The hardest part is over — you asked her out (or she asked you) and you've set a date to meet. Unfortunately, the period in between the time she agrees to go out with you and the time you two meet tends to be as anxiety-provoking as it is exciting.

You want to look your best and impress her with your witty and charming ways. To take the mystery out of how to do so, we've put together the top 10 predate rituals every guy should adopt to guarantee that his date gets off to a good start.

Shine your shoes

We all know that shoes are inexplicably important to women, but when this fact of life is coupled with first-date nervousness on her part, which means she'll be looking downward when she's feeling a little shy, you can guarantee she'll notice your footwear. Because shoe polishing has become somewhat of a lost art, however, it's unfortunately commonplace to see a well-dressed man wearing scuffed shoes. Three days before your date, do a quick inspection of the shoes you might wear and take them to a cobbler if they're in need of repair. When time is of the essence, a cobbler will also shine and buff your shoes to perfection for a small fee.

Clean your car

It's a given that you'll put at least a minimal amount of effort toward your appearance for a first date. However, it's important to not spend so much time on your physical appearance that you neglect other areas, such as your car, that will affect her impression of you. If you show up looking hot but then your date gets a glimpse of your mud-stained car and slides into your passenger seat only to discover empty soda cans, cigarette ashes and dog hair, she'll suddenly feel like your car represents the real you and that everything else is a show. So get out your mini vacuum and suck up any excess dirt in your ride, then spend 10 minutes taking it through a car wash on your way to pick her up.

Apply fragrance an hour before you meet

When you want your scent to last, the best way to ensure you smell good all night long is to layer your fragrance. In order to do so, invest in the shower gel, deodorant, aftershave, and cologne versions of your favorite scent. When prepping for a date, use all of these products to build up your fragrance, but save your cologne for the last minute. About an hour before showtime, spritz on your juice of choice so that the top notes of the fragrance will have evaporated by the time you meet your date, leaving you with a scent that's perfectly mixed with your body chemistry.

Manscape

Women can literally spend days getting ready for a first date — manicures, pedicures, bikini wax, the list goes on and on. Consider it common courtesy, therefore, to do a little body hair maintenance yourself. Any unwanted fuzz, such as back hair, should be removed, so get it waxed or shave it off yourself. Additionally, unsightly ear and nose hair should be plucked and unruly eyebrows, including a unibrow, should be tamed. Other areas in which you prefer to be hair-free should also be attended to.

Iron your shirts

Much like job interviews, with first dates you don't normally get a second chance to make a first impression, so dressing appropriately is extremely important. Of course, you would never dream of wearing a rumpled shirt to a job interview, and you should apply this rule to first dates, too. The day before your date, clean and iron a few of your favorite shirts. That way you'll have a crisp selection to choose from when selecting your first-date ensemble.

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Pack a date kit

A little bit of thoughtful preparation before a date can really go a long way toward ensuring the evening proceeds smoothly, so pack a date kit. Include items like like breath mints or gum in your pocket if your date involves a romantic meal. A mini toothbrush and floss for “unexpected” overnight visits to her place will be useful, too, and can be stashed discreetly in the interior pocket of your jacket.

Shave

Whether you favor a clean-shaven look or some facial hair, everything needs to be very well groomed for your first date. You'll also want to spend a little more time than usual on this ritual to get the best shave possible. Steam up your bathroom while you're in the shower to open up your pores and soften hair follicles. Then use a new, clean razor and an emollient-rich shaving cream to achieve the smoothest shave possible. Follow with an aftershave to tone your skin and sterilize any nicks or cuts.

Clean your sheets and your bathroom

Imagine the perfect evening: You pick up your so-hot-she-could-be-a-Victoria's-Secret-model date and from the get-go you two totally hit it off. She laughs at all your jokes and she flirts with you wildly. Now imagine going back to your place — where you forgot to make your bed, you haven't changed your sheets in a month, and your bathroom is filthy. At best, her impression of you as a master seducer will be shattered and, more realistically, she may be so completely put off she will find an excuse to go home. The lesson to be learned here is simple: Put some clean linen on your bed and tidy your bathroom just in case.

Confirm your plans

It can be pretty embarrassing to show up at a restaurant only to discover that they've lost your reservation and don't have any other tables for the evening. Ditto for showing up at a different time or to a different location than your date. To avoid any misunderstandings that could jeopardize your chances of seeing this woman again, confirm your plans with her a day before your date and confirm any reservations you have, too.

Work out

To look and feel your ultimate best on a first date, sneak in a workout about two hours before you'll be meeting up. Exercise will bring greater definition to your body, make you feel energized, reduce first-date jitters by releasing feel-good hormones, and make your skin seem brighter. To really make your muscles “pop” for several hours afterward, include plenty of weight lifting in your workout, concentrating on your core or major muscle groups.