It would be churlish to suggest that either gender filters out potential partners purely on looks. As if we'd be spooling through dozens and dozens of photographs on a handheld device and dismissing them just because of how they appear. That's just crazy talk. However, it would be somewhat naïve not to acknowledge that aesthetics play a more significant role than we might care to admit.
Having been the only man in an office full of women for the overwhelming majority of my career in journalism, I've been privy to more than a few secrets about the factors that get men a second date. As opposed to the dreaded friend zone or, even worse, the social media stonewall.
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Rule 1: Don't be a dick
You could be plucked straight off the runway with soulful eyes and a sinful body, but pretty only gets you so far. By which we mean a couple of nights at best.
Rule 2: No shorts
Unless your first date is at the beach - which would require her to wear swimwear and that's plain weird on D1 - she doesn't want to see your knees. Put on your big boy trousers. And no, it doesn't matter if the shorts are "tailored". A quality chino or unripped denim will serve you better.
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Rule 3: Wallet worthy
On a first date, she's going to see your wallet. Why? Because you're going to pay for dinner. She'll offer, but you'll refuse without expectation. It's called chivalry. Ask your dad about it. Point is, she WILL notice that billfold and if there's Velcro anywhere near it, you're dead in the water my friend. Ditto surfwear or athletic logos. Instead make like that biker dude from the Village People - go ahead and Google, we'll wait - and go for leather every time.
Rule 4: No name brand
Dial things waaaaaaaaay back logo boy. In her eyes A&F stands for "alone" and "fail". By the same token, if you know that Dries Van Noten is not a Dutch footballer, let the clothes do the talking instead of you. Another tangent you don't want to go down is Guess. Kidding, it's "guess how much this shirt cost?" The fact that you can sniff out a deal is not high on her priority list right now.
Rule 5: Minimal grooming required
Repeat after us: too much hair product or scent is way worse of a crime than too little. Just like with a proper handshake, two pumps will do you. And, if you want to stand out for the right reasons, clean hands and unbitten nails are mandatory.
Rule 6: One great accessory
Be it a pocket square, belt, colourful socks, a flower in your lapel or a pair of polished oxblood Oxfords, this touch will be noticed. It may even be commented upon. Be aware that this is an area of diminishing returns. The more you add, the less the impact.