I bet you’ve been there: you’re getting ready for a first date and you’re wondering – what will she notice about me, right off the bat? How can you stand out from the rest of the Hinge bros and ace that first impression?
I bet you wish you had the perspective of a savvy, socially-aware woman. Well, dear reader, you’re in luck. I’m here to share a top-secret, professionally-refined, female-approved list of what your next date will immediately notice about you (before she can get to know your charm and wit).
Yes, it’s true. Women always look at the shoes. But no, this is not a check on how expensive the shoe is, but rather it’s to answer two key questions:
Are you even moderately prepared for this occasion?
If you’re at Carbone and wearing Sambas, you might not have read the room. In other words, if your shoe choice is wildly off base for the occasion, you suggest to your date that you’re capable of similar misfires, potentially with much deeper consequences. For example, Mr. Sambas at Carbone could accidentally drop an F-bomb in front of your grandpa or say “gracias” at a French restaurant. This does not bode well.
What is your personality like?
For some reason or another, it seems that 80% of men stay within fairly strict boundaries when it comes to fashion. For example, let’s do a quick exercise. Go to your closet and count the number of shirts that are NOT blue, gray, white, or black. Exclude jerseys. My guess is that number is less than 5. So, if men don’t necessarily push the envelope with their clothes, how are women supposed to get an immediate first impression of your colorful and vibrant personality?
That’s where the shoes come in. According to my completely scientific observations, men seem to be more comfortable mixing it up with their shoes than with the rest of their wardrobe. Therefore, women can immediately look to the shoe and understand much more about the man than the rest of the outfit provides as context.
All said, men, pick a scenario-appropriate shoe, and make sure it reflects your style.
A very important aside, for the good of the group: if you own Rainbows, DO NOT wear them on a date, for the love of god. Rainbows should ONLY be worn in the following pre-approved situations: at the beach (meaning you are currently sitting in the sand), in the shower of a college dorm, or if your house is burning down and you can’t find some ratty sneakers to escape the flames engulfing you. Four years ago, I saw a man at a Drake concert in Rainbows and I am still trying to fully process this.
Back to the list.
This one is simple. Women see dirty fingernails as a red flag. No, we do not assume that you’ve been chopping wood all day or doing something similarly rugged and masculine. If we see dirty fingernails, we think “If he can’t be bothered to clean the muck out from under his fingernails, with which he touches everything, what else will he fail to deliver on?”
Will he bring bagel bites to my work potluck? Will he leave his credit card at every bar we go to? Will he forget to pay his parking tickets and be sent to jail? If we have children together one day, will he leave them in a hot car?
Literally just buy one of these doo-dads and dig out all the rotting dirt from under your nails once a blue moon. Case closed.
This one comes from a place of insecurity. Women hold a deep-seated fear of having food stuck in their teeth and not knowing about it. Where did this fear come from? Unclear. Probably all that “women are only valued for their physical appearance” stuff. But all I can tell you is that our most harrowing social anxiety is being in a group of people and not knowing that there is a piece of lettuce stuck in our front teeth.
We fear this situation not only for ourselves, but also for others. We couldn’t bear the proximate embarrassment of you having food in your teeth, unknowingly. If I were a psychotherapist, I’d say that we project our fear-of-food-in-teeth onto our dates. I did well in Psych 2040, thank you for asking.
Plus, if you were to have junk in your teeth, that puts us in a social conundrum. Do we say “hey buddy, you’ve got a wad of shit in your teeth and I can’t focus on anything else” or do we let you walk around looking like a goober?
It’s best to avoid all of this. Just brush your teeth before the date and check your teeth when you go to the bathroom.
Bonus: Your Sunglasses and Belt, of course
This is where it gets good. Once you have passed the basic shoe and hygiene scan, you will be promoted from “potentially dangerous” to “acceptable”. The next step is for you to progress from “acceptable” to “an option.” In order to do so, your date will evaluate two fashion elements: your belt and your sunglasses (or lack thereof).
If you show up rocking a dope shade  and oh, I don’t know, a Hyde belt, she’ll take note. She’ll consider the fact that you’re able to 1) understand the practical need for these accessories, 2) select a brand and style that you like, and 3) proceed to wear them confidently.
The sunglasses and belt will convey that you have the ability to perceive potential problems, and then solve for them, such as preventing the sun from roasting your corneas or avoiding a scenario in which your pants fall off your waist while in public. This is strong work. Plus, the ability to take a stylistic risk and pull it off confidently is certain to ensure your first impression is a knockout.
You don’t need to go out and buy crocodile loafers and a Swiss-made watch to impress a lady. All you need to do is show her that you are clean, mature, confident, and a pleasure to be around. Basically, what all my elementary school teachers wrote on my report cards (in so many words).
Have a funny dating story, or something to add to this list? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 If your dope shades were free and came in a drawstring bag at a college tour/corporate conference/sporting event, I hate to break this to you, but they are not dope shades.