What to Wear on a Date to Send the Right Signals

Well you’ve made plans for a date—now the big question is what to wear? In this modern age of feminism, millennial culture, and hipster logic, does it even matter anymore what you wear? Of course it does!

Much of dating is non-verbal, and while you may remember the importance of gestures and posture, it’s easy to forget that clothing choice and fashion sense matters—your appearance really does send a strong message!

Even if you don’t put much thought into clothing choice—and even if you think it’s the sort of thing he doesn’t care about—he will form judgments based on your appearance. You’ve heard that first impressions matter, right? Well second impressions can be just as important. Knowing that you actually wore something just for him will have him curious as to how you really feel about him as a man. Consider a few points about the idea date dress.

Should You Dress Sexy?

Dressing in skimpy or otherwise provocative clothing certainly sends a message—that you’re into him. But dressing too over the top sexy sends a message of one night stand. He reads it as: you’re just giving sex away and he’s already won you over. So he might be giddy at the idea, but rest assured if he loses respect for you, he won’t be calling you back after tonight.

You may be wondering what “too skimpy or vampy” looks like, especially if mom hasn’t criticized your wardrobe lately. Second guess any dress combination that looks too distracting in terms of sexuality. Anything low cut showing off too much chest or leg is sure to get him thinking “one night stand.” Showing your underwear, too much tummy or butt, see through clothing or lace-up tops are a bad idea. Furthermore, anything too tight is also sending a mixed message.

Don’t worry about projecting beauty—your natural figure does this just fine. A real woman dresses in a classy but sexy way—meaning her clothing suggests a fine figure but doesn’t go over the top. Subtle is the way to go.

On the other hand, if you eschew femininity and just throw on something overly casual that suggests you’re not taking the date seriously, it also sends a message: a message that you don’t care, or don’t take him seriously. Raggedy clothes suggests that you’re too comfortable in his presence, and is a common complaint among men in long-term relationships; their girlfriends or wives stop dressing up, stop caring, and so men feel less attracted and are not motivated to put up much effort in being romantic.

What is the Perfect Outfit?

Finding the perfect outfit for a first or second date is a matter of balancing what you like and what you want to showcase to him. You may like the color orange—but does that orange dress look good or is it distracting? Does it make you look like something you’re not? It might be wise to choose a color and a dress shape that complements your style.

When in doubt ask someone else close to you who can be objective. A girlfriend, a sibling, even a friendly co-worker you trust would be a good starting point. Try to remember what other people compliment you on when you go out in public. Do they often comment on a particular dress or a color?

The “balance” part comes in vetoing styles and looks that don’t feel like you. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t think I can pull that off” if that’s what your instinct tells you. In fact, it’s better if you don’t, since your date can tell if you’re uncomfortable and if you’re trying to be someone you’re not.

What Fashion is “Modern”?

True, it’s hard to keep up with fashion trends—although it’s safe to say that ripped tights, leather and oversized blazers from the 1980s are still out. Be careful not to pay too much attention to the “latest” in the fashion world or Hollywood, because you don’t want the guy defining you by the way you dress—the way you dress should seem LIKE YOU, projecting the natural qualities that you want to show him.

Conservative but sassy is a good look. If you can wear high heels do so, but if you can’t stand them don’t feel obligated to force your way through it. It’s better to walk with confidence in something you like, just like it’s better for you to feel sexy in a dress you personally like, rather than buying something brand new that looks like Jennifer Lawrence.

Simple and real is the best way to go in makeup and hairstyle, and frankly, a lot of women say that too much hairstyling is distracting—for both him and her! Don’t wear anything that’s going to prevent you from paying attention to the date and actually having fun chatting with Mr. Right.

It’s not even necessary to wear a dress—especially if you’re going for a casual coffee date. Some women really rock a jeans, t-shirt and long sweater look. Some women might even tell you to make it look like you don’t care, but actually put some thought into it. So you can wear casual type clothing (if the setting is appropriate) as long as you focus on color coordination and matching.

Remember that comfort is vital, especially if you’re going to be hiking, walking or even eating in this clothing combo. Wear what makes you feel good about yourself, even though it is the “best version of yourself” that you’re showing him. If he “surprises” you with date plans that you didn’t dress for, don’t feel obligated to cave to the pressure—in other words, don’t feel pressured to hike in a formal dress, nor should you want to go to a ball room dance if you both agreed to do something casual.

In many ways, a woman’s dress code is part of her personality—a visual representation of the independent, strong and mysterious beauty that you are inside. Let him see you and desire more, just as you’ve learned to do with your gestures, conversation and behavior.

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Matthew Coast

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