Although they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, most of us judge others in pretty significant ways based on their appearance. Research from Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov found that it takes only one-tenth of a second to form an impression of a stranger from seeing a picture of their face.

What’s more, longer exposure didn’t have much of an influence in altering these impressions, and often increased the viewer’s certainty in the accuracy of their judgments. Of course, conversation and sustained interaction will dramatically influence a person’s perception, but the fact remains: it does matter what you wear on a first date.

But now that you understand why you should invest a lot of thought and effort into looking good for a first date, the hard part is determining what you should do to truly look your best. Beyond first impressions alone, preparing with the following 10 tips on what to wear on a first date ensures you’ll feel fully confident, which allows your personality (a.k.a. the most important part of who you are) to shine through.


Pretty much since the cosmetic industry was first introduced, women have been taught that the more makeup they wear, the more beautiful they will be. But recent studies have shown that attitudes toward cosmetics and beauty have shifted.

Perhaps this is a result of the ubiquitous #nomakeup hashtags popularized by celebrities on social media platforms, or maybe it has to do with the rise of women in power. Regardless, the 2014 study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology revealed that both sexes overwhelmingly preferred women with 30 to 40 percent less makeup than they were wearing originally.

To achieve a natural look for your first date, choose subtle makeup that enhances your natural features. For example, since full, natural eyebrows are a new trend this season, pluck yours only to create a little shape and add a little enhancement with a brush-on fiber gel. Mineral powder is ideal for natural, flawless foundational coverage, with a hint of blush for highlighting.

Finally, finish off your natural first date look by curling your eyelashes and adding a light coat of mascara.


A favorite makeup trick of Victoria’s Secret supermodels, adding a shimmery highlight to the inner corners of your eyes makes them appear wider, brighter, and more youthful. Plus, it’s versatile enough to lighten up your look for either day or night. According to celebrity makeup artist Troy Surratt, “Silver looks good on cooler skin tones, while bronze and gold work better on warmer skin.”


Although the location of the date might influence your outfit choice for what to wear on a first date (see tip 6), it’s generally best to wear a dress or skirt as opposed to pants or shorts. Dresses and skirts can range from casual to classy to “can’t keep his hands off you.”

In other words, you don’t have to worry about seeming like you’re “trying too hard” for going with this classic feminine look. Besides, it’s always better to be overdressed as opposed to underdressed.

You truly can’t go wrong with a floral print dress and a cute, comfy pair of ballet flats, or strappy sandals for a summery look. Modify as you please with a colorful cardigan, a waist-cinching belt, and/or a trendy denim jacket. You can also show off your legs with a trendy bandage skirt and shiny heels, paired with a casual, girly tee, a structured jacket, and coordinating accessories for a chic finishing touch.


Even more than your clothing, your footwear should be chosen according to the date’s location, weather, activity, and other relevant details.


Improper footwear can cause pain and/or discomfort that can distract you from, well, putting your best foot forward. Although your inner Carrie Bradshaw might tempt you to wear your “do me” heels, wearing sexy shoes on the first date really only sounds good in theory.

In reality, you’ll most likely end up with blisters, that cringe-worthy “my feet are literally killing me” gait, a potentially emasculating height advantage on your date, and the ever-looming threat of falling flat on your face.

Wedges and feminine flats are pretty solid first date footwear choices, while boots and sneakers should be worn only if the date involves an extensive amount of walking and/or weather conditions require more protective footwear.


Some women are looking for “Mr. Right”. Others are just looking for “Mr. Right Now”. If you’re more interested in getting in touch with your wild side, as opposed to settling down, more power to you! But the rules are a bit different in the game of seduction. Building that steamy sexual tension on the first date starts with what you wear.

Part of being sexy is feeling sexy, and feeling sexy in your hot first date night outfit starts with feeling sexy underneath it all. Do some toning exercises, spend some time at the tanning salon, clean up your diet, get a bikini wax (or full-body wax for the full effect), moisturize, and do whatever else you need to do to feel totally confident and sexy in your birthday suit.

Buy some sexy lingerie to enhance your new bod, and choose an outfit that puts your push-up bra to work. 


