Science + Style = Love at First Sight and 3 Outfits to Make You Believe in It

Science explains what's happening when you meet that special someone.
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Christina - University of Pennsylvania
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Science explains what's happening when you meet that special someone.

We’ve all experienced that feeling: the coincidental eye contact, an accidental brush on the arm, the awkward square dance when you’re both passing in a narrow aisle and trying to move out of each other’s way...

Just as some put their faith in the heart-racing, butterflies-in-my-stomach feeling when bumping into someone new, others believe that these instant “connections” with complete strangers are as meaningful as connecting to coffee shop WiFi. Love at first sight is hotly debated in literature and in life; let’s see what science has to say about it.

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When you first see someone, it takes about 0.2 seconds for you to get an impression of them; if you find them attractive, twelve areas of your brain are activated all at once. During your first interactions with your captivating stranger, you start feeling that sense of euphoric giddiness thanks to multiple neurotransmitters

You may be familiar with adrenaline, the substance that your body produces when you’re scared, excited, running on a treadmill, or all three if you happen to find a cutie at the gym. A major player in the “reward-seeking” system in the brain, dopamine is then produced, which is also an effect of yummy foods like truffle Parmesan fries. Let’s not forget about oxytocin, a.k.a. the "Cuddle Hormone," which is released during social bonding, snuggle sessions, and while petting cute puppies.

As you view this picture, your oxytocin levels are rising...

As you view this picture, your oxytocin levels are rising...

On to the love at first sight debate. The main arguments against love at first sight are: 1) your opinions are invalid because you barely know this person, and 2) you haven't had enough time to do lovey-dovey things with them so you can’t say you’re in love.

As a counter to the first point, you actually take in a lot about a person in that first glance. According to evolutionary reasoning, it was a crucial primal instinct to be able to make a quick decision about another person's suitability for mating and passing on your DNA – super romantic, right? That’s why it is popular belief that males make visual judgments to determine whether a female will be able to give birth to healthy, adorable babies and why females tend to look for loyalty, ensuring that males will stick around to protect and care for said babies. 

Furthermore, studies have found that when someone is shown a picture of their love, there’s a deactivation in the frontal cortex of the brain, which controls judgment. Acting as Mother Nature’s rose-tinted glasses, this effect encourages – you guessed it – reproduction. 

Of course, nowadays, these ideas are considered obsolete because we might have other life goals than to hand down our genes. (Which you could easily do at a thrift shop. Get it? Genes. Jeans. Moving on.)

Bro, I can see the decline in your frontal cortex activity.

Bro, I can see the decline in your frontal cortex activity.

In addition to enabling positive first impressions, that information gathering mental mode sticks around and may contribute to what psychologists call “the halo effect.” 

This effect basically is a cognitive bias in which someone’s physical attractiveness makes you assume they also have positive characteristics. For example: “Hey, that guy is pretty handsome. He must be smart, funny, and successful. Also he probably volunteers at a soup kitchen every Saturday and rescues kittens from trees.” 

Hey, I just met you. And I am SO ready to bond with you! | Photo Credit: Unsplash

Hey, I just met you. And I am SO ready to bond with you! | Photo Credit: Unsplash

Now, in response to the second point, that "you haven’t even had any bonding time with your newfound love", some argue that you don’t need to frolic in meadows or bake heart-shaped cookies together in order to feel love; “action readiness” in itself is sufficient. 

Imagine this scenario: your sister ate all of your favorite Ghiradelli chocolates that you got for your birthday, and you refrain from taking revenge by revealing the endings of all her current TV show obsessions. Just because you didn’t manifest your emotions into actual behavior doesn’t mean you feel any less angry. Thus, action readiness is enough to prove you are feeling some type of way.

Phew. I hope you’ve picked up something about the biological basis of love at first sight from this article. If you're interested, you can find out much more about the research on love and attraction here. It's fascinating stuff.

Now on to the outfits. These outfits are perfect for convincing a special stranger that love at first sight is, indeed, real. Sigh!

Modern Romance

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Products: Shirt | Pants | Booties | Purse

This monochrome outfit is inspired by the sophistication of modern design. An off-the-shoulder shirt is the trendiest way to bare some skin in a classy way, and the hint of lace on the neckline is a subtle nod to a romantic look without overtaking the simplicity of the outfit. 

The “treggings,” a blend of trousers and leggings, continuing down to the mixed-media open-toe booties give you a sleek silhouette that is bound to grab attention as soon as you walk into the room.

With your gold-trim crossbody purse to hold your essentials, you’ll be ready to lock eyes with that attractive stranger sitting at the next table and perhaps start a conversation with them.

You Had Me at Halo

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Products: Shirt | Skirt | Sandals | Necklace

This angelic look is inspired by the “halo effect” in which your appearance can make others instantly believe you are the lovely girl that, well, you are! 

To start, dainty gold sandals perfectly complement a halo-inspired necklace. A girly Bardot top and a blush lace skirt will make you seem sweet and approachable to your admirer from across the room. Who knows, maybe they're gathering up the courage to talk to you!

Coup de Foudre

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Products: Dress | Heels | Purse | Lipstick

Inspired by the French phrase that describes love at first sight and literally translates to “thunderbolt,” this outfit is sure to strike the hearts of everyone at a party. 

A classic LBD and red lip give you a Hollywood-glam feel that’s updated by the lace and peek-a-boo back of the dress. Throw on strappy lace-up heels and a cute bow purse, and you’ll be ready to dance the night away with your newfound love!

Do you believe in love at first sight?

How do you usually react in these heart-thumping situations? Have you ever experienced "the halo effect?" Let me know in the comments below!