First Impressions: 7 Things Women Notice

This is a guest post from my friend Megan over at Style Girlfriend – visit her blog for more men’s style advice from a woman’s perspective!

womens expressions on men styleGentlemen – Let’s talk about first impressions.

Specifically the kind you make on us ladies when we first meet you.

Women size you up as soon as you say “hello.”

Yes – it does go both ways.

The funny thing is she might not even realize the mental checklist forming in her head.  But make no mistake; she’s ticking off good and bad boxes.  And you know what they say about first impressions – you only get to make one.

So make yours count.

Below are 7 visual and audio cues a woman immediately notices and how you can get it right.

1 – Your Shoes

Why it matters: If eyes are the window to the soul, then shoes are the window to your style. Wear the wrong ones, and you’ll telegraph a less-than-ideal message. If they look flimsy, she’ll suspect you’re a cheapskate. If they’re ratty and worn-down, she’ll think you don’t care about your appearance (and will wonder what else you don’t care about).

How to get it right: Consider shoes an investment. Spend what you can on a few good pairs – dress shoes in both black and brown, and a loafer or driving moccasin for more casual outfits. And be sure your shoes are outfit-appropriate – that means no sneakers or sandals with a suit.

mens double monk dress shoes

2 – Your Greeting

Why it matters: Why do you think it’s so nerve-wracking when contestants first get out of the limo on The Bachelor?  And guys, don’t pretend you haven’t watched this addictive reality series at least once. It’s because they only get a few words and gestures to make a good first impression. A greeting is the first opportunity to present yourself the way you want to be seen. Your handshake, smile and “hello” all contribute.

How to get it right: Be confident, but friendly. Don’t look past us, or up and down our frame before you reach our face. Of course, if you can barely make eye contact from nerves, that’s not very appealing either. Look us in the eye, smile warmly, and repeat our name (to help you remember it). And never underestimate the power of a firm handshake.


mens crewneck sweater

Take that hand out of your pocket and introduce yourself with a handshake.

3 – Your Hands

Why it matters: Since we’re already talking about handshakes, let’s discuss the state of your skin. I know that “Moisturize” probably isn’t high on your list of daily “To Do’s.” But rough hands are not something we ladies want to put up with. No one wants to touch scaly skin. Even if you think moisturizing isn’t “manly,” it’s in your best interest to keep your skin smooth.

How to get it right: Keep a hand cream at your desk at work and use it when you’re brainstorming your fantasy football lineup or trying to decide what to eat for lunch.

Click here to see one of Antonio’s favorite hand creams.

A Man's Guide To Style

4 – Your “Look”

Why it matters: There are, of course, big fashion deal breakers guys (hopefully) know not to make. Showing up to a date in an “I’m with Stupid” t-shirt, for instance. Or walking into a business meeting wearing a Confederate flag biker jacket.

But usually, it’s smaller things that can trip you up with a first impression. A sloppy, untucked shirt – pants that clearly haven’t been pressed – muddy, grass-stained shoes.

How to get it right: Do a full-mirror scan before you leave your house. Do you look put together? Is your hair combed? Your shoelaces tied? Does your belt match your shoes? A quick once-over will save you from little mistakes in a first impression.

mens navy jacket

Throwing on a jacket is always a safe bet.

5 – Your Watch

Why it matters: Women don’t expect every man to flex a Rolex, but we do expect you to wear a man’s – not a kid’s – watch. No Mickey Mouse faces. No calculator watches. And nothing made of rubber if you’re not running a marathon.

How to get it right: If it’s time to upgrade your wrist wear, do a reconnaissance mission at your local department store’s watch counter to see what strikes your fancy. You can’t go wrong with a metal bracelet with a dark face, or a simple-yet-classic leather band with white face. Nothing showy, but nothing that suggests you won it in a carnival game either.

 mens watch

6 – Your Grammar

Why it matters: Even in the first exchange of “Hello’s” and “Hi my name is” pleasantries, ladies are making judgments. We notice if you’re using big words or not, if you say “umm,” call us “dude” or “babe,” and if your vocabulary is riddled with curses.

How to get it right: Read more books? We’re not asking for ten-dollar words dropped into every sentence, but we want to feel confident that you can hold up your end of a conversation if we introduce you to our friends or family without fear of you embarrassing us.

mens groomed hair style

7 – Your Hair

Why it matters: The way you wear your hair says a lot about you. A combover trying to cover up a bald patch – you’ll seem insecure. Greasy locks that look like they haven’t been washed in days – a total turn-off.

How to get it right: Women have different opinions on the “right” length of hair, but that’s subjective. What’s more important is how it’s styled. Or really, if it’s styled at all. If you wear your hair longer, make sure it’s in check when you walk out the door. A little – not a lot – of product is best. If you’re going bald, just shave it off and rock a bare scalp without shame.


This is a guest post from my friend Megan over at Style Girlfriend – visit her blog for more men’s style advice from a woman’s perspective!    - Antonio

  • Electrogent

    These are some really great tips–especially #6.

  • Gentleman_Joe

    I never would have thought about my hands beyond clean and trimmed.

  • ColleenME

    I will add a more important item than good shoes.

    Teeth. Take care of your teeth and be sure they are freshly clean.

    Your smile will make or break the impression…your teeth will make or break your smile.

    Your greeting; your vocabulary; the hair is big; and your attitude (look at us in the eyes)… all matter when you are meeting us.

    About the hair…bald is fine, balding is fine, long or short just fine…just make sure it is clean and styled.

  • rmrstyle

    @Electrogent I agree – it’s not something I even pay attention to. Thank goodness my mother made sure I had good conversation skills before I left the house!

  • rmrstyle

    @Gentleman_Joe I was surprised by this one as well – then again, our hands often do a lot more than shake hands if the relationship goes further!

