Going on a first date can be nerve-wracking for anyone. You want to make the best first impression and look amazing, but you also don’t want to come across as trying too hard. When it comes to impressing a man on the first date, your outfit choice matters more than you might think.
What kind of outfit should you avoid?
While you want to look stylish and put-together, there are a few types of outfits you’ll want to avoid for a first date:
- Anything too revealing – leave the crop tops, mini skirts, and low-cut dresses for another time. You want to look classy and leave something to the imagination on date #1.
- Athleisure wear – unless you’re meeting for a fitness-related date, steer clear of yoga pants, sweats, and other athletic gear. Save these comfortable clothes for lounging at home.
- Overly casual looks – items like graphic t-shirts, flip flops, and ripped jeans don’t necessarily exude date-night elegance. Opt for a more polished ensemble.
- All black outfits – while black clothing can be slimming, an all-black look might come across as boring or stern for a first date. Add pops of color or softer hues.
- Outlandish prints or colors – resist the urge to wear anything too loud, distracting, or outrageous. Steer clear of animal prints, neon accents, and other statement pieces. Simple is best.
The key is to avoid anything too dressy, too sexy, too casual, or over-the-top. Focus on looking put-together and feminine without going overboard.
How to dress to impress him
Choose flattering fabrics and silhouettes
The fabrics and cuts you choose can subtly enhance your natural assets. To look and feel confident on a first date:
- Opt for silky blouses or wrap dresses in drapey fabrics that cinch at your waistline to show off your figure
- Wear v-neck tops or dresses to elongate your neckline
- Choose structured fabrics like denim or ponte knits to smooth and streamline your shape
- Stick to solid colors or simple prints – they are slimming and elegant
- Make sure the size and fit is just right – not overly tight or too baggy. Well-fitting clothes are always most flattering.
Pick the right colors
Color can help enhance your best features while also reflecting your personality. For a first date, it’s best to stick to solid, neutral, or muted tones. Try:
- Black – slimming, elegant, and sophisticated
- Navy – brings out lighter eye colors
- Gray – pairs well with many colors
- Blush pink – feminine and flirty
- Red – conveys confidence
- Purple or plum – royal and romantic
- White – looks crisp and fresh
- Nudes – elongate the silhouette
- Pastels – soft and sweet
Stay away from neons, patterns, or loud colors for a first date. You want to look stylish, not loud.
Pick shoes you can walk in comfortably
While sky-high stilettos might look impressive, they aren’t necessarily the most practical for a first date. Opt for shoes you can spend hours in comfortably and confidently, like:
- Ankle boots with a low block heel or wedge
- Leather flats or loafers
- Strappy sandals with a mid-size heel
- Casual sneakers (if it’s a more relaxed date)
- Kitten heels
If you do opt for heels, limit the height to 3 inches or less. Anything too high will be uncomfortable and make walking difficult.
Accessorize simply and subtly
Jewelry and accessories should enhance your look without overpowering it. For a first date, it’s best to keep these details minimal:
- Dainty necklace, simple pendant, or thin chain
- Small earrings – studs or subtle hoops or drops
- One statement cuff or bracelet
- Neutral watch
- Minimal rings
- Clutch purse or crossbody bag
Avoid chunky statement necklaces, big chandelier earrings, loud patterns, or heavy accessories. You want the focus to be on you, not what you’re wearing.
Do your hair and makeup
While you don’t need to spend hours getting ready, you do want to look polished and put-together. Make sure to:
- Shower, shave, moisturize – take care of all body grooming
- Do your hair – even if it’s just loose waves or a sleek ponytail
- Curl or style your hair instead of just air drying
- Apply some light makeup – tinted moisturizer, mascara, lip gloss
- Blow dry and style your hair instead of just tossing it into a bun
- Pay attention to details – neatly groomed brows, soft manicure, etc.
Taking time with these beauty steps shows you care about your appearance and put in effort. But don’t go overboard – a natural, fresh-faced look is best for date #1.
Spritz on a feminine fragrance
Scent is powerful, so applying a hint of fragrance can be appealing. When choosing a perfume or body spray for a first date, go for something:
- Light and fresh
- Floral or fruity
- Sweet but not overpowering
- More daytime than evening
- 1-2 sprays max – don’t overdo it
Some popular date-night fragrances include:
- Chanel Chance Eau Tendre
- Daisy by Marc Jacobs
- Miss Dior Blooming Bouquet
- Chloe Eau de Parfum
- Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb
Avoid anything too musky, vanilla, or sexy – you want light and feminine for date #1. And reapply subtly if needed, as scents fade throughout an evening.
