Meeting the Parents? 10 Style Rules Every Woman Should Follow

No pressure or anything, but meeting your significant other’s parents is a big step. Meeting the family and celebrating various holidays together is a telltale sign you’re here to stay (cue searching for the perfect wedding gown). Sure, you want to wow them with your charm, intellect, and sense of humor, but you’d be lying if you said you weren’t the least bit concerned about your outfit. Because of this, we’re sharing 10 style rules every woman should follow when meeting the parents.

1. Avoid anything low-cut

Portrait of a woman unbuttoning her shirt

Be mindful of how low your top dips. | DeanDrobot

Who doesn’t like to pump up the sex appeal for date night? As tempting as it is to wow your partner in a cleavage-baring blouse, save that for when the two of you have some alone time. To be blunt, your partner’s parents don’t need to see your, um, assets. But that doesn’t mean you have to wear a frumpy turtleneck, either. A modest V-neck or simple crew-neck top is a happy medium between sultry and stodgy. On that note, anything sheer or skin-tight is off limits, too.

2. Keep your makeup simple

beautiful woman doing makeup

You’re better off going minimal with your makeup. |

Wearing makeup to the big meet can feel like a catch-22. Too much, and they’ll be too mesmerized by your artful cat-eye and cherry red pout to listen about your killer promotion. But if you forgo the cosmetics altogether, it may look like you rolled out of bed to meet them. Either way, not the best first impression.

The key is to wear a little makeup that enhances your natural beauty. We love the recent no makeup movement as much as the next girl, but sweeping on some mascara, brow pomade, and a subtle lip is great when meeting new people. Heed our warning, and the only thing they’ll be thinking is how beautiful and confident you are.

3. Ditch the sneakers

Young woman in blue sneakers

This is not the time for sneakers. | MarinaZg

Unless meeting the prospective in-laws includes a four-mile jog — which in that case, kudos — leave your sneakers behind. Elevated casual kicks are having a big moment right now, and are ridiculously comfortable, but they’ll look lazy in this instance. You wouldn’t wear your gym shoes to a job interview, right? Or a first date. So why would you wear them here? If things go well, they’ll have tons of opportunities to see you dressed in ratty leggings, a tank top, and sneakers, so don’t start early.

4. Practice color theory

Dressing closet with pink clothes

Your color choices make a difference. |

Should you wear a red dress or an oversized black sweater? Perhaps some science can help you make your decision. Though there are a lot of things that go into making a great first impression, Leaf believes the color you wear may make a difference.

There’s a color for every situation you can imagine, but when it comes to meeting that special someone’s parents, you might want to consider purple. Commonly associated with royalty, Leaf says purple expresses sophistication and loyalty. As a girlfriend, you want the parents to believe that you treat their son or daughter with respect and loyalty. So, wearing the deep hue will only support your words of affirmation and longing gazes. And if that same color associates you with the likes of Kate Middleton, all the better.

5. Eradicate wrinkles

Woman's hands holding hot iron

If your favorite dress has some wrinkles, it’s time to break out the iron. | iStock/ straga

Very few things say “don’t take me seriously” like rocking a completely crinkled dress to meet the parents. Sure, some fabrics naturally wrinkle throughout the day — and nobody’s going to judge you — but sporting a shirt that looks like it’s spent years crumpled in your closet? Hard pass. Whether you take a iron or steamer to the problem areas or simply hang it in your bathroom as you take a hot shower, we implore you to do something about those wrinkles. If you don’t want to run the risk, err on the side of caution and opt for a wool, knit, or cashmere top.

6. Kick leggings to the curb

Legs in black leggings of young sportswoman s

Save your leggings for yoga class.  | DeanDrobot

If we had a dollar for every time we banished leggings from your adult wardrobe, we’d be rolling in the Benjamins by now. Like sneakers, leggings are comfortable but are far from appropriate. Unless you want your partner’s parents to think he or she is dating someone who’s stuck in her glory college years, keep your leggings where they belong: in the depths of your dresser drawer.

Many girls opt for dresses or skirts when meeting the parents, but we think cropped trousers or jeans are suitable if the occasion strikes. While we’re on the subject, sweats of any type are out of the question.

7. Find the Goldilocks of purses

Fashion girl wearing coat ,red handbag

Choose your purse wisely. |

As if you needed yet another thing to worry about, you might want to reconsider your purse. “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,” writes AOL. While we’d be very surprised to meet a parent who’d bat an eye if you showed up to dinner with a bag chock-full of your laptop and important work files, the publication does have a point. If you have time to switch up your accessories, a bag that fits all your essentials (no more, no less) will show them you’re responsible and practical.

8. Show off your personal jewelry

Girl showing jewelry on her arm

It’s fine to wear your favorite jewelry, just do so in moderation. | akobchukOlena

You shouldn’t meet the parents while you’re dripping in diamonds — unless you’re headed to a high-profile gala, that is — but that doesn’t mean you can’t show off some personal jewelry. Not only will wearing your great grandma’s engagement ring or that necklace your partner bought you for your birthday show them you took an extra step to look nice, but these pieces can also double as an icebreaker when there’s a lull in conversation. Just remember Coco Chanel’s famous words: “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” We want you to shine, so simplicity is key.

9. When in doubt, rework the basics

Young woman looking new shirt shopping in store.

Your basics can do a lot more than you might expect. | Jay_Zynism

Still stumped on what you should wear to dinner and drinks with the parents? Instead of spending a small fortune on a new outfit, you’ll look just as good reworking your basics. While your standard T-shirt or sheath dress may feel lackluster on its own, these clean canvases give you the autonomy to style this look to your liking. Whether you layer with a statement jacket or settle on some jaw-dropping accessories, creating a look from scratch teeters nicely between trendy and timeless. If you need some additional style inspiration, check out these ways to switch up your basics.

10. Embrace your personal style

Sandra Schild, wearing Zara, poses for photos during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

You still want to look like yourself. | Joern Pollex/Getty Images

If you’re more of a leather jacket and jeans girl, you’re not kidding anyone by wearing cable-knit sweaters, loafers, and pearl earrings. Your significant other’s folks want to get to know you as a person, not what you think looks like the perfect girlfriend. Plus, with all the social media platforms out there, it doesn’t take a private eye to unearth your true style.

That being said, now’s the time to take your day-to-day style to the next level. Do we recommend you wear that moto jacket with ripped jeans? No, but pairing your trusty coat with a fit-and-flare dress and some ankle boots is a parent-friendly alternative. You’ll look polished, but above all, you’ll look like yourself.

Follow Kelsey on Twitter @Kmulvs and Instagram @Kmulvs