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First Date Attire for Men

By: Lisa Thiel - Updated: 7 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Conversation Impression Appearance

Whether they're going to a Buckingham Palace garden party or just down to the pub for a quiet drink, women will always make an effort to look their best if they're going out somewhere they might be 'seen'. Conversely, men - even those who care about clothes - don't usually dress to please anybody but themselves and wouldn't dream of making a special effort just for a pint with their mates.

While there's something to be said for not letting other people's opinions rule your wardrobe, such a relaxed attitude can mean that men aren't sure what to wear when it's time to impress the opposite sex. Here's a top-to-toe guide for sprucing yourself up before making that all-important first impression.


Don't think this just means the hair on your head - it's also important to give your facial hair the once-over too. Ensuring your hair's clean and shampooed goes without saying before a first date, but if your hairstyle needs to be rigidly controlled with styling products, think about the quantities you're using. An excess of gel or wax isn't going to make a girl want to run her fingers through your locks - and dissuading her from messing up your hair will only make her think you're a vain idiot.

Film stars and models might look glamorous with stubble, but the average man just looks seedy. If you don't normally sport a beard, make sure you shave before the date. Facial hair devotees should make sure beards and moustaches are neatly trimmed and free of food or dirt. And don't forget to check for stray hairs poking out of your nose and ears - women shorter than you can find nasal hair very off-putting.

Top Half

Nobody's saying you have to show up for a date in a three-piece suit, but wearing what you'd put on to go down the pub isn't on either. A good rule of thumb is to go one step up from how you normally dress; for example, if you're usually to be found in T-shirts, put on a shirt, while those whose prefer to spend their leisure time in shirts should add a jacket to the outfit. If you're not a jacket person, a smart sweater is a totally acceptable alternative.

As all women know, flashing your flesh and leaving nothing to the imagination isn't going to make you more attractive. Begin the evening with your arms covered and don't reveal them any further than the elbow all night.

When it comes to colour, sticking to plain, subtle shades will make you look classier than going for brightly coloured or patterned clothing. Avoid stripes, checks, large logos or 'witty' slogans, which all suggest a more casual look than the one you should be trying to achieve.

Bottom Half

Don't just wear a pair of chinos or suit trousers because they're the most traditionally 'smart' item you own - looking stylish is far more about matching colours and styles than it is about putting together all the most expensive and formal items in your wardrobe. Make sure whatever you wear on your bottom half matches the style and colour of your chosen top.

Jeans are increasingly acceptable 'smart' attire for both men and women, so don't feel you shouldn't wear then if you're trying to impress - though any ripped or dirt-spattered denims will be met with disapproval. As a rule, dark denim looks more expensive and elegant than the lighter stuff.

Steer clear of very baggy jeans, which, again, look too casual for such an important occasion. And in accordance with the rule about exposing flesh, shorts shouldn't be worn under any circumstances - unless you're planning a first date in the swimming pool.


Nothing looks worse than jeans teamed with a pair of overly formal shoes - so unless you enjoy the tweed-and-waistcoat young fogey look, avoid wearing brogues or Oxfords with your denims and save your smart shoes for wearing with other types of trouser.

As long as your shoes aren't filthy, full of holes or incongruous with the rest of your outfit, style is really up to you. Don't shy away from wearing trainers or workman's boots because you think it looks too casual - if they work well with your other clothes, put them on.

Some restaurants, bars and clubs still operate a 'no trainers' policy on busy nights, however, so do use your common sense if you know you'll be going somewhere that might require you to have 'proper' footwear.

Even if you're convinced that personality and conversation are more important than looks, don't forget the old rule that only ten per cent of communication is done through the mouth. Your appearance will speak as loudly as your words about the kind of person you are - so make sure it doesn't say anything offensive.

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