First date outfit ideas
Keeping those tips in mind, here are some first date outfit ideas to impress a man:
Casual daytime date
For a lunch, museum, or park date try:
- Sundress with sandals or wedges
- Dark jeans with a silky camisole and leather jacket
- Skinny ankle pants with a flirty top and booties
- Flowy midi skirt with tucked-in tank and cardigan
- Crisp white button down with denim skirt and loafers
Upscale evening date
For dinner at a nice restaurant or cocktail bar, go for:
- Little black dress – opt for a wrap dress or fit-and-flare silhouette
- Jumpsuit – look for tailored wide-leg styles
- Dark jeans with heels and a silky blouse
- Pencil skirt with a tucked-in top
- Maxi dress – stick to solid colors
Casual evening date
For a more low-key dinner, movie, or activity try:
- Nice dark jeans with ankle booties and a blazer
- Leggings with an oversized sweater and booties
- Skinny pants with a silky camisole, moto jacket, and flats
- A-line skirt with tucked in tank and cardigan
- Dressy joggers with a crop top and heels
Accessories like earrings, a cuff, and a nice handbag elevate these more casual looks.
First date outfit dos and don’ts
To recap, here are some outfit dos and don’ts for impressing a man on the first date:
- Do pick flattering fabrics and silhouettes
- Do choose neutral, muted solid colors
- Do wear proper undergarments to avoid lines or slippage
- Do break in heels or shoes beforehand to avoid pain or blisters
- Do add slight heels to give you height
- Do take the time to style your hair and apply makeup
- Don’t wear anything too revealing
- Don’t choose anything too ornate, loud, or over-the-top
- Don’t wear clothes that are ill-fitting, too tight, or too baggy
- Don’t go overboard with accessories and layers
- Don’t go too trendy – stick to more classic style
- Don’t forget to tailor or get items properly hemmed if needed
How to act on the first date
Of course, your outfit is just part of the equation. To truly impress a man on the first date, you also need to focus on how you present and carry yourself. Do:
- Make eye contact and smile
- Ask questions to show your interest in learning more about him
- Speak confidently about yourself
- Sit up straight and lean in slightly to show engagement
- Laugh at his jokes and humor
- Keep conversation fun, light, and positive
- Offer a sincere compliment about his outfit, taste, etc.
- Thank him for dinner, drinks, or other purchases
- Suggest a second date if you’re interested
- Checking your phone
- Long silences or awkward pauses
- Negative or judgmental comments
- Monopolizing the conversation
- Getting too personal or intimate too quickly
If you are engaged, polite, charming, fun, and genuine, you’ve won half the battle. An outfit can only take you so far – your attitude and conversation skills make the real impression.
How men perceive women’s first date outfits
Research provides some fascinating insight into how men interpret women’s outfit choices for a first date. Consider a 2016 study from the Journal of Consumer Psychology. 120 men viewed images of four women dressed in various outfits ranging from sexy to conservative. The study found:
- Men perceived women in sexy outfits as more interested in short-term sex versus long-term relationships.
- Men viewed women in more conservative outfits as relationship material.
- Men rated women in revealing outfits as more attractive for a physical encounter.
- Men were more emotionally attracted to women in classier, non-revealing outfits.
The table below summarizes how men perceived women’s outfits for a date across various attributes:
|More interested in short-term relationship
|More interested in long-term relationship
The researchers concluded that men assign different meanings to women’s outfit choices. Dressing sexy elicits one reaction, while dressing more modestly sends a message of relationship goals and ideals.
A first date is your chance to put your best foot forward and make a fabulous first impression. While true attraction stems from your personality and confidence, your outfit can help you look and feel your absolute best.
Opt for flattering colors, fabrics, and silhouettes to dress to impress. Pay attention to styling details like hair, makeup, and accessories to polish off your date-night look. Stay away from anything too loud, daring, or overtly sexy. Most importantly, choose an outfit you feel beautiful and comfortable in.
Focus on being genuine, engaged, and charming on the date – no outfit can substitute for having a great attitude and conversation skills. With the right first date mindset and a wardrobe that flatters you, you’ll be sure to wow your guy.