Why You Shouldn't Feel Like You Have To Dress Up On A First Date

I'm a theater kid. That might seem like it has nothing to do with dressing up on a first date, but hear me out: I'm a theater kid, which means that I can get dressed to the nines, in full make-up, hair, and glamorously matching dress and footwear in 20 minutes or less. Dressing up isn't a huge imposition or challenge for me. It's just that most of the time when presented with the opportunity, I'm just kind of... "meh."

Don't get me wrong — it's not like I have disavowed makeup or being dressy. I like the way I look with makeup on, I like frilly dresses and outfits that are super full of ~fashion~, and I like admiring them on other people when they feel like gettin' their fancy pants on. But on days when I don't feel like it, I don't really second guess that urge either. Like a lot of people, I am my most at ease in jeans and a T-shirt and my naturally frizz-tastic hair.

And I get that the natural reaction to meeting someone for the first time it to dress to impress. You do it for all your "firsts" — first day of school, first day at a job, first time in any situation that is new or anxiety-inducing. I'm not combatting all of those social norms, because if I told you to show up in jeans to a job interview, the ghosts of your ancestors would probably haunt me for massively messin' with your life. That being said, I don't think there is any reason to extend this line of thinking to first dates. If you want to dress up for a first date because you feel that in your soul, then more power to you. But if you resent the idea of it, here are all the reasons why you shouldn't feel obligated to dress up if you don't want to:

You're Making Yourself Unnecessarily Nervous

I think a lot of us aren't putting on makeup to look better so much as we put it on because it is a ritual, kind of like putting on our battle armor. By getting all dressed up, we are acknowledging the importance of something — it's why some people swear by dressing up to take tests, for instance. I'm not fighting that idea. In fact, that idea is exactly why I'm a proponent of not dressing up for a first date: because they shouldn't be an "event." They shouldn't have a lot riding on them, especially not some massively huge end-all-be-all importance. And when we commit to these big, stressful rituals to be ~just so~ for those dates, we are also giving them a significance they don't deserve, and unconsciously wasting more of our energy being nervous. (Waste that energy on something else, like acquiring cheese or speculating about the next season of The Mindy Project.)

You Will Genuinely Feel More Comfortable During The Date

When you dress up, you inevitably end up wearing or presenting yourself in a way that you don't on an every day basis, so you don't have a ton of experience with what pitfalls to expect. Your perfectly blow-dried hair poofs out in the humidity, or you accidentally rub at that winged eyeliner you usually never apply, or you find out that the dress you have been saving for a ~special occasion~ is actually itchy AF. And when you are trying to balance all these new potential problems from happening, you will, of course, be distracted. In the meantime, your favorite old dress or jeans would never betray you like this.

You'll Be Able To Present A More Personal Reflection Of Yourself

I'm not subscribing to that whole, "GASP! WOMAN WORE MAKEUP! IT IS A LIE!!!" philosophy. If wearing a lot of makeup is how you find your groove on the reg, then you'd be disregarding this article anyway, since putting on a lot of makeup wouldn't be "dressing up" for you — it would just be living your life the way you ordinarily do. And that's what I think you should do on dates: dress up as the person you are, the way you would ordinarily be. It's not at all because you are obligated to "look" a certain way for somebody. It's because when you wear your favorite, most comfortable things, you are more at ease with yourself and with the situation, and that's what the priority is: your comfort. So go follow your t-shirt wearing, messy bun bliss, or wear something beautiful and poofy and lovely if that's what you're used to wearing. Just make sure that you don't feel obligated to cramp your own style for someone else.

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