The biggest dos and don'ts when it comes to what to wear
When it comes to choosing an outfit for a night out, it can be hard to work out exactly what each club wants. What one club accepts in the VIP, another rejects at the door. And a club without an advertised dress code could turn out to have one that is not usually advertised.
Now, let's just make it clear that there is no one outfit that will get you into all the clubs you like. Some even have dress codes that directly contradict one another. But if you follow these guidelines, you will have a better idea of what a club expects of you, and of what to pack when you go on a club-focused holiday.
The Smart Casual:
This look will help you get into most nightclubs. Many of us are familiar with this look, as it's how we dress when we want to make a little effort: smart jeans, a polo shirt or button down shirt, and some nice shoes. Women can get away with a nice shirt and jeans, but regardless of your sex or dress style, you need to make sure you're making a visible effort.
If you will be attending an exclusive event, this will probably be the dress code. The rules are at their strictest for men, who are expected to wear a tuxedo or a three piece dinner jacket suit, preferably with a black bow tie and a starched white shirt. Something many men neglect is a pocket square, which really elevates an outfit from "rental tux" to "Hollywood lux". Women need to wear a gown, or at the very least a high-end cocktail dress in black, metallics, or jewel tones. And women should not neglect the details either! Jewellery ought to be attractive, kept to a minimum, and matching where possible. Shoes must be heels or very expensive-looking flats.
Black Tie Optional:
Contrary to popular belief, "black tie optional", or BTO dress code, doesn't mean "like black tie, but without the tie"! What it actually means is you can choose between black tie dress code, or formal business dress code. This allows those who wish to dress very formally to dress up as much as they like, but for those who do not have a tux in their wardrobe to attend without renting one. If you choose to wear business style clothes, make sure that you dress as you would for the most important interview of your life. The tie is, in fact, not optional. Women would do better to wear a cocktail dress at the very least, but a dressed up pencil skirt and blouse could work. You can't really be overdressed at a black tie or BTO event.
This is a dresscode anyone who's worked in an office will be familiar with. A comfortable suit, tailored or non-tailored, a button-down shirt, no need for a tie or cufflinks. Women can wear smart office dresses, or pencil skirts with blouses. Something you could wear to work, but a bit more relaxed.
Think "celebs at the Oscars". This is pure class, but with a touch of the casual, a touch of the personal. Unlike black tie, or BTO, you can wear much more extravagant cuts and colours. You could get away with rhinestones, or printed fabrics as well. So long as you look expensive and glamorous, this dress code offers plenty of creative freedom.
Many first-time club-goers, or people used to hitting "junior" clubs and other clubs targeting a younger audience may assume this is the best way to dress when clubbing. Outfits that cover the bare essentials and nothing else, v-necks down to the navel, and fetish wear for miles. However, other than for very specific clubs, this can be too much, and even if you get in, you might feel uncomfortable if you are the only person so bare. Instead, aim for eveningwear or a party style outfit.
A slightly more sophisticated take on the super sexy looks, you are more covered, but still showing off, with a touch of the fun and casual. Think skater dresses, a loose-fitting silk shirt and jeans, a white suit, or a bodycon dress that creates a sleek outline.
Unless you are at a dayclub pool party, they are an absolute no-go. However at some pool parties they are mandatory.
No matter what the club is like, you are at risk of being turned away if you show up dressed like a highschooler straight out of gym class. Avoid any plain, untidy/dirty, or highly functional sportswear. You might get away with calling your Adidas hi-tops "streetwear", but your toe shoes are not getting in. Ever. Save them for the gym.
Included in streetwear is: stylized and/or non-functional sports shoes, casual shoes, men's jewellery, baggy clothes, anything denim except jeans, leather outfits, etc. Some clubs have very strict rules against streetwear. Others are more lenient. The rule of thumb is to avoid distressed or sporty looks, but besides that, stylish streetwear is accepted in some venues.
Alternative fashion is by no means discriminated against in clubs. That said, if you get turned away from a club for looking like a rejected member of KISS, you weren't turned away for being goth, but for being sloppy. Make sure your look is classy, and it won't matter if your hair is blue, your lipstick is black, and your earrings are little spider webs.
Coats and Bags:
A Catch-22 of clubbing: You need enough bag and/or pocket space to carry your money, and maybe even a change of shoes if the weather demands it. But you also need to travel light, as bulky coats and bags are discouraged in clubs. Not only are they unattractive, and cumbersome to handle, but they can become a tripping hazard, or even get lost in a busy club.
If you must bring a large coat or bag, take what you need with you and check it into the cloakroom. You will save yourself, and the club staff, a lot of trouble.
Shoes, shoes, shoes...
Wherever you go, unless you are hitting a pool party, make sure your shoes are elegant. For gentlemen, this means shiny leather shoes. For ladies, this usually means heels, though if you cannot wear heels, some beautiful ballet flats will suffice.
Finally, remember once again that every club has its own dress code and rules, and that these might change for special events! So always make sure to look up a club's dress code on Clubbable, and if in doubt, to ask your promoter about the dress code before booking.