Hot date? Here's how to make a great first impression with your style

The dating rules have changed but style guidelines are not so different. And you don’t need to sacrifice comfort to make a killer first impression, says Carolyn Moore

Millennials, apparently, are outraged. They’ve been watching this show — you might have heard of it? Friends? It was big in the 90s, and now it’s on Netflix, and they’ve discovered mainstream television in 1994 was… a lot less culturally sensitive than today.

Rewatching Friends now, you can’t but notice another element of the show that’s dated as badly as the copious fat jokes, and that’s the gang’s approach to dating. Friends predates even mobile phones, let alone smart phones, so texting, social media, dating apps — the modern apparatus that has shaped the contemporary dating scene is notably absent from the narrative. Which is probably just as well — can you imagine Joey with Tinder?

But if Millennials find it perplexing watching the friends walk up to cute randomers in the coffee house and ask them out for dinner, for Irish people watching it in the 90s, this was just as confounding to observe. If the time-honoured tradition of a drunken snog in a pub leading to another drunken snog in a pub, leading to drunken snogs in pubs without your friends there as backup counts as ‘dating’, then sure, Irish people dated. But until relatively recently, we didn’t have a dating culture. We didn’t walk up to strangers and arrange to sit opposite them, sober, in a restaurant, and talk.

Arguably, we still don’t, but with the advent of Tinder, Ireland has finally embraced the idea of dating — coffee dates, brunch dates, dinner dates; endless opportunities to have a face-to-face with someone you’ve only communicated with via text. For the generation who’ve come of age with Tinder, that’s all fine and well, but for singletons in their 30s or above — or people coming out of long term relationships — it’s pretty overwhelming.

This possibly explains our national obsession with First Dates Ireland. The fact that it’s a scenario many of us have never experienced makes it all the more toe-curlingly fascinating to observe. I don’t think I ever went on something I would classify as a first date, replete with first date nerves over what to talk about and how to make a good impression.

Thankfully, if you’re new to the dating pool, wondering what to wear is something you don’t have to add to that list of anxieties. When it comes to dating, the rules of engagement may have changed, but the style rules have not — and whether you’re 25 or 45 the guidelines remain more or less the same.

You’ll obviously want to make a killer first impression, but make comfort your top priority. Don’t wear anything you can’t walk, eat or breathe in, and avoid garments that require constant adjustment — fidgeting is distracting and reads as nerves, and the more comfortable you feel, the more confidently you’ll carry yourself. With that in mind, if you’re going to channel anyone on your first date, let it be you! A first date is not the time to be trying a new style persona on for size.

It also may not be the best occasion to pull out your most man-repelling fashion faves, but you be you — if strong style statements are core to your identity, your prospective partner might as well find this out sooner rather than later.

Ask any fashion expert and they’ll say the key to nailing first date style is to make it look effortless, and that can prove challenging at this time of year. You’ll want to play it cool, while looking hot, and also keeping warm. To this end, you could do worse than take your style cues from Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Beatnik-inspired spring summer ‘18 collection for Dior, an edgy fusion of feminism and femininity with layers of stripes, polka dots and love hearts (ironic, naturellement).

The pressure of how seriously to take a first date weighs heavily on both parties; the last thing you want to do is tip it into awkward territory by over- or under-dressing for it. From a bowling alley to a romantic restaurant to a (wink, wink) night of Netflix and chill, this collection has it all. Divine distressed denims, dreamy dresses and layered separates, all styled with enough je ne sais quoi to make them look effortless.

If a dinner date is on the cards, a spot of location research is advisable, but if you’re unsure of the vibe, turn to the first date holy trinity: a great dress, cute boots, and a cover up that takes the overall effort level down a notch. Think biker jacket, sloppy knit, or anything that screams laid back luxe. You’ll look cool and casual on arrival, but if you wind up somewhere fancy, you can turn this look on a dime. And that, in essence, is what first date fashion is all about — easy, non-committal style that’s ready to go wherever the night takes you.

Wondering how to do first date style with a fashion edge? Let Maria Grazia Chiuri’s spring summer ’18 collection for Dior show you the way.

Dressed up or down, there really isn’t a first date scenario where jeans won’t work. Coffee, cinema, after work drinks? Check, check, check. Two tone jeans, €19, Penneys.

Elegant and deceptively demure, team this semi sheer devoré midi-skirt with those Zara stiletto booties for maximum impact. Skirt by The Kooples, €268, Brown Thomas.

February is still black tights season for most women, but fear not! These super sexy stiletto booties will negate any hint of frumpiness. €39.95, Zara.

Make your denim work for any situation with appropriate outerwear. A blazer smartens the look, and this season’s on point check add a fashion edge. Jacket, €69.95, Zara.

Look no further than Ganni. Their ultimate cool girl staples are always deliver easy style with an essential edge. Blouse, €129, Brown Thomas.

Your foolproof formula for a relaxed first date is the cute top, jeans and jacket combo. This slogan tee by V by Very is appropriately tongue in cheek. €20, littlewoodsireland.ie.

If you’re unsure where the night will take you, choose an adaptable look with an effortless feel. If the date is a flop, you’ll wear this cold shoulder dress again and again. €34.99, H&M.

Knock any look out of the park in this ALine leather skirt by Whistles. Keep it cool with a tee, get cosy with a striped knit, or look sharp with a blouse. €220, Brown Thomas.

Rekindle your romance with 90s’ style and cover up with a chunky knit, for that easy, breezy, ‘this old thing’ vibe. Cardigan, €47, River Island.

After work drinks don’t have to be a sartorial challenge. A pretty top made work appropriate with a cardigan or jacket becomes date appropriate without. Top, €39.99, H&M.


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