First dates come with butterflies, excitement, and a healthy degree of uncertainty. But figuring out what to wear shouldn’t be something you stress about. Use this article as a guide to find your way.
Dressing to Impress
You can make as much or as little out of first dates as you’d like. But before you try to write them off as being just another date, you should remember what’s at stake.
Research shows that first impressions are formed in just one-tenth of a second upon meeting someone for the first time. And once a first impression is established, it can take months of interactions to change the way someone views you. So, for better or worse, how you present yourself in those first few seconds is key.
In addition to body language, facial expressions, and other factors like punctuality, there’s one element that has significant influence over initial impressions. We’re talking about what you wear, of course.
The human brain is much more in-tune with visual information and stimulation than auditory information. (Roughly 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual.) In other words, it’s what you look like (not what you say) in those first few moments that matters most.
That might sound harsh, superficial, or judgmental, but it’s just the way it is. Rather than decrying how unfair it is to make snap judgments based on physical appearance, you’re better off embracing the psychology of the human brain. And that means dressing to impress on the first date.
What to Wear on a First Date: For Men
Let’s start with the fellas. Understanding that there are few hard and fast rules, here are suggestions:
- Avoid khakis. For most guys, khakis are sort of the go-to first date option. They’re professional, yet still more casual than a pair of slacks. But they’re probably not the best first date option. Khakis are not flattering and don’t usually offer a very good fit. Instead, you’re better off wearing a dark pair of fitted jeans. (These days, dark jeans are perfectly acceptable in most restaurants – except for very nice establishments with strict dress codes.) When paired with a dress shirt, nice t-shirt, sweater, or blazer, dark jeans make a much better statement than the alternative.
- Add some color. If you want to be predictable on your first date, go ahead and wear all black and neutrals. But just know that you’re probably coming off a bit morose. A better strategy is to opt for subtle color (in tandem with dark or neutral pants). Good options include forest green, cobalt, or maroon.
- Get the shoes right. It seems like such a small detail, but a woman can tell a lot about a man by his shoes. You’ll ultimately have to be the judge of what’s appropriate, but you’ll generally want to avoid sneakers. Instead, a nice pair of leather loafers or chukkas will have you looking good.
What to Wear on a First Date: For Women
All men are different – and you can’t dress to impress them all. For example, you’ll find that Taurus men have individual preferences, just as Pisces men do. Likewise, a guy who’s from the South will probably see things different than someone who was raised on the West Coast. Having said that, here are some simple principles worth following:
- Wear something comfortable. We’re not telling you to wear yoga pants and an oversized t-shirt. We are, however, encouraging you to wear something that makes you feel at ease. This allows you to spend the time focusing on the date – not on how restricted you feel.
- Choose your The key to a first date is to feel confident in whatever you wear. Is there a color that you get lots of comments and compliments on? If so, this is the color you should wear. Whether it’s a bright yellow or a subdued neutral, going with something that you know works is always better than taking a shot in the dark.
- Avoid extremes. With very few exceptions, men aren’t into high fashion. This is not the moment to try out the latest trend or style. Keep it simple and straightforward. He’s much more interested in you than your ability to track with what’s happening on the runway.
Adding it All Up
Plan ahead for your next date. You don’t need to buy a brand-new outfit or completely overhaul your wardrobe – just be intentional. Wear something that’s flattering and that embodies you and your personality. Because if you’re going to set a first impression, you want it to be consistent with who you are as a person. Dressing to impress isn’t about duping the other person into thinking you’re someone you aren’t. It’s about putting your best foot forward!