

-Sexy Ugly-

Maybe it’s the hair or the large mouth? I dunno. Or perhaps the confidence and talent that makes these guys so attractive?

The 1980’s “look” took us up a notch on the “slick side.” Everything suddenly got tailored from the hair to the clothes.

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in the movie, Wall Street
Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in the movie, Wall Street


Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas played Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs in Miami Vice
Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas played Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs in Miami Vice

Well, except for when it didn’t. The hair bands of the 80s were well labeled. They wore more make-up than I did back then.

The rock band Poison
The rock band Poison

Hang on you’re only half way down the rabbit hole. The 1990s brought us grunge, boy band cuteness and, well, just general experimentation in hair styles and gender-bending.

Rock band Nirvana
Rock band Nirvana


Boy band Nsync


I credit Will Smith for introducing color to men's wardrobes
Will Smith, the cutie pie


The late Prince
The late rocker Prince. RIP


By the time the 2000s rolled around all bets were off on an “in” look: long hair, beards, tattoos, three piece suits, jeans and t-shirts, military uniforms, exotic and cultured, all-American, tough guy etc. all made the list as attractive. We finally began to see more diversity. (i.e. someone other than white was considered hot. I mean, personally, my clothes would fall off if Denzel Washington walked into the room.) Also, right around David Beckham’s introduction to the world, muscles became a “must” to be considered good looking. Not a bad way to raise the bar . . .

David Beckham, the quintessential metrosexual
David Beckham, the quintessential metrosexual


download (1)
Denzel Washington


George Clooney whose looks Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw declared "as classic as a Chanel suit."
George Clooney whose looks Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw declared “as classic as a Chanel suit.”

But, oh wow, did we reach a new level of maleness recently. Beards and ink became the “in” thing a few years ago.

Levi Stocke
Levi Stocke

Speaking of manly goodness, we couldn’t possibly leave out Michael Stokes’ brilliant portrayals of our wounded warriors. Well, just about anyone he photographs is swoon-worthy. See what I mean about muscles? (Did you know next week is military theme week here at LadySmut? Check in daily! You never know what we will have up our sleeves . . . or down in other places.)


I could continue with the pictures but at this point I’m sure you’re hanging on to the sides of the rabbit hole walls by your fingernails.

I can’t help but wonder, however. What will 2020 bring us in the way of male hotness? Anyone want to hazard a guess? In the meantime, cheers to all the men down the ages. You’re gorgeous, dahling. Let’s just not return to the make-up, K?

the-great-gatsby-leonardo-dicaprio (1)
Leonardo DiCaprio as the Great Gatsby

Until then, check back next week for military wonderfulness. To whet your appetite, our very own Alexa Day (along with 21 other New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling authors) offers us a story in a brand spanking new erotic romance and BDSM box set Hero to Obey: Twenty-two Naughty Military Romance Stories. It’s now available via pre-order.

Hero to Obey cover image

About Alexa’s story, Passing Through: The summer’s brought two surprises to bar owner Gigi Deane: the former Army Ranger she hired is the perfect barback, and he takes orders in bed as well as he does on the job. Noah Malone’s told her that he’s just passing through, but as the seasons change, can she convince him to make their summer thing a little more permanent?

Yeah, baby. Follow LadySmut here and on Facebook for all the smutty goodness you can handle.


Elizabeth SaFleur writes contemporary erotic romance and she’s not afraid to get graphic about it — “it” being the smex, the BDSM or Washington, DC society, which she regularly features in her series, the Elite Doms of Washington.

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    • Post authorElizabeth SaFleur

      Love those muscles. I see you’ve got some hot muscles displayed on your covers, too. XOXO

      Reply to Elizabeth SaFleur
  • Post authorAlexa Day

    Three cheers for the rabbit hole! I love this post. Who knew Douglas Fairbanks was *that* hot? And a thousand thanks for Steve McQueen and Don Johnson. I was a little older before I found Steve, but Don was a frequent visitor to many, many teenage daydreams. (Hey, if you don’t want me thinking about Don Johnson, how about making trig/pre-cal more interesting?) Right now, the question of what will make a man hot in 2020 is a topic worthy of thought, consideration, and additional daydreams. And maybe government funding.

    And I applaud you for these collages! A grateful woman thanks you for your efforts and your shoutout. 🙂

    Reply to Alexa Day
    • Post authorElizabeth SaFleur

      You are so welcome. Research was never so fun. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who dreamt of Don Johnson. He’d the only guy I know who could pull of pink and not emasculate himself one iota.

      Reply to Elizabeth SaFleur
  • Post authorHeadphones (@ransan82)

    I guess I’m just a child of the 70s and 80s, but I like a guy with some eyeliner. And a bit of stubble is okay. And I like tattoos. But today’s beards? Just no. I don’t think I could ever cozy up to a man with a full beard.

    Reply to Headphones (@ransan82)
    • Post authorEden

      With you on the full beards… And, done right, make-up is just fine. It’s no different really for women. (Or tats…) Some people can pull off a certain look SO well, and it just makes them even though it’s all artifice (I mean, EVERY one of these male models is made-up to a degree, or the images have been processed…).

      And as Elizabeth noted… research was never so fun (or dangerous! Do you know how much time one can spend on Pinterest doing this?)

      For the record, I found these wonderful vintage photo links through Pinterest and the last link looking up vaudeville acts…

      (some INCREDIBLE images here)

      This young man could be the handsome hero next door:

      And the Vaudeville artwork doesn’t do him any justice, but if you scroll down a bit in this blog post, there is an incredible shot of this Italian “Strong Man”, Carlo Aldini:

      Reply to Eden
      • Post authorElizabeth SaFleur

        Wow – those are some real finds! Thanks for sharing. What’s interesting is the fashion, too. Men covered up so much, and they’re always wearing ties. As for Pinterest, yes! I’ve been down that rabbit hole more times than I can count.

        Reply to Elizabeth SaFleur
        • Post authorEden

          Men… women.. they both covered up so much in those days. SO glad that mandatory coverage is not as big a thing these days.

          Glad you enjoyed. 🙂

          Reply to Eden
    • Post authorElizabeth SaFleur

      I’m not a huge fan of beards either. Too scratchy. But I love my ink. 🙂

      Reply to Elizabeth SaFleur

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