Love the date -- hate the clothes (How to avoid Fashion Disasters)

Remember Janet Jackson’s famous “wardrobe malfunction” during the 2004 Super Bowl? The pop star’s right breast was exposed when she and NSYNCH frontman Justin Timberlake rocked the house with a halftime performance of “Rock Your Body.”

CBS, the network that televised the show, was fined $550,000 for “Nipplegate.” But what happens when your boyfriend or girlfriend commits a crime of fashion with his or her personal style choices? Perhaps you’re a slave to Prada -- and he’s wearing 10-year-old tattered jeans. Or maybe you’re a clean-cut khaki and button-down kind of guy, while she slathers on more face paint than a circus clown.

DatingSitesAdvisor.com consulted a few experts to find out how to handle dates who should be hauled away by the fashion police. Weighing in on the subject are:

  • Aneva Stout, a former dancer and author of “The List: A Love Story in 781 Chapters”
  • Rachel Begelman and Sarna Lee, cofounders of econfidant, an online service that provides singles with one-on-one, confidential relationship advice

We asked these dating divas the following question: Let’s assume you’re involved with someone you really like, but you cannot stand his or her clothes. At what point do you say something -- or do you keep your mouth shut? Here’s what they had to say.

Aneva: If a man I’m interested in shows up at my door wearing any of the following -- overalls, socks with sandals, a Guess? shirt with a flower print or docksiders -- I’ll gladly reread “The Joy of Being Single” (for the third time). Mortification is a mood killer. And what if your date winds up missing? The police will ask you what he was wearing when last seen. If you would contemplate lying to the authorities, I say dump him -- sooner rather than later.       

Rachel and Sarna: Finding someone you really like is a lot tougher than a wardrobe change. Focus on the positive aspects of the person and your relationship, knowing that when the time is right you can broach the clothes topic. You should wait until you are in a committed, loving relationship before even venturing to mention this topic.

Aneva: Before you ask yourself, how do I say to my boyfriend, “You're wearing that to a jazz club?”, ask yourself: “How superficial am I?” Then toss your keys into your Marc Jacobs purse, and say, “Honey, that’s not…um…the shirt you’re…um…wearing, is it?” His response will always -- always! -- be, “What’s wrong with this shirt?” Stifle the urge to say, “You look like a freak!” Instead, curl a stray hair behind your ear and say, “Nothing, but you looked really sexy in that shirt you wore on our first date.”  
 
Rachel and Sarna: Suggesting a complete makeover, or throwing away someone’s favorite sweater, is usually met with defensiveness and anger. Instead, the next time you go shopping together, point out a few things that are not completely out of character for him or her, but might be more stylish than their current clothes. If you are not at the shopping stage yet, after a month or so you can purchase something new for them as a gift. Or, the next time he or she asks your opinion on what they are wearing, be sure to compliment the positive aspects of their choices.

Commenting on other people’s looks can also send subtle hints. Remarks like “That sweater he’s wearing would look incredible on you!” or “That woman’s haircut would look hot on you” will get your date thinking about making some changes. Always focus on the positive. It is very easy to criticize, but when you are trying to build a relationship, it is important to make your partner feel good, not embarrassed or hurt.

These types of transitions take time. Also, your boyfriend or girlfriend may like how they look and not be open to change. Your date may have taken 20 or 30 years to build their look, so they are not going to change their clothes and personal style overnight. Be patient. However, you can definitely have an impact on your partner’s style over time.

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