Always The VIP Lifestyle Blog

What To Wear To Clubs And Why: The Definitive Nightlife Fashion Guide For Men and Women

Have you ever waited on a line at a popular club for hours, only to be haggled at the door with ridiculous cover charges? Or perhaps you’ve seen other guests cut the long line and skip ahead of you through the velvet ropes? The culprit here may be what you wear!

Well, have no fear. This will be your definitive guide to nightlife fashion, with everything you need to know about what I like to call, “The Universal Nightclub Dress Code.”

The first thing to understand is that your outfit should match your expectations. Most popular clubs are often popular because of their reputation for having a great-looking crowd. That’s a result of being more selective about who enters.  

Although most venues don’t explain it in detail, there is always a preferred “Dress Code.” And knowing it will help you get into the best clubs easier, turn a few heads, and maybe even get you a few free drinks!

The rules do tend to vary slightly for men and women. So, we’ll cover recommendations for each gender, kicking things off with the gents, since we tend to struggle a bit more than our counterparts in this arena.

What Men Should Wear To A Club

Generally, when it comes to nightclub attire, guys should always wear business casual at the very minimum. A button-down shirt or v-neck with fitted jeans and shoes work well. A blazer is ideal, goes with almost any outfit, and gives the impression that you have a little money in your pocket, which venues unanimously love.

Absolutely do not don athletic wear or construction boots. Those are the items that will likely get you turned away at the door, unless you intend to buy bottle service, which trumps all dress codes.

Here are some examples of the best fashion options for men to meet nightclub dress code standards:

Business/Formal Wear

“The Best Option For Men For Nightlife Fashion.”


Business formal wear is hands the best nightlife fashion option for men. Culturally, a 2 or 3-piece business suit continues to scream out maturity and prosperity. So, no other option on this list commands more respect.

Since most clubs welcome the image of businessmen among their crowds, your options are endless. Even the most judgmental doormen give extra consideration to a group of well-dressed men in suits, and will usher you in past other guys on the line who chose to wear running sneakers. This positions you to get VIP treatment without buying a bottle or getting reduced or free entry!

However, this style can be a double-edged sword. A suit with shoes isn’t the most comfortable outfit for a long night of dancing. Also, some doormen will expect you to pop bottles more since you dress like you have money to spend.

Nevertheless, whenever I go out for a night of upscale club hopping, I always lean towards wearing a 2-piece suit. Oh, and ladies love guys in suits – Trust me.

Business Casual

“Great Fashion For Any Occasion.”


Business casual wear is “business on the top, and a party on the bottom,” and the perfect balance between comfortable and classy. This is my go-to style that dominates my wardrobe for fashion and flexibility, and it works for any occasion.

Business casual wear works well for upscale and low brow venues, and universally for most clubs or lounges – So, you will rarely seem out of place. I have yet to see any doorman give someone in business casual wear a hard time, unless it’s not well put together.

To pull this style off flawlessly, you will need a strong sense of coordination. Throwing a blazer over a v-neck and blue jeans can be a game changer, but it still needs to match well with the rest of your outfit – Don’t kill the vibe with basketball sneakers.

Color coordination is a big factor that takes this look up a notch. So, I highly recommend colorful blazers to make your outfits “pop.” There are plenty of colors that you can’t go wrong with:

  • Reds
  • Blues
  • Pinks
  • Any pastel colors

You can’t tell me anything when I match up a pastel pink with a white v-neck, skinny blue jeans with subtle rips, and some fresh oxfords. That simple combo knocks most other guys in the club out of the box – and ladies love it!

Although, you won’t stand out like you would with a 2-piece suit, when you are looking for a night out but not sure of exactly the type of venues you may go to, then business casual is the most flexible option. Now, if you are attending a rave, that may be a different story.

Urban Fashion

“A Great Choice In The Right Places.”


Urban fashion is best when it is fresh, clean, and trendy. This is a style that only some guys have the innate skill and fashion sense to pull off without looking like they are High School students.

I recommend this style for clubs that cater to younger audiences and hip-hop crowds. These clubs tend to be a bit more casual and don’t have strict dress codes like many popular, upscale clubs will have.

