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March 3, 2014

What to wear: Meet the Parents

Meeting the partner’s parents, eh? Most times, us delightful types at CityMag can charm them into believing we are worthy of their precious offspring - but for sensitive parental types a poor first impression can mean years of barely-disguised hatred. Here’s how to look good on judgement day.

  • Words: Joshua Fanning and Marie Totsikas
  • Illustrations: Jasmin Neophytou

For the Gentleman.
Dressing to meet the parents of your ‘other half’ for the first time is determined by exactly just how ‘significant’ your other half is. If you’ve stayed the night and they  still live with ma and pa, well, perhaps sneakers are best. But if you’re looking to go from casual to BFF then perhaps a pair of brogues would be better.

Unfortunately for hat-wearing folk we’ve got to recommend against a noggin-cover for this catch-up. Hiding under the brim of a cap will cause unnecessary distrust over the degree of your potential baldness. Chrome domes be proud!

While the weather may be getting a touch cooler, there’s no doubt this meeting will cause temperatures to rise. Avoid a sweater at all costs. There’s nothing more awkward than witnessing a man flail about with his jumper stuck around his neck, revealing a pink belly. A nice navy Macintosh jacket slides off effortlessly should you feel your cheeks start to glow.

Be a man. It’s very important to old people [such as your girlfriend’s/boyfriend’s parents] that you be a ‘man’ and this means buttons [for some reason]. If you can do up the buttons on a shirt then surely you can button-down a job. We recommend keeping the monotone theme running with a deep blue button-down from Sugar Cane available at RHD.

Even calling them trousers is winning you points. And while jeans will do we’re pushing the uniform theme further with a pair of indigo-dyed corduroy chinos from Garbstore.

Though there’s a temptation from us here to hit the colour button, we’re keeping it conservative. It’s blue socks… OK … blue socks with white polka-dots and a pair of brown suede cap-toe shoes from Crocket & Jones.

Do your research. If they drink wine – what wine do they prefer? White or red; Sauv Blanc or Riesling? Get this detail down and bring a label you’re familiar with. If they’re teetotal, then a fresh loaf of bread from a fancy bakery can fill the void.

For the lady.
Be polite, be charming, wear what I tell you to – and be yourself. Unless you’re abhorrent, then watch episodes of Ladette to Lady to identify where you’ve gone horribly wrong. Simplify your look, be the classic version of you. Don’t revel in your love of rave/ hip hop/ marijuana culture today. Let the inoffensive side shine through with a couple of accessories. Cue sentimental jewellery. You might get a compliment – unless it’s your old engagement ring. Awkward. 

To avoid harsh parental judgment let’s talk fit and tailoring. Wear clothes. Ones that fit. If you have a shirt that struggles to stay closed because you’re literally bustin’ out, or if you have pants that pucker around your derriere, avoid wearing them at all costs [always, not just in this circumstance]. I am willing to bet all of my worldly possessions that today is the day your pants split, your shirt busts open and your dignity perishes in a blur or safety pins and wishing you were dead. On that note, if you keep pulling down that skirt or adjusting your flesh about the place, you’re going to be distracted, and in this case, distraction equals dumb answers to reasonable questions. So let’s agree on tailored fits, no micro minis and a general avoidance of lycra [just for one day].

Have you ever been to a person’s house and had to take your shoes off to protect their inval-uable carpet or floorboards? We all have that brief moment of panic: “Do my shoes smell like the Patawalonga? Have I removed that chipped glittery nail polish from 1982?”. Avoid this. Buy good quality shoes and look after your hideous trotters. I would definitely be the type of mother-in-law to judge your unkempt feet; “Unkempt feet, black soul” I would say, wretching. I recommend a flat shoe, or a mid heel both with minimum toe exposure, and less chance of you tripping over and knocking over a priceless heirloom.


Jasmin Neophytou is a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. Visit her website.

If you’re having a relaxed meeting at their house, denim is most certainly an option. As long as your jeans don’t have any stupid embellishments, pictures of skulls, tigers or snakes, writing across the backside or are purposely distressed and make you look like a civilized human being, go for it.

Just make sure you balance this pretty informal garment with a top or shirt in a dressier and more elegant fabric. The denim pencil skirt is also having a moment – I advise you go along for the ride. Tuck in a crisp white shirt, pop on your Ferragamos, top it off with manners and a friendly demeanor and I bet they’d be willing to overlook your lack of breeding/education/good looks.




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