What to Wear When You Meet Your S.O.’s Parents Over Thanksgiving

So. Things are getting serious. Serious enough that your significant other is dragging … ahem, bringing you along to Thanksgiving dinner. You love your S.O. with your whole heart, and are desperate to make a good impression at this family affair. So what the heck are you gonna wear?

Thanksgiving pbs rewireAnswer: Something simple, comfortable and 100 percent you.

Meeting an S.O.’s parents isn’t the same as going on a job interview: No one expects you to squeeze yourself into stiff suiting or pinchy dress shoes. You want to present the best version of yourself—the tidy, friendly, please-and-thank-you version—but you’ve got a little more leeway to show you true colors. If your ink is important to you, let it peek out. If you love bold, bright prints, go ahead and wear your favorite paisley scarf. You want these people to like you, but you also want them to see you as you truly are. 

That said, it does help to choose an outfit that balances personality with social expectation. So here are a few formulas that will impress even the stodgiest of parents, and can be customized to suit just about any taste, body type, or budget.

OPTION 1: Blazer and jeans 

Thanksgiving pbs rewire

This combination strikes the perfect balance between laid-back and buttoned-up. Plus it works for all genders! If you go for skinny jeans as I’ve done here, add some looseness and volume up top with a longer blazer, top, or oversized scarf. Super distressed or hole-filled jeans might read a bit too casual, but any fairly clean, dark-wash denim will be perfect. A plain, solid tee is just fine under the blazer, though if you want to err a bit dressier try a sweater or button-front instead.

OPTION 2: Jacket or blazer, comfy dress and boots

Thanksgiving pbs rewire

(Some of you fellas might not be keen to wear dresses, but if you are, more power to ya!) Ladies, this outfit formula allows you to wear a formless, uber-comfy dress and still looked polished. Think jersey-knit swing or a-line sweater dresses, the kind that skim mercifully over an overstuffed, post-pumpkin-pie belly. The jacket adds structure and formality without being too fussy. Boots keep things casual while giving the look a slightly sassy vibe.

OPTION 3: Printed shirt and dark-wash jeans

Thanksgiving pbs rewire

Another option that can be repurposed for any gender! If you opt for a button-front shirt, picking something with a vibrant print is a fantastic way to liven up an otherwise staid piece. Tuck into your jeans and add a belt unless your shirt is both fitted and wrinkle-resistant. A printed blouse can typically be worn un-tucked, and selecting one that includes your signature colors is a fabulous way to express your personality. In both cases, dark wash jeans and geometric prints will look stylish and somewhat conservative without edging over into dull territory.

OPTION 4: Solid ponte dress and printed scarf 

Thanksgiving pbs rewire

Ponte knits are affordable, comfortable, and structured without being confining. This makes them ideal for dresses, and perfect for events that involve large meals and folks you’d like to impress. The scarf is optional, of course, and I know that larger ones can become gravy-magnets (especially if you’re a nervous/messy eater, as I am), but adding an eye-catching accessory will elevate the overall look. A contrasting belt or quirky brooch can work just as well.

I know I said that this suppertime soiree has different rules from a job interview, but a few best practices do overlap:

– Don’t douse yourself in cologne or perfume. S.O.’s dad could be scent-sensitive!

– Don’t do something drastically different to your hair. Feel free to get a cut or clean-up, but if you experiment with a new color or shape two days beforehand it could go catastrophically awry. Limit your stressors by keeping things simple.

– If you wear makeup, don’t try a new look or product for the occasion. Stick to what you know.

And, above all, remember to BREATHE. Your S.O.’s parents want to like you, so you’re already at an advantage! Plus you’re smart, you’re accomplished, and you’re gonna knock their socks off. Bring a hostess gift, ask lots of questions, and offer to help with the dishes. They’ll adore you. Promise.