I often get asked about what women should wear on first dates, and I really have just two words to say about that:
That’s it. Be Sexy. Despite blog posts and magazine articles to the contrary, there is no uniform for first dates. In fact, sexiness is different for every woman based on her age, her confidence, and her body type. But at any number – whether you’re counting years, reporting your dress size, or looking down at a scale – your first (and really, only goal) when dressing for a date should be achieving some degree of sexiness.
I know some of you are clenching your jaws (and possibly your pearls) when you read this. I can actually hear more than a few silent diatribes about objectification, being liked for who you are, the appeal of intelligence, self-respect, dignity, modesty, propriety, being true to yourself, and leaving something to the imagination. Those points can all be valid depending on the day, but note that I didn’t ask you to wear Lucite heels and a bandage dress borrowed from a Vegas cocktail waitress; I simply asked you to be sexy.
I know it can be harder for some of us than it is for others, so let’s examine some of the feedback clients often give me when they bristle at this suggestion. If you don’t think sexiness is appropriate for a first date, there’s a chance that one or more of these points might apply to you:
I don’t like being objectified. This isn’t about sex.
Hold up. This isn’t about sex? Are you kidding me? So you just want to make a new friend, is that it? Is that what we should tell your date? That you’re just looking for something platonic? Is that why he called you, asked you out, made dinner plans, and is going to pick up the check? Just to make a new friend? You’re right that a first date isn’t about sex, but it is about sexual attraction; that’s really the point of differentiation between a date and every other interaction in your life. If you don’t invite your date to be attracted to you, he won’t be. But hey, maybe you two can just be friends!
I don’t like dressing “that way.” I like to leave something to the imagination.
Again, I’m not telling you how to dress, but I am telling you how to feel. And so much of your mood – in all aspects of your life – can be dictated by clothing choices. Would you wear yoga pants to an important business meeting? Are you going to wear a skirt to SoulCycle? A bathing suit to a doctor’s appointment? (Actually, I did see a woman do that once. Please don’t.) If you want to be kissed, wooed, desired, wanted, you have to dress the part. Even the most conservative among you can spice things up a bit by undoing a button, letting your hair down, or adjusting a hem length. Invite the attention you want; if you don’t want a man to think about you sexually, I’m not sure why you’re going on dates in the first place.
I don’t like my body. You’re asking too much of me.
It can sometimes seem hard to accept, but we all have issues with our bodies. (Personally, I have about 56 inches of scars from 20 different surgeries, so I know of what I speak.) But if you don’t let yourself like your own body, how can you expect someone else to love it? Whether you realize it or not, you do love some parts of your physical self. If you have trouble starting at the top with a list of parts you like, go ahead and start at the bottom. List the things you dislike most and work in reverse. When you get to the top, you’ll know exactly where to focus with your clothing choices; draw attention to the parts of you that you like most (or dislike least), but always be sure to draw attention to yourself. If you don’t, you’re signaling to your date that some other woman in the room is more worthy of his gaze than you are.
I’m only interested in a guy who’s into more than just the superficial.
Yeah. We all are. Note the “more” in that statement. I get that you want him to be into your brain, but you also want him to be into your body. At least, I hope you do. It’s really enlightening to know that our clients who most often stress the importance of a physical connection are among the eldest. People who’ve had forty or fifty years of relationship experience know a lot more than the rest of us do. One of my favorite clients has often said, “There’s absolutely nothing more important than the way a man looks at me.” She’s right. So learn from your elders. (She, by the way, could teach all of us many, many things about the benefits of great tailoring and wearing slightly tight sweaters that have the perfect neckline. She’s also a successful retired attorney who can talk about almost any subject with a twinkle in her eye, a light laugh, and a smile.)
It’s 2014. The idea that guys are visual creatures seems really unevolved to me.
You’re right. It is unevolved. Because men are not particularly evolved when it comes to matter of the, uh, heart. How many generations do you think it takes to change the hardwiring of attraction? And what, exactly, would be the impetus? If anything, the practices of society – and the human body itself – adapt to feed our visually stimulated sexual appetites. You do, realize, right, that makeup is just a way to mimic the physiological signs of arousal? That every time you put on lipstick or blush or eyeliner you’re telling the men around you that you’re… interested? And your body… if you don’t want to attract the male gaze, your body is the biggest traitor of them all. More than one school of evolutionary thought proposes that enlarged female breasts (practically unheard of elsewhere in the animal kingdom) developed as a response to learning to walk upright; apparently human males need some form of cleavage to be not too far from eye level, and we don’t really care if it’s on the back or the front.
So let yourself be sexy. Admit that you’re looking for a connection that’s both physical and cerebral. Embrace the opportunity to advertise your interests. (Please, please don’t wear something that your friends called “cute.”) Learn to love the parts of your body that you already like, and to like the parts of your physique that you think you’ll never love. It’s ok to show some skin, to wear bright colors, to make choices that make it hard for a man to not look at you. It’s ok to want to be the center of attention on your date. In fact, it’s human nature. 😉