Noelle McCarthy: The first-date uniform

By Noelle McCarthy

Too basic for a first date?
Too basic for a first date?

I read an article yesterday about what fashion editors would wear on first dates. Fashion editors would wear a T-shirt on a first date, it said. A white T-shirt, with jeans and a pair of black high heels. They would also wear a matte lipstick that costs $50 and looks like it would make even the sallowest-skinned fashion editor look severely hypothermic, according to the photo supplied. Some advice was given about putting a lacy bra underneath the T-shirt, but I couldn't read it, I'd lost the will to live.

Who writes this stuff? I seem to ask this question a lot, but I'm genuinely mystified. What sort of liar claims she would choose to turn up to a date in jeans and a T-shirt? Or is that the go now? I admit, I don't know a lot about jeans. I bought a pair of stonewashed ones last winter from Glassons. They made me look either like one of Dexy's Midnight Runners, or very cool indeed. I can't be sure which it is. Perhaps this tension is at the heart of their appeal?

In any case, the point is, I own some jeans. I also own a fancy white T-shirt. (James Pearse, recommended. Softer than my own skin.) Having worn them together, I can attest to the comfort of the outfit, but I'd no sooner turn up to a date in it than I'd consider rocking up there with a tool belt on.

Suitability is a big part of being stylish. Nobody's ever won Fashion in the Field in a ski-mask, have they? Truly elegant dressing reflects the nature of the occasion you're dressing for. I'm not suggesting you turn up for a first drink in a ballgown - unless that's your particular cup of tea - but the very idea of there being some sort of failsafe, one-size-fits-all first date uniform is nonsense, clearly.

Would that there were a magic outfit that everyone looks good in, always. If there is, I haven't found it. Some people look peaky in black even, so you can't even nominate the LBD. As for jeans and a T-shirt, that's a hit-and-miss affair at the best of times, unless you are giraffe-legged, pancake-bellied and 17. It's actually one of the harder outfits to get right, so much depends on the cut and colour. There's a reason why most of the people I know who are big into jeans are also slightly OCD.

Mandating a first-date uniform is rubbish. The only thing to wear on a first date is whatever you feel best in. I wore a Penny Sage playsuit, a pair of pink brogues, a fake tan and a blanket from Savemart the last time I went on one. It was exactly right for me.

You'll have your own version of pink brogues and a blanket, and you need to deploy them. First dates are about being comfortable, yes, but also about being yourself completely. Unless you are Cindy Crawford in a Mario Testino shoot circa about 1994, your best self is probably not wearing jeans and a white tee.


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