What to Wear On a First Date: Casual versus Semi-Formal Attire

Timeless words to the wise from Shakespeare is that all the world’s a stage. Your words and dating campaign effort may have set the dating stage. Yet, navigating a first date impression can be a tricky affair. In fact, fashion experts caution that first encounters count clothes. The consensus among experts is that walking the middle road on a first date is the best course.

Likewise, the first date wardrobe depends on the day ahead. What you wear should match the event, convey intent, and should be appropriate to the setting as well as the type of interaction sought from your date. What to wear on a first date rides the middle of the road between casual and semi-formal dress.

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Start with Wardrobe Basics

Before outfitting your body, personal grooming should be up to speed. Get haircut or styled about a week ahead of the date. Ensure facial hair, oral hygiene, tended fingernails, well-fitting clothes, and shoes are ready that day. Keep in mind your date’s profile of likes and dislikes, favorite colors, interests and other gleaned knowledge when preparing to dress and first date activities.

Relishing the Versatility of Casual Dress

When it comes to casual attire for first dates, think business casual. Business casual fits into the all-American mindset of taking care of business without being rigid. The agenda is open and negotiable from important discussions to personal chit chat. Business casual includes a leisure top, slacks or jeans, and shoes that match across outfit. Adjust wardrobe for seasons.

Select a shirt fabric, color, design and cut that reflect personal comfort. A cotton button-down shirt in white or blue are common favorites. Polo shirt styles in a range of colors increase unique fashion statements, and can accent outfit, hair color and eyes. Polo shirts and casual dressing are often spotted on celebs such as sports icon David Beckham.

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Slacks such as cotton tan docker, New England nautical styles, men’s tailored outerwear from Axel’s or jeans paired with a sports jacket can keep the outfit from becoming too casual. Shoe selection and socks can make or break fashion style. Sneakers, sports shoes and boat shoes convey very casual tones to the outfit, while non-sport casual shoes and a casual sports coat upscale the look.

Business casual attire is versatile. Reservations at a dockside restaurant, sports game, concert or reception are not out of the question. Nor is a stroll in the park or cozying up to a watering hole out of the picture.

Owning Classic Taste with Semi-Formal Dress

The same casual template can be applied to events that are semi-formal. Take stock of your existing wardrobe and compare to examples you see. You may or may not have wardrobe pieces needed readily at hand. Plan the date for semi-formal events with sufficient time and resources to ensure you’re outfitted appropriately.

Hitting High Notes with Semi-Formal Style

A first date for a semi-formal event might be on the agenda. For such an event, dial the wardrobe up a notch but remain in your comfort zone. Belted slacks, a dark blazer, a cotton button-down shirt and dark leather shoes are classic wardrobe pieces. Tuck a colorful handkerchief in blazer pocket, and add socks that display personality. Skip a tie. Unbutton shirt about two buttons down. Avoid excess cologne. Many celebrity musicians can be seen sporting this semi-formal style during leisure time.

Appropriate attire for semi-formal events depends on the type of event. Events that require reservations well in advance, take place indoors, and have limited seating indicate semi-formal dress is appropriate.

Experts recommend refraining from new clothes, haircuts or styles that are uncomfortable or need time to become your norm. The balance between under dressing and over dressing can be preserved. Factor in first date goals, planned activities and comfort zones for casual dress and semi-formal dress success.


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