Back to the Game 1: Dress to Impress – not distress.

Dress to impress your date!
Back to the Game 1: Dress to Impress – not distress

Appearance is the door to social successful encounters – and successful dating.

Research tells us that it takes less than 5 seconds for a complete, and lasting, first impression to be made. It is also well-known that the majority of this process happens, in most cases, automatically – meaning that we don't have to consciously think about it all – we just do it.

The degree to which we judge others based on their appearance, and of course the conclusions which we draw from these impressions, vary wildly depending on the observer. The age-old saying “it’s all in the eye of the beholder” is as true when it comes to first impressions as it is when criticising yourself. For example, one person might view a person with piercings and tattoos as a social reject and rebel and associate their body art with a lack of education or criminal behaviour while another observer might see this as a fascinating artistic expression of personality. As another example you may see a curvy woman as highly attractive and oozing with sex appeal while another man may conclude that the very same girl is unattractive, unfit and overweight.

Although this arguably shallow way of making social judgements may not always be accurate there is some degree of truth to all the madness. For instance, if a women is wearing the latest fashion, made from good quality material and is well groomed we will assume she has a certain degree of financial wealth, which in most cases will be true because access to money is the only way she could’ve purchased those fashionable items. Similarly we can assume that a fit man or woman has a lot of willpower and discipline – getting fit takes a lot of time and effort. We may, to a lesser degree, be able to assume that anyone with rough hands, and in particular, men, have labour-intensive jobs where they use their hands a lot while those with smooth and unmarked hands can be assumed to have some form of office or non-labour-intensive jobs. The art to making accurate judgements is quite simple – we need to use a bit of common sense and logic. 

Where does this unconscious programming to judge people so quickly actually come from? Some researchers theorise that it comes from nature. That our tendency to make fast judgements is programmed into every individual as a way to identify good potential mates and satisfy our biological need to reproduce. A study done over a decade ago actually proved that each individual emits pheromones that can either attract or repulse the opposite sex – so your body releases these pheromones to help you attract a mate that is suitable for reproduction – may sound quite animalistic but many people have experienced this as “chemistry”. Its proposed that if you have good chemistry with someone you are genetically suited to reproduce.

However, the way that we judge others, all biological and natural processes ignored is also determined by our environment. You are programmed to be attracted to people that are more often than not, of the same race, social class and attractiveness as you are. You develop these preferences as a direct result of the people that you are surrounded by from birth (our parents, siblings and friends). When they make certain judgements we tend to immolate them to a certain extent. We then begin to formulate habits which then develop into the subconscious and automatic judgements that we experience daily. This whole process is actually quite helpful because it allows our brains to literally “filling in the blanks” as quickly and effectively as possible. This is indeed a human trait that has evolved to help us avoid danger and as mentioned, identify and attract a suitable mate.

Our biological programming is inclined to make us more attracted to those who have similar features to us, those that are of a similar body weight and those that are fertile and healthy. Women who have a higher waist to hip ratio are seen as more fertile as well as those who have healthy, glowing skin and white teeth. This is nature’s way of saying “pick someone that is fertile so we can reproduce and healthy so they can look after the children”. If this all seems a bit too primitive for your liking – don't worry nature isn’t always stronger than nurture and some things – even choosing a date -  can become a conscious process that you have a great deal of control over. If your having trouble finding a date –read the article –“New in town? Join a dating site (or two)” – to find out why joining a dating site is the best way to find a suitable match – whatever it is your looking for.

Since we know that first impressions count – naturally when we’re on the hunt for a date we want to make sure that we do everything possible to make that first impression count.

Although looks are, for the most part, determined by our genetics and though there isn’t much we can do about the genetics we inherit – we can certainly do a lot to improve and maintain our looks. One of the most obvious yet important, parts of this would be exercise – not only does it help us shed and keep off excess and unwanted fat but it also has a huge effect on our health. It’s a fact that fitness is one of the most attractive qualities that both men and women can posses. Think about the last time you were in a gym, or in any public place – if you spot a fit person chances are you won’t be able to look away. Even women stare at other fit women. Why? Simply because we are all attracted to beauty. This doesn’t mean you have to be a gym freak just to get a date – you just have to have that spring in your step that screams “I own this body”.

