Put down that going out shirt. It’s going to be OK. Sure, getting dressed for a night out is tricky. You can’t be too formal, but you don’t don’t want to that cornball in an unbuttoned shiny shirt. Fortunately, we’re here to help. And trust us, getting inside any club–and making a good impression once you’re there–gets a whole lot easier if you’re dressed well. Which is why we’ve put together this list of sophisticated, most-definitely-not-cheesy outfits that are perfect for nightlife. But first, a couple of tips.
Stick With Dark (But Not Too Dark) Colors
Given the late hours and moody lighting, a dark outfit with shades of blue, black, and gray will make anyone look sharp. Just don’t go overboard and wear black from head to toe, or you’ll look like a bar-back.
Strike the Right Balance
You want to ride the fine line between casual and put-together. A lot depends on the particular venue, and what could count as being wildly over- or underdressed in one spot might be right at home in another. So, of course, do some research to figure out the level of formality. But even if the club is especially dressy, you don’t want to look like you just came from the office, so leave the tie at home.
1. A Dressed-Down Suit
Heading to a slightly dressier club? Pull out a suit. But since a navy or gray would look a little too much like you just got off work, go with a bolder color like this bright cerulean blue. That should be formal enough by itself, so you can finish the look with a tee and some clean, minimal sneakers.
Hartford blue plain suit ($999) by Suitsupply, suitsupply.com; Mercer tee co-mix ($94) by John Elliott + Co., johnelliott.com; Original Achilles leather sneakers ($410) by Common Projects, mrporter.com
2. A Tee That Looks Like a Million Bucks
Go casual with washed-out gray jeans and a tee that’s a bit sharper than usual, thanks to the super-thin stripes. Layer with a light bomber jacket, which makes your outfit look a little more deliberate without feeling stuffy. And to balance it all out, throw in a pair of double monks.
Ace skinny-fit jeans ($290) by Acne Studios, mrporter.com; cotton-twill bomber jacket ($725) by Ami, mrporter.com; Slim-fit striped T-shirt ($430) by Saint Laurent, mrporter.com; Black pebble-grain double monk strap shoe ($498) by Mark McNairy New Amsterdam, markmcnairy.com
3. Some Extra-Sharp Denim
Black jeans are plenty appropriate for the daytime, but where they really excel is after hours. Look for a pair with an extra-slim cut and a little bit of shine, then top them off with a classic, fitted polo shirt. For a hint of formality, pull on a pair of Chelsea boots.
Original mid-waisted skinny jean in vintage black raw stretch denim ($525) by Saint Laurent, ysl.com; Short sleeve pique polo shirt ($125) by Sunspel, sunspel.com; Chelsea boot in dark grey suede ($517) by Common Projects, needsupply.com
4. A Breezy Blazer
Combine a blazer (this one’s a linen blend with minimal lining to keep you cool on the dance floor) and understated derby shoes with dark-washed denim and an earthy T-shirt. The result: a polished but not overly formal vibe, made entirely of wardrobe staples that you should already own.
Ace skinny-fit washed denim jeans ($240) by Acne Studios, mrporter.com; Twill blazer ($99) by H&M, hm.com; Organic cotton-jersey T-shirt ($135) by Tomas Maier, mrporter.com; Leather derby shoes ($675) by Dries Van Noten, mrporter.com.
5. The Can’t-Miss Button Down
An overdyed navy oxford is absolutely foolproof, since it looks incredible on most anyone and is appropriate for almost any occasion. That extends to the club. Tuck it in, roll up the sleeves, and unbutton one more button than you normally would (but no more than three). Round things out with basics like clean raw denim, polished loafers, and a simple black belt.
Brit slim-fit stretch denim jeans ($215) by Burberry, mrporter.com; Navy overdye oxford ($165) by Gitman Bros., gitmanvintage.com; Archie penny loafer ($195) by Jack Erwin, jackerwin.com; No. 1 belt ($100) by Bespoke Post, bespokepost.com