Dress makes or breaks a date

Columnist Mark Longacre explains the appropriate attire for any Valentine’s Day excursion. It’s that time of year again when couples show their affection for each other by buying the biggest box of chocolates possible or

Mark LongacreColumnist Mark Longacre explains the appropriate attire for any Valentine’s Day excursion.

It’s that time of year again when couples show their affection for each other by buying the biggest box of chocolates possible or the softest teddy bear in existence. It’s great, if you’re turning 15.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the cutesy stuff, but my ideal Valentine’s Day involves good food, good wine and a great night. That’s my perfect Valentine’s Day – assuming I had a valentine – but there’s a wide range of romantic things to do in Philadelphia, each with a different set of outfit options.

The classic Valentine’s Day date involves a candlelit dinner at a restaurant somewhere in the city. When planning an outfit for a romantic dinner, first consider the ambiance of the restaurant and dress accordingly.

For example, lively restaurants like Devon’s Seafood or Parc in Rittenhouse Square require an upscale casual outfit. Girls can wear a pair of black skinny jeans with a pair of platform nude pumps, simple white V-neck and black cardigan. The outfit is elegant in its simplicity, so you should accessorize, or swap the shirt for something with color. A hint of color makes a simple outfit pop like the bottle of Dom Perignon your valentine hopefully got you.

Guys can complement their Valentine’s Day date by rocking a fitted blazer, sweater or dress shirt, dark wash jeans and dress shoes. The key to this outfit is in the color palate. For example, you can never go wrong with a gray blazer. Gray is perfect because it can complement either bright colors that give an outfit a hint of color, or it can accent basic traditional colors like black.

Normally style experts say jeans aren’t acceptable for even upscale casual settings, but as clothing companies increased the range of men’s denim styles, washes and fits, fashion denim has transitioned into a socially acceptable piece of upscale attire if it’s paired with the correct upscale staples like a blazer and dress shirt.

If trendy restaurants aren’t your thing, try a college friendly picnic. OK, so Valentine’s Day lands on a Tuesday this year, but you could pause the celebration until the weekend and enjoy a romantic picnic in the city. I understand it’s the middle of February, but the weather has been incredibly warm lately, so take advantage of the next warm day by enjoying a gourmet lunch from Di Bruno Bros. and a bottle of wine in one of Philly’s countless parks.

Personally, I love picnics because they’re romantic and intimate while still being entertained by your surroundings. Unfortunately, picnics are incredibly hard to dress for because of the wide range of temperatures outside. The key to a successful picnic outfit involves layering.

Girls can embrace the urban, yet natural feel of a city picnic by incorporating earthy tones into their wardrobe’s color palate. Pair an olive peacoat with an oversized scarf, camel riding boots or chunky heels and distressed corduroy pants. Guys should also channel their inner outdoorsman when designing an outfit. Think flannel, slim-straight denim peacoat, and desert boots and spice it up with some accessories like a knit hat or gloves.

Nature isn’t for everyone though. Isn’t that why we moved to the city?  For the night owls, take your special someone to one of the countless clubs throughout the city, just be sure to keep your attention on your date. Bringing your date for a night on the town is arguably the most fun because you have the freedom to get sexy with your outfit.

Other places like the restaurants and picnic require a dress code either out of social pressure or temperature obstacles, but clubs are almost always hot, so feel free to take advantage of the steamy atmosphere.

Every good club outfit starts with a sexy pair of underwear because after your skirt rides up or your pants fall down, your underwear is the only friend left holding you back from the public eye. Girls should check out Coeur Intimate Apparel at 17th and Sansom streets for a selection of undergarments unlike those hanging on the shelves at Victoria’s Secret.

As college students, we’re pretty familiar with what makes a great night-out outfit, so take your favorite outfit and run with it. Your date will love the effort to look hot, and surely make it a Valentine’s Day you won’t forget. Hopefully, your significant other does something romantic to show (s)he cares, but if you’re single on Valentine’s Day like me, just don a sexy little black dress or a dapper-deep V-neck, hit the club and make someone be your valentine.

Mark Longacre can be reached at mark.thomas.longacre@temple.edu.

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