Like any typical Saturday night out in D.C., you and your friends want to have a few drinks, let loose and meet a cute girl or two. This bar, like so many others you frequent, seems to have five sweaty dudes for each girl good looking enough to talk to. Your mission for the night is to stick out in a sea of black button downs and cheesy one-liners, but there is a fine line between “that asshole that spilled my drink when he was flexing” to “wow, this guy’s pretty awesome and I wouldn’t mind seeing those biceps sans Affliction t-shirt”. It’s hard to know the best way to portray confidence without coming off as too cocky to stand. Sending her a drink will likely result in little more than a smile as she turns back to the guy who had the guts to talk to her, so it looks like you’re going to have to approach her before you can expect any attention to come your way. Here are five useful tips on how to be promoted from wallflower to her ride home in the morning:

DO Dress the Part. The first step in feeling good in your own skin is looking great. When you’re heading to a bar or club for the first time, check its web site for the dress code. No one wants to be turned away by a steroid-fueled bouncer for wearing Nikes instead of opting for dressier shoes. Some bars will let you get away with sneakers or flip flops, but the more upscale clubs require shoes and collared shirts. If the web site isn’t helpful, ask a gal pal for advice on what attire is most appropriate for certain venues or areas of the District (Example: boat shoes – great almost anywhere in Georgetown, terrible for Adams Morgan).

DON’T Hang Out with Losers. Most hot girls travel in packs of at least five and won’t abandon their clique unless you can hook them up with your crew. Bring chill guys who can attract and converse with girls as your secret weapon. Group settings are often more comfortable for initial introductions than a one-on-one meeting, putting everyone at ease. Your girl will be more likely to cozy up to you if her friends are occupied as well.

DO Talk About Her.This seems like it should be obvious, and you’re right, it should be. Unfortunately, a lot of guys think the best way to pick up a girl is to boast his stats, so the point must be reinforced. Yeah, girls are interested in knowing a little about you but they really don’t care what kind of weight you can put up at the gym and don’t even know what a turbo engine does, so there’s no point in bringing it up. The best way to keep a girl’s interest is to get her talking about herself. This gives you time to feel her out and see if she’s A) crazy B) just being polite while she finishes the beer you bought and C) interested in the same stuff as you. If Option C works out, you’ll have a better idea of what to bring up about yourself that won’t have her yawning.

DON’T Push It.If a girl doesn’t seem interested after initial contact, don’t just stand there while she rolls her eyes and tries to find her nearest guy friend to pretend he’s her boyfriend. Girls don’t try to hide their interest when a guy hits on them. If it seems she’s holding back, she’s either a lesbian, has a boyfriend, or thinks you’re gross – none of which will get you a bed buddy for the evening. Instead of wasting your time with some girl who doesn’t think you’re worth hers, move on. You don’t have to retreat with your tail between your legs and listen to your buddies mock your pathetic attempts to get laid, just make another loop of the bar and start over with a clean slate.

DO Buy Her a Drink, But Talk to Her First. Don’t approach a girl with a shot in your hand and expect her to accept it. Asking what she would like to drink is a small gesture that says a lot. It shows you care enough to get her opinion before acting, which is vital in any relationship. Buying the drink in front of her also ensures that you’re not a total creep who just roofied her G&T, a quality most girls look for in potential suitors that will probably keep you out of prison for the night… can’t hurt.

Remember, no one besides your mother will disagree if you act like you’re not worth getting to know out of a crowd of guys. So with your chin up and your chest out, enter the party with confidence that will make girls turn away from that loser who thinks he can dance when you’re nearby. Practice these skills tonight and when you wake up to a cement wall covered with Zack Efron posters, don’t panic – it’s a GWU dorm room, not the county jail.

Originally published on PureStyle Magazine