And keep in mind, that the urban fashion style is often subject to superficial judgement, stereotypes, and carry negative connotations for many. And don’t expect most doormen to know the latest urban fashion trends, or what a pair of Yeezy sneakers are to give you the respect that you feel they are due. They are more likely to instead charge you a higher cover or ask for $1k on bottle service.

The fact is, most popular clubs don’t even permit sneakers, unless they are on the feet of bottle clients. So, if you want to wear urban fashion to the hottest club in town, be sure to check out the dress code and crowd there first, then adjust your style appropriately.

5 Important Fashion Tips For Guys

  1. Wearing a blazer can make your casual outfit pop. While many colors are great, blue or black are best for functionality to avoid stains.
  2. A button-down shirt, v-neck, or crew cut long or short sleeve shirt works for any occasion.
  3. A nice pair of fitted jeans or slacks always looks great. A few rips are ok, but don’t overdo it.
  4. Fashion boots or shoes are great choices for footwear.
  5. You can never go wrong with a business suit and oxfords.

What Women Should Wear To A Club

Very often, you may find that nightclub dress codes are more flexible for ladies than for men. Nevertheless, ladies should always dress in business casual or cocktail attire to meet any nightlife dress code requirements. An example would be a fitted shirt or blouse and slacks or fitted jeans, matched up with a pair of heels or flat shoes. A form-fitting dress with heels are ideal for a sexy and fashionable look, and to increase your odds of skipping lines and being treated to free libations! 

Unlike gentlemen, ladies can often get away with high urban fashion styles, casual wear, and sometimes even athletic wear if the outfit looks amazing. A pair of sweats and heels may go over well if you pull it off correctly. Nevertheless, I still do not recommend athletic wear since that style is highly subjective and depends greatly on the bouncer’s preference, the venue, and the night.

Here are some examples of the best options for ladies to meet nightclub dress code standards:

Cocktail Attire

“Knocks ’em Dead Every Time”

Black Top and Black Skirt Cocktail Attire Model Stephanie S What To Wear To Clubs Nightlife Fashion Guide Always The VIP
Model: Stephanie S

Cocktail attire is hands down the best option for ladies in the nightlife. This style will get you into the doors of just about every nightclub with ease.

For this style, simple and classy is always best. You can never go wrong with a black fitted dress with heels. If you are looking for a night full of dancing, then you might want to wear a loose flowing dress with a skirt and your choice of more flamboyant colors. The heels, however, are a must.

Cocktail attire is the one style that every club encourages, will often get you escorted in for free, and sometimes earn you free drinks all night. This is one of the ways you can use your looks to work the system – and why not? Work the system in your favor!

While it is not the most comfortable of nightlife fashion to wear high heels all night, that it’s the cost of turning everyone’s heads and likely being the recipient of the VIP treatment from clubs and guys alike.

Business Casual Wear

“Grown and Sexy Never Goes Out of Fashion.”

woman business casual standing near building
Photo by Alessio Cesario

You can never go wrong with business casual. This is style often involves high-end brand names, but does not necessitate it.

For business casual, it’s all about looking amazing without trying too hard. You want to look conservative, and with a hint of sexy. One outfit idea is a fashionable overcoat, with a nice sweater, form-fitting blue jeans, and high heels. Natural, muted earth tones work are a nice touch.

This is the style that fashion connoisseurs or mature men will more often notice. If you are heading to the right upscale venue, you won’t need to have a big Gucci sign on it for the doorman/doorwoman to know what you are wearing. Those are the places that will make sure that you are treated well.

Business casual is perfect when your objective is not to turn just anyone’s heads – only those with great taste and fashion sense to appreciate it. And, at least in my not humble opinion, grown and sexy never goes out of fashion.

Urban Fashion

“Playful and Eye-Catching”


While urban fashion doesn’t always work out for men in the nightlife, it works very well for ladies with minimal effort. This style is definitely for ladies who have great fashion sense and versatility.

For this style, you can go with just about anything as long as it has a little sex appeal added to it. Think of a Wu-Tang t-shirt tucked into jean shorts and your favorite Dr Marten’s on.

