Social distancing, curfews and lockdowns have made dating even more challenging (as if it wasn’t hard enough already, especially in dense cities like New York where women outnumber men). In the not-so-distant past, apps like OKCupid and Tinder got us out on the town for in-person relationships or one-night stands, whichever fit your fancy. Now, virtual dates via Zoom or FaceTime are the new norm. I’m not here to help with dating (having been out of the game for many moons), but I can give you expert wardrobe advice and help you choose a backdrop to complement your outfit!

Preparing for a great date, virtual or not, starts with looking and feeling your best, and that all starts with choosing a fabulous outfit. And with virtual dating, the second most important thing besides your outfit is your background. Whether you’re getting ready for a first date or you’re trying to keep your look fresh for date number two or three, read on for an overview of what makes a successful virtual date look, how to choose the outfit, and — last, but not least — outfit recommendations for every mood.

Perfecting your look for a virtual date

Sue Tsai’s “Still Bloomed” canvas print

The backdrop of your virtual date is nearly as important as your outfit, yet that often seems to be the final thought when people are prepping for an exciting “night out” via video call. When choosing a background, first, figure out what complements your outfit. Also consider if anything in the background can be a conversation starter. For example, contrast a simple, white, over-the-shoulder top (a silhouette that highlights your neck and shoulders) against a bold, colorful Sue Tsai statement piece (like “Still Bloomed”) hanging behind you. Or pair a statement piece, like a bright pink ruffled top, against a blank white wall and a fiddle-leaf fig tree. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s not a virtual wallpaper. Those tend to be off-putting and disorienting, as they make you appear out of place and often come off looking cheap.

It’s important to look fabulous, but you also want to wear something that fits. In other words, make sure your outfit is familiar and comfortable. Don’t wait until right before your Zoom date to put it on, only to realize you can’t sit down comfortably. I also highly recommend a dress rehearsal to make sure your camera is placed at a flattering angle, that there are no surprises in the background, and that your lighting is on point. (I have heard that using a ring light makes all the difference in looking good on camera, if you feel like investing in one. If you don’t, a well-angled desk lamp can do the trick.) 

Choosing the outfit

Because physical cues aren’t as apparent on a virtual date as they are in person, it’s particularly important that you choose an outfit that best represents your personality. Ask yourself: What impression or message do I want to send my date? Do you want to give off a “comfy and cozy” vibe or come across as “bold and irresistible”? (Need some ideas? Check out the list of themes and corresponding outfit recommendations below.) 

Once you’ve figured out the look you’re going for, think of your outfit from head to toe — not just from waist up, in case you have to stand up for something! Plus, it doesn’t hurt to (subtly) showcase any assets you have, for example, by picking a pair of jeans that highlights your glutes.

Now that you have an idea of the look or silhouette you want, choose colors that complement your skin tone. Also consider what looks best on screen. Some colors can appear harsh on camera, as can some patterns, as well. Even wearing a subtle zigzag pattern creates a moiré effect — a repetitive pattern that appears to strobe and dance — on the screen. Again, do a test run ahead of time with your outfit, your setup and your camera to make sure your look is coming across as intended.  

To sum it up, go through this checklist:

  1. Silhouette: What impression/message do you want to send to your date?
  2. Color: Choose a color that best suits your skin tone.
  3. Pattern: Stick to little or no pattern, and definitely avoid bold patterns.
  4. Asset(s): Choose an asset that you’d like to accentuate. For example, to show off your arms, wear a sleeveless or bandeau top; to highlight your collarbone, accessorize with a dainty necklace; to accentuate your shoulders, try a bustier or off-the-shoulder top.

Outfit recommendations

Comfy and cozy
Don’t be deceived — the comfortable look can be just as chic as the other themes. Plus, this choice will make you feel more at ease.

(Left to right: Sweater dress / Silk set / Cable knit sweater with leather joggers)

Sexy and subtle
If you don’t want to come off too strong on the first date, showing a little shoulder or your collarbone — oh so subtly— is the way to go.

(Left to right: Sheer Yoke Cardigan with pencil skirt / Asymmetrical top with bralette and jeans / Off-the-shoulder top with leather pants)

Elegant and sophisticated
You can’t go wrong with this look. You’re guaranteed to make your date want to bring their A game and call you back for a second date — that is, if you want another date!

(Left to right: Slip dress / Halter top with black denim / Little black dress)

Bold and irresistible
You know what you want and have no qualms about being who you are: confident and beautiful, inside and out.

(Left to right: Sweater dress / Bustier top with black denim / Red dress)

Flirty and fun
The only print that gets a pass on a virtual date is floral. Wear light and bright colors or ruffles to bring that fun, flirtatious energy on screen.

(Left to right: Floral dress / Eyelet dress / Ruffle top with denim jeans)

Don’t feel like you need to limit yourself to just one look or theme. On the first date, you can decide to be “elegant and sophisticated,” but if you feel more comfortable on the second date, go with “flirty and fun”! The most important thing is to choose a color and silhouette that fits your style and shows you at your best. For example, if you want to show off your amazing arms while staying “comfy and cozy,” a short-sleeve sweater dress will do the trick. 

Now that you have the perfect outfit, a background that complements your entire look and lighting to perfection, the rest is up to you. Get out there (while staying in) on that virtual date and let your personality shine through!

Cover image credit: Shutterstock


  • Ivy Payne, Fashion Editor at Mochi, has always played dress up. Throughout her childhood living in Los Angeles (Culver City, specifically) she was known as best dressed. It wasn’t necessarily the brands she wore but how her outfits were effortlessly put together. She began her fashion career working for international mall developer, Westfield, then made her way to Marie Claire magazine. However, now she plays dress up on the big screen (or small, if you prefer the iPhone) as a Costume Designer, bringing life to characters through clothes. If she’s not storytelling with wardrobe, you’ll find her with personal clients making them feel and look their best.

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