What to wear is an eternal challenge—but never is it so nerve-wracking as in the context of dating. When you’re making an early impression with a potential mate, the pressure is on, and the stakes are super high.
Don’t worry, though. One of our New Year’s resolutions is to solve this problem for you. To that end, we tapped Lisa Ronis, famed matchmaker and former fashion executive, who has great advice on just-right dating clothes that won’t break the bank.
She brings her expertise to bear in this smart video, and in the shoppable items below. Whether you’re going on a first date, headed out to a party with a newish beau, meeting his family for the first time—or, heck, already coupled-up and want to look great for your honey—this guidance is pure gold.
Dressing for a first date
Decisive and comforting, Lisa has a clear, easy-to-follow equation when it comes to that all-important first date. She takes the insecure inner monologue out of the picture.
“My rule for the first date is black on the bottom,” Lisa says. “Pair the pants with a very feminine top.” And, she suggests you might want to throw a soft jacket over the top “to complete the look.”
On your feet? “Heels are a must,” Lisa says. “They’ll lift you and make you feel feminine. If you feel good, you’re going to look amazing, and you’ve got the guy.”
Shop it: Faux Leather Jacket, $43, amazon.com
Shop it: Women's Drape Front Blazer, $25, walmart.com
Shop it: Paper Bag Waist Pants, $45, amazon.com
Shop it: Levi's Women's 721 High Rise Skinny Jean, $35, amazon.com
Shop it: Classic Pointed Toe High Heels, $27, amazon.com
Dressing for a party date
In our video Lisa offers up a second challenging scenario: dressing to go to a party with this new fella, on a second or third date. Her recommendation? A dress that’s sexy, feminine, and comfy.
If you want to, “you can accessorize in a very simple way that won’t distract him from looking at you,” she adds. But feeling easy and breezy in what you wear is important, so don’t go too short or too revealing. “Make sure when you walk out the door, you’re comfortable—so you can focus on your date, not your clothes.”
Shop it: Women's Vintage Dress, $30 to $46 (depending on size), amazon.com
Shop it: Milisente Evening Bag, $13, amazon.com
Meeting the family
Time to meet the parents—or the kids? When it comes to this big relationship step, Lisa has a strong recommendation.
“I feel a sweater dress is the way to go. It’s classy yet elegant and casual,” Lisa says. “I love to pair it with opaque tights and booties with a little heel.” (Don’t you wish you could just keep Lisa at home so she could tell you what to wear every single day? We do!)
Shoes should not be uncomfortable—in fact, nothing you wear should make you uncomfortable. You want to feel like a star. By following her guidelines, scooping up some of the pieces here, and giving each outfit a bit of thought, you can nail it every time.
Lisa sums it up with a smile: “Always put your best foot forward—and just make sure it’s a heel!”
Shop it: Tie Waist Sweater Pencil Dress, $24, amazon.com
Read More from Yahoo Lifestyle:
Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo’s newsletter.