This is a question I never thought I’d have to ask anyone – let alone ask myself, because who does coffee dates – really? Except for seriously cool Europeans that don’t rely on alcohol – or as I like to call it, fun juice – to give you that confidence boost and make you feel like your sassiest, funniest self (and of course, inebriate whoever you’re out with to a level that they also believe you are as sassy/funny as Drunk You thinks you are.) If you do coffee dates then seriously, that’s great. I take my very instagrammable hat off to you! But being recently asked on a coffee date myself (I know, #blessed), it posed the old sartorial question of “what the hell do I wear????” – and that’s almost enough drama to deal with before having to navigate nerves and charm with no hint of vodka or prosecco to help ease you in.
Coffee dates are different to going on ‘normal’ dates (aka drinks. Or dinner.) Even if we don’t have a clue exactly what we’re going to wear, we always have a failsafe outfit or two in the back of our minds (and wardrobes) that save our single asses time after time. Black skinny jeans and a nice top. Or if you’re feeling special, that black dress.
But a coffee date? It’s just so, well, casual. So daytime. So… sober. You haven’t got the sexy smoke and mirrors of the night time or mood-enhancing bar lighting. Turn up in a bar-ready outfit and you’re going to feel way too overdressed for a late afternoon latte and maybe one of them nice caramel wafer biscuits if you’re feeling adventurous. And it also means the stakes are raised because you’re both sober. If any wardrobe malfunctions happen (nip slips, spillages) you can’t just buy him another shot in an attempt to erase it from his memory (spoiler alert: no amount of shots will make him forget a nip slip. Trust me. )
Drawing on my previous history of coffee dates, the future looks bleaker than a Primark swimwear sale in September. I’ve been on one. ONE. He was 16 years older than me and the most beautiful sexy male model I’d ever seen: the stature of a god, a mane of hair like Simba (admit it – you all fancied him too) and the kind of voice you want to hear on a late night radio show whilst you cuddle a baby animal in your cosy bed. My 22 year old self thought I had made it. In fairness, if I was doing it all over again right now at 25 I’d still think I’d made it. Although sadly, as much as I hate to add truth to the stereotype of male models and everything, the date was dryer than the stale croissant your barista upsold with that sickly seasonal coffee you’re drinking. At the end of the date, he did that awkward thing when he said “let’s do this again sometime!” but we didn’t do it again. Because nobody does coffee dates again. They’re painful. They’re awkward. They give you the kind of breath nobody wants to kiss. They’re the sexual equivalent of Marks & Spencer’s iconic multipack of cotton briefs – but without the comfort. The ROI has to be pretty damn low in percentage.
And I am certainly not saying you need to drink to have fun, or open up to anyone, or to be your best self, because that’s not true. But a drink or two can certainly ease you into it. Plus, there’s always something so friend-y about a coffee date. Going for coffee is what you do with people you feel the most platonic, beigiest of beige, vanilla-flavoured feelings for. It’s what you do with exes when enough time has passed for you to no longer be overly hostile towards each other. It’s what you do with work connections as an excuse to get your arse out of the office. Not with people who’s clothes you want to rip off.
Speaking of clothes – let’s get back to the clothes, and the main question. What the hell do you wear on a coffee date? Well, I shot these pictures before I was meant to be going on one. Not too dressy, not too casual. Striking the balance is notoriously hard though. Or is it? I opted for this playsuit because it was a hot hot day. It’s a little bit like those cute-cum-sexy tea dresses that we’re all loving right now, but without the pant-flashing ability they have if we get caught in a gust of wind. There’s a bit of boob. A bit of leg. But the pretty florals diffuses the sexiness with a kind of girlish charm.
Another good sartorial vibe is to go with is that all-elusive “french girl chic” – you know, that ‘effortlessness’ which ironically requires so much secret effort it might give you aneurysm? Yeah. That. Like I said, coffee dates is what cool Europeans do – so French girl chic is a no-brainer. Denim skirt and a simple striped top – elegant, unfussy, looks good on everyone. Black jeans / blue jeans, a silky cami top, heeled sandals and an oversized cardigan – the cami hints at sex appeal but the cardigan balances it perfectly without screaming “call me grandma” (and not in a sexy, weird, dirty talk way)
Oh, and the other main question, of course: how did the date go?