The arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare,
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
Is it perfume from a dress

from T.S. Eliot – The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock on Rap Genius

Meaning

Prufrock is objectifying parts of women here. The perfume is what makes him so lustful: it’s like modernist pheromones.

There may be a disconnect between the ideal (the “braceleted, white, bare”—virginal, innocent—arms) and the real, non-idealized female before him. “Idealized” females are totally hairless and sanitized, whereas this woman has fuzz on her arms—how inappropriate! (At least, to Prufrock’s immaturely sexualized mind.)

Or is the “light brown hair” an arousing detail, which he focuses on in a momentary aside?

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