Most relationships are built on a series of first impressions, and a first date is a prime opportunity to forge a stronger connection with someone. While it’s not an exact science, there are some ways you can dress to impress on a first date.
1. Dress for the occasion. Base the formality of your attire on where you’ll be going. For an upscale dinner, wear dark slacks with a long-sleeved, button-down shirt; during colder weather, add a well-made sweater on top. If you’re going to a casual movie, wear a nice pair of jeans and a slightly dressier shirt than you usually would. Your first date probably won’t require you to wear a tuxedo or a suit, but don’t show up in the same outfit you’d wear around the house on a weekend morning.
2. Make sure whatever you wear is freshly laundered. Covering dirty clothes with cologne or anti-odor spray might be fine in a pinch, but the purpose of a date is being near someone and getting to know them. It’s better not to risk coming off as unclean.
3. Don’t forget about shoes. If you’re dressing up a bit, make sure you have a pair of black or dark brown dress shoes to go with your attire. If the date is more casual, wear a nice pair of slip-ons or clean sneakers. Fresh laces and a damp paper towel can make your everyday sneakers more date-worthy.
4. Flatter your best features. Knowing you are dressed in a way that puts your best look forward will help you feel confident on your date.
5. Pay attention to fit. Too tight looks odd, and too baggy looks sloppy and like you don’t care about the date. Aim for a happy medium that’s just right for your body type. Make sure your pants fit well around the waist – you should be able to put three fingers comfortably in the waistband, but not much more – and that the hems hit around the bottom of your ankles. Shirts should cover your waist without falling past your butt. If your clothing fits poorly, consider finding a local tailor or seamstress. Most will do basic alterations for a fairly low fee.
6. Find colors that work for you. When you are picking out a shirt, choose a shade that flatters your natural coloring. To highlight blue or green eyes, try a cool, dark color such as slate grey or navy blue. To highlight brown or hazel eyes, try a warm, light color such as maroon or off-white. If you’re worried about how your skin looks, use the color of your shirt to downplay it by avoiding bight reds or whites – these colors will draw more attention to red spots.
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Since most of us don’t spend hours in front of a mirror every day, it can be hard to know what looks good on yourself. Ask a friend whose taste you admire to help you select a good look – he or she might have already noticed you look better in certain articles of clothing. If you are going shopping, ask a friendly salesperson for assistance. Most of them love helping people choose flattering clothing, and they have plenty of practice doing it.
8. Clean up. Pay a little more attention to your hygiene than usual for a first date. Looking clean and appealing will help you feel confident, as well as making you more enticing to your date.
9. Shower and shave directly before you get dressed. If you have facial hair, keep it trimmed and make sure the edges are neat.
Pluck stray facial hairs. You don’t have to go all-out on an eyebrow manicure, but do have some tweezers handy to get rid of pre-unibrow hairs over your nose. Don’t pluck any farther in than above the inner corners of your eyes. If you notice long hairs growing out of your nose, you can purchase a small, cheap trimmer at the drugstore.
10. Brush and floss. After you have brushed your teeth, put the toothbrush on your tongue and gently scrape it. Then floss around every tooth. This is especially important if you have braces – you don’t want your date noticing any food stuck in your mouth when you first show up. Finish with mouthwash.
11. Trim your nails. Cut them almost down to the quick (where the white part stops). If your knuckles look rough, rub some lotion over them.
12. Style your hair. Apply some sort of product – gel, mousse, hair clay, serum, pomade – to make it look shiny and soft. Go easy, though – too much will make it look greasy. A dime-sized amount should be more than enough. If you get a haircut before your date, schedule it for three or four days before the event so that you don’t have little hairs in your ears or on your neck.
13. Put on cologne or body spray. It’s better to put on too little than too much. For cologne, 2 pumps should be sufficient; for body spray, no more than 3. You want to smell nice, but not overwhelming. Keep in mind that your nose will get used to the scent and eventually stop telling your brain about it. Just because you can’t smell anymore doesn’t mean your date can’t.
14. Finish up your outfit. If you are going in the evening or during cold weather, take a jacket – even if you might not need it, you can always share it with your date as a kind gesture. Grab your wallet, lip balm, mints and anything else you might need to have.