All dressed up and going no place

Yahoo News has this first-date fashion advice for men: Avoid khakis, striped shirts, white socks and anything with neutral colors.

And be yourself.

Well, the article actually says, “What you wear should speak to your individuality.”

But what if you’re a guy who wears business casual everywhere? Or who sports his local team’s colors 24/7? Or lives in skinny jeans? Or shorts and flip-flops, even when the temperature dips below zero?

My hasty and by no means exhaustive search of the Internet revealed a similar article at The Dating that warns women not to over- or under-dress for a first date and to avoid being too trendy. It also says to wear what’s comfortable—unless what’s comfortable is strapless or low-cut, because “guys are simple creatures and they have a difficult enough time focusing without your bare skin distracting them.”

On the other hand, leave your face relatively bare because “too much makeup scares dudes.” And, yes, the editors thought it necessary to boldface that sentence.

This all speaks to one of the great conundrums of love and romance. You have to be yourself, but you have to be open to improving yourself, too. The question is whether wearing a polo shirt, as theYahoo article suggests, instead of a pinstriped button-down makes you a better person.

When Mary Jo and I met in 1979, she was wearing a slinky purple disco dress and I a deep blue, wide-lapel velour suit with a tie impeccably knotted into a double Windsor as big as a baseball. Only one of us looked great, but apparently both of us made good first impressions. I’m guessing my John Davidson hair compensated for the suit.

Neither of us, though, was what you’d call a fashion plate. Even for 1979. Mary Jo liked wearing bib overalls. I liked wearing a ratty heather gray hooded sweatshirt under a ratty green windbreaker. She says I wore the sweatshirt and windbreaker on our first date. Neither of us remembers what she wore, but she says it wasn’t the bibs. Even so, I saw her in her full-body denims plenty of times those first few weeks.

If one thing was certain, it was that each of us was looking at the real thing. And I liked the way she looked in overalls. So much so that I got her a new pair for our first Christmas together, which her mother hated and she loved. I got her a necklace, too, but legend has it that it was the bibs that won her heart.

(Or maybe it was my ’65 Plymouth convertible. Two-tone, rust over baby blue. With at least three of the hubcaps in place most of the time. Mary Jo says she married me for my mom’s ultra-comfy 1971-model couch, now the central fixture in our living room.)

At any rate, what I have to say about Yahoo’s advice re first-date attire is, if you’re a guy and you think you’d like to spiff up your wardrobe, do it. But if you love khakis or hoodies or ratty windbreakers or untucked heavy metal T’s, wearing a polo shirt on a first date ain’t gonna fool anyone for long.

Besides, if you like untucked heavy metal T’s, do you really want to go on a second date with a woman who thinks more of you in a polo?

3 thoughts on “All dressed up and going no place”

  1. The convertible was cool. The couch remains awesome. But it was you, baby, all you.

    Also? In 1979, overalls were tres chic.

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