All right, gentlemen. You’ve made the call and scored the date. After choosing the time and place to meet for a first date, the next thing to figure out is what to wear. If you think it’s not important, think again. While you probably know that women can be obsessed with fashion, here’s a little secret: we women can be obsessed with your fashion, too. And while you might not remember what we looked like or what we wore, we will probably definitely remember what you wore.
Why Men’s Fashion is So Important to Women on a First Date
I remember exactly what my boyfriend was wearing on our first date (blue jeans, light tan Hawaiian shirt made of nice fabric, glasses, and brown shoes). I remember all my past boyfriends’ and dates’ outfits too. And I’m not the only one. My friend Prue tells the following story: “I had this one guy show up at a nice restaurant in purple and green cut off sweats. Seriously! Granted, he showed his true colors right at the beginning, but that definitely tells me that he doesn’t care about himself. I pretty much told him bye-bye.”
So what should you wear on a first date? To answer this question, I put out the call to all my girl friends on Facebook and got quite the response! Based on their comments, here is the consensus on what women expect men to wear on a first date.
First Date Fashion Tip for Men #1: Dress for the occasion
You wouldn’t show up to a job interview in purple and green cut-off sweats, would you? The same thing goes for dating. Wear something appropriate for the activity you are planning to do.
Most first dates consist of dinner followed by dancing or a show. If you are not sure if a restaurant, theater, or nightclub has a dress code, call them ahead of time to find out what is appropriate so that you will not be turned away at the door. The appropriate thing for most dinner dates would be a clean, non-holey pair of slacks or jeans paired with a button-down shirt made of good material and a nice, color coordinating pair of shoes. Even if you bought the jeans with the holes in them, I don’t suggest you wear them. And by shoes, I don’t mean your latest pair of Nikes or flip-flops. Dress shoes are a must on a restaurant date.
To see some examples, check out the following outfits at Menswear.com. The picture listed under the “Second Look, Nighttime Leisure” tab is the number one outfit described by my female friends as an appropriate date outfit for men.
For formal dates at gala events, weddings, or an evening at Carnegie Hall, you can be sure that your date will dress to the nines – and so should you. In these cases, a suit or tuxedo is a must. Visit your local men’s formalwear shop to get a fitting and consultation on what would look best for you. Menswear, Aftersix, JCPenney, and Macy’s have a great selection of formal clothing.
Let’s say you were lucky enough to find a girl who loves the idea of going to a ball game, picnic, or outdoor event on a first date. In these cases, shorts, jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, and other types of casual clothing are ok. Just make sure that you wear your cleanest sneakers, your nicest t-shirt, and your least worn-out baseball cap. The idea is to look like the clothes you are wearing are well taken care of and fairly new. Even if it is a casual date, you still want to look presentable and like you put some effort into choosing your outfit.
First Date Fashion Tip for Men #2: Hygiene and Cleanliness are Key
Most of the women I surveyed emphatically stated that while on a date, men should wear clean and freshly laundered clothing with no holes. They need to shower and brush their teeth for maximum closeness potential. They need to brush their hair, and they need to shave…
Now for those of you who can’t bear to part with your facial hair, don’t feel like you need to give up this part of your persona. After all, she probably doesn’t care that you have a beard, moustache, or goatee because she agreed to go out with you in the first place. However, facial hair must be trimmed to look neat and well groomed before your date. Grooming tools can be found in the Health & Beauty section of your local supermarket or department store.
Regarding facial hair for all men, at the very least, please please please trim your nose hairs and pluck out any stray hairs on your ears, nose, or forehead. They can be very distracting to a woman who is trying to have a decent conversation with you.
Looking clean is obviously important. Smelling nice is also important to my fellow women too, but the one point of debate among them would be whether or not men should use cologne on a first date. My sister strongly feels that some men wear cologne that is too overpowering and that they should just skip it. But other friends agree that using nice smelling cologne with a subtle scent is a great way to make your date want to get closer to you to smell you more! (Ever hear of pheromones?) If you are going to use cologne, a good rule of thumb is to put a dab on each wrist and on either side of your Adam’s apple. Ask a female relative or friend to tell you if the scent is too overpowering. And if you’re just not sure, skip the cologne and stick with deodorant. As long as you smell clean, you will be fine.
First Date Fashion Tip for Men #3: Smile and Be Nice
Good manners never go out of style. If you smile at your date, compliment her appearance, pay attention to what she says, treat her like a lady, and behave like a gentleman, I guarantee you she will go home with stars in her eyes. And while most people think chivalry is dead, I for one still appreciate it when a man holds a door for me, offers me his arm, or walks me to my car to make sure I’m safe. It’s sweet and romantic, and most women love that.
Now, I am not talking about going out of your way to act chivalrous. That just makes us feel incompetent. If a woman reaches the door first, let her open it. Just assist her in holding it open until you both pass through. If she declines to take your arm, don’t be offended. Walk by her side and treat her like an equal. If she says she can walk by herself and bids you good night, don’t go chasing after her. The girl can obviously take care of herself. (However, some women do like to look back and see if you are watching them. I don’t think we can help it. In most cases, it doesn’t hurt to stay where you are and watch from a distance to make sure she gets into her car or house safely. When she does, wave to her if she notices you and leave. Trust me, she’ll appreciate it.)
First Date Fashion Tip for Men: Recap
As you can see, we women really do not expect anything too complicated in the way of fashion on a first date. The three main things to remember are 1) dress appropriately for the occasion, 2) present good hygiene and clean clothing, and 3) treat your date well. Following these tips should help you score that second date.
As my friend Joni so eloquently said, “He just needs to look like he actually put some effort into it, instead of looking like he just left a burping contest with his buddies.” Happy dating!
Thanks to all my fearless female friends who responded to my Facebook posting on First Date Fashion Tips for Men. This article couldn’t have been written without you!