Generally, this style works best for hip hop clubs, dance clubs, raves, and any clubs that are fashion forward. Although I wouldn’t recommend it for them, some upscale clubs may roll with it if you pulled it all exceptionally well – and you may even land the VIP treatment if the club loves that style.

Of all the recommendations here for ladies, this is the most fun style, and best if you want to stay in your comfort zone while still turning heads. Even when I host VIP sections, I love to have a couple of ladies who know how to kill it with urban fashion and make it look effortless.

5 Important Fashion Tips For Ladies

  1. Dresses are your friend. A little leg goes a long way. (Enjoy the advantage, this doesn’t work so well for guys.)
  2. A blouse with a fashionable jacket can keep you in your comfort zone. But keep your eyes on your coat!
  3. Tight-fitting jeans or slacks work great with any outfit.
  4. High heels are preferable at the door. Throw a pair of flats in your bag for the walk home!
  5. You can never go wrong with a short, tight dress and high heels.

Since fashion is subjective, these style examples are just to offer some perspective on the looks you are going for.

5 Practical Fashion Tips For All

It’s not always all about what the club wants. So here are some tips that focus on your personal comfort.

  1. Business Casual wear is comfortable and will get you into most clubs.
  2. Cocktail Attire is a great option to stand out from the crowd.
  3. Avoid light colors to avoid visible stains! It just takes one spilled cranberry with vodka to ruin your night!
  4. Light colors are cranberry cocktail magnets. Either go dark or colorful to stand out in the crowd.
  5. Always go for “Sexy But Classy.” I’ve actually seen ladies turned away from clubs for exposing too much – Go figure.

Bonus: What You Should NOT Wear To Clubs

What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t tell you what you should not wear to clubs?

In general, athletic wear is not welcome in nightclubs. Anything else can vary with local tastes. For example, in Brooklyn or the Bronx, construction boots are often considered to be fashionable – While this is not the case in Manhattan, NYC.

So, refer to this short list of dress code faux pas if you are ever in doubt!

  1. Athletic wear such as sweatpants and hoodies  (You are not hitting the gym, it’s a club)
  2. Work/Construction Boots (No one likes getting their toes crushed or floors getting marked up.)
  3. Running or basketball sneakers  (Yes, that includes foams, Jordans, and Yeezys. Everyone knows they are expensive but still, NO.)
  4. Graphic shirts with cartoon characters (Don’t attempt to wear a Star Wars unless you have real fashion skills to make it work.)
  5. Anything that is so expensive that you would cry if you lost it.

It is actually very common for thieves to go to the clubs just to steal anything that they can find sitting around unattended. They are waiting for you to have that momentary distraction. Just ask the girl I met one night crying because someone stole her mink fur from the coat check. And I personally had my Louis Vuitton scarf and multiple phones snatched up at the same nightclub!

If you follow this guide, then you are bound to see a big difference in how you are treated at every club. Just keep in mind that popular clubs often favor people who look like “models.” Which is a Westernized image of beauty that idealizes fair skin and slender physiques. This is something that I’ve contested throughout my nightlife career, and why I always aim to keep my guests diversified. Just look anywhere on the promotional side of this website, and you will see proof of that

So, take an extra 15 minutes to throw on that blazer and shoes or dress and heels. It’s a small investment of time and effort towards the success of your night out! My motto is, “It is ALWAYS better to be overdressed than underdressed.”

Feel free to connect with me on Instagram @nezalpha. And tag @alwaysthevip for a chance to get a shoutout on our page or featured in content like this.

If this article was helpful, please share it and help this blog grow!

Cheers to your great night out!

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About Author
C. "Nez" Byrd

A seasoned nightlife aficionado, marketing expert, experiential event producer, and entrepreneur from NYC. He is the founder of Always The VIP and has led growth marketing strategies for growing businesses. He has written unique articles on email marketing, SEO Due Diligence, lifecycle marketing, and the nightlife business. And he not only does he love classic cocktails, he is driven to make great memories as often as humanly possible.

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