First-Date Dress Code

Of all the decisions you make surrounding a first date, one of them can be easy: deciding what to wear. Here’s how to make a good sartorial impression—and avoid a clothing catastrophe!

By Stephen F. Milioti

f there’s ever a time to wonder and worry about what to wear, it’s when you’re getting ready for a first date. If you’re like a lot of people, nothing (and I mean nothing) in your closet looks appealing as you try to prep for that big first encounter.

Remember that no one is expecting you to look like the cover of a fashion magazine… All you really have to do is follow a few simple rules so you feel your most attractive and confident. Then you’ll sail past what I call the “surface test” and get on to the more substantial stuff.

To help you do just that, we got some great advice from Robert Verdi, who’s earned his style stripes hosting the show Fashion
What’s as important as making sure your clothes fit? Making sure they fit your personality.
Police on E! Entertainment Television’s Style Network. Herewith, his first-date fashion tips. They’re fun, easy-to-follow — and guaranteed not to cause emotional stress or credit card debt.

Don’t dress like the rest
What’s as important as making sure your clothes fit? Making sure they fit your personality. So abandon any ideas that you have to wear the latest look or go conservative and let your style shine through. “If you’re a trend-conscious person, by all means dress trendy,” says Verdi, “but if that’s not you, that’s OK — don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. You shouldn’t try to look like someone other than who you really are.”

Understand that there is such a thing as too tight
Even if you have the body for it, a painted-on stretchy shirt and skin-tight pants just aren’t the way to go on a first date. “You should not dress in an overtly sexy way on a date,” says Verdi. “That makes you look like a one-dimensional attention-seeker.” Now, that doesn’t mean you wear a burlap sack. “Of course, you want to look attractive and sexy—just not to an extreme.”

Know the fine line between “casual” and “sloppy”
Yes, the weather is getting warm and you don’t want to be uncomfortable. But unless you and your date have
“Overall, you want to smell clean, but not like an overpowering cologne.”
planned a picnic in the park, please — don’t wear the same stuff you would when walking the dog. “T-shirts just aren’t for dates,” says Verdi. “And in the summer, don’t come out in shorts, especially if you’re going to a restaurant of any sort. At the very least, put on trousers.”

Get those shoes shined
This is a big one — your shoes are more important than your clothes. No one is saying you have to wear $500 oxfords or the of-the-moment slingbacks — but it won’t hurt to put on something new-ish and well-cared-for. “It’s the condition of the shoe that matters — not necessarily the style,” says Verdi. “A scuffed shoe won’t do.” Attention to this detail makes your whole look seem more, well, polished and put-together.

Be sparing with your scent
Even if your clothes look great, you’ll make a very wrong impression if your fragrance is strong enough to wilt flowers. “Overall, you want to smell clean, but not like an overpowering cologne,” says Verdi. “That’s more important than how you dress.” Not only does too much scent say you’re trying too hard, it can also interfere with your date’s enjoyment of the evening (yes, scent sensitivities are more common than you think!).

Know when to pare back
“You don’t want to look too planned,” says Verdi. Case in point: If you spend 20 minutes painstakingly cuffing up your sleeves to look perfectly pushed-up, you’ll probably have to fiddle with them to keep them that way… which doesn’t exactly pave the way for a relaxed date-night experience.

The same holds true with accessories. “If you’re the more flamboyant type, that’s fine — that’s you,” says Verdi. “Just don’t overdo any one item.” That means too many rings, 16 applications of self-tanner — you get the idea. The easier your look was to put together, the more likely you’ll be comfortable, confident and able to enjoy your date!

Stephen F. Milioti is a freelance writer who frequently contributes to Happen.
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