Getting your friends to set you up can be a great way to meet eligible singles in your area. But how do you pick your outfit? Many people worry about what to wear on a blind date. First impressions count for a lot. So finding clothes that suit you, reveal a bit about your personality and present a positive image, can be a really helpful start.
In this article, we’ll let you know which wardrobe pitfalls to avoid and how you can dress to impress while feeling fantastic.
What to wear on a blind date
A study from Social Psychological and Personality Science found evidence that a single glance at someone for 33 to 100 milliseconds was sufficient to form a first impression, with judgements on character and personality made within 60 seconds. This is why it’s so vital to make your look representative of who you are and to create a positive vibe, especially on a blind date.
The idea of choosing an outfit may fill you with joy or dread. Either way, it can be a challenge to work out what to wear when meeting someone for the very first time. There are also different dress codes for different venues, times of the day and types of meeting. While smart casual is usually the best call, there may be times when it’s not appropriate. So your first task is to find out where the date will be and what you’ll be doing. If you’ll be wandering around a Christmas market in December, you’ll need very different clothes than you would for a black-tie dinner.
How to dress for a date if you are male
You don’t have to wear expensive designer gear, but you should look like you’ve made an effort. Actions speak louder than words and your appearance will make a statement as soon as she sees you. T-shirts can look a little too laid back, so either pair it with a smarter blazer style jacket, or go for a shirt.
Cool trainers can be nice, but not the scruffy ones you use to go running (if you’re in doubt which category yours fit into, place it safe and wear shoes or boots). And unless your first date is in a beach bar, give shorts a miss.
How to dress for a date if you are female
Don’t be tempted to dress up in ways that make you uncomfortable. Comfort should be your first consideration. Blind dating can be a little nerve-wracking, so you want to feel relaxed and happy in your outfit. High heels can be a big culprit here. If you’re not used to them you can look pretty silly teetering along.
If you do want something a little more formal or sexy, opt for wedges or low kitten heels. The same applies with short skirts. Having to constantly tug down something that’s riding up will be really irritating. And watch out for tights that work their way down or wrinkle around your ankles. Frequently adjusting them is another bad look and totally distracting for you too.
What should you not wear on a blind date?
There are some fashion rules that cover every scenario – like being clean and presentable. Don’t drag trousers out from the dirty laundry basket, or wear a stained top. Avail yourself of an iron if you always look creased and crumpled.
That goes for every day, not just special occasions, your boss will be as relieved as your date if you do. Clothes that aren’t aired properly after washing can gather a musty smell, so watch that you dry everything fully and don’t have an air of damp following you around, to which your nose has become immune.
But beyond the basics, what should you be avoiding clothes-wise?
What should you not wear on a first date?
In many ways, it’s easier to narrow down your options by removing the things you shouldn’t be wearing. Here are some of the watchpoints to look out for when picking your date outfit.
- Ill-fitting clothes. If you’re now too big or small for it, ditch it (preferably to a charity shop). It won’t do your silhouette any favours.
- A sports strip/shirt. Unless you’re going to a match and have heard they support the same team.
- Slogan tops. These are fun and fine for later dates, but you don’t want it to be the focal point for the first meet (especially if it’s anything controversial or potentially annoying).
- Prints that make you feel dizzy. Have you ever stared at a stripy shirt for a while and felt a bit dizzy? If your top is likely to induce nausea, it’s not worth wearing in a one on one scenario.
- Brand new shoes. These should always be worn in well ahead of time so you can ascertain whether they need to be accompanied by blister plasters. But new looking shoes are a great shout.
- Too much skin. You might have amazing pecs or great thighs, but a blind date isn’t the place for too much of it. Meeting someone for the first time can be a bit daunting, so the more relaxed it is, the better. Flaunting your wares so early on might be a bit off-putting. You don’t have to wear a rollneck, but keep it tame until you know each other better.
- Too much makeup, perfume or aftershave. These are all lovely in moderation. But overdo it and it can be overwhelming and generally a turnoff.
- Sunglasses. At least not initially. Your very first greeting should be made with eye contact, not like a paparazzi avoiding celeb. If it’s super bright and you’re outdoors, you can pop them on again if needs be later on, but try to avoid it.
What should you wear on a first date for a drink?
