Last year on Valentine’s Day, I opted out of the traditional date night and instead went to dinner with a group of male and female friends, all of whom had varying relationship statuses. We all dressed up and strolled into The Chocolate Bar to enjoy wine and the best type of meal: carbs dipped in cheese followed by more carbs dipped in chocolate.
After a few drinks, I started to take notice of the people around us. While a majority of the crowd looked appropriate to the situation, there were women dressed like they were going to a rave and men wearing snapbacks at the table. There were multiple sets of drawn on eyebrows and at least one guy looked like he slept in a Dutch oven full of farts.
I was thoroughly disgusted. Now, I’m not the snappiest dresser. I am forever guilty of wearing all black and I couldn’t care less about the clothes from cheap chain stores such as Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe. I recognize where my opinions differ from the masses, but on a day like Valentine’s Day, there is no excuse to step out with your loved one looking like a high schooler with a part-time job at the mall.
There are three types of Valentine’s Day soirees that you must be able to dress for: The Fancy Gala, The Intimate Date and The Singles Night. Each of these events has a varying dress code and requires a different level of effort.
When attending The Fancy Gala, you must always remember that the age demographic of the other attendees will usually be older than you. Most of the people that go to these events will be professionals with a taste for fine wine and even finer clothing.
Many of them will not be single, and if they are, they have at least managed to lock down a piece of intelligent arm candy to impress their boss for the night. This is not the type of party where you wear a deep V-neck dress or anything that looks like you were puked on by a rave troll. Men should wear a tasteful suit that is tailored to fit, and shoes that are somewhat uncomfortable but very well made.
Ladies, this is the type of event that you should go shopping at a specialty store for, because if you’re wearing an H&M dress and a makeshift tuck-the-straps strapless bra, you’re doing it wrong. Tulle and floral print are also big no-nos. This is the kind of party where you will get classy drunk and talk about the fiscal situation in Prague with a woman wearing a Cartier bracelet whose name is probably Susan.
Classy makeup with only natural colors, and hair that is a more enhanced version of your natural texture is appropriate. Men should take care to groom and make sure that their hair is nicely done. If you’re going with someone you’re sleeping with, buy nice underwear, because expensive champagne has the power to make them slide right off in the hotel room. I go to these every year for various occasions, and the biggest rule to remember is to avoid the three G’s: Gum, Gossip, and Glitter.
The Intimate Date is a bit more common, and requires more thought because dress code depends on the location. This is still not the date to wear something you would normally sport to a college party or out to a bar with your bros. Men should wear solid colored slacks and a button down shirt, preferably without pattern.
It doesn’t have to be designer label, but it should be a bit nicer than the ones you can buy from JCPenney. Because it’s winter, dark colors are preferred. Nothing is tackier than khaki pants at night, so reserve that shit for Easter brunch.
Women can wear slightly more trendy clothing on these dates, but if you can buy it in six different colors at a chain store, its trash, so don’t even think about it. If you’re eating at a restaurant that doesn’t have a strict dress code, you can wear jeans, but only if they’re dark wash in a classic cut and paired with a nice blouse. My rule of thumb is you should never look shittier than the waitstaff. If they’re not allowed to wear T-shirts or knit caps, neither are you.
The Singles Night is especially complicated because the clothing depends on where you go. Bowling with a group? Wear that Nirvana tee and sport coat boys, because that’s sexy. Dinner with friends at Süp? Nice pants, that cute romper or the two-piece you’ve been dying to try.
Wear makeup that flatters your coloring and feel free to have fun, but don’t leave looking like Ke$ha. You can be more adventurous with your hair, but ponytails and unkempt beards are unacceptable.
Do none of these options sound as fun as Netflix and snuggling your cat? Get that out of your head! It’s Valentine’s Day and everyone deserves to find some love!
Anneliese Hucal studies prelaw and public relations. She can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.