Online Dating Photo & First Date Wardrobe and Personal Styling Tips for Guys, Girls; How To Dress For Profile Pictures & Dates To Stand Out. Dating Outfit Tips for Men & Women

First impressions are everything. What you look like and what you wear are often the first things people notice when they see you for the first time – online dating photos are no different. Every little detail matters when profiles are so photocentric these days in dating apps – clothing fit, style, appropriateness, environment, color, signals – these are all things people take in when looking at photos. As a dating profile consultant and photographer, I work with men and women to style their appearance for dating photos in person during photoshoots as well as remote.


San Francisco Image Consultant, Wardrobe Advisor For Men & Women

Your dating photos should show a range of outfits and styles from casual to professional and everything in between (assuming you have a balanced lifestyle). If you never dress up and are not willing to wear a suit, then don’t but do note that you are hurting your chances if you don’t occasionally get all fancy for some momentous event in your life.

There is a fine line between being truthful and showing what you are willing to do for that special someone.

Additional Reading: How To Look More Attractive In Your Online Dating Photos.

Environment, Appropriateness, Relevance

Dressing up to match the environment is a great way to show others you know how to dress appropriate. If you are dressed down for a wedding or dressed to oddly for a lengthy hike in the warm sun, people may make inferences about your ability to dress appropriately. If it’s Halloween and your outfit could use some love, this might reflect badly on your creativity, enthusiasm for dressing up or halfway attempt at simple things in life.

You should always dress up to the occasion not just so you won’t stick out like a sore thumb but also to put yourself in the best position to have a great photo taken of you by family, friends, strangers or professional photographer. Wearing jeans or heavy clothing on a hiking trip might not only make you look out of place but it will likely cause sweat which can make it difficult to get a good photo of yourself.

The biggest mistake I see women make is having all their photos look too professional, too dressed up. There is nothing wrong with dressing up often but showing one dimensional fashion photos with caked up makeup might signal that the photos are photoshopped or stage. Approachability is key but you shouldn’t alter who you are to try to attract people.

Pro-tip: Take photos early on a hike or social event as too much sweat/activity can make it difficult to take photos later.


Color Palettes, What Colors Look Best On You, Best Colors For Skin Tone

I am surprised by this one quite often. Most people have never given much thought to color in their outfits. Color can play a big key in the way people view you. Bright colors are great to show warmth, approachability and black is a great slimming color but understanding your skin tone and hair color will go a long way in maximizing the effect of your photos and the way people take you in.

Colors that clash with your skin tone should generally be avoided. Repeating colors like black and gray in all your photos might give off a sense of melancholy or lethargic attitude. For the most part jewel tones and select pastels work great along with a classic black top or dress.

Wardrobe Fit

Issues of fit are mostly related to men. Excessively baggy jeans, tucked in shirts that are too wide or shirts that are too long are the most commonly made mistakes by men. Slim cuts are sometime hard to come by here in the United States due to demographics of the average person compared to slimmer countries abroad.

Clothing might fit you decently standing up but sitting down or slouching can make you seem more bloated or bigger than you actually are. Luckily more brands are addressing more customized fits for users who don’t fit a generic size.

Slogans, Affinity, Hometown

Most profiles today already capture hometown, college but when bios character limits are at a premium, you can add detail about your travels, places lived, affinities and more with pieces of clothing from travels, sporting teams and more. Use the real estate space on your body and clothing to add details and talking points without overly bragging or wasting space in your bio.


Showing Skin

There is nothing wrong with showing skin in your dating profile as long as it is tasteful and appropriate. Bikinis and swim trunks at the beach or outdoor social event with others in similar outfits – can work well as does tank tops and other more subtle pieces of clothing.

Shirtless selfies or excessive cleavage selfies in the bathroom or your hallway of your home – not appropriate. Even when you select an appropriate environment i.e. the beach, there are ways to take inappropriate photos. Taking neck down photos in the sun at the beach or taking shirtless photos while flexing can seem vane and cringeworthy.


Confidence, Looking Comfortable In Your Own Skin

Clothing you select should help you feel confident, sexy. Every so often I get a client who chooses not to run their outfit by me for a photoshoot and feel a bit out of place and uncomfortable – this will show in the photos. Taking a gamble on an outfit you have not worn yet and are not sure how it will work for you can be risky.