If you’re going to meet someone for the very first time, it’s usually best to keep it fairly low key. That way, if it doesn’t go well and there’s no spark, you can leave after a reasonable amount of time has passed. It also means you have more clothing options than a fancy setting provides. And when meeting a stranger, it should always be in a public place.
This is why going for a drink is the ideal way to kick things off and why most people planning on a blind date will be seeking a suitable outfit for this activity. For guys, this may be some stylish jeans, loafers and a sharp shirt. Ladies may like to go for the same sort of thing or use the opportunity to wear a smart casual dress or top and skirt. But there may be some scenarios that call for slightly different looks.
What do you wear on a date to a bar?
There are a few things to think about when planning your outfit. These are:
- What day and time is the date? 9 pm on a Saturday night will have a very different vibe, to 4.30 pm on a Monday. Dress up a little more at the weekends in town. This can be done with an accessory, some jewellery or a touch more makeup than you’d wear by day.
- What is the bar like? A pint in a country pub, sitting in armchairs by the fire, is not the same as a trendy city-centre bar with banging beats. You’ll look ridiculous in your clubbing gear surrounded by labradors and oil paintings, but equally silly if you bring your Barbour jacket to a rave.
- Will it be indoors or outdoors? Even at the height of summer, an alfresco popup may get chillier as the evening goes on. Layers can help if you’re unsure what the night may fully entail. And take a coat or at least a jumper for later on.
What do you wear on a casual date?
As with a drink in a bar, the level of formality will be denoted by the location, date and time. Jeans are always a great go-to for a casual meeting. But still, be sure you’re not looking scruffy and team them with something a little smarter. Or go for some funky high top trainers, paired with a great dress. Certain materials and embellishments (namely sequins, glitter, velvet and lace) tend to look out of place for a casual meet. But if you prefer a glam look you can still let this shine through, with some accents of metallics, bold lipstick and nails or a flamboyant jacket. Even if it’s casual, you must still look and feel like you.
What to wear on the first date for coffee
These may be very different propositions in terms of your outfit, but then again they may not. Coffee at night in a five-star hotel lounge may mean you follow a dress code (always check if you’re going somewhere out of the ordinary).
What to wear on a first date to dinner
If dinner is happening in a street food cafe, you won’t want to turn up dressed to the nines. If you’re in doubt what’s standard for the venue, check out their social media pages. That’ll give you an idea of what kind of dress will fit in.
Clothes can be a useful talking point too. Paying a compliment is a great way to flirt and encourage the other person to like you. And clothes offer some winning and appropriate opportunities for compliments.
Generally speaking, dress for coffee very similarly to how you would dress for a weekday drink if it’s a standard cafe. For dinner, go slightly more formal – dresses, skirts, jackets, chinos and smart trousers are all good. Give trainers and blue jeans a miss if it’s a nice restaurant.
They may not be allowed in any case. If you have a really bad dress sense, no idea of fashion, are unsure what you like and can’t identify what suits you, it’s wise to ask friends or family for some advice and guidance. You can also use the services of an in-store stylist and make a shopping spree hassle-free. Otherwise, a date is a super chance to have fun dressing up and an excuse to pick out something new.
And remember, never try to be someone you’re not or assume everyone is into the same thing. We all have different taste, so there’s no point trying to shoehorn yourself into a specific style or look you don’t like, just because it’s popular with Instagrammers and you think you’ll be more fanciable in it. The person or people you attract will like you for who you are, so always be yourself, or you could miss out on someone who’s perfectly suited to you.
- What do you wear on a first date in winter?
Layer up. Interiors can be overheated and stuffy, but you might freeze waiting for a cab or going to another bar if you’re not dressed for the cold. A hat can be useful to protect from rain and sleet en route and always carry an umbrella. Smart boots are versatile, practical, comfy and stylish.
- How does a blind date work?
They’re usually arranged by mutual friends or acquaintances who think you have a chance of hitting it off. You’ll be told where and when to go, and perhaps some detail to help you recognise them (hence the old cliche of wearing a carnation).
- Is online dating blind dating?
Meeting someone you’ve met via online dating isn’t usually classed as a blind date, but rather as the first date. This is because you’ll have already chatted – albeit in text format – seen photos of each other and perhaps even Skyped. But our tips for what to wear are applicable to first dates too.