These articles started out as a complaint about badly-dressed men and then two things happened. A good friend of mine, a woman, was complaining about how badly men dress for dates. In fact, women friends of mine have been asking me to write this group of articles for a long time.
That conversation reminded me that there is very little practical advice for men about what clothes are good for dating (and why) so I decided to write some very specific pieces about the subject.
Many articles on clothes for dating are vague to the point of uselessness.
Everything in the following articles is based on facts, research and experience and is as specific as possible. Some of the recommendations here are very direct and some readers may not like them. However, as we used to say about difficult jobs back when I was consulting, “you don’t have to like it, you just have to do it”. If you try these recommendations and they work, maybe you will come to like them. However, even if you do not like these recommendations, they are specific, and give you something to work with.
What happens on a first date – the visual dynamics
This first piece is about what happens when you turn up for a date. The emotional dynamics are important here so we are going to briefly delve into what they are. This piece is the foundation for the four articles that follow, and underpins all of the recommendations. This is a summary overview of dating dynamics as they relate to clothes, it is not a how-to-date guide. There are huge amount written on dating and relationships from a man’s perspective. This and the following articles are not a guide to dating. However clothes bring a lot to dating, especially first dates, and here is my take on the ways in which you can dress to help yourself succeed on a date. For more on how to date successfully see the sites referred to at the bottom of this article.
Establishing your presence is key
First dates are not personal, you have to make them so. You and the woman you are dating, come to the date with a set of win/lose good/bad criteria that you intend to use to determine if this is a person you want to form a relationship with. You (and she) may be an efficient dater, and may have a string of first dates lined up, which makes it even less personal. It is two strangers trying to build a base friendship, in a relatively short space of time.
So when you meet, you need to establish a presence. I am (obviously) on the side of men, so I want you to establish a presence that gives you an advantage in the dating game.
The Eight Second Rule
Style consultants, business and personal presence coaches talk about the “eight second rule”. The psychology of human interaction is such that a person makes up their mind whether they like you or not in the first eight seconds of meeting. After which it is very difficult to change that person’s mind. If I am going to be honest I have met people who I have disliked at first sight. That was the eight second rule in action.
What’s going on here is that everybody receives a huge amount of information from their environment. The conscious brain can only consciously handle a fraction of this information and so the sub-conscious processes the rest. Your sub-conscious makes your decision for you. All of this is a hangover from our animal past, when speed of reaction counted for more than conscious thought.
So you need to make an impact in eight seconds. In eight seconds you may not even have opened your mouth. So non-verbal communication is very important on first contact.
So what matters? Some key factors are;
You must have presence or your date will be tempted to control the frame of the conversation and dominate the date. Steering the date (to meet your objectives) is your job.
When I was younger I was once in the presence of Terence Stamp, the English movie star. He had a massive presence, it was like being with a king or a high priest. It was the same quality that makes him a scene-stealing stand out in movies. Years later, I read an interview with him on how he does it. I no longer have it but if anyone Googles it and finds it, send me a mail.
Personally I am always looking for short-cuts to building presence. I had two really annoying attitudinal habits that I used to display when I met someone for the first time. I used EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), to get rid of one completely and moderate the other to the point of irrelevance. EFT allowed me to do this very quickly. There is a fierce debate over whether EFT is a true therapy or junk science, so I cannot directly recommend it to you. The Wikipaedia article on EFT is here. The internet allows you to make up your own mind.
I will cover attitude in greater detail in another article. This one is about clothes.
Technically Posture is part of attitude, or at least closely related. Women always notice your posture, men mostly forget. Once, in a moment of painful (for me) honesty, my first wife gave me some observations about my posture. She was right about how my posture let me down. I have never forgotten those observations and tried over a number of years to rectify postural errors. Once again, a subject for a future article. At minimum, stand tall and proud, do not slouch like a schlub, it is unsexy.
