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How to Dress When Meeting ‘The Parents’

It’s December, which some consider to be the month starting prime relationship season (for those that think this is absurd, here you go). As friends are stepping into relationships, they are also stepping into something else—meeting ‘the parents’. This seems to be a daunting and highly anticipated event. Without a doubt, you’re stressing over what to say, how to act, even how to breathe. Though I can’t tell you whether it’s more acceptable to hug your bf’s/gf’s dad or shake his hand, I can however give you tips on how to dress.

There are three things that you should take into consideration before you open your closet or speed to the mall: the current relationship status, location, and weather. Have you been dating for five months? Five minutes? Though your goal should always be to look your absolute best, first impressions are extremely important. The status of the relationship is important when it comes to disclosing information about yourself. The longer you’ve been in the relationship, the more the parents will most likely know about you. If the relationship is brand new, they might not know more than your first name. Opt for pieces that will make you stand out, whether it be a bold blouse or statement necklace. When your significant other’s mom compliments you on it, you’ll finally be able to relax and breathe.

The location of where you are meeting is extremely important as well. Downtown at a classy restaurant? Southside at a low-key bar? Ask for the location ahead of time so you know what type of atmosphere you will need to dress for. Showing up to a five star restaurant in jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt might not be the best move.

For anyone that’s spent more than five minutes in Pittsburgh, you’d know that the weather is far from predictable. Check the weather ahead of time so you can be prepared with necessities, such as a peacoat if it’s on the colder side or trendy rain boots if it’s expected to downpour at some point during the course of the night.

If the location is casual, then by all means don’t stress too much on looking “casual but dressy.” What you should focus on is looking “casual but put together.” Dark-wash jeans, like an indigo, are essential—they go with virtually any boot and top. High-waisted jeans can diversify the look; they can also be paired with a long-sleeve shirt or sweater that can be tucked in. You’ll look not only put together, but also trendy. Add a necklace and leave your hair down and you’re set.

If the restaurant you are going to requires you to dress more on the fancier side, you can’t go wrong with a little black dress. A black shift dress would be ideal; it can be dressed up or down, depending on what your personal style is. Pair with fun wedges or pumps and pulled back hair for a sleek but formal look. Or, opt for a midi dress and blazer for a more professional yet fun approach.

No matter what, remember that these are merely tips. Always wear what makes you feel comfortable and fits your personal style. Being someone else will not make mom and dad like you any more. Wear what you like and do as you please because you’re amazing Jess the way you are.

Image credit: 1, 2, 3, 4

Hi! I'm Jessie and I am currently dual majoring in communication and non-fiction writing at The University of Pittsburgh. I am also the Senior Editor for Pitt's Her Campus! I emulate everything Carrie Bradshaw and can watch Breakfast At Tiffany's everyday for the rest of my life. You can usually find me blasting country music a little too loud while wearing a floppy hat.
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