The second most important thing for both men and women is hygiene. Good hygiene is a must – you (and your clothes) need to be clean and neat – there are simply no two ways about this one. For men hand and toe nails must be short and clean and any facial hair must be neatly trimmed. Hair must be cut and styled. Same applies to women. A sexy perfume is a must – but don't over-do it – one or two spray’s is enough. Dong forget that your aftershave, underarm deodorant or roll-on and even the detergent you and fabric softener you use to do your laundry can all make for a super-potent mix – less is sometimes more. I don't think it’s particularly necessary for me to go into dental hygiene but if you haven’t had your teeth cleaned in a while you should probably book an appointment – and if necessary get them whitened – a sexy smile is a sure way to get anyone’s heart throbbing!

Now that we’ve covered the basics let’s talk about one of the most important factors – your clothes. Yes, you should go out and buy something nice to wear – especially if your style and wardrobe is outdated or inappropriate. Women notice what a man is wearing – it’s commonly noted to be the “tell all” of who a man is. Women are much more aware and sensitive to detail – so if your clothes say “I'm happy, successful and confident”, women will instinctively be drawn to you. However, if your clothes say “I'm depressed, confused and desperate”, you'll have all the women within eyeshot running for the hills.

For both men and women, it appears that wearing red is the best way to attract a date. The University of Rochester in New York, recently conducted a study where they determined that men thought of women wearing red more likely to respond to their advances. I totally agree with this because let’s face it it’s impossible to take your eyes off a lady in red! Although this research may have had women running to the store to buy anything red they could get their hands on, be cautioned that this applies only to women. Another, similar study concluded that most women find grey to be the sexiest colour on a man. The second place went to black, followed by blue, green and coming in at number 5 - white. However the top spot changes depending on the age of the woman – it seems that women between 25 and 35 find white to be the sexiest colour on a man while women between 35 and 45 preferred grey and black. Well we can all agree that deciding whether a date is a good match for you based on the colour they’re wearing is a bit far-fetched and harsh; the truth is that this research is simply too strong to ignore.  Women notice what a man is wearing and it’s important that we put the time and effort in to get it right.

Since colour isn’t going to win you the best dressed prize – we need to go into a bit of detail about exactly what you should wear and this, particularly for a first date, largely depends on the type of activity you’ve got planned. If you're planning on going for a walk or a movie then the most sensible thing to do is go for a casual look. A white shirt with a pair of jeans is the way to go but don't be afraid to show a bit of your own personality. Jeans are sexy, casual and match well with almost anything, from a smart button down paired with some smart shoes to a regular t-shirt and sneakers. A polo shirt is a much better option than a regular t-shirt if it’s a casual look you’re going for on a first date but, be careful not to tone it down too much. Don't wear a t-shirt that has a print on it – women instinctively take this a sign of immaturity and childishness. It may suggest you’re not very serious about the date – or about being in a relationship. A printed shirt is the equivalent of a large floral print dress for women – it may show personality and even be “cute” but it’s not serious enough to make anyone take you seriously – especially on a first date. Some may argue that personal style is more important that being “sensible” or fashionable but I think we can all agree that when it comes to men’s clothing – less is always more. If you have a particular and distinct style then you should definitely stick to it just remember that clothes shouldn’t distract people from getting to know you and seeing your own unique features. I think fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld puts it best: “I want everyone to wear what they want and mix it in their own way. That, to me, is what is modern.”

It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune – you can purchase some of the finest quality items at a fraction of the cost it would cost in a store on sites like eBay and Amazon. Like Karl Lagerfeld  said: “Never use the word “cheap”. Today everybody can look chic in inexpensive clothes (the rich buy them too). There is good clothing design on every level today. You can be the chicest thing in the world in a T-shirt and jeans — it’s up to you.”

A sexy-casual choice like I’ve mentioned above is the Lacoste men’s polo shirt which you can pick up for around $40. eBay also has an assortment of Ralph Lauren custom fit polo t-shirts that are the perfect accessory for a casual lunch, movie or even a less-formal dinner for only around $25 – an absolute steal! For a casual day out on the town, a white polo shirt with a modern-cut pair of jeans will look great on most men but be warned that white may be considered “sexiest” but it makes you look bigger, so if you’re heavier set, you may want to consider grey or black – just make sure the quality, fit and cut are all flattering to your body type and weight. If you’re not sure what is flattering to your build you should try on a variety of cuts and styles to help you figure it out. Google is your best friend – use it find some inspiration. If you have a larger belly or short legs I recommend you hire a tailor to create some perfect-fitting items that will take the attention away from your flaws and emphasis the better parts. You can think about it like an investment into yourself and your future.

