Some have turned fashion from an art form into a science. They are always up to date on the latest trends, they have maps and calendars predicting what are going to be “in” next season, and they would not be caught dead leaving the house without a photo shoot-ready outfit. Whether or not you’re one of those people, all though, your choice in attire does warrant a good amount of thought in the moments of anxiety-inducing preparation before you embark on a first date.

Since childhood, it has been drilled into our heads by parents, teachers and potential employers that first impressions are vital to any relationship– and that include romantic ones. When we get the call informing us that we have an interview with a potential employer, do we throw on last year’s gardening shoes and run out the door in a grease-stained shirt? Of course not! Your clothing choices turn you into a walking advertisement, and you are the product. In order to sell yourself, you need to dress in a way that portrays the message you want to put out there. Though it’s important to avoid trying to dress like someone else (they want to date you, not a bad celebrity knockoff), there are a few basic rules to keep in mind when dressing for the all-important first date.

1) Dress in a way that is appropriate for the venue
Of course you want to look spiffy, but before you reach for that tie or those six-inch high heels, stop and think. Where is your date going to take you? What kind of clothing is appropriate for that place? If you want to go the extra mile, it never hurts to check before the date. Find out if your venue has a ban on jeans or any other dress code rules. Though it’s wise to check, that’s generally unlikely on your first date, so try to dress comfortably. If it’s appropriate for the venue, relieve some of the pressure by dressing casually. No need for extra stress!

2) Match your outfit to your eye
Trust me on this. If you’ve got blue eyes, it’s pretty much mandatory that you wear a blue shirt– it could be dark or light, so long as it’s blue. Are you green-eyed? Go for a light-coloured, white, or moss green shirt. This is a subtle way to make your eyes really stand out, which is never a bad thing. If your date is lost in your eyes, you are definitely on the right track.

3) Don’t be afraid to get help
If fashion had been a class in school, would you have failed miserably? Would that have been the class that kept you from finishing school? Have you worn the same pair of shoes for the past six months? If you’re fashion challenged, do not be afraid to get help from someone who knows what they’re doing. Ask your well-dressed friend, but don’t invite the eccentric one to dress you. You want to look good, but you want to be comfortable! High fashion probably is not what you’re going for.

4) Make sure your clothes fit
There is nothing worse than ill-fitting clothing. If your stomach’s circumference is not what it used to be, you shouldn’t still be squeezing into the jeans you wore after running that marathon three years ago. On the other hand, you don’t want clothes that make you look like a toddler wearing his father’s hat. Find clothes that fit the body you have now.
5) Check your shoes for more than holes
Go get your shoes and have a good, hard look at them. Can you remember the last time you cleaned and polished your shoes? If not, you are long overdue. This is not optional! Your date is going to notice your shoes. It is often said that a man’s shoes say a lot about who he is, so make them shine. Try to match them to the colour of your belt as well, if the belt is visible.

6) Get manicured
Look at your fingernails. If you’re heading into a fifth or sixth date (and you’re feeling lucky), you might as well look at those poor toenails, too. If your nails remind you of some horribly disfigured monster that has just clawed its way out of a well, cut your nails and clean them now. Your date is not going to want to hold your hand if it looks like a scratch could turn them into a werewolf. The same goes for clawed monster feet in bed– no one is going to want to go near your unkempt feet! Your nearest pharmacy should be able to help you sort out your hands and feet.

7) Shampoo the beard (seriously)
Clothes? Yes. Hands? Check. Shoes? Got it covered! Everything is beginning to come together, but you’re missing one more thing: the facial hair. We live in the era of the beard, which is all very sexy, very manly… but only if you maintain it properly! There is a fine, fine line between a bearded gentleman and a ragged caveman. Shampoo, condition, and comb your beard. If stubble is more your style, clean up around the edges. Get rid of any unwanted neck beard. If you look like a sheepdog, go get a haircut.

While you’re grooming, don’t forget that the most important thing is not to lose yourself in fashion! Be genuine. Don’t dress as a flashy person who isn’t you. Now, go be the best-dressed version of yourself you can be!

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