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Style SOS: What do I wear when meeting the parents?

Style SOS: What do I wear when meeting the parents?

I'm meeting my partner's family and want to make a good impression. Help! - Aaron via Instagram 

Congrats, you’ve officially entered the meet-the-parents-phase of the relationship; things are getting serious, but that doesn’t mean your outfit has to be. In fact, comfort is king when it comes to dressing for a nerve-wracking experience like this one. The last thing you want is to sweat through a shirt that feels restrictive, just because you think it checks all the right parent-approved boxes. So our first piece of advice is don’t go and splurge on a stuffy new look. Your tried-and-true favourites are your best bet – they’re the ones that will make you feel your most confident. 

Now this isn’t a license to slip into something tattered, discoloured, or worn to death. You should stick with presentable favourites – the kind of pieces your own mum wouldn’t roll her eyes seeing you in – think a button-down, a pair of neutral chinos, and some Chelsea boots or a pair of clean, minimalist trainers. The key is to walk out the door feeling like you. You don’t want to fool the parents into thinking you’re the kind of guy who wears a suit to brunch when you live in jeans and t-shirts. If the relationship goes the distance they’ll eventually learn the truth, and you’ll be glad you showed an authentic side of yourself from the get-go. 

That said, you want your outfit to cast you in your best possible light. These are the two most important people in your partner’s life – if you don’t want to impress them, that should sound some alarm bells in regards to your relationship. Reach, then, for your cashmere knit instead of a sweatshirt, and your selvedge denim in lieu of the pair with a hole in the knee.

In terms of what level of formality you should aim for, consider the environment you’ll be meeting in. If that’s a swanky restaurant, you may need to swing for a jacket and tie, depending on the dress code. If it’s a casual lunch spot, the aforementioned button-down and chinos should suffice. If you’re meeting at the parents’ home, defer to your partner – they’ll know what level of dressy their parents will expect. Finally, remember the power of a firm handshake, ensure you listen more than you speak, and remind yourself that your girlfriend or boyfriend is just as nervous as you are. We promise, it helps.


Words: Allison Pavlick
Illustration: Ryan Gillett