Place is very important for a first date. Game and Pick-up sites have a huge amount to say about this. Similarly, many of the aphorisms in Sun Tzu’s Art of War are about picking the ground you fight on. I am working on a piece about this, there is so much you can do with place, in order to further you’re dating objectives. But on to the clothes.
Of all the things that you bring to managing the eight second rule, clothes are the easiest to improve and manage. With a little knowledge and some money you can massively upgrade your presence. Clothes let you visually set a style and status before you speak, which with the eight second rule, is exactly what you want. Both in Europe and America we live in an age where, courtesy of the baby-boomers and their childish love of jeans, men dress badly. If you dress well, you are already elevated above the schlubs on the street.
High Status appearance
Studies have definitively shown that women find high-status men more attractive than low status men, regardless of how good looking the lower status men were. How did the women in these studies assess the status of men? They looked at photos of men and judged by the men’s appearance in the photos. Clothes confer status.
Game practitioners (the art and practice of dating and seducing women) talk about higher and lower social value. That to engage a woman’s interest you have to display higher social status. One immediate way to demonstrate status is to dress well. Some clothes, such as jeans or t-shirts, say lowest common denominator.
There are many, many studies of dating. One of the key findings is how disappointed women are by the way their dates dress. Women say “I wear good clothes, shoes, makeup. I look attractive and sexy”. “My date turns up in a dirty, old t-shirt and dirty smelly jeans”. There are endless variations on this complaint. Many of my female friends say the same thing. From their point of view, they are looking for high-status males and what they get are men who are demonstrating from the outset that they are lower status. So, if you want to engage your date’s interest, present yourself as being of high social status. At the very least, you will start the date with her respecting you.
Women and clothes
Women are born and grow up in a world of clothes and grooming, so it becomes second nature to them. They instinctively assess men and other women’s appearance. On the other hand, once again courtesy of the baby-boomers, we now have three generations of men who have no clue about clothes. So if you dress better than the norm, you are already doing better than most men, because women see this.
Quality tells its own story. It also tells a lot about you. That you can discriminate intelligently, identify the good things in life, have good taste. As a man it may take you a while to learn what quality clothing is, but women can identify it in a heartbeat. Use this to your advantage. What Makes a Man majors on this, read our other articles.
The good date story
Good clothes work for you after the date is over. Every woman wants to tell a good date story, your clothes are part of that story. So, the next day, when your date is at work in the office or the strip-club or wherever she works, her girlfriends will want to know how it went and what “he” (you) was like.
So if she can say that “He was really well-dressed, he wore this really stylish blue shirt and a gray jacket” it reinforces her good memories/associations of you. If she can also say “he smelt really good, he was wearing Calvin Klein Eternity” (colognes and smells are covered here), that is even better. It has the added advantage of softening up her friends, who you will have to meet (if you continue to date her). Make no mistake, a woman’s friends can really sabotage your romance, so use all the advantages you can get. Her presentation of you (to them) is a strong enabler.
Why dress well?
You are not doing it to look wealthy, you are looking to display high social status. These things are different in intent.
The last thing you want is for a woman to feel that you are a walking meal ticket. However, good clothes are a powerful enabler. They signal to your date that you are of high social status before you open your mouth, and continue to be so all the time you are with your date.
You have to do the rest. Good Luck.
More in this series
To read the other articles in this series:
Part 2: Shoes and coloured shirts, is here
Part 3: Good skin and bad t-shirts, is here
Part 4: Jackets, hair and knitwear, is here
Part 5: Smell, look and attitude, is here
Men’s Fragrances: How to choose them, is here
Men’s Fragrances: 20 Good Fragrances reviewed, is here
Boggi, Italian ready-to-wear clothes, are here
Anderson and Sheppard, Savile Row Bespoke Tailor, is here
Calvin Klein lifestyle brand is here
There is a profusion of dating sites. Here are some I read;
Chateau Heartiste is here
PostMasculine is here
RooshV is here
Daygame is here
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