When you're meeting the parent of a significant other, making a good first impression can be intimidating. Even if you aren't usually too worried about fashion, deciding what to wear to meet parents can be a daunting task. There are too many things you don't want to look like and not enough "meet the parents" garments in your closet. Follow my tips to craft a perfect meet the parents outfit.
Don't try to dress in a style that's not you.
This might sound obvious, but wear something you already own, or if you're buying something for the occasion, go for a style you know you would wear often. If you're style is usually loud and crazy, now is not the time for monochrome, just learn to tone it down. Don't copy a style straight from someone else if it doesn't also look and feel like you. If you're uncomfortable, the people you're with will know, and if you wear something radically un-you, who's to say you won't see the parents again? They'll notice if you put on a front.
Wear something age-appropriate.
This means something very different if you're in your 20's or 30's or 40's... or if you're in high school (do you "meet the parents" in high school? Is that as big a thing?). If you're 30 or over, don't wear something a china doll might; it's not cute to be covered in bows when you're old enough to be financially independent. The parents will know you're trying to seem cutesy, and will likely be put-off. If you're under 21, don't wear anything that seems like you're trying to hard to look grown up. Nothing too sexy either, but that goes for all ages.
Note: above image is funny because Kylie Jenner (left) is four years younger than Ariana Grande. I don't know if I'd say either is dressed too appropriately for their age.
Dress modestly, but not too modestly.
If you're covered up from head to toe in a turtleneck and a maxi skirt (assuming this is for spring/summer), the parents will think you're too obviously covered up for their sake. Wear a couple extra inches of fabric to keep things modest, but not so much that they think they're being duped. Think Alexa Chung and only reveal selectively; you don't have to eschew the miniskirt entirely if you keep your arms and chest covered. A sleeveless tank is perfectly fine, so long as you don't pair it with cutoffs.
Wear something with a figure-flattering (but not exposing) fit.
Now is not the time to wear something boxy and edgy if it doesn't entirely flatter your figure. That fashion-forward look might be lost on the parents, and for your first impression, wear something more typically figure-flattering. Kate Middleton is also a great meet-the-parents style role model, and you don't need her designer wardrobe to find dresses in similar cuts. If her style is too prim and proper for you, you can still wear something a little bit less precious, so long as it's generally form flattering.
Don't assume you need to wear a dress.
You don't need to wear any one item of clothing for this look to work. Unless you're meeting them at a black tie optional event, a dress is only necessary if it's what you feel most comfortable wearing. There's no reason why you can't wear pants (or a skirt), as long as they're flattering and aren't too distressed. If you need to be dressy, follow Olivia Palermo (another star frequently exemplary of meet the parents style), and dress pants up with heels. Don't wear heels if you don't usually, though; the parents will see you hobbling and think you're putting yourself in a costume for their sake!
Fresh-faced puts your best face forward.
I'm not telling you to go without makeup all day (Karlie Kloss definitely didn't here!), but keep it simple. Now is not the night for a bold lip or a new eyeshadow color. Stick to the basics, so the parents can see your beautiful face and make eye contact without being distracted.
Above all, wear something you're comfortable in and that looks like you, even if it's a more polished or covered-up version of you! Keep in mind that you'll likely have to see the parents again (unless this meeting goes really horribly!), and they'll notice if your style drastically changes from meeting to meeting.
Don't sweat through the meeting! If they're as great as their offspring, they'll be understanding and forgiving.
Below are examples of fail-proof outfits you can replicate within your own wardrobe.
Classic meet the parents look #1:
A not-too-fancy dress with a high neckline and mini but not-too-mini skirt, with a defined waistline. Pair it with heels (or wedges or flats depending on your style) for a fancier meeting place, or flat sandals to dress it down. This dress is great because the print is colorful without being too loud, and sweet without being precious.
Meet the parents look #2:
If you tend to dress according to the trends, you don't have to wear something too classic now or it won't look like you. The matching crop-top and high-waisted skirt combo (mentioned here) is super cute and can be both figure-flattering and appropriate, but the key is to make sure that the skirt and top come together to not expose any midriff. This is definitely not the occasion to wear a serious crop top, so if you wear a shirt with any crop, pair it with bottoms high waisted enough to cover any tummy. Pick a skirt with an a-line, not a body-hugging fit.
Meet the parents look #3:
A shell or tailored tank tucked into wide-leg trousers or palazzo pants looks clean, chic, and professional. This look isn't quite appropriate for anyone under the age of 18, as it may seem like you're trying to look older. Make sure the neckline isn't too lowcut; Jamie Chung looks appropriate, but the same top might not work on a bigger bust. If you want to amp up the ensemble, add a statement (but not too oversized) earring or bold sunglasses, and a fun purse. Jamie's bold glasses look great with layered dainty necklaces; you don't need just one piece of jewelry, but stick to only one statement piece.
Meet the parents look #4:
Unless you're going somewhere formal, skinny jeans can be perfectly appropriate to meet the parents. A dark wash is safe and flattering. Pair them with a blouse or blazer to dress them up a little- you don't want the parents to think you don't care about the meeting! Miranda Kerr's look is perfect because the ruffles give it a delicacy without being overpowering, and the printed flats add some fun.