Being practical on a first date doesn’t sound like much fun, but you have to devote at least some attention to basic variables like the setting and weather forecast when picking out what to wear on a first date. For example, if he’s taking you out to dinner at a fancy restaurant (in which case, points for him), you’ll need to step up your fashion game.

The classic LBD (little black dress) is always appropriate and yet somehow never boring for formal affairs. Rock it with a bold red lip, pointed toe pumps, and simple jewelry for the perfect femme fatale look.

Alternatively, if your date invites you to a more laid-back evening of shooting pool and drinking beer, you’ll want to aim for a look that merges small town country girl with a little badass punk rocker.

For example, you can show a little skin with a cropped band t-shirt (Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Nirvana, etc.), paired with a black leather jacket (or oversized flannel), high-waisted denim cutoffs and some converse high-top sneakers. Finish off this look with bed head waves and black winged eyeliner.


Style is 50% clothing and 50% attitude. If you’re not comfortable with what you’re wearing, it will show; and the impression you give off will probably not measure up to your expectations. Of course, you also won’t exactly have him falling head over heels if you show up in your sweats, so comfort can’t get you everywhere either. You’ll want to maintain a balance of being comfortable, while also taking the time and effort necessary to look attractive and sexy.

Although it might seem ideal, even mandatory, to buy a new outfit to wear for your first date, it’s actually best to wear an outfit you’ve worn at least once before and know you feel comfortable in. That dress might look and fit perfectly in the dressing room, but what happens when you find out too late that you can’t dance in it without flashing the whole dance club?

A familiar comfortable outfit helps you stay focused on the event— putting you in a better position to form a real connection with your date.


It’s supposed to be so commonly understood that it’s become a cliche, but sometimes we need to be reminded: nobody’s perfect.

The ideal is to love yourself and be proud of your flaws regardless, but there’s a difference between making peace with your stubborn belly bulge in your bathroom mirror and flaunting it in a Britney Spears-esque belly shirt for all of downtown to see. If it makes you feel more comfortable and confident to mask your flaws and highlight your best assets, then you do what you gotta do.

For example, if you don’t want to worry about having every lump, bump, and dimple showing through your skin-tight bandage dress, invest in some body shapers to smooth out these imperfections and make you feel sexy.

Along these same lines, you should seek out clothing that particularly flatters your figure. For example, if you’ve got a backside that would make Nicki Minaj envious, you can show it off by pairing crop tops with high-waisted bottoms to give your waist-hip ratio the attention it deserves. Drawing attention to the waist is also flattering for women with smaller busts, since it creates the illusion of more dramatic curves.


Every fashion-conscious woman is going to naturally develop a unique sense of style by simply studying trends and weeding through the looks she likes and doesn’t like. Although this might produce an original collage of the trends exhibited around the fashion world, it’s important to bring in at least one entirely unique element that makes your style a true form of personal expression.

It can be something as simple as always wearing the same necklace every day.

You can also get creative by altering your clothes in some unique way, including projects like cutting out the neckline of a t-shirt to show off cleavage or sewing a border of lace to the hem of a skirt to add a dynamic, girly touch. These little additions can allow your date to learn something new and interesting about you right from the outset.


If you’re the type of person who’s always looting through thrift stores and vintage clothing boutiques, and generally love to experiment with fashion, then you should certainly feel free to apply this creative, experimental spirit to your first date fashion. However, you don’t want to step too far outside of your comfort zone for the sake of impressing your date, since false impressions can end up backfiring in the long run.

After all, a constructed image can’t sustain itself for very long.

Not to mention, spending too much time working on appearing a certain way can inhibit your date from getting to know the real you, which he may have liked just as much if not more. So although developing your sense of fashion and enhancing your overall appearance are fun and interesting strategies for navigating the dating world, they should never overshadow or obscure your ability to connect with others on a more intimate level.

Deciding what to wear on a first date should neither be an obsession nor something you shrug off as completely unimportant.

We may think of fashion as an ultimately superficial concept, but even those who aren’t as aware of it express themselves through their appearance in more ways than they know. The way you look not only affects how people perceive you, but it affects how you perceive yourself, and can help you develop a sense of self-confidence through putting effort into and taking pride in your appearance.

If scientific research is accurate in its claim that people make both conscious and subconscious judgments about others based merely on appearance, why not take the time to make sure that outward image reflects the person inside.

Leave a comment