Interested in finding out more about First Date dress codes? With the age-old image of the modern gentleman making a rejuvenated and revitalised comeback, we think it is important to understand how your style and etiquette can help to shape the future of your dating. Think of your outfit as the finishing touch to your shining individual personality. Your next first date could be your last…

Fabulous first impressions and enviable etiquette

From holding the door open and allowing a lady first, to gently pushing the chair in for your companion; manners and traditional male etiquette is still relevant for the modern man. This is why dressing for a date is important and can go a long way in helping make the best first impression. One of the first things noted by your date will be what you are wearing, just as you will more than likely pass judgement on her presentation efforts.

Surely, you would like your dress sense to reflect the type of gentleman you really are? Your outfit speaks volumes about your character and many subtle hints can help portray the image you are hoping for. Your outfit should reflect your personality, whilst being in-keeping with the event at hand. Try some of our handy tips to add a real touch of class and help give your first date the best of first impressions.

Location, location, location

Believe it or not there is a lot to consider when it comes to dressing for a first date; it is not just a case of picking your favourite shirt and splashing on some aftershave. A common mistake made by today’s modern man is not dressing to suit the occasion. Whilst the focus will be to impress the lucky lady, remember to consider the environment you will be in. Let us first consider the different events, which will invariably dictate the dress etiquette for the date.

Dinner date

Does the restaurant have a dress code? How will you get there? These are all questions to consider. Many of the more exclusive restaurants maintain a dress code, so if in doubt a quick visit to the venue’s website will not go amiss. Something smart but not black tie will likely be more than suitable.

Theatre or the opera

A date at the theatre will always require some grooming; whilst the opera or ballet will likely need that little bit extra. Check the dress code, as for some galas black tie is mandatory or the dress code is specified. You will be sitting down for long periods of time so pay attention to the material you choose – a light linen suit will crease almost instantly so avoid if possible.

Spectating at an outdoor event

If your date is taking place at an outdoor event such as a tennis, horse racing or polo tournament, then more relaxed leisure wear is ideal. Be wary of the elements but keep that attention to detail in mind right down to your coat. If it is not too nippy a gilet can be a great way of showing style whilst keeping off some of the chill. For a day at the races a light, more casual suit jacket is usually recommended to attain that ideal smart/casual feel. If you are feeling bold then why not show off your confidence with some sharp red trousers.

Balls or gala events

Events of this persuasion will require more formal attire. It is likely that the ticket or invitation will specify the expected dress, but if not then ensure to find out ahead of time. Pocket squares and bow ties may feature as an important accessory, so be sure to get them right.

Exploring the outdoors

If you are planning on making the most of the great outdoors then show off your practical side by being prepared. If you will be doing a lot of walking, consider your footwear. A stroll along the coast or through the countryside may require appropriate footwear and a bit of weather protection. This is the perfect time to show you are forward thinking and well organised. An umbrella would not go a miss, nor would an extra layer in case the temperature drops. You do not want to fall at the first hurdle, so show off those stylish extras if out in the brisk British weather.


The time of day does matter…

What you wear will be determined not only by the occasion, but by the time of day. It goes without saying that eveningwear is not appropriate for an afternoon lunch date! You would not want to be wearing your best dinner jacket and cummerbund to a sporting event, just as you would not be expected to wear a tailored suit to brunch.

Breakfast & brunch

A casual breakfast date or late morning brunch is the perfect opportunity to show you have some get up-and-go as well as showcasing your every-day style.
Prove that you can dress just as well in day wear as for smart occasions; by showing you have style even in leisure wear. A nice chino and jumper combo with a suitable coat may be just the ticket. Alternatively try a stylish shirt and jumper that shows you made an effort without being overkill.

To consider:
  • Breakfast often involves a light lunch and hot beverages – ensure you are poised to lean across and offer some tea.
  • Do not make it a big occasion. A casual brunch date can show you like to get out and about and live an active lifestyle.
  • Avoid covering last night’s hairstyle with a hat – she will notice.


