Have you ever waited on 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, cheaper, and maybe even get you a few free drinks!
Now the rules tend to vary slightly for men and women. So we’ll cover recommendations for each gender, and kick things off with the gents since we tend to struggle a bit more in this arena.
What Men Should Wear To A Club
Guys should always wear business casual to parties 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. If you love special treatment, go all out and wear a business suit.
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 are immediately asking to pay for 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 Choice for Men
“This is your best shot at the VIP treatment without buying a bottle or paying cover! Oh, and ladies love guys in suits.”
Business Casual – A Blazer Makes A Big Difference
“You will get past the bouncers no problem, but may have to pay cover”
Urban Fashion – Keep It Fresh and Clean
“You will likely have to pay a higher cover, and carry some bottle service money just in case”
5 Important Fashion Tips For Guys
- Wearing a blazer can make your casual outfit pop. Any color is great but blue or black are best to avoid stains.
- A button-down shirt, v-neck, or crew cut long or short sleeve shirt works for any occasion.
- A nice pair of fitted jeans or slacks always looks great. A few rips are ok but don’t overdo it.
- Fashion boots or shoes are great choices for footwear.
- You can never go wrong with a business suit and oxfords.
What Women Should Wear To A Club
Very often you may find that dress codes are more flexible for ladies than for men. Nevertheless, ladies should dress in business casual or cocktail attire. This could mean a nice fitted shirt or blouse and slacks or fitted jeans, which you can match up with heels or flat shoes. I highly recommend a form-fitting dress and heels for a sexy and fashionable look 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 athletic wear if the outfit looks amazing. Even a pair of sweats and heels may go over well if you pull it off right. 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
“You can never go wrong with a black fitted dress with heels!”
Business Casual Wear – High Fashion Stands Out
“You can never go wrong with grown and sexy!”
Urban Fashion – Playful Can Be Eye-catching
“A Killer Look In The Right Hands”
5 Important Fashion Tips For Ladies
- Dresses are your friend. A little leg goes a long way. (Enjoy the advantage, this doesn’t work so well for guys.)
- A blouse with a fashionable jacket can keep you in your comfort zone. But keep your eyes on your coat!
- Tight-fitting jeans or slacks work great with any outfit.
- High heels are preferable at the door. Throw a pair of flats in your bag for the walk home!
- 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.
- Business Casual wear is comfortable and will get you into most clubs. That’s your go-to.
- Cocktail Attire is the best option to stand out from the crowd.
- Avoid light colors to avoid visible stains! It just takes one spilled cranberry with vodka to ruin your night!
- Light colors are cranberry cocktail magnets. Either go dark or colorful to stand out in the crowd.
- 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 considered fashionable. This is not the case in Manhattan.
Refer to this list if you are ever in doubt!
- Athletic wear such as sweatpants and hoodies (You are not hitting the gym, it’s a club)
- Work/Construction Boots (No one likes getting their toes crushed or floors getting marked up.)
- Running or basketball sneakers (Yes, that includes foams, Jordans, and Yeezys. Everyone knows they are expensive but still, NO.)
- Graphic shirts with cartoon characters (Don’t attempt to wear a Star Wars unless you have real fashion skills to make it work.)
- Anything that is so expensive that you would cry if you lost it.
I personally had my Louis Vuitton scarf and multiple phones snatched up. There are people who actually come to the club just to steal luxury items and 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.
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 top clubs still often favor people who look like “models.” And that goes by the Westernized image of beauty, which is something that I’ve contested throughout my nightlife career.
So if you are a normal human, like myself, then 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!
Don’t be that guy/gal that shows up looking like you just came from the gym. Look like the guy/gal that just stepped off of a magazine cover! My motto is, “It is ALWAYS better to be overdressed than underdressed.” Seriously, I overdress all of the time, see for yourself here:
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Cheers to your great night out!