We’ve all been there. After months and months of waiting patiently for that special date, it finally happens. Your hair is immaculate, your face is looking radiant and you smell amazing. Now all that’s left is the small (ahem) matter of what you should wear.
Not to put too much pressure on the situation, but what you wear on a first date can have a very big impact on the blossoming relationship and can set the tone for how the entire day or evening goes. After all, our mood is tied to image, right?
And you want to be in the best mood possible and on your game. If the whole idea leaves your heading spinning in a whirring panic, fear not.
We are here to help you navigate the minefield of dressing to impress and aid you in deciding exactly what to wear on a first date.
Why is what we wear so important?
1. People are judgmental.
It is no secret that people make snap judgement about others based on how they look, from their haircut to the clothes they choose to wear, and even how they choose to wear them.
So, what is the psychology behind this? Why are we so quick to judge?
Psychologists suggest that in early civilizations clothing was simply functional- designed to protect people from the elements. Over time, technological advances have meant that clothes are no longer considered essential to our survival, instead they have become a marker of our social standing and a projection of how we see ourselves and how we want to be seen. They are simply a reflection of our personalities.
2. It’s basic psychology.
In terms of signalling theory, a bird (such as a male peacock) will perform a mating ritual based purely on the vibrancy of its feathers when fanned fully in order to attract a female mate.
If we take the behavior of the peacock and apply it to people, there are a number of similarities.
3.We want to “look the part”.
We use clothes in a similar way to make ourselves stand out from the crowd and also as an extension of our personality and individuality. The clothes we wear can also attract a mate through enhancing our most attractive features.
An extensive study by Timothy Brown found that levels of attractiveness can be linked to whether the clothes we wear enhance our levels of femininity or masculinity. This in turn makes us more or less attractive to potential partners.
For instance, the more masculine a man appears, the more likely he is to be seen as attractive by a mate due to the association we naturally make between masculinity and the ability to provide and protect.
So where does this leave you in deciding what to wear for the big date? Let’s get down to business and answer some basic questions. These answers should help guide you to decide what to wear on your first date.
1. Where is your date located?
The main factor in deciding what to wear on a first date comes down to where you are going and when. This information will have a profound impact on the clothes you choose, so you should spend some time considering the following points.
What is the weather like?
While you want to impress your date, you also want to feel comfortable in what you are wearing.
First Date in Winter
If your date happens to fall in the middle of winter, it’s likely you will need to wrap up warm in order to concentrate on your date rather than the fact that you cannot feel your fingers or toes.
LADIES | With this in mind, ladies you should maybe select a fitted jumper and some skinny jeans and boots. This look will keep you warm, whilst at the same time show off your figure.
GENTLEMEN | a pullover on top of a button-up shirt, with some jeans and smart shoes is a classic look that can stand the challenges of wind, snow and rain.
First Date in Summer
If you are lucky enough to have a first date during the summer months, then you can have a bit more fun with colors and styles.
LADIES | A summer dress for ladies is a win-win situation. Most men love the femininity of dresses. It will allow for a breezy look and will show enough skin to get your date hot under the collar.
GENTLEMEN | if you are prone to sweating, which can happen when summer heat and the nerves of a first date kick in, opt for a darker colored t-shirt with some cargo pants or jeans.
2. What time is your date?
Another important factor in deciding what to wear on a first date is whether it is a day time or night time event, and moreover will it be a chilled ‘get to know each other’ date or a more intense romantic date?
If you are meeting during the day for a relaxing chat over a cup of coffee, you probably don’t want to wear anything too formal as it might give the impression that you are trying too hard to impress which may mean that your true personality doesn’t shine through.
You could opt for a pair of (not too scruffy) trainers and jeans, which will make you feel comfortable and will suit the occasion.
Conversely, if your first date is an intimate evening meal this suggests that romance may be on the cards and it would be advisable to dress according to the signals you have received from your potential partner.
Organizing a date at a restaurant in the evening implies that your partner wants to impress you, and this may come through in what they choose to wear. Bearing this in mind, it would be advisable for you to do the same.
LADIES | If you feel comfortable in a killer pair of heels and a little black dress, go for it. If that doesn’t strike you as something you might feel comfortable in, then a smart pair of dark jeans and a fitted top, can have a powerful impact on your potential partner.
GENTLEMEN | A suit and tie are always a winning combination when romancing a potential partner over an intimate meal. This will scream class and sophistication and, according to Benz et al, 2005, can imply your ability to offer financial security and commitment. These two traits are deemed highly desirable when looking for a long-term male partner.
3. What impression are you trying to give?
This is an important question when deciding what to wear on your first date and it all really depends on how confident you might be in your own skin.
As this is a first date, you should really try to show as much as you can about yourself to your partner. Of course, this can be achieved through your body language and what you say, but what you wear will also have a profound effect on how you are perceived.
LADIES | If you show too much skin, for instance, by wearing something skimpy this might suggest that your intentions are physical and may act as a green light for your date to make a sexual advance.
