Aside from having one less person to buy a present for, it's tough being single during the holidays. There's the awkward nagging smalltalk from relatives at family parties, the endless commercials involving fireside proposals, the falling on the ice skating rink with no one to help you up as you lie there freezing cold and motionless just waiting, hoping... ...We've been there. We are there.
It used to be that finding romance this time of year was as easy as standing under the mistletoe with your eyes closed (right? Can anyone confirm this?). Nowadays, it's not uncommon for us as-yet unscooped to take to the web in search of tru luv. But as anyone who's ever scoped out the competition on Match.com will tell you (by the way, if you haven't already, we don't recommend it)--standing out in the digital sea of ridiculously good looking singletons isn't always as simple as signing up!
That's why we've enlisted the help of three online dating experts—yes, that's a thing in these modern times—to guide us towards Mr. Right by way of sartorial success: Julie Spira, founder of CyberDatingExpert.com, Gina Stewart of ExpertOnlineDating.com, and New York City Dateologist Tracey Steinberg. We wanted to know what inspires a man to click! After all, your display photo is the window to your dating profile. Just follow our guide, and trust us: You'll be right on track to snuggling up together like two birds of a feather in no time. Wisdom this way...
Just admit it already: Women judge each other's clothing choices constantly. Did you really think men were any different? Here's which styles to don and which to ditch for your online dating profile.
When it comes to clothes, our experts agree that bright is best. The most alluring color by far--holiday season or not--is (suspenseful pause...) red! As Steinberg puts simply, "Red is attractive to men." Spira concurs, picking pink as a close second: "I always recommend that a woman wear a pink or red dress in her primary photo, as well as on the first date. Red is the color of love and passion. Pink screams femininity." Not big on either? Steinberg suggests flattering-on-most jewel tones, but avoid black and white as they "accentuate shadows."
And how should said red clothes fit? Is it best to show off the goods in 2-D, or leave a little to that fateful, first, hopefully inevitable in-person meeting? Steinberg says it depends on your assets. "Try a bodycon top," she suggests. "Cleavage can be ok, as long as it's feminine, sexy, and natural--but don't show off your bellybutton."
As an overall rule, avoid bathing suits and freakum dresses at all costs. You'll definitely have a full inbox, but the messages might not be of the nature you're going for. In the words of Stewart, "I will say if you put up sexy cleavage shots/Vegas short dresses--do NOT complain that the men who contact you make sexualized comments or approaches. Skin will always get attention--be prepared that it comes with unwanted attention as well."
A few more tidbits: Spira recommends showcasing a "diverse" wardrobe throughout your photos to relay that you're both "interesting and flexible." Don't put in contact lenses if you normally wear glasses. And sunglasses? Per Steinberg: "Hell no!" The most important thing, says Stewart, is that you feel comfortable and confident in what you choose to wear. "If you don't," she explains, "it affects your smile, your eyes, and ultimately your picture."
Good: • Red or pink • Jewel tones • Prescription glasses if you wear them • Tasteful cleavage • Body conscious clothing
Bad: • Black or white • Bellybutton peep show • Sunglasses • Bathing suits • Too tight or revealing party dresses
Hair is something women think about all the time (as women ourselves, we can attest). But does the same hold true for the men who "recently viewed" our dating profiles? Not necessarily. Our experts say that, when it comes to online dating hair, the most important thing is that it represents the true you--only better.
Spira suggests that, if long, straight hair is your thing, "go to a blow-dry bar and get your hair blown out nice and silky before your photo shoot." But don't let the pros get carried away, warns Steinberg: "Don't go for a crazy updo--and don't take it too seriously... show who you are."
Hair chameleons, beware: Spira says that having too many different hair colors and styles could be off-putting to men who view your profile--something we, ourselves, are guilty of. "It can be confusing to [them]. Most men want truth-in-advertising, so they hope you’ll look like your online dating profile photos."
As for the curly vs. straight debate (Carrie vs. Natasha, if you will), Steinberg says simply, "Men aren't so detail-oriented. Salma Hayek is Salma Hayek whether her hair is curly or straight." We hear you loud and clear, lady.
Good: • Get a blow out • Find a flattering style to your face • Use recent, true to life photos
Bad: • Wear an updo • Straighten your hair if it's usually curly • Over think your online dating profile hair!
Guys are always saying they wish women would wear less makeup--but our dating experts say there's a fine line between going au naturel and rocking a "natural look" (which is what men actually really like). Explains Stewart, "You don't need to show your I-just-woke-up face in an attempt to be honest."
"It's all about striking a balance," says Steinberg, who recommends wearing "natural-ish" makeup (mascara, blush) to highlight your "best, natural, feminine self." Spira adds that wearing too much makeup is "a real turn-off": It can make you look too high maintenance or (yikes) old. It's best to highlight your single best feature, but watch out for ultra bright lipstick, as Spira says, "Most men don’t want to kiss you and find your bright red lipstick all over their shirt." ... So that's what we've been getting wrong...
The one exception: In the event of having professional photos taken, it actually may be better to wear more makeup than you do on a regular basis, so as to not be washed out by the powerful flash. "It may feel unnatural, but onscreen you usually can't tell how much you're wearing," Stewart says. And as long as you're having a pro take your pics, why not have one do your makeup, too? Try Spira's thrifty tip: "Take a visit to your local department store’s cosmetics department and have them do a free makeover for you. Chances are you could use a new lipstick anyway." She knows us too well.
Good: • Natural-ish makeup • Accentuate lips or eyes, not both • Makeup counter makeovers
Bad: • Completely bare face • Heavy makeup on lips and eyes • Bright lipstick
What we learned
Talking to Stewart, Steinberg, and Spira for this feature brought us to one very vital conclusion: We've been doing it all wrong. Everything.
From our Rihanna-frequent hair color changes to our (classy!! Classy.) bikini pic to our black and white and no-red-to-be-found wardrobe, it seems our dating profile photo choices don't exactly scream, "Click me--I'm the one you've been search engine-ing for!" So this holiday season, it's time to get our online dating game faces on (and no, we aren't talking that who-should-text-who-first nonsense): We resolve to wear more red on our bods and less on our lips. We'll upload more recent photos so as not to frighten our first dates with our current ghostly wintry visage upon meeting. We might even banish that bikini pic to the good ole recycling bin (even though our mother liked it so much she had it blown up and framed on our wall at home).
...Ok, that one might have to stay after all. Though we'll admit--it is quite a relief to blame our lack of e-dating success thus far entirely on our fashion choices. Could a crop of carefully curated photos actually be the key to to us finding our match (dot com)? We'll just have to wait and see--and if not, there's just under a month left to our paid subscription anyway!
Happy online dating to all, and to all a good night.