So: You got the girl, earned her besties’ approval, and now she wants you to meet her parents. Freaking out yet? Well, don’t; this isn’t a Ben Stiller movie, and (hopefully) her dad isn’t powering up the polygraph as you’re heading over to their house.
Granted, some of the experience is out of your control, but what is in your control is what you wear. “It’s about looking pulled together, but also being comfortable while you’re sitting around getting to know them,” says Todd Magill, design director at Jack Spade and meet-the-parents survivor. “I wore something similar to this when I met my partner’s parents. It’s relaxed and casual but has an air of confidence.”
The winning formula: traditional pieces with just the right amount of edge. And a great bottle of wine.
Dads love sports jackets. “They can relate to them,” Magill says. But don’t raid your old man’s closet. “This one is familiar but the fabric is really interesting, and it’s updated with a more modern fit.”
Moms love color. They can also smell fear. So choose a style you’re comfortable with—like a comfy Shetland wool sweater, but in a hue that’ll catch Mom’s eye. “This color is called burnt ocher,” Magill says. “It layers nicely under a jacket.”
Sure, you could wear a T-shirt underneath, but there’s something unmistakably professional about a dress shirt. “It just makes it look more grown-up,” says Magill.
Combine the look of slacks and the comfort of denim with a pair of five-pocket chinos. “Guys really love their jeans, so cutting them in a new fabric gives that familiarity but feels a little more dressed-up.”
Forget sneakers (yes, even Jordans). Almost any dress shoe will do, but to really make an impression, invest in a pair of contemporary wing-tip boots—they show you’ve got both classic style and a modern edge.
“It’s important that a guy look like himself,” Magill advises. That said, “A neat cut that’s closer on the ears and neck is always nice.” Whatever you do, just look like you care. That’s all these people want.
Slap on the Wrist
A cautionary note on accessorizing from Jack Spade design director Todd Magill:
“It’s always good to have one thing—but never two— in your outfit that adds some sort of personality. It could be the sweater, it could be the socks, it could be the boutonniere on the jacket—one element that adds a nice touch of flair or personality.
“When we styled our spring 2015 show, we did some really nice touches, with a rope bracelet here and a silver bracelet of beads there, just to add a little something interesting to the look. It’s considered. It makes you look like you thought about it. When we throw those things on, it just brings a look to life. It gives it a little bit of soul.”