Style Do’s and Don’ts for dating
If you came here from Part 1 of the dating do’s and don’ts series you will know that this is the first post where we give specific clothes recommendations. This post is about solid colour shirts and good shoes. For links to the other posts on skincare, jackets etc see the bottom of this article.
For the where-to-buy references for the clothes recommended here, see the listings at the bottom of this article.
For our American readers
We have a lot of readers in the US and I need to point out that a number of the brands we refer to in these articles are based in England. So wherever possible we have put pictures of the clothes, so it is possible to understand the point of the recommendation, without needing to have access to the actual brand. Recommendations for US brands that produce similar clothes are happily accepted as comments on the article.
No 1. DON’T: The Black Shirt. DO: Solid colour shirts
Black dress shirts. Oh God. Just say no.
There are so any things wrong with a black dress shirt that it is hard to know where to start.
Let’s start with the facts. For most men, black dress shirts are incredibly aging, they throw dark shadows on your face, emphasise those lines down from your nose to the corners of your mouth. If you have any grey in your hair or grey skin tones then the black shirt emphasises it, making you look older and tired. If you smoke, a black shirt heavily amplifies the grey in your skin, those dark pores that smokers get, and your skin look really dirty. Why would a woman want to kiss that face?
Black shirts also have bad social connotations. Older guys without style buy black dress shirts, often because their rock heroes wear black. Black shirt says no personal style, out of touch, emotionally and socially old. Van Morrison dresses all in black and with that fat little body, his head looks like a boiled pink ham sticking out of his collar. I love Van Morrison’s sound but the look is horrible. The U2 guy, Bono, dresses all in black. He has appallingly poor dress style. He looks like the sleazy pimp character played by Dustin Hoffman in the movie Midnight Cowboy.
There is also the colour issue. Westerners react viscerally, emotionally and very predictably to particular colours. The psychology of colour is well-documented, as are our sub-conscious responses to individual colours. With black, you are sending a message that you are dominant, aloof, aggressive, emotionally closed. Depending on how you approach women, some of this might help your inner game but it will not overcome the disadvantages listed above.
Black is a very difficult to wear well. If you wear black clothes, it ages you, makes you look older and less healthy. If you wear a black jacket, you really have to liven it up with a coloured shirt, lighter trousers. Because the shirt is the visual focus of your outfit, a black shirt completely overpowers the rest of your look. The dynamics of men’s clothing are such that you cannot shift the focus from your shirt. Give yourself a fighting chance, no black shirts.
Black button-down dress shirts (the ones with white buttons). The worst possible combination, it suggests that you are brain-damaged.
Stylish women hate black shirts on men, for all the reasons listed above.
Solid colour shirts
Solid colour shirts do look good, their fundamental virtue is that they frame your face. Equally important from a dating perspectiveis that solid colour shirts give life and colour to your face and give a focus to your outfit. Solid colour shirt shirts also work well with gray jackets, the grey acts as a neutral to direct attention to the colour of the shirt. Handy, because lots of men own a grey jacket.
The obvious choice here is Navy-Blue, a colour to which people react very well. Midnight navy is very good for dating, it is a colour that says, emotionally mature, intelligent, competent. All of these are high status signifiers for women to pick up on.
Here is a Navy-Blue shirt from Salerno-based shirtmaker Eterno, they have a shop in London’s swanky Conduit Street. I love the sheen and the rich texture of this shirt, it is movie-star quality.
There are other options
Purples and mauves are good options, especially because many of them complement pale European skins. They bring a warmth and definition to a pale complexion. At a sub-conscious level they send a message of power, high-status, and character.
Here is one I bought earlier, from those delightful Italian craftsmen tailors at Nino’s, in London’s Soho.
Just to prove that not only Italians do solid colour well, here is a very stylish slim fit microcord shirt from Burberry. This is a very clever take on an old style. Definitely not old-school, this would work well with skinny trousers.
Weaves and textures
The mauve shirt above (from Nino’s) has a texture pattern. Such shirts are very useful (and look very stylish) on older men. Not as bold as a print-patterned shirt, its muted pattern is interesting, draws attention to the quality of the shirt. It is different, which once again refers back to your capability to discriminate, your discernment. Women infer a lot from signals like this, that you have learnt good taste.
Similarly this shirt, which has a corded texture in the weave.
Weaves are really useful. They give texture and interest to your shirt. They increase the visual excitement of your look, especially if you team them with a plain cloth jacket.
Advanced style – weaves and patterns.
So patterns are a good way to introduce some joie de vivre into a solid colour shirt. Again, a solid colour shirt with a pattern works incredibly well under a plain solid colour jacket. Here is a possible economy. If you do not have much cash, but you have a solid colour untextured plaincloth suit jacket, add a patterned solid colour shirt and a complementary pocket handkerchief. It’s a sexy, glamourous look for not much money.
Here is an example, using the shirt shown previously.
