7 Stress-Free Style Tips for Meeting Your Boyfriend's Parents
"Meeting parents doesn't make you nervous, does it? I have to stop by mother's to get something," my then-boyfriend/now-husband stated more than asked as he veered off the highway. Stunned, I looked down and surveyed my outfit: a tattered denim mini skirt, rubber slide sandals and a deep V-neck tee. Not exactly the first impression I wanted to make. But before I could open my mouth to protest, he pulled up in a driveway, opened the driver's door and motioned for me to follow suit. I was stuck.
- Although a cleavage-baring top is no good either—obviously—it's fine to meet somewhere in the middle if tight necklines aren't your thing. I suggest trying a slouchy silk blouse with a few buttons undone: it strikes a nice balance between nonchalant and conservative.
- C'mon, do you really want to be remembered as the girl who showed up in a emerald encrusted bib necklace? Understated pendants, stud earrings and spaghetti-thin bangles mean they'll first judge you for you, not your penchant for statement jewelry. (Don't worry, I'd say it's safe to go bangle- and chain-happy a few dinners down the road.)
- It's really easy to get stuck on the idea of wearing a dress of skirt (like I did) because it seems more formal. After all, meeting parents for the first time is a very important occasion! But unless you are heading somewhere fancy, jeans might serve you better; you'll feel more comfortable and look more at ease. Just pick a trouser-like pair in a uniformly dark wash—no distressing, too-tight cuts or low rises!
- Die-hard heels girls, that doesn't mean you have to give up extra height all together! Just look for a pair with two or three, rather than a teetering seven, inches. If you were planning to wear flats anyways, don't do sneakers. It might come across like you don't care.
- Both giant carry-your-life-in-it satchels and compact little clutches read high maintenance, and that is the very, veeeery last first thing you want them to think. You should be carrying a classic shape that's roomy enough for your essentials without too much extra space to spare.
- None of the guidelines I've listed matter if following the rules stifles your style. You want your boyfriend's mom and dad to meet the real you—not an uncomfortable version of you stuffed in a pencil skirt you'll never wear again—so be sure your outfit reflects that. Even if it's in a more quiet way than usual.
- You can disregard this rule if you happen to be meeting your boyfriend's parents at some sort of gala or other one percent-y party, in which case you'll probably have to wear a gown. Otherwise, keep your hemlines in that safe zone between the upper knees and mid-calf area; super long or short lengths are too casual for the circumstances.
The following winter, he invited me on a trip to visit his younger brother at Carnegie Mellon in Pennsylvania. His father, whom I had never met, would also be coming. Overcompensating for my surprise encounter with his mom, I arrived at the airport wearing a thin sweaterdress, ankle-strap flats and one change of (very similar) clothes. What followed was a freezing, uncomfortable flight and one awkward afternoon spent in Pittsburgh as we drove around looking for a place for me to buy pants. Striiiiiikke two.
All this time later, I don't know the initial impression those ensembles cast on either in-law-I've never had the guts to ask. Instead, I'd I like to think that I've redeemed myself by wearing plenty of meet-the-parents-caliber ensembles to family gatherings. I'd say at this point, oh seven years later, I've finally got the look down. You can get it right the first time around, though, if you just follow my advice in the slideshow below.I've included a some shopping picks to get you started, along with handy styling tips that'll get you a glowing review. (And don't stress if you make any missteps. I'm living proof that it will turn out just fine.)
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