Dressed to kill
For my first date with Marcus, a sexy Swedish trader, I was dressed to kill. Or so I thought. I'd done a bit of spring shopping to ensure that my ensemble was dynamite.
So I was rocking a gold minidress, worn with footless tights so that I resembled a cocktail waitress at a futuristic Vegas casino in 1983.
He was wearing a classic suit, and I could sense that I wasn't going to be getting lucky the minute he ran his eyes up and down my outfit. Soon afterward, he mumbled something about "having an early meeting" and bailed out after one drink.
It was a pretty lame excuse, one that I recognised because I've used it myself. "Wait!" I imagined shouting as he pulled away in the cab. "Don't you know metallics are a key trend this year?" He disappeared into the night, and never called again.
I've always known that women dress for other women, and most British men are happy when a girl shows up for a date with a bit of cleavage and a smile. But this spring, it seems that the dichotomy between what women consider fashion-forward and what men find sexy is more obvious than ever.
I'm torn, because I do consider my style an extension of my creativity. But I want my clothes to inspire men to peel them off later, not run for the hills. "I just went out with a gorgeous girl with a lovely figure, but it seemed as if she was trying to make herself look as hideous as possible," says my friend Mark. "Puffy pink skirts and bright green leggings are not whimsical and quirky," he said, "they scare the hell out of men."
I got my friend Michael, a serial dater, to critique my closet, and the results weren't pretty. He hated my "fugly" leggings, thought my trendy ruffled blouses "look like something my gran would wear" and deemed my bubble skirt "sartorial birth control".
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The irony is that even the guys still wearing jeans-and-blazer combinations from the 1980s have strong opinions about what they hate. This season's "sack dress" and massive sunglasses are off the menu. "They hide a woman's face, which is deceitful," Michael said. Baby-doll dresses are also out. "I can't look at one without thinking of Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane," he said. "Why would a grown woman want to look 12 years old?"
I asked my on-off boyfriend Paul, who insists that he prefers me in trainers and jeans with no make-up, for his verdict on the date-destroying cocktail dress. "OK, so you do kind of look like C-3PO," he confessed. "But actually, you are so beautiful that you could wear a burlap sack and get away with it."
It was a nice save. But on my return to Topshop, I found one trend that's a surefire hit - the micro-mini. For my next date, I'm wearing it with fishnets and a blouse just transparent enough to ensure he doesn't think I'm charging by the hour. High-waisted trousers may come and go, but slut chic never goes out of style.