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Meeting the parents – choosing an appropriate outfit

You’ve been dating your significant other for a while now and it’s been going rather well – so well, that it’s time for you to be introduced to the family. An important and necessary milestone but hardly one you’re looking forward to. Whether they’ll go easy on you or not will depend a lot on the first impression you make. That’s where your appearance comes in. Those first few seconds of your encounter will set the tone for the rest of the evening, which is why you need to put in a bit of effort to nail the look.

True, it’s hard to know what the right formula is till the actual meeting but asking your significant other for help can set you in the right direction. Ask what sort of evening the parents are planning and whether they’re the formal or easy-going type. Will it be Chateaubriand paired with a vintage red and classical music in the background or imqarrun il-forn with whatever wine happens to be available, and a local TV drama for entertainment?

Knowing in advance will help you turn up appropriately dressed – neither too casual as to leave the parents thinking you didn’t make enough of an effort, nor overdressed as to make them feel somewhat uncomfortable. The key is to select an outfit that’s appropriate whilst remaining true to your style. Ultimately, the point is to bring out the best of you.

The classical look 

This is about combining traditional pieces with a modern twist. The aim is not to dress the same as the father but in a style he can associate with. Navy is a great colour to go for. It’s timeless, always an elegant option, and can easily be combined with a classical colour.

In the outfit above, conservative elements (khaki and tartan) are mixed with more playful ones (spots and denim) for a look, that I think is fresh and sophisticated. Notice how only a small part of the shirt is exposed. However, being the strongest among the outfit’s colours, the contrast with the outer layers draws the eye towards it and consequently, the face. 

The casual look

General tips

Make sure to be properly groomed. Untidy hair and/or beard, as well as bad odours will give the impression you’re the messy type. On the other hand, don’t overdo it with cologne. One of the parents might be allergic to the scent.

As always, modesty is key. It’s a virtue parents value – even in men. Tank-tops, vests, and one too many shirt front-buttons undone will reveal too much, making you come across as the type who’s too full of himself. Tattoos are best left concealed till you’re sure the parents like you. Jewellery can be a good ice-breaker but limit yourself to one piece, in addition to your watch.

Final word

You’re safest sticking to a formula that’s a combination of timeless basics with modern touches and a hint of your personality. Beware not to focus so much on your appearance as to forget to get the hosts a gift.

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