The last thing anyone needs to add to the anxiety of a first date is not knowing what to wear. This is especially true for men who often have the responsibility of planning the perfect date as well.
How you choose to present yourself is crucial, nevertheless, because it demonstrates your level of respect not only for yourself but for her as well. In fact, well-dressed men tend to be viewed as sexier, smarter, and more successful -- exactly the sort of impression you want to make.
Here are some basic rules for dressing for a first date.
For formal dates
Date options tend to fall into two categories: formal or casual. Formal dates can include a nice restaurant, the theatre, or a swanky nightclub. In these situations it is always good choice to wear a sport coat or blazer that fits you well.
Sport coats are nice because they allow you to adapt to your surroundings simply by removing them. They can also provide a nice opportunity for chivalry should your date need extra cover. If you are going to a semi-formal destination, feel free to leave the tie at home and opt for a simple dress shirt with the top button undone.
A suit to the opera is fine, but in most other situations it can read as uptight or stuffy. Dark wash jeans provide a nice balance to the formality of a jacket.
For casual dates
Casual dates tend to be earlier in the day, outside, or just generally more active. Picnics, hikes, a sporting event, or an afternoon lunch fall into this category. You want to give the impression that you've put some effort into your attire, so it's best to avoid anything that is worn, sports-related (unless you're actually engaging in that sport), or stained.
Again, dark wash jeans elevate any look and can be paired with a short-sleeve collared shirt or crisp button-down for most casual dates.
Accessories are crucial: they are the key to striking the right balance between well-dressed and relaxed. Accessories include items like your shoes, belt, and watch, and they suggest your taste and attention to detail.
Effort put into accessories goes a long way, because she will definitely notice. Stick to accessories that are classic and simple. Clean brown or black leather shoes are usually a good choice. Running shoes and flip flops should be avoided at all costs. Canvas sneakers, loafers, or topsiders can be worn on a casual date if they are in good condition.
A nice leather belt and a simple watch can elevate a casual look, and should definitely be worn in formal situations.
Like accessories, your personal grooming is all about the details. Again, assume that she will notice, because she probably will. Be sure to clean under your fingernails and get rid of any errant body hair, especially in places like the ears, nose, and back of the neck.
Don't try to make any major changes to your haircut or facial hair before a date; you got the date looking a certain way and it's probably best to keep it. A clean shave or groomed facial hair is advised, since the goal is to enhance what you already have.
Cologne is acceptable, but be very conservative with your application. It's one thing to smell clean and fresh; it's another to come off as if you've bathed in it. Nothing says 'I'm trying too hard' like a man wearing too much cologne.
These guidelines should alleviate some of the anxiety associated with your first date. However, the most important thing to wear is something you feel comfortable in, which allows you to be yourself. Being at ease with your date will always go much further than being the best-dressed man in the room.