First Impressions Count

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For some people, dressing up for a first date is an unexciting routine; after all, you’ve been there and done that.

As a result, you no longer make the conscious decision to pick a nice shirt or dress – anything will suffice as long as it’s clean and not too wrinkled or yellowed. But do these seemingly mundane activities really matter?

As it turns out, putting in the extra effort to look even slightly better than usual could go a long way in making a lasting connection with your love interest. It could even determine if you’ll have subsequent dates.

You only get one chance

So let’s start with the obvious. How you look should matter to you because you’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression. In fact, studies in psychology reveal that it only takes us a fraction of a second to form an impression of people we’ve just met. What’s more, this first impression is so powerful that it often takes precedence over what we actually know about the person – gut feeling over fact. So don’t just count on your online profile or the strong recommendation of a friend to help tide you through that first date - it’s not going to matter if you look if you do not put in the effort to look your best.

It’s nice to surprise

One of the first things that a person notices about you is the way you dress, be it online or in person. Given the widespread use of social media, chances are that your date has already checked you out online, and it’s now too late to remove all traces of your embarrassing past. But don’t fret! One thing for sure is that everyone loves a nice surprise, especially if they agreed to a date despite having seen a picture of you at your worst. Always make the effort to turn out better looking in person than you do in photos. In doing so, you’ll make your date feel good and show that you actually care to be there.

Face value

Let’s get this straight: it’s okay if you insist on sporting the look of a new-age hobo whose outfit consists of rag-like garments featuring a patchwork or two. But even today’s hobos make the effort to appear groomed – facially, at least. Looking fresh and hygienic could go down better with your date than a three-piece business suit. For the guys, this means doing away with the dishevelled hair and going for a haircut and shave. For the ladies, even if you absolutely abhor dolling up, putting on a little nude (skin-coloured) makeup and primer can make that much of a difference in making that first impression count!

Embrace who you are now

Finally, dress to represent who you are now and what fits you best now. This shows your confidence and certainty about yourself. Focus on apparel that best represents you and flatters your body shape. This means throwing out that shapeless dress that is ‘oh-so-comfortable’. Consider dressing as a way of branding yourself. No, it’s not about the label or trend that you’re wearing, but rather that your clothes fit well and are in good condition (no brown spots or moth-eaten holes, please). Only when you start learning to know and respect yourself will others begin to want to know and respect you.

Rule of Three

Now that we’ve covered the importance of dressing on your first date, what’s next is the Rule of Three body language cues in the art of making a good impression. Here’s what to do and what not to do with your…

Hands and Arms

Do: Give a firm handshake; relax your shoulders and arms

Don’t: Get touchy; fold your arms


Do: Maintain eye contact (pay attention!)

Don’t: Look down and away; or worse, look at your mobile phone

Facial expression

Do: Smile and laugh (have fun)!

Don’t: Frown, scowl or snort


This article was first published on DUET magazine.