  • rmrstyle

    @ColleenME Thanks Colleen – curious, what do you think about teeth whitening? Have the standards set by Hollywood actors forced the average guy to have to up his game here?

  • The Kitendist

    What about your scent?

    A bad smell will surely ruin the good visual effect of your stylish look. If good shoes are the basement on which a gentleman should build his look, a nice fragrance would be his front and rear guard. It will discreetely anounce his entrance and remind people of his presence after his exit. Off course it is not about an heavy and invasif perfume. It is about a light and fresh scent. The gentleman should be agreable not only to the eye but also to the nose.

  • rmrstyle

    @The Kitendist This is a good point – I’m not sure why it was left off but I guess Megan had to make some tough choices as to what to leave off. I think this list could have easily grown to 13-15 things!

  • StyleGirlfriend

    @The Kitendist Good point, I hadn’t even thought of that! As a woman who doesn’t have a “signature scent,” I guess I don’t think too much about cologne or perfume on a regular basis. Of course I want a man to smell CLEAN when I first meet him, but on a first meeting, I’m probably not going in for a hug. And if I can smell him from the safe distance of a handshake, he’s probably wearing too much!

  • StyleGirlfriend

    @rmrstyle @ColleenME That’s a great question about teeth whitening. It does seem the standards for a Colgate commercial-worthy smile have jumped up in the past few years, doesn’t it?

  • StyleGirlfriend

    @Electrogent Thank you! As a total book nerd, I’m always on the lookout for someone with a solid grasp of the English language and a vocabulary that suggests a stack of books on your nightstand :)

  • Arkhangael

    @StyleGirlfriend @Electrogent True. I am a man of few words, because I am very bad with conversational skills. It’s killing me frankly to see people yawn as I stumble to speak out

  • Arkhangael

    Hello everyone
    I agree with above and below
    I’ll add that it’s also important to take care of your skin. You don’t want to look as if you not caring for your face.
    Try researching about what’s best for your face, for example. You may want the world to know you spend your life working hard in the sun, but it’s worth it if you still have good skin.

    And, most importantly, be clean. Make your wife proud. Two showers a day are important. Find and use product that clean and detox your body. Perfume will not make you forget you did not shower.
    And the Internet must probably be filled with e-articles about how to be clean, so do a little research. The most stylish clothing and shoes, the best products are worthless if you do not take care of the essential: your body.
    Somewhere, someone notices if you don’t.
    Thanks to Megan and Antonio for taking the time to put this down.

  • rmrstyle

    @Arkhangael @StyleGirlfriend @Electrogent Practice – practice!

  • rmrstyle

    @Arkhangael You are welcome sir! Although I have to admit I don’t shower but once a day!

  • Arkhangael

    @rmrstyle @StyleGirlfriend @Electrogent I am actually trying my best to do better in the art of conversation.. My current circle of friends include a lawyer, a smooth talker, a high profile manager, an auditor-accountant – people that I observe a lot, n I try to learn what makes it so easy to speak in public n captivate attention. For the time being, we have the listening skill as something in common. But I have greater ambitions now.

  • Arkhangael

    @SGstyle @rmrstyle @effortlessgent I still question myself about the wrist watch. Is it really compulsory? I don’t like wearing them, although I do own beautiful ones.
    I am currently using a pocket watch, like they used before WWII, because i like these.
    Does a watch really matter? I’ll wear one if it makes a real difference, but I need to be convinced.
    And you, Lady Megan, and gentlemen, are the right persons to provide the precious advice.

    Thank you.

  • rmrstyle

    @Arkhangael@effortlessgent I would say the wrist watch is not required – but if you wear one wear it right as it will reflect upon you in the eyes of strangers.

  • Arkhangael

    dear Megan,
    Care to add something?


  • Arkhangael

    @rmrstyle Thank tou for your reply and advice.
    I will start practicing wearing a wrist watch again.
    In fact, I stopped when I realized I had too many watches & did not know which one to wear. I have since given a few away, and am left today with only a few beauties, which I should use.
    Thank you for the tip

  • Arkhangael

    @SGstyle @rmrstyle @effortlessgent @imagegranted
    Dear friends in style,
    I have noticed a question has not been raised: what about not wearing belts?
    I have tailor made trousers that have elastic bands on the side strapped to buttons.
    I have always held the belt in dislike as they cut the silhouette in two.
    And lately, stylish and classic belts were hard to find in my country.
    Guess I’ll have to try and order Anson belts – these are beautiful.

    So, what’s your take on no belts?

    PS: wearing no belts doesn’t show under a waistcoat or with a suit

  • StevenKippel

    @Arkhangael @rmrstyle @ImageGranted@effortlessgent You don’t need a belt with a suit if it fits right. If you need support to keep your pants up, braces (suspenders) are the best option. When wearing a sport coat or mixed, a belt is required with belt loops.

  • StyleGirlfriend

    @StevenKippel Thanks for chiming in Steven!

  • WilliamBeard

    Great tips. Although I’m married I try to look nice for my wife and I love the last line of #7. I’ve been rocking the bald look for at least 6 years now.

  • StyleGirlfriend

    @WilliamBeard What a good husband! I think guys don’t think this way nearly enough, but it’s very much appreciated! And heck yes, be bald and proud! If Bruce Willis can do it (and look like a total stud), so can you :)

  • rmrstyle

     @WilliamBeard Good to hear!

  • rmrstyle

     @Arkhangael  @ImageGranted  @SGstyle  @effortlessgent Good answers here. In general, if you have visible belt loops, you should have a belt through them. If your trousers don’t have visible loops or they’re hidden under a waistcoat you can opt for braces, or if the trousers stay up and fit well on their own, go without any outside support.