What is your attire telling your dates?

Is what you wear on the first few dates with a guy sending the messages you want? Do you find men relate to you differently than you’d like? It may not be them — it may be signals you’re sending through your appearance.

When I began dating again I thought I had to wear what I saw on 20-something gals. Clothes that didn’t leave a lot to the imagination — tight and revealing. Confiding my trepidation to a friend, she wisely said, “If you show cleavage down to your navel you’ll only attract men who only want your body, not men who are interested in your mind or personality.”

I took her advice and wore less-revealing, yet flattering and up-to-date clothes on first dates. I saved the plunging cleavage for dress-up events when I knew that my body wasn’t the only thing a guy was after.

If you don’t regularly wear sexy clothes other than on dates, you can forget the effect it can have on men you aren’t romantically interested in. I was reminded, somewhat embarrassingly, at a dinner party the other night. I wore a top that was lower cut than I usually wear to a casual social event. I didn’t think about it much until at dinner a male friend seated near me complimented my blouse. I offhandedly confided that it was a bit more revealing than I usually wore. The man seated next to him, who I didn’t know, chimed in, “Why do you think we’re all sitting at this end of the table?” I was suddenly aware that I’d been conversing with 5 unaccompanied married men seated around me.

Silly me. I wouldn’t wear that blouse on a first date, as I wouldn’t want to give a man the impression I’m inviting more than getting to know him. I wasn’t trolling for men’s attention, and since I knew this party would be attended by partnered — not single — men, I didn’t feel my attire would attract unintended focus. Dumb, I know.

Although some men claim not to notice what a woman is wearing, I’m sure they notice the effect her attire has on him. He may not be able to remember specifically the cut of your blouse, the style of your skirt, or how your earrings matched your necklace. But he does notice at some level if what you’re wearing is flattering on you.

Eva LongoriaRecently, I chatted with a married friend about women’s shoes and he said, “The truth is, men don’t notice the shoes women wear.” I knew he was a fan of Eva Longoria‘s Desperate Housewives character Gabrielle. I asked, “If Gabby wore baggy sweat pants with sneakers, flip flops or hiking boots would she still be as sexy to you?” He agreed that while Gabby could be sexy in a potato sack, her footwear did make her even more so. Her attire made a difference in her attractiveness to him.

In “Do you have the right datewear?” I suggest you think through what impression you want to make on a first encounter. I think of dating clothes — dateware — like a costume. Just as actors have specific costumes to immediately broadcast many attributes like age, economic status, time period and personality, so does your dating costume. What you wear shouldn’t project someone you’re not, but should telegraph the characteristics you want your date to know about you: warm, friendly, stylish, smart, fun, or whatever you want to say.

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2 responses to “What is your attire telling your dates?”

  1. Bookyone Avatar

    Hi DG,

    More excellent food for thought here. 🙂 I usually dress down, (I always have, I’m a jeans and T shirt type of gal), but last summer when the weather was really hot and humid, I found myself wearing knee length shorts to work instead of long pants, (it is a casual workplace, everyone wears shorts and T shirts, so I didn’t see where this might be a problem). You can imagine my surprise, then, when I received a memo about appropriate workplace attire. I asked my coworkers if they’d gotten a similar memo, but it turns out I was the only one who’d gotten it. They were surprised, too, and one even suggested it might be a joke, as she said I was more covered up than almost anyone else at our workplace.

    I went back to wearing long pants the next day and I never got another memo. I’m still baffled and more than a little angry about being singled out like that, considering many of my coworkers wore outfits that were far more revealing. Strange…

    As far as dating goes, I’m of the opinion that a man or woman should wear whatever he/she is most comfortable wearing, (so long as it’s occasion appropriate – I wouldn’t wear a short skirt and high heels on a whitewater rafting date), as, for me, the less I have to worry about my clothes, the more I can concentrate my attention on the date itself.

    Best wishes from bookyone 🙂

  2. NYSharon Avatar

    “I wasn’t trolling for men’s attention, and since I knew this party would be attended by partnered — not single — men, I didn’t feel my attire would attract unintended focus. Dumb, I know.” You shouldn’t feel bad. For the first time I disagree with your thoughts. The man who commented on your blouse is the wrong and inappropriate one–treating you like a piece of meat! It is not your fault you got attentions from some married men because you were flattering your assets. You should be able to wear WHATEVER you want as long as it is appropriate for the occation. It is an old fashioned myth that it is a womans’ fault and that she is LOOKING for something when she is dressed a certain way. (Sorry DG my former rape crisis counselor came out.)