My friend and I are always bonding over our love for guys in plaid shirts. I don’t know what it is, but the trademark print definitely induces a soft spot and brings smiles. Maybe it alludes to a down-to-earth persona, or an overall feeling of coziness?

In any case, that train of thought got us to thinking about the allure of certain attire and how it can influence impressions (whether we’re conscious of it or not).

A classic example is men in uniform, and since I’ve experienced Fleet Week in New York City, I can pretty much attest to this (rather universal) theory.

So what are the psychological implications of men in uniform?

I casually asked my friend for her opinions, and she said that women probably look for a hardworking and brave man. “Certain professions dictate a certain dress code. In the case of those who fight wars, they often have to dress in camouflage. When women think of servicemen they think that their character is heroic and strong. So perhaps it isn’t necessarily the clothing that the women finds attractive, but what their profession may say about their character.”

An article in The Times of India suggests that uniforms relay a sense of comfort and security, along with the notion that men dressed in this attire exhibit chivalry.

Men in service all have reasons to be coveted. Their profession is such that they cannot help but exude chivary in their mannerisms, which is enough to impress women.

The act of being courteous is perceived to be more respectful than intended to impress. Opening the door for the lady to enter first, holding the chair and allowing her to sit, practicing basic table manners while eating together are just some of the practices that come naturally to them.

The psychological gravitational pull toward a man in uniform isn’t new. A 1995 article in the Los Angeles Times showcases this concept as well. In the article, Midge Wilson, a psychology professor at DePaul University, explains how a man dressed as such delves into the female’s psyche. “A man in uniform taps into… father figures, heroism, protection and power,” he said. “He also suggests a chance for excitement and adventure.”

It sure sounds like it speaks to the fairy tale mindset.

However, the longing for a knight in shining armor (or a man in uniform) does come with a price.

The Times of India article references insight from Barnali Mishra, a PR professional who’s dating an Army officer. She conveys that communication is a challenge. And she notes that — in general — men in the Army may have difficulty expressing their feelings verbally, especially since they’re used to being unreachable due to the nature of their work. Yet “our exchange of thoughts via e-mails is the part I enjoy most,” she said.

All in all, it’s interesting to dig below the surface a bit as to why women tend to go weak in the knees when they see a guy donning his Navy gear.

“Women prefer a partner who can protect them. It has been so since ancient times,” Dr. Geetanjali Sharma, a marriage and relationship counselor, was quotes as saying in the Times article. “It can be assumed that men in uniform are the modern day ‘saviours’ and hence the attraction.”