Shirt colours and you
The secret to success here is knowing that the base colour works for you. Many women, politicians and actors have a colour analysis done by a style consultant. It is an easy thing to have done and it gives you a detailed understanding of what colours look good on you.
No 2. DON’T: Broken dirty shoes. DO: Own at least one good pair of well-made shoes
Shoes are key. Women always check out your shoes. Slightly off-topic, but if a man goes for a job interview, smart interviewers check out their shoes. It is a shortcut to getting a take on a candidate.
Dirty, scabbed-up shoes tell a woman that you have poor personal hygiene, do not have much self-respect or enough respect for others to present yourself cleanly. Some studies say that dirty shoes lead women to suspect that a man has bad sexual manners, is rough and discourteous. Dirty shoes make women feel unsettled and vulnerable. Old chap, that mood will not advance your date….
Poor shoes wear out really quickly. Beware cheap “Italian-style” shoes (which are usually made in China). These have very little internal structure, the leather is crap and they wear out in weeks.
Other shoe don’ts
Do not turn up on a date wearing trainers, unless it is a walking or excercise-themed date. Trainers say “I don’t care”, arrested development, still a kid. Also, unless straight out of the box, trainers smell. Bad.
Earth shoes are not a good look; they fit right into the cant-be-bothered category. That unstructured look they have, like a fat pancake, the formaldehyde pate for a sole? They make your feet look huge, so unattractive. This goes double for Krocs. There is relaxed and there is lazy.
Listen, one of the things that will work in your favour, is if your date has a good story to tell her friends afterwards. If she can say, “he wore these great shoes, beautifully polished”, then you are so much closer to a second date. Several of my women friends said the same thing, “if you spend money on only one thing, make it shoes”.
Long-point “Italian” style shoes, dirty no-shape (curled like a Harem slipper) the toe leather scabbed and split, with the glossy top layer of leather torn / missing around the point of the toe. Why do I see so many men wearing shoes like this?
Buying at least one pair of good shoes is essential. This is a simple exercise, as there are only two style choices, English or Italian.
English classic shoes are handsome and hard-wearing. They are made using a process known as Good-year welting. This is an intermediate layer (welt), which allows for a more durable construction using heavier leathers. We wrote extensively on English classic leather shoes here. Classic American brands, such as Alden, have the same characteristics, durable leathers and a strong welted construction.
Italian shoes are lighter, use a much simpler stitching architecture and have tons of style. However the lightness of their design means they do not last as long as English-style shoes and they need more care (if you want to keep them looking good).
So whatever way you go, you need to spend some money. With English shoes you can buy something which works for both business and dating. With Italian shoes you get such lovely style but they will not suffer much business wear. If you can afford both styles, well and good.
Here are some examples, divided into ad-hoc categories. This is easy, there are so many good brands. Lets start at the top and work down:
Sexy shoes for dating
These are for making an immediate impact.
English – Jeffery West
Every dandy should own a pair of these. Sexiest-evah shoes for men. I have had so many compliments from women about my Jeffery West shoes. Here is a pair I own:
Jeffery West are a bit of cult in England, partly because they reference the dandyish sexy English men’s styles of the sixties.
Italian – Ceseare Paciotti
These slip-ons in patent leather with feature stitching are typical of Paciotti shoes. High style, some bling and incredibly comfortable to wear.
I have a real liking for Paciotti shoes, they say La Dolce Vita high style like no others.
If you style is classic, then overtly sexy may not work for you, but classic with flair is easy to do. Here are some examples.
English – Church
Here is a lively Church double monkstrap in pale chestnut. So two-for-the-price-of-one, a really stylish work shoe and a great shoe for a more casual look.
Italy – Sutor Mantellassi
Sutor Mantellassi make beautiful handmade shoe at their factory in Florence. Here are a pair of their hand-coloured shoes, also in a pale chestnut but very different from the Church monkstraps. These are a pair of Gibsons beautifully cut from a single piece of leather.
More Casual (but still stylish)
English – Albam
Albam make some of the finest casual clothes I have ever seen. Their clothes are made of quality fabrics and hand-finished. Their shoes are “collaborations” between themselves and classic shoemakers. I tried the shoes below a couple of days ago. They are seriously cool, very comfortable and very light. They are a hard waxed canvas, made in collaboration with the famous Dr Martens. Though casual and light, they are also very trim and handsome.
Italy – Ferragamo
These suede loafers are downright beautiful, the colour is a perfect golden tan. Casual and comfortable, but the classic loafer design gives them structure and class. Refined enough that you could wear them with a blue or grey suit.
So this is it for coloured shirts and shoes. As always, your feedback is most welcome.
More in this series
To read the other articles in this series:
Part 1: How clothes work on a date, 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
Eterno, Shirtmakers from Salerno, are in London, here
Nino’s are here
Burberry are here
Corneliani are here
Jeffery West are here
Cesare Paciotti are here
Church are here
Sutor Mantellassi are here
Albam are here
Ferragamo are here
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