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Men - How to Dress For A First Date


Like it or not, women will notice the clothes you wear—so keep these tips from fashion pros in mind to make a fantastic first impression.

By Matt Schneiderman

et's face it: Women love clothes. Why else are they constantly shopping and complimenting their girlfriends on that incredible new top or pair of pumps? And while you may be wondering, “What does this have to do with me?” I’ll tell you: More and more, women are expecting, even demanding, that the men they date look more like the “after” images on Queer Eye than the “before.” In other words, showing up at a swanky martini bar in your college hoodie and lucky sneakers may make that first date your last. But passing their scrutinizing standards isn’t as hard as you think; nor does it involve blowing your bank account on a whole new wardrobe. Just keep these simple tips from fashion experts in mind to show women you do indeed have a clue when it comes to style.

Tip #1: Whatever you do, don’t wear khakis
To many men, khakis may seem like the perfect first-date standby, being dressier than jeans but more casual than dress pants. But experts adamantly stress men should avoid
Khakis may seem like the perfect first-date standby, but experts adamantly stress men should avoid khakis—they just aren’t sexy.
khakis. “Khakis scream ‘casual workplace,’” explains Bruce Pask, style director of the men’s fashion magazine Cargo. “They just don't seem sexy.” Jeans, on the other hand, are sexy—and perfectly acceptable these days in nearly any dating scenario (barring a really fancy restaurant with a dress code). Just be sure to stick to the basic dark pair of jeans—no matter how much you paid for the overly distressed, hole-y, "rumpled," bleached, ripped, or torn ones.

Tip #2: Give the striped dress shirt a rest
When it comes to impressing a woman, standing out from the crowd can be key—and on that front, nothing kills your chances like a striped dress shirt. Look around at a bar or restaurant. Aren’t stripes everywhere? That’s why you’ll do much better with a shirt with a subtler pattern. "Open it up at the neck, and lose the tie, which can make a guy look choked up," says Pask. A nice polo shirt is a more casual alternative, and also works well under a sport jacket. And last but not least, the shirt should be tucked in. "A shirt halfway in, halfway out is a big pet peeve of mine," says Kelly Rae, fashion and grooming director of the men’s magazine Stuff. "I like a guy who knows to tuck it in."

Tip #3: A little color goes a long way
Unless you're heading out to meet a Goth chick, dressing all in black is a bit morose. "And don't wear beige," says Rae. "Neutral colors are boring." On the other end of the
A man who maintains his shoes can be trusted to be detail-oriented in other areas of his life, from his apartment to a relationship.
spectrum, too much flash could be a glaring distraction, so don't try to stand out with a hot pink t-shirt, fire engine red sweater, or shirt with a logo. A jewel tone (maroon, forest green, cobalt blue) sweater over a white dress shirt will make an attractive, not-too-staid but not-too-flashy statement.

Tip #4: Pay attention to your footwear
Women, as you well know, are shoe-obsessed, and will immediately take note of what you’ve decided to step into this evening. The good news: Barring “work shoes” like wingtips or cap toes, any footwear (even sneakers) can look fine, especially with jeans. Boots are also appropriate; Pask says anything from motorcycle boots to a more refined option are fine. Now, the bad news: You’d better make sure shoes look spankin’ great. Polish them, remove any scuffmarks or crud that’s collected on the sides and bottom. A man who maintains his shoes can be trusted to be detail-oriented in other areas of his life, from his apartment to a relationship.

Tip #5: Don’t forget the details
Shirt, check, jeans, check, shoes, check...think you’re in the clear? Not quite, say our experts. Paying attention to the particulars is what will really convince a gal you’re a cut above average. "What you wear should speak to your individuality," says Rae. "If you're wearing a shirt with French cuffs, wear interesting cuff-links." And don't overlook your socks. "White gym socks belong at the gym," says Rae. "Anything with a pattern can be fun." Look for something with a design, like hearts or diamonds. "If he can pull the right socks off, he's a winner."


Matt Schneiderman is a New York-based freelancer who has been known to show up for dates wearing clothes his mom picked out for him.
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