If you’ve got a question that needs the female treatment, chances are you’re not the only one who wants to ask it. Beth is our source for the answers. From opinions on men’s style to decoding the sometimes mysterious ways of women, she’ll take on a different question every Thursday. And don’t worry, your identity will be protected too. Click here to get to know Beth, then get in touch with her by sending your question to: firstname.lastname@example.org
So I’m just getting back into the dating game after a very intense few semesters of school, and I’m wanting your opinion concerning my style. Anything that I wear lately either feels way too casual or way too formal. Since I’m only 21 and not a business executive, but like to look presentable to the fairer sex, I was hoping you could point me in the right direction regarding a slightly casual yet formal “dating” wardrobe.
You sound like a responsible young man–putting off dating while you concentrate on a couple tough semesters of school. I remember when I was similarly focused…actually, no I don’t. Didn’t happen. Chasing man-skirts was always more interesting than my sociology classes. Yeah, I said it. MAN-SKIRTS.
Reading your email, I’m wondering if you’re asking what you should wear on dates, or what you should wear to get dates. I’ll answer both, though there’s bound to be overlap between the two. Let’s dive in.
I live near and frequently drive around a large college campus so I see students walking to and from class, and it seems that not a lot has changed since my co-ed days. First, we have the people who have literally tumbled out of bed, or just want to look like they tumbled out of bed. Sweatpants, flannel pajama bottoms, hoodies, flip-flops, bed-head, and so on. Then we have what I think of as the classic college student look–jeans, casual shoes, maybe a sweatshirt, maybe a t-shirt in decent condition. Finally, there’s a small handful of students (mainly women, I hate to admit) who thought they might stop by the club after class, thus they’re wearing tight pants, glitter, stiletto heels, revealing tops, heavy makeup.
On a day-to-day basis, walking around campus, going to class, grabbing lunch, I think you, John, should aim to fall in the middle category. You’re a student, presumably on a budget, and you should look the part. As you wisely said, you don’t need to dress like an executive. But you can live in this middle category comfortably, cheaply, and most importantly, attractively. Choose jeans with a dark wash. They’ll look neater, dressier, and be more flattering than a light wash. Wear shoes that are comfortable enough to walk around in all day, but are still on trend like this half sneaker/half boat shoe, or these throw-back sneakers. For the top half of your body, you can still go casual with t-shirts, but branch out beyond that t-shirt you got for free after winning a buffalo wings-eating contest. Choose patterns and saturated colors. Make sure the t-shirt is in good shape. No pit stains. No holes. Same goes for hoodies. Maybe it’s sacrilegious for a style columnist to give the go ahead on wearing a hoodie, but come on! You’re 21! Hoodies are practically mandatory for graduating from college. How else are you going to hide your hangover? If you want to go more formal with the hoodie, try a sweater hoodie. Wearing the items listed above will show girls that you care about your appearance, but you’re not under the false impression that you’re running a Fortune 500 company.
A “I’m not on a date but I clean up nice ladies” college outfit. Notice they’re all slightly upgraded versions of college standards. Hooded Sweater – $49.95, T-shirt – $16.95, Sneakers – $65.00, Jeans – $32.99
As for what you should wear once you’re on a date…it totally depends what the date is. Movie versus fancy restaurant versus afternoon baseball game…you have to dress according to occasion. My advice above on the bottom half of your wardrobe–jeans and sneakers–can remain the same for a casual date. If you wanted to upgrade to nicer shoes like a loafer, by all means, do so. But do dress up the top half of your body for a date. No hoodie. Try button-ups, polos, and sweaters, depending on the weather. For dressier occasions, like nice dinners, step it up. Wear a blazer. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to look nice as a college student. Keep an eye out for sales and buy out-of-season items during times of transition (right now, tons of sweaters and heavy slacks are being sold for dirt-cheap–stock up on basic items for next fall). Good luck, John–hope your last few semesters of college are a blast!
To end this week, I’d like to put a call out to all readers for questions. It’s just turned spring–got a question about dressing during a time of transition? Looking forward to summer and wanting some picks for shorts? Wondering how ladies feel about a man who indulges in a mani/pedi every now and then? Write to me. I’d love to hear from you.
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