Ah, the age-old question of what to wear on the first date…
Now, I’m not saying we should all be fashion mavens (I can’t believe I’m even saying this, but my store of choice is Wet Seal, and as long as it still fits, I’ll be shopping there ‘til I’m 80. ;)), but for the first date, it’s important to put yourself together nicely.
Some first dates are right after work (a happy hour drink), so that’s easy – just come in your work clothes. (Actually, be sure to put a bit more thought into getting dressed that particular morning.) But some aren’t. I always have to laugh because on my first date with a former boyfriend, I wore a very heavy sweater dress because I had actually made plans afterwards to go to this après-ski party in case he was a dud. (Luckily, he wasn’t, and I ditched the party.) But that was not a good first date outfit – it was bulky, it didn’t highlight my figure, and in hindsight, it was pretty darn ugly. (For the record, it was definitely not representative of my general attire!)
For women, if you’re coming from work, a nice business casual outfit works well. Try not to look too “business” and no fun, but a nice pair of pants or skirt and a top that shows off your shape but isn’t too revealing works well. Save the low-cut, curve-hugging stuff for going dancing Saturday night. When it’s cold, try not to wear anything like a huge turtleneck (or the dress I wore) because it makes you look very closed off from the guy’s point of view, like he’d need a lock and key just to get to your neck. And in the winter, a good pair of tall boots is very sexy.
For men, all I can say is that the iron is your friend. I can’t think of anything worse than a guy showing up in clothes that are completely wrinkled. Heck – I’m not even saying you need to iron anything yourself. I often bring my shirts to get dry-cleaned because I really just want them pressed. Don’t tell! Other than that, just go with your style. Check your teeth, make sure there are no stains on your shirt, and you’re good to go.
Another rule of thumb is to dress to match the venue: Elegant bar? Elegant outfit. Casual coffee shop? Casual outfit.
One final note: If you go on a date with someone you consider to be a bad dresser by your standards, it’s important to remember that while his/her personality may not change, the wardrobe can, so try not to let it be a deal breaker.
So, go get dressed and enjoy your date!
Erika Ettin is the Founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps people navigate the world of online dating. Her services include: writing unique profiles to get you noticed, helping to choose your best profile pictures, writing one-of-a-kind emails to get someone’s attention, and planning dates. A Little Nudge has been featured in The Washington Post, NPR, Talk Philly, Good Day Philadelphia, JMag (JDate's online magazine), and Ask Men. Want to connect with Erika? Join her newsletter for updates and tips.