Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dressing for real-world dates

When it actually comes time to choose an outfit, what do you put on? Well, if it were up to me, everybody would have a first date in their grubbiest, most comfortable clothes (grubby in terms of well-worn, not dirty). Men wouldn’t shave, and women’s legs would remain bristly, and new clothes wouldn’t even be contemplated. This non-dress code (or dress non-code) would complement the activities planned, which, if it were up to me, would be active and fun and casual. None of this fancy restaurant stuff, worrying about prices and the right fork and not dribbling and stray bits of broccoli between your teeth and a snooty waiter and tight shoes or collars or tables.
But, since I’m not in charge of the universe, I promise to help you get through getting dressed for your date in the real world. Understand that no one, not even cute little ol’ me, can or should tell you exactly what to wear on a first, second, or fifth date. You already know. Just trust yourself. Use that three-pound blob of gray matter sitting atop your neck (no, you don’t have something large caught between your teeth). In other words, if you use your head — and not your credit card or your Vogue or your MTV or your rose-colored glasses or your mom — you’ll look and feel just fine. But don’t panic. I know it’s hard to keep your head on straight, let alone your wardrobe pulled together, when you’re prepping for a date. But if you keep the following in mind, you’ll do just fine:
  •  Rule 1: Preparation before, comfort during. Worry a lot about what you’re wearing and how you’re smelling and looking before you leave the house so that you never have to waste a moment thinking about it after you’ve left.
  • Rule 2: There is no one right way. Creating a look is very different from the way you would sound out a word or learn to dance or memorizeFrench verbs. It’s not like “Put your left foot here and your right foot there.” Dressing yourself up to go out is a recognition of who you are, your personal style, what you want to say about yourself, how you want others to see you, and, in a way, a reflection of your unique sense of yourself. You go, guy. You go, girl.
A surefire way to make sure you end up in the right outfit is to think about your outfit in terms of what looks and feels good on you, how appropriate the outfit is for the activity, how your date is dressing, and so on. The following sections lead you through this examination.

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