When heading out for lunch or a nice afternoon date, remember the temperature can drop as the sun goes down. Try to avoid shorts and t-shirts or take a coat, unless of course, you want to cut the date short.

To consider:
  • Afternoon tea at a dainty tea room can show off your sensitive side, but remember to leave some cake for her
  • Book early if the tea room is particularly popular. Some of the most exclusive hotels and venues require booking well in advance
  • Picnics in the park can show off your romantic nature, but make sure to take a blanket and avoid wearing beige – grass stains are never a good look!


What you wear for an evening date will most likely be dictated by the occasion, pay attention to whether there is a dress code and make an effort with the finer details, such as accessories. Also, be sure to communicate the dress code should location be a surprise.

To consider:
  • Avoid wearing trainers or casual shoes – many clubs and some restaurants will not allow you entry.
  • If you decide to extend your date by going out dancing avoid potential embarrassment by paying attention to your footwear in advance check the dress code with the venue.

Immaculately groomed

It is a common fact that women like men who knows how to look after themselves. This does not mean you absolutely must have a moisturising routine or regular manicures, but it does mean that making an effort with your grooming for a first date is worth the effort, as it will be noted.

Whilst hairstyle is a matter of opinion; whatever your look, ensure your hair is clean and brushed and avoid over-doing it with the product.

Shaving pre-date is a must. If you proudly sport facial hair then this is also not to be forgotten in the grooming routine. When it comes to your beard, remember to condition and comb, perhaps even trim it. It may be hard to contend with, losing a bit of your valued beard, but before that all-important date a little TLC will go a long way.

As a final important touch, ensure your nails are clean, and trim any jagged edges. Complete the look with a splash of your favourite aftershave, but remember less is more!


Whilst portraying a groomed look is important; being comfortable is integral. Make sure your clothes fit well and allow movement. If trying out a new look, ensure you feel at ease, this will help with a lot of the psychological elements of dating. If you look obviously uncomfortable, it will come across negatively. Try to achieve a good balance between comfort and style.

Ensure all clothes are clean and freshly ironed or dry cleaned. Shine your shoes and make sure to present a clean appearance.

Pre-date, consider how long it will take to travel to your destination and how you will be arriving. Ensure that you will not arrive with creases on your outfit and be aware if the fabric is prone to marking. Arrive on time, or even early to make the best impression; arriving ‘fashionably’ late will accumulate a black mark before the date has even begun.

Also, communication is essential – make sure she knows your plans, as she will appreciate a heads up too. If she has picked the venue then make sure you understand a little about it, to know what to expect. If it is your choice then it is essential to let her know about any dress codes and what to expect, as if you are wining and dining she will want to look the part. Ensure she knows the atmosphere and setting so that she will feel relaxed and confident with her attire. There is nothing worse for her than feeling under- or over-dressed on a first date.

During the date

Greet your date warmly, but appropriately and lead with a compliment. Traditional courtesy goes a long way with manners and general politeness. Take advantage of a cloakroom if there is one, but if not offer to take her coat if it is pertinent.

Be sure to maintain a comfortable look and check that your shirt remains tucked in and your laces remain tied. Simple things like this can show you care about how you look and will help maintain your charm right until the very end.

At the end of the date remember to leave your calculator in your pocket; spitting the bill is fine in the modern age, but it does not hurt to offer to cover the whole cheque. If the date has gone well, do not forget to suggest a second meet, hopefully by now your nerves should be confidently brushed aside and your date will be more than willing to see you again.

As one of the UK’s oldest family-run tailors, we have helped people dress the part since 1949. Never underestimate the positive effect of dressing well, both for your own self-esteem and in the eyes of others. This attention to detail has been slowly growing in importance and recognition for all modern gentlemen. Put your best foot forward and enjoy your first date with the confidence that can only be gained with the best trappings.