It’s the ornate bouquets of red roses and baby’s breath, the delicately wrapped boxes of Godiva chocolate, the tiny Cupids dancing through the air, poking all the soon-to-be lovers in the butt with an arrow.
It’s Valentine’s Day, and it’s the time of year when owning your look and looking your best are key.
But before you become inundated with silver heart pendants, the perfect-fitting suit, or the tank top with the neckline that’s just a bit too low to pass off as demure (or attractive), you must think about the purpose of dressing to impress — and how to best go about it.
The purpose of clothing, besides warmth and protection, is to represent the self honestly. That is, what you wear says a lot about who you are — or who you’re trying to be. Sure, it’s easy to get lost in the commercialism that is Valentine’s Day, but if red isn’t your color, or lace is just too sickeningly sweet to bear, don’t go with it, and instead choose what fits you best (and that doesn’t mean what fits you tightest).
That said, it’s best to break it down by situation before you can decide what’s going to flatter you best and land you a sweetheart.
If it’s a first date and you’re in it for love, be yourself. They’ll find out the truth eventually anyway, so if pink isn’t your thing and you cringe at the thought of a high-waisted skirt, go with what suits you best. Opt for form-fitting, well-cut pants paired with a more forgiving top, or vice versa. Choose calm, yet flattering, colors, like chocolate brown with blue, or black with royal purple.
Moreover, don’t look skanky, or its equally distancing opposite, too closed-off. If you’re truly in it for the long haul, and want him or her to be your special someone, don’t send mixed messages by wearing an overly-sequined, club-hopping top if you never plan on doing so in the future. Go for something form-flattering, yes, but not cheesy: Think a high-necked, delicately laced top with some strategic darting and stitching. And guys, wear a nice button-down, not a sparkly, short-sleeved Hawaiian-style shirt or one-half of a disco outfit gone wrong.
If it’s a first date and you’re looking to score, it’s probably logical to wear more form-fitting clothes (or at least an outfit that gives such an illusion). Look, we’re not here to judge, as long as you’re smart about things. If Valentine’s Day is all about the physical to you (it is a somewhat superficial holiday, so this isn’t too far-fetched of a concept), look the part. Girls, don a siren-red or bubble-gum-pink strappy dress (this is probably the only time it’s acceptable to wear such a hackneyed color), and add the stilletto — as long as you can walk in it (we do advise wearing closed-toe pumps over strappy heels, though, as it is wintertime in Pittsburgh). And, just because you want to get down and dirty doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your entire sense of style. Closed-toe shoes are generally more classy, especially when in a matte neutral color (think brown or black) instead of a dazzlingly tacky silver.
Finally, if it’s Valentine’s Day, you’re in a committed relationship, and you’ve had too many dates with this person to count, you can still make the most of it. In fact, knowing your mate means knowing what they think looks best on you (although your opinion on this should always come first). If you know he crumbles when you wear that chartreuse V-neck sweater (it’s unlikely, but hey, that’s love), go for it. If she melts when you don the full suit — buttoned, cuffed, and all — wear it. After all, in this situation, you’ll best impress your date by just being you.
Overall, just remember that, if you’re uncomfortable in the clothes you’ve chosen before even leaving your dorm room, you should put on something that’s more you. Avoid neon colors (unless you’re going to a roller rink, which could be pretty sweet), too much polyester, and save the beat-up Tartans sweatshirt for the next morning.