What to Wear When Meeting the Parents
Clothed for the “circle of trust”
If there’s one way to jump off the carousel of anxiety that is meeting your significant other’s family for the first time, it’s putting in the prep work to feel your best.
I stood in my college boyfriend’s room watching him sift through his closet and toss a few pieces into his makeshift duffle, a Publix grocery bag, as he packed for a weekend trip to Orlando, where he’d be meeting my entire family…for the first time. Naturally, I pitched it as a “laid-back dinner at home,” but when he held up his fraternity’s Schwarzenegger-themed t-shirt expecting to be met with a thumbs up, I realized I might have oversold the vibe.
And look, like my Clothing-Relaxed™ boyfriend, I had my own questionable fashion habits freshman year of college. For instance, I deemed a club dress* not only appropriate before 4 pm, but the only viable outfit option for college sports bars. Though I also acknowledged that dinner at a significant other’s childhood home isn’t the place to look like you’re about to order a round of Lemon Drop shots — a concept I confidently explained to him before accepting my Girlfriend of the Year award. We swapped the cotton tee for his trusty (read: only) OCBD and my family members were none the wiser when later complimenting his polished style.
Just as I’ve retired my afternoon club dress, I’d venture to say you’ve graduated from “don’t wear sweats to dinner” to wanting to look and feel as great as possible when your lady springs plans to meet her folks. So, how do you choose an outfit to make certain your first impression is anything but eyebrow-raising while still showcasing your style? You call in the classics. Need convincing?
Let’s break it down:
- Basic doesn’t mean boring. Sticking to a simple look then adding pieces to show your personal style will go a long way. Sure, you’d feel comfortable in a navy blazer and white dress shirt, but you’d feel peak confident tossing in your signature patterned pocket square or textured jacket and waiting for the “Well isn’t this a nice young man” compliments to roll in.
- Experiment later. Trust me; you want your dazzling personality to do the heavy lifting the first time you meet the parents/fam, so this isn’t the optimal place to try on a new look. Reach for the staple look you’d wear to a dinner with your boss or heck, the outfit you wore to woo your lady. There’s plenty of time show off your style swerves at the family BBQ next month.
- Dress for the job you want. We all know the drill, meeting the parents is more like a job interview over dinner: you want to be accepted as a potential member of the family (woah, maybe one day, let’s not get ahead of ourselves), so dressing your best goes hand-in-hand with sharing your resume highlights. If you’re worried about looking a little dressier than everyone by opting for loafers and a blazer, consider it sartorial back-up to your already impressive presentation.
*Consider the club dress to be the female equivalent to the ill-advised “going out shirt.”
What to wear when meeting the parents, in style:
Bonobos, $88 | Blazer: Suitsupply, $499 | Jeans: A.P.C, $195
WHAT DID YOU WEAR THE FIRST TIME MEETING A SIGNIFICANT OTHER’S FAMILY?