You’re heading out on the town, or as Iggy Pop put it:
We’re what’s happening
How do you know what to wear? Obviously, “that depends”, if you were heading out to the sorts of clubs that Iggy hung out at back in the day, you’d be looking at black jeans, t-shirt, and perhaps a motorcycle jacket … probably not what you were envisioning for your night out.
While this might seem a bit of a cop-out for a “what to wear” site – you can expect the specifics to vary from club to club … so calling ahead (or checking on-line) might be your best bet if your planning on making the scene at particular clubs. One general guideline is “make it look good” … you may be on the edges of what they want to see in the club, but if you’re totally rocking a particular outfit, you’re more likely to get in than somebody who’s just pulled together something.
Where you’re going out also makes a difference, what might be completely rejected in Manhattan might be OK in San Diego, and certainly South Beach and the mega clubs of Las Vegas are their own environments. If you’re going to “alternative” clubs, be aware of the look of the sub-culture … somebody in super-showy expensive gear for making a scene would just look like, well, “food” at some darker goth clubs.
One thing that you have to consider is that, in many cases, showing up at the club is no guarantee for getting in the club, and you’re going to have to get past the gatekeepers, the doormen. While the function of doormen is universally to protect the club from underage drinkers, over-served partiers, and folks trying to sneak in illicit, illegal, and even dangerous items, they are also the managers of the “mix” of who’s in the club. If you’re not coming across with the right “look”, you may spend all night behind the ropes. This is why some club’s dress codes recommend that guys “leave the business attire at the office, where it belongs” in favor of some well-designed casual look … but a well-cut suit is almost always going to have preference over baggy jeans, tennis shoes, and a t-shirt.
Of course, this brings up the list of options that are likely to 86 your chances of making it through the door. While most of these would be fine for your corner bar, they’re pretty much banned across the nightclub spectrum, unless you’re a multimillionaire sports or music star – in which case your PR staff has probably arranged a VIP entrance anyway. Among the no-go items are sweatpants, sweatshirts, plain white t-shirts, baggy pants, droopy pants, sports jerseys, tank tops, shorts, baseball caps, athletic shoes, flip-flops or sandals, Ed Hardy (and similar) prints, and frequently logo wear (your college team, for instance), in general.
While this list is obviously for the guys, the particulars work for the gals too, were they tempted to “dress down”. One place put it: “girls can get away with anything that at least looks like they tried”, but other guides recommend – especially for the bigger clubs – that “less is more” … if you can get to the club and back with a tight fun dress (a Las Vegas commentator says: “just wear whatever you look hottest in“), a pair of high heels, and your ID and credit card tucked in your bra, you’re doing it right.
While the guys are more likely to have a hard time getting in to any particular club (some even recommend bribing your way in with heavy tips to the doormen), the one “must” for the ladies appears to be high-heeled shoes … if your feet aren’t in agony it seems like the clubs don’t feel you want in quite enough!
In short, to get into the more popular nightclubs, guys need to get an “expensive casual” vibe going that will get them picked out of the line, and the gals need to look hot (and be in heels) … however, the specifics will be in flux depending on the city, the type of club, etc.