A recent example comes to mind and I’m cringing as I type the words.
I’d matched with a guy on Tinder and we’d exchanged a few messages, resulting in plans to meet up for an after-work drink.
D-day came around and it happened to be a particularly busy day at work, so I was running very late to meet him. On the way to the pub we’d agreed to meet at I wolfed down the sweet chilli chicken wrap I hadn’t eaten for lunch, aware if I had a glass of wine on an empty stomach I’d be a loud, giggling mess.
I entered the pub, spotted my date in the corner and rushed up to him, grinning widely in the hopes he wouldn’t notice how sweaty I was from the dash from the bus.
He gave me a strange look and before I even sat down, said: “Um, you have food in your teeth”. Sure enough, there was a massive chunk of red chilli stuck between my two front teeth.
I could have died.
terrifying world of Tinder dating, first impressions are what leads to even securing a date. Before you have time to whip out your compact and fix your dirty chilli teeth, you’ve been swiped off someone’s radar.
Obviously, those who swipe left are not worth the time of day, but it does make you wonder what your Tinder profile says about you.
We consulted a sociology professional and stylist to learn more about the science behind first impressions, and to find out how you can dress to suit your personality when you do land a hot date.
(Of course, we would never condone changing your style or dating profile to attract a certain person – as always, you do you.)
Senior psychology lecturer at the University of Sydney, Dr Karen Gonsalkorale, says “our brains are wired to categorise things” to help simplify the information we’re bombarded with every day, which is why we make first impressions.
“Because we form impressions so quickly, often based on very little information, our impressions can be inaccurate, which can lead to faulty inferences about someone based on the stereotypes we hold,” she said.
She said people tend to look at faces when forming a first impression, rather than what they’re wearing.
“Studies have shown that people draw inferences about a person’s traits from a person’s facial features, and these features are associated with real-world outcomes.”
Citing a recent study,Gonsalkorale said that people tend to focus more on women’s photos when looking at an online profile like Facebook, while participants spent more time looking at descriptive information on men’s.
“Researchers used an eye-tracker to measure how long participants looked at Facebook profiles. They found that participants spent longer looking at the photographs for female profiles than male profiles, but they spent longer looking at descriptive information (such as the pages that the person liked) for male profiles than female profiles,” she said.
“There could be many reasons for this; one could be that society places greater emphasis on the appearance of women than men.”
When looking at online dating profiles specifically, however, another study found that people were more interested in shared ‘rare’ interests expressed through male AND female profiles, rather than photos.
“The researchers gave single participants online profiles of people who supposedly shared a similar interest/hobby that was either rare or common. Participants looked at these profiles, then rated how much they were attracted to the person and how much they wanted to meet them,” Karen explained.
“The results showed that participants were more attracted to people who shared a rare interest with them than people who shared a common interest…This research suggests that if you do find someone who shares your rare interest, they’ll probably be attracted to you and want to meet you.”
Well I don’t know if I have any ‘rare’ interests per se, but I clearly need to assess my Tinder profile.
Outside the online realm, there are many ways to make a positive first impression, particularly on a date.
Canadian stylist Odessa Parker has previously written about using your dress sense as a way of evaluating your ‘cultural inventory’.
Speaking to Mamamia, she said how you dress on a date really depends on your personality.
“Don’t try to be someone that you’re not because your discomfort will ultimately shine through. If you’re not used to wearing tight clothing, don’t do it just because you think your date will be impressed. And if you feel most confident wearing all black, do it,” she said.
“There are no real rules to style, and you should always be concerned with your own comfort and happiness first and foremost. If you think you look good, that’s what matters most. The person you deserve to be with will respect your style choices.”
But for those of us who feel stuck when faced with having to choose an outfit for a first date, she offered these tips to match your style to your personality:
“Wearing bright colours always exudes an air of confidence. It says: I’m not afraid to stand out from the crowd.”
“You can show your creativity by mixing prints and patterns and wearing bold, artistic jewellery.”
“Outsized and exaggerated proportions give the impression that you like to fight against tradition and take a risk, and not take things too seriously.”
“Neutral tones and flowing silhouettes exude a sense of relaxed self-possession.”
She added that her hot tip is dressing with a “slight sense of adventure” on a first date.
“For example, wear comfortable shoes in case you decide to take a long walk after dinner,” she said.
And always check for food in your teeth.