Some clothes might be too itchy, others made with polyester that cause you to sweat more, some might not look great when sitting down. Take time to examine your clothes or at least work with someone like a photographer, stylist to help you navigate the fashion waters.


Accessories: Shoes, Pocket Squares, Jewelry, Socks, Scarves

Accessories are a great way to add some flare to everyday attire. A nice hat, colorful socks, luxury watch, pocket squares, scarves, shoe laces, laptop bag, purse, bright shoes – these are all the ways to not only grab attention but elevate a more casual look.

Nice dress shoes don’t always have to be worn with a suit just as scarf doesn’t have be worn in freezing weather with a heavy coat. Balancing accessories in appropriate situations is one way to set yourself apart.


Balance, Offset Stereotypes

Depending on your profession, you may want to consider using outfits to counterbalance stereotypes of your job and industry. If you are an engineer in Silicon Valley, the t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops look or the cliche t-shirt, jeans and hoodie can limit your ability to shatter first impression and assumptions about you.

Similarly, if you work as an investment banker, attorney, city official, these stiff personalities can be complemented by more approachable looks that suggest more versatility that you are perceived to bring.

At the end of the day, your photos should reflect what you wear most of the time and not how you would dress less than 5% of your life. A balance of dressed up looks, everyday looks, first date looks and exercise looks work great as a foundation.

Mixing in sporting events, festive costume attire and travel attire can set you apart with your creativity, and a sense of a cultured lifestyle. You should never sacrifice individuality but at the same time not rely on fashion to give you individuality. One of your outfits should reflect what you might wear on a first date – if none of your outfits reflect this assumption, you might need to update 1 or 2 of your photos.


First Date Dress, Outfits – What To Wear On A First Date, How To Dress Up For A First Date

One of the photos in your profile should illustrate your lifestyle and what you would wear on a first date with a person. The outfit should reflect style, effort and occasion of the first date. I generally recommend dressing up for dates as you want to signal that you are taking this seriously and excited to meet the person.

With that said, you don’t want to go over the top with looks to suggest you can’t take queues from the date occasion. If you are going on a walk, it’s fine to wear from athleisure outfits that are form fitting. If you are going for a coffee or a small bite, you can dress in casual attire (for men this could be a nice t-shirt, henley and dark jeans). If you are going for drinks at a fancy bar, collared button shirt (rolled up sleeves or not) and/or blazer is a good look.

In general, you want to show you took the time to get ready and plan this out. You don’t want to seem like you didn’t have time to go home and get ready after work. Similarly, you don’t want to dress up too much and seem out of place where you are going. However, if you are a fashionable person and that is important to you, treat yo’self. Dress up and have fun.

Simple items can go a long way to jazz up an outfit straight from work i.e. hot pink or yellow heels can spice up a business casual dress. Letting your hair down and adding a nice light scarf or spraying light perfume can show you are present on the date. For guys, making sure your shirts are pressed, collars stiff and belt and shoes matching go a long way to display simple fashion etiquette.


Building a Good Wardrobe Takes Time

Even if you are armed with lots of money, personal shopper, flexible schedule etc. it can take weeks if not months or longer to build a good wardrobe. Understanding trends, basics, fast casual are just some terms you should be familiar with.

You can always speed up the process but the best items in your closet will take time to accumulate independent of your resources. Places like Uniqlo, H&M can be great for building basics and acquiring looks with pop in color.

The golden rule of photos when it comes to online dating profiles: Dress for the person you want to attract not the type of person you are.

Personalized Online Dating Profile Critique

Strategy (App Choice + Timing + First Messages), Photo Critique, Bios + Prompts + Photo Captions, Wardrobe Feedback, Body Language, Smiles & More

About Eddie Hernandez

Eddie Hernandez is a dating consultant & professional photographer based in San Francisco, servicing clients in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and beyond as featured in the NYTimes, SFGate, ABC7News, East Bay Express, Salon; contributor to Good Men Project, Plenty Of Fish and Meddle.

In addition to photos, he provides guidance around app choice, bio optimization, messaging techniques, wardrobe advice, date planning, screening profiles, ID'ing red flags, offline techniques for meeting people organically, naturally. 

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