If you want to send a slight flirty signal, then perhaps consider an off-the-shoulder top, which can be both playful and sexy or even a fitted top or t-shirt that hints at what is going on underneath the fabric but doesn’t give the game away too soon. This will be just enough to excite your date and leave them wanting a little bit more.
GENTLEMEN | The same rule for ladies can be said of gentlemen. Low-cut v-neck shirts or ultra fitted pants can give off a very physical message.
If physical action is a part of the game plan, dressing seductively may be in order, but remember your intentions and dress appropriately.
If your date dresses more seductively than you were planning on, make a note to not play into the game. Keep your hands to yourself, respect her space, and focus on good conversation. At the end of the night, a good date isn’t all about where it lands you.
4. Your place or mine?
While you might by this point have a good idea about what you are going to wear on your first date, have you considered what might be going on underneath your clothes?
In short, have you thought about your underwear? Now you may be adamant that, as this is a first date, no one will be seeing your underwear but you, but you’ve all heard of the saying ‘never say never’ and this applies to the nature of a first date.
Our advice at this point is: always be prepared. In a perfect world, your date will go to plan. You will laugh, talk and really get to know each other.
The chemistry between you will be electric, and sparks will be flying. If nothing else, you want to feel good about yourself with the matching set of bra and panties or men with under boxers.
We might be jumping the gun, but sexual chemistry can be a very powerful and unpredictable force, and therefore being prepared for any eventuality can only be a good thing.
The do’s and don’ts of first date clothing
Style gurus universally agree on certain do’s and don’ts when it comes to dressing for your first date. Here are some top bitesize tips on what to do and what to avoid.
- DO Dress for your body shape and size- make sure that whatever you choose to wear is flattering for your personal shape and size. If you are wearing something too tight or too big, it will simply make you feel uncomfortable which will distract you from showing our date how fabulous you really are. If you are conscious of your weight or body shape, you should choose an outfit that disguises the areas you are most unhappy with. Although it’s very unlikely your date will see the negatives you might see in yourself, taking attention away from issue areas will make you feel more relaxed and you will enjoy yourself more as a result.
- DON’T drive yourself insane worrying about wearing the ‘perfect’ outfit- Laurie Davis advises people to de-stress when it comes to what you choose to wear on your first date and actually suggests that it is what you wear on subsequent dates that has more of an impact. For example, she believes that if your date begins to dress down when you meet up, this could indicate they are becoming more comfortable with you as a person.
- DO avoid taking risks- We all have a good idea of what we look good in and what we don’t in terms of fabrics, styles and colours. Of course, you want to make a good impression on a first date, but that doesn’t mean you should deviate from what you know works for you. If you look good in the colour red, then go red. If you have never worn bright yellow before, but have always wanted to try it out, a first date with someone you like might not be the time to test it out. Go with what you know.
- DO dress to accentuate your best features- Your first date is your chance to show off your best bits, in terms of both your personality and your physical appearance. We all have a favourite part of our body and the chances are if we love it, so will a potential partner. In order to show off what you have, choose an outfit that draws attention to that particular area of your body. For instance, if you are especially proud of your biceps, then a fitted t-shirt will emphasise this feature. That being said, it is best not to show too much of your body (see above). Relationship Expert Nikki Goldstein advises against “being viewed as too trashy or too sexy” and instead suggests that you should maybe focus on one body part, for instance “legs, cleavage or back” to entice your date.
- DO wear clean and wrinkle-free clothes- irrespective of what you actually wear on your first date, you must make sure that you look at least presentable. A recent survey conducted by The New York Post revealed that 86% of people asked felt it was important to arrive on a first date well-turned out, with 66% of people saying that wrinkled clothing was the biggest turn off. So, whether you opt for a blouse, dress, jumper or t-shirt, make sure you run the iron over it before you leave for your date, otherwise it could be the first and last. Turning up to a first date in scruffy clothing, even if it is just for a cup of coffee at the local café or a stroll around a park, suggests to your date that you can’t be bothered and can be perceived as a sign that they aren’t worth the effort. In order to avoid this, we recommend saving the tracksuit bottoms and crumpled t-shirt for a Sunday on the sofa and opting for a smart casual look instead. Trust us, your date will feel like they are worth your time.
Preparing for a first date, especially with someone you really like, can be incredibly stressful which sometimes saps the enjoyment out of the entire experience.
The key thing to remember is this: whatever you choose to wear on a first date, it must make you feel comfortable, confident and ultimately like you.
What you wear reflects your personality, and if you try to dress like someone else, then that personality will be hidden from your date and your true self won’t be allowed to break through.
There is no real need to try too hard to impress your date; they are choosing to spend their free time with you and are therefore already impressed by or attracted to something about you.
Your first date could be the start of something very special, and what you wear will have an impact on its success, as long as you stay true to yourself, we imagine that this will be the first date of many.