When you go out with someone for the first time, what they wear is important. The clothes men wear on a first date can tell you a lot about who they are as people and how seriously they’re taking your date. We spoke to dating experts to find out their take on the topic. Here’s what we found out.
Why the clothes men wear on a first date matter
You might be thinking that it’s shallow or judgmental to care about what a guy’s wearing the first time you meet. However, that’s not the case at all. You’re (hopefully) not looking for designer labels. You are, however, looking for someone who’s well-put together and who takes pride in his appearance. This is important for a multitude of reasons.
“What you wear sends non-verbal cues to other people,” explains Sam Nabil, CEO and Lead Therapist of Naya Clinics. “It creates either a positive or negative impression and it serves as a powerful communication tool.” In other words, you can learn a lot about a guy before he even opens his mouth by paying attention to what he’s wearing.
Dressing down doesn’t send a good message
While there’s no need to rent a full tuxedo for the occasion, men should at least make an effort to wear clothes that are clean and tidy on a first date. Otherwise, they risk sending the wrong message to the woman they’re going on with.
“If he shows up in a wrinkled shirt with a stretched-out neckline and flip-flops, it shows that he didn’t put any effort into trying to impress his date. Therefore, he doesn’t take dating seriously at all,” Sandra Myers, president of matchmaking at Select Date Society, tells Bolde. She adds that a guy like this probably isn’t looking for a girlfriend at all. However, he might be cool being friends.
On the flip side, a man who wears tailored clothes and who is well-groomed is obviously concerned with making a good impression. He’s taking dating seriously and showing his date respect. This kind of guy is likely to be a true gentleman and will probably even insist on picking up the tab.
Are jeans a no-no on a first date?
While that may have been the case a few decades ago, it’s certainly not now. The jeans men or women wear on a first date should be clean, well-fitting, free of tears or stains. However, they’re certainly appropriate when going out with someone for the first time. But, what can you learn about a guy who makes this sartorial choice?
“If a man wears something casual, like jeans and a t-shirt, it could show that he is down-to-earth and relaxed. He might be the type of person who is easy to get along with and doesn’t take himself too seriously,” explains dating expert Megan Harrison, LMFT.
What it doesn’t mean is that he doesn’t take the date seriously or that he’s not invested. As long as his overall appearance is tidy and well-kempt, don’t even sweat it.
What kinds of clothes should men wear on a first date?
Myers suggests sticking to darker colors like black, brown, and navy blue rather than brighter or more garish shades. “Dark colors are viewed as more masculine and women are drawn to masculine men.” A nice button-down shirt or tailored polo with jeans or khakis always works well, depending on the date itself.
However, it’s not just clothing that matters. Accessories are just as important, particularly shoes. Men should ditch sneakers and opt for nice shoes that are clean and relatively new. In other words, no holes or tears.
Beyond that, hygiene is of the utmost importance. “Beyond clothing, men should make sure that facial hair is trimmed, their fingernails are clean, and they smell good. We always advise a light spritz of cologne that is not overbearing,” Myers tells Bolde.
The bottom line
What men wear on a first date comes down to personal choice, in most cases. What does the guy in question feel most comfortable and confident in? How about the type of activities will he be doing on the date? What type of woman is he going out with? All of these are worth considering before getting dressed and heading out the door.
“Generally speaking, dressing up for a first date shows that you’re taking the date seriously and that you’re interested in making a good impression. It can also be a sign that you’re a put-together kind of guy who takes pride in his appearance,” Nabil says. “On the other hand, dressing down may show that you’re more relaxed and easygoing. You might also come across as someone who’s not taking the date too seriously.”
So, which is the better approach? There’s no one right answer, according to Nabil. “It really depends on the woman you’re going out with and what kind of impression you want to make. If you’re not sure what to wear, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and go with something more formal. After all, you can always take off your tie if the date is going well,” he suggests.