7 top tips: Dress to impress on a date

By Jane Hoskyn Clothes maketh the man, as any woman who’s found her blind date swathed in tight snow-wash jeans and a tucked-in polyester shirt knows all too well. First impressions count for a lot, except on a first date, when they count for everything – and turning up to find that your potential soulmate has the dress sense of 1985-era Jeremy Clarkson is a crushing disappointment. Before you accuse me of bias, I should add that women get it wrong just as often as men. Probably more often,

1
It’s not a job interview

“Every girl crazy ‘bout a sharp dressed man” sang bearded minstrels ZZ Top. Well, up to a point. Certain literal-minded chaps tend to overestimate the pulling power of the suit. Suits, whether or a man or a woman, are just a little bit try-hard for a first date – or indeed any date, unless it’s tea at the Ritz or your cousin’s wedding.

2
… but make an effort

Just as you don’t want to be a trussed-up try-hard, you also wants to avoid looking as though you’ve made no effort at all – that’s just an insult to your date and won’t earn you any brownie points at all. Wash your hair, wear clean clothes and stick to stuff that trusted friends tell you looks good on you.

3
Dress to fit

Think about the venue that you’re heading to, and about the person you’re going to meet. From what you know about him or her, what do you think they’ll be wearing? Try to match them for style and level of formality, and you’ve already made a connection.

4
Don’t max out the labels

Style is not about designer brands or bags of bling, it’s about confidence and making the best of what you’ve got. Smothering yourself in labels will make you look a bit desperate or rather intimidating, depending on who you’re dating. That’s unless your date is another label freak, in which case: congratulations on finding each other, and good luck with the joint overdraft.

5
In with the old (ish), out with the brand new

Opinion differs on this one, but I reckon it’s best to stick to what you know you’re comfortable in, rather than to turn up in a new outfit you’ve never worn before. You’ll want to feel relaxed, and that can be tricky when you discover that your new dress doesn’t allow you to breathe when you sit down, or that your new shoes were designed by a toe-hating sadist. But if you must wear something new, for heaven’s sake remember to cut the tags out first. “Marks & Spencer – size 14 – £16.99” is never a good look.

6
Go easy on the slap

Lashings of lipstick, trowelled-on eyeshadow and enough foundation to float a small yacht are not a great look on a first date. Especially if you’re a bloke. Strong perfume or aftershave is another no-no, and gents should be warned: women’s sense of smell is typically more sensitive than men’s, so your “dab” of aftershave may register as a choking stink to her. If in doubt, stick to deodorant.

7
Put them away

Another one for the girls: wearing the kind of bra and top that barely cover your nipples may land you a swift one-night stand, but it’ll send your long-term relationship prospects running for the hills. Yes, we should be able to wear what we want without it serving as a red flag to the more bullish members of the male population, and no amount of thigh and cleavage is ever any excuse for a man bullying you into sex. However the fact remains that flashing your bits is a strong signal that you’re in it for a fleeting physical relationship than for any emotional or intellectual connection. Put ‘em away for later.