OK guys, here we go! I am not a dating expert, but there are some basic things you can do, looks-wise, to improve your chances of connecting on first dates. We men are very visual, but don’t be fooled into thinking the ladies aren’t checking you out, too. And your great sense of humor and personality mean nothing if she can’t get past your appearance. So here are some dos and don’ts.

Guys try to dress outside their style space and look so awkward. If I see one more guy in dark jeans, blazer and untucked dress shirt, I will vomit! I call this the Nordstrom #1, so cliché.

Don’t: Get a haircut that day
It’s admirable that you want to look your best for the big date, but it can be disastrous! We have all had that one haircut that went in a bad direction, even from your regular stylist. You ask them to just trim it up a little and their artistic side decides to come out. A bad haircut with no time to style through it can leave you seriously self-conscious.

Do: Own your style
If you are a cool  jeans and Chucks wearing guy, own that look. I see so many guys who try to dress outside their style space and look so awkward doing it. If I see one more guy in dark jeans, blazer and untucked dress shirt, I will vomit! I call this the Nordstrom #1, so cliché.

Don’t: Shave before you go
This is along the same lines as the haircut, and it always goes down the same way. Music is playing, and you’re feeling jazzed about the date. You lather up and re-enact the scene from Top Gun when Tom Cruise is looking in the mirror after Goose dies. You are in your boxer briefs—you’d better not have his tighty whities on—and you make that cool look in the mirror. You gel up and start to shave and then it happens, a nerve spasm misguided twist of the razor. You wait for a second, please don’t be cut, and then the blood creeps out of what appears to be two parallel slices. Why razor cuts take forever to stop is a mystery to me. and nothing looks better then dried facial blood on a first date… not!

“Just forget about me, kid, and everything will be A-OK.”

Do: Strip
It’s 2012, and there are so many products available for your grill! No matter what economic status you fall into, you can afford a whitening strip. Teeth are a deal breaker, and I am not saying that you have to have a perfect smile, but keep them white. If your goal is to kiss her good night, rest assured that she is checking out what she is going to be putting her lips close to.

Don’t: Fall short
I know there are some of you out there that will argue with me, but please listen. Don’t wear shorts on a first date! If I had confidence in every guy’s ability to buy shorts that are dressy enough to wear on a first date, I might reconsider. But most guys buy shorts that are comfortable and on sale, not appropriate for this very important occasion.

Do: Trim
The final touch is to trim! It always fascinates me when I see a guy on a date, and he is dialed in his shirt, jeans and shoes, but didn’t finish himself off. Before you get dressed, do the once-over trim session completing your “first date” look. Eyebrows: check for random rogue black hairs pointing forward in full salute mode. Nose: inspect the nostrils for any long hairs exposed to the world. Fingernails: check to make sure you aren’t rockin’ what appears to be a dollar store set of Lee Press Ons, because nothing is a bigger turn-off then unkempt fingernails. Just think how bummed you would be if she were all Edward Scissorhands.

Richard Maloof is an author, grooming expert and image consultant. For more about his work, visit richardmaloof.com. And to check out/acquire a copy of his new book,
DETAILED: A Complete Man’s Guide to Personal Grooming, visit amazon.com.