How tight should your shirt actually be? Well, you should always aim for a balance – neither too tight nor too loose fitting. You may want to show off your body, particularly if you’re fit and toned but, you don't want to seem egotistical and literally be popping at the seams. Skinny jeans are an absolute turn-off and a faux pas for anyone except possibly, a teenager. In a recent survey 2036 females were asked to rate men based on their attire – 96% of those women rated men wearing skin tight clothes as “unattractive” and “not someone I’d like to date long-term”.

If you plan on going out to a fancy restaurant then, in my opinion, the best way to go is a smart pair of suit pants with a button down shirt, no tie and two buttons undone paired with smart shoes. All women find a neatly groomed man that’s dressed in classic attire attractive however, if your overdressed you will definitely make yourself appear a little too over eager. Rather than overdress, I suggest that you go slightly underdressed. This may sound unusual but let’s face it if you took a woman to a movie and she showed up dressed for a masquerade ball, you may think her judgement may be slightly off as well as that she’s a little too eager to impress – this is why it’s best to leave the tie and suit jacket at home. Even if you’re going on a night out with an escort, you'll not only feel more confident and sexy in a button down shirt without a tie but, the lady will certainly be pleased.

If you’re looking for some sleek and stylish button down long sleeve shirts – Armani has some of the most classic pieces and you can pick them up for around $25. Also from the Ralph Lauren brand you can pick up a classic fit button down shirt for $55 – super high-quality and guaranteed to last. If you’re really looking to impress and don't mind paying for it - why not purchase a Roberto Cavalli shirt (will cost you around $85 on eBay or Amazon). I'm not suggesting that you have to wear these, or any other brands, to look good but you do get what you pay for so I recommend investing in one or two high-quality items that will last rather than on 4 or 5 cheaper items of bad quality.

Jewellery should be kept to a minimum – by going for a simple chain or bracelet, and earrings for a woman, you can’t go wrong. Your belt should be simple not bulky and, should match your shoes. If you’re wearing black leather shoes you should aim for a belt of the same colour and material. Shoes should not be too shiny – unless you're going to be tap-dancing the night away. If you’re going to wear sneakers – make sure they’re clean and try stick to simple colours – red shoes are not going to do you any favours.

Now this may seem like an obvious one but most ladies out there absolutely hate saggy clothing – unless you’re a rapper or a teenager – pants that sag below the crotch are an absolute turn off – don't do it –ever. This doesn’t mean you should wear them high on the waist either – unless you’re going for a dorky dad look. That goes for t-shirts too – if you look like you’ve recently lost 50 pounds – or possibly live out of your car then you’re not going to get a good reaction from any woman. Slippers and sandals are a absolute no-no unless you’re going to the beach. Also on a similar note – don't let your underpants show – it’s not attractive.

Successful dating is also dependent on the level of honesty on both sides. If you’re not looking for a serious relationship than always be honest and let your date know about it as soon and as lightly as possible. If you lead people on you’re not only going to struggle to keep up the with the lies but you'll end up hurting someone – and that’s not something you need to be doing because I grantee that if your just looking for a one night stand – there are lots of women and men out there looking for the same thing.

Since we’ve got appearances out of the way let’s talk a little bit about the actual date. The key to successful dating is to make sure that you take things slowly – try to ask her more about herself than you talk about yourself. This will ensure you avoid the common mistake of seeming too boastful and self-absorbed and lets her now you're interested in her. The truth is we all like to talk about ourselves it’s basically a non-direct way of boosting our own confidence by stating out loud what we think of ourselves, what we’ve done and our plans for the future but as a general rule you should aim to make about 60 – 70% of the conversation about your date – it will ensure a bit of mystery surrounds you and you’ll definitely get a second date. Women will find an intelligent man attractive but if your intelligence is overbearing, or bordering on egotistical and undermining you'll simply make a really bad impression. You are who you are but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on areas where you’re lacking social skills or appropriate behaviours. If you're at a bit of a loss for words, a “safe” yet interesting topic is college or university – ask them what they studied, where they studied and about their overall experience. You can also talk about any similar interest you have, your favourite places, what countries you’ve travelled to or would like to travel in the near future or anything that can help you get to know your date and what they’re really about. Don't ever talk about your past relationships or ex’s with a potential date, we’re all curious to know about these things but if the person is really worth your time, you'll have many opportunities in future to talk about the past.

Just remember that the whole point of dating is to have some fun while you're doing it – so don't over think things, be yourself and enjoy the process!

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