First impressions – make them count! A fail-safe outfit for men

There is nothing worse than meeting someone for the first time on a date and being plagued by bad breath or having a flashback of 1993 due to an unsightly oversized sweater and jean combo. A lot can be said about how you present yourself and how you are perceived. It is scientifically proven that the way we look becomes a mode of observable information that others use to form accurate judgements (Science 2.0 2012). For this reason, first impressions really do matter, as they provide others with perceived judgements about another person’s character. As an example, an unironed shirt might be read as a sign of laziness or carelessness, while well-groomed fingernails might signify neatness, good organisation and sound hygiene.

First impressions become even more important in a first date setting, where people are subconsciously analysing whether or not another person possesses the qualities and characteristics they are looking for in a partner. Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov found that it only takes one tenth of a second for an individual to form an impression of a stranger (Wargo 2006). Extended exposure to someone you’ve just met does not significantly change such impressions, so presenting yourself in a neat and well groomed manner is a crucial step when entering the dating world. In this article, I will outline a fail-safe dinner date outfit with suggested shopping advice to help guide you to first impression success.

If you don’t enjoy shopping, it is important to have a focused approach so you can find what you are looking for without having to spend too much time wandering aimlessly. Firstly, consider your body shape, if you have a slim or athletic physique, a slim cut will most likely show off your streamlined frame and skim the body. If you are broad and tall, a standard fit might suit you better. The options I have outlined are simple and easy to find pieces that will seamlessly merge into your pre-existing wardrobe as office appropriate staples and casual weekend wear. Furthermore, I have selected items that are of reasonable price and good quality, and will be worthy investments in the long run.

Collared shirt

A collared shirt is a staple item in any gentleman’s wardrobe. An oxford shirt in pale blue or green is a chic alternative to thin white cotton work shirts. If you like checks, a small checkered pattern is generally more discreet and sophisticated than a broad plaid. An old checked flannel shirt is not appropriate for a dinner date if you want to look smart, and while linen is a beautiful and on trend textile, it gets wrinkled easily and should be avoided if you can’t commit to steaming or ironing before wear!
A pair of chinos is an easy way to look polished but casual and appropriate for a dinner date setting. Darker colours such as navy or black will be universally flattering, while paler beige tones can give a preppy edge. Be sure to get your pants tailored if the length is not perfect, as pants that are too long or too short can look scruffy. ​
Merino knit
A merino wool jumper is a wardrobe staple as it is warm, comfortable and classic. Be sure to get the correct size – not too baggy or long in the arms, but comfortably fitted when worn on top of a shirt. A dark colour such as navy or forest green is easy to wear and is more interesting than black, but pale tones such as grey or beige can work nicely on gentlemen with a slim physique. Both crewneck and v-neck styles are equally chic, but be sure to neatly pull your collar out so it sits above your jumper.
Leather shoes
Leather shoes are a classic and failsafe way to complete your outfit. Leather is easier to look after than suede and will always look brand new after a polish. A pair of brown leather shoes can be a nice way to distinguish your look from work attire, whilst maintaining the sophistication. A classic pair of RM Williams are a chic and very Australian look, otherwise Country Road offers plenty of affordable alternatives in modern but classic styles. ​
Socks are often overlooked, but are an economical way to treat yourself and transform an outfit. Ensuring you are well equipped with nice undergarments and socks, will make you feel confident and gives you the opportunity to show some colour and personality in a subtle way. Instead of wearing old socks with holes in them, try treating yourself to a comfortable and nice new pair of socks. Taking pride in your appearance shouldn’t be about pleasing others, but demonstrating through your body language and dress that you are proud of who you are.

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