Some rules on how to dress when you’re meeting her parents for the first time
So, things are getting serious, eh? Finally ready to take that big step and meet her parents? The importance of making a good first impression have been pounded into your brain over and over, and now the pressure is really on. Fortunately, the right outfit can get you off on the right foot before you even open your mouth.
So what to wear? Just like at a job interview, or really any other ‘first impression’ type scenario, you want your outfit to be, at its essence, a blank foundation. A foundation that, in this case, is a starting point on which your girlfriend’s parents can build their opinion about you.
Right off the bat, you don’t want to look like a slob, but you also don’t want the parents to base their entire feelings about you on what you’ve worn, but rather what you have to say and how you treat their child. All your outfit should really say about you is “respectful, presentable and successful”.
Now, that sounds pretty simple, but it still leaves you with a dizzying array of options. And there’s nothing more to the point that we can advise here than to know your audience. Hopefully you’re not walking into this blind and already know a bit about the people you’re going to meet. Keep that “blank slate” concept in mind, and use what you know about your audience to guide you from there.
Is the family a wealthy, conservative crew? Are you meeting them at their Cape Cod manor for canapés and tea? In that case, maybe keep it classy in trousers, a blazer and a casual shirt with loafers. Rock the trousers from that essential navy suit you’ve got in the closet and gussy it up with a subtly patterned blazer – but keep your shirt solid, and everything in neutral tones. Blank slate, my friend, don’t forget.
Are your significant other and their family a more casual, blue-collar clan? Take the outfit down a notch, perhaps. Go with some dark jeans, an OCBD and a blazer – again, dipping into the separates from your essential navy suit makes this even easier.
In the end, there is no specific win-it-all outfit, but the idea becomes a formula. Respectful, presentable and successful means basically a put-together outfit – pants, shirt, jacket. Blank slate means keeping those pieces classic and avoiding any sartorial gambles or style swerves. And then reading the audience allows you to tweak the specifics in the right direction to slide smoothly and naturally into the good graces of your hosts. Good luck! And don’t mess this up!