Style Stories

It’s time to bring back your going out clothes

What to wear to feel like you're dressed to go out and have some good old fashioned fun
by Leandra Medine Cohen
If you buy something, I might earn a commission.

Thesis: Getting dressed to look like you’re going out is back in fashion.

What do you mean getting dressed to like you’re going out? Basically getting dressed in clothes you’d want to wear to go to the club or ~a new downtown hot spot~ where the ceilings are high, moody music plays, and the food has foam on it.

I think those places died with Sex and the City but I get what you mean. So what constitutes going out clothes? In order for a look to fall into the category of going out, it has to exude some kind of sex appeal — and this can be interpreted in myriad ways because, you know, what you find sexy I might not, and vice versa, and crossways. So figure that a going out look will most likely maintain one of the following criteria:

  • the color black
  • some element of tightness
  • skin exposure or shiny fabric — like brocade or sequin or crystal embellishment. Maybe it will include all!

Khaite halter top (this one from Nili Lotan is good too; this is one with a higher neck for $71, and I like this one from Toteme, the color would pair well with long-line denim shorts), Area shorts. Here are navy blue ballet flats I would recommend

But remember: just 1-2 of the above descriptors is enough to ensure you’ve got it.

Does a going-out look have to be worn exclusively to go out at night? Nah. You were right: Sex and the City is dead and getting dressed to fill one specific archetype so intensely doesn’t work for the multi-hyphen ways of the current world — and plus: part of what makes the return of such a specific style of dress fun is almost always how you choose to fuck with it.

The idea is that you could wear it to go dancing

But I get that there’s something about the structure and minimal stack heel on a flat like these from Chanel — I suggest searching for versions without the front bow. Makes them feel a bit less precious.

Or to just across the street to grab tampons.

Marlies Grace top, Dries van Noten scarf thing (a necklace like this works), Nike shorts (mine are a mens small; these red ones are good), Doen mules and the clutch is a cosmetics case, I think, which I bought on sale at The Row store in LA in 2016. Sometimes you can find them lingering about The Real Real

Dries Van Noten
Textured Ruffle Choker Necklace
$625 USD

Does this mean tees and button-downs and comfort pants are out?: Lol, what? No! You need all of these items to counter the going-out pieces lest you look too much like One Finite Thing. Use your button-down as a shacket in fact to keep warm when you’re indoors in America, land of the aggressive A.C.

Area dress (a Norma Kamali bodycon is great for this too), LMND white button-down shirt, Doen sandals (have tried and seen the Ancient Greeks in the flesh by now and think they are worth the deliberation too)

Crystal-embellished Ponte Jersey Minidress
$556 USD
The Chiara Shirt - White
$163 USD
Caterina Sandal
$228 USD

Or your huge pants to offset your sequins.

H&M sequined top (let us look to resale for alternative comps), Matteau pants, Manolo Blahnik flat sandals (an alt from A Emery, a great Real Real find, and here are flipflops that will get the job done as the key things here are the slight upper on the shoe and that they separate your toes)

Fisherman cotton-twill pants
$460 USD
Silba Leather Sandals
$133 USD

Why’s this happening now? We’re approaching the eye of the y2k resurgence storm and a key pillar of that necessitates the presence of at least one thing that Tara Reid, or better yet: Paris Hilton would have wanted to wear.

But what if I don’t want to dress like Tara Reid? Well, see this is the thing about style and trends — even if, more broadly speaking, you don’t plan to or want to participate in the resurgence of a trend, when a new vibe sweeps through the zeitgeist, there is always a ripple effect that impacts even your most intimately beloved brands. See: this halter top from The Row. I’m using The Row as a reference because the brand is the furthest thing I can think of from style stars of the early aughts.

Unless you consider that like, MK and A were style stars of the early aughts too. So much can be gleaned from evolution.

Another example that predates the anterior and might appeal to you better because it has aged differently: Destiny’s Child!!!

So I can still look like me/a more desirable version of me and wear a going-out look? Yes! The point is always to look (or really feel) like you, even when taking a marginal risk. It’s the blessing and beauty and bounty of style.

How do I wear the trend? The key thing here is that the trend items are supposed to work with the clothes you already have.

Every few years or so, as the trends slowly tweak and we buy into new fashion over the seasons, the shapes of our respective wardrobes start to shift and often we don’t even realize it until suddenly, items we’ve never had before slowly start to make sense. A going-out top will be great with many ilk of pants: pajama, trouser, cotton-voile, or jeans.

Going out shorts/skirts will be great with your classic button-downs or most casual t-shirts.

What’s the best shape to try? For tops: to my previous point about The Row, I’m pretty into halter tops — they have surprised me the most as far as versatility goes bc they work with almost all the contents of my current wardrobe (trouser pants, hot pants, fringe jackets, full skirts).

Here’s the Khaite halter again (comes in white too, and this muddy shade of sagey green; which looks so good with true dark blue), since I last you saw in a caption, I’ve discovered two more options — here and actually, here, Emi Mess pants (diff vibe, but I like these too), Etro belt (here’s a more subtle one, and the alternative I’d go with), old Celine sandals, which do something nice with the turquoise against all the black (Emme Parson’s makes her classic Susan in red, these are a great flat option from Doen and these from Khaite are on sale).

It’s an ideal top for the kind of outfit you’re sure you don’t want to have to tug at — like it was stay securely fastened to your person for the duration of your wearing. Btw, I’d wear this with a pair of red Dr. Scholl’s too

I do also like a top with boob cups.

Sir the Label top — here is an alternative for color, and another with boob cups in mind; I know this is about the top and not the brand, but I also have these shorts and want to recommend them if you like something tight, short and high waist; they are very good with a button down bloused over. The shorts pictured are from my collab with Soeur and the shoes are Gabriela Hearst; these and these are the closest comp I’ve insofar as found but tbh, for this length of short (or any longer), I am craving a pair of Italian lace up sandals like these.

And the ones with wild open backs.


You’ll probably find the best ones on MyTheresa or SSENSE (rawr). Both commerce platforms offer the most extensive range of non “quiet” clothes that wreak fun.

From left: Jacquemus, Rotate, Christopher Esber, Paris Georgia, Rick Owens, and one more Chris! Here’s another that’s not collaged but has earned caption entry

Bottoms: If you prefer covering up on top and don’t mind having your legs out, micro shorts/mini skirts are a great option for the bottom. They pair well with button-downs or classic T-shirts.

Meet me at the club! Here’s a vintage t-shirt from Club Vintage (the vendor is called Nathan Needle), with Amotea shorts, a bag from my collab with Soeur (back in stock!) and Gucci sandals, which I recently saw on TRR; a good search term if you’re looking for a pair of delicate metallic sandals is “silver (or gold) slingback sandals

And because the shirt you’re wearing covers you up on top/leans more masculine, it reflects off high heels in a tasteful way.

This is the magic of a pair of heels, right? In spite of my diatribe on the growing pervasiveness of barely there footwear last month, there is no single artifact that can change the DNA of an outfit as quickly as the right kind of shoes // H&M button-down shirt (the only trick that matters for a casual black button down is making sure it has white buttons), a nice white t-shirt, Amotea shorts (another good pair of whites), Gucci heels (if pink shoes are what you’re after, might I suggest these)

They’re also niche, so bermuda shorts will take you far too. And perhaps afford you more flexibility in the way of shoes.

The theory of exposed variables

The three variables you’re playing with re: exposed skin are (1) your collarbones,(2) your thighs to about knee-length, and (3) your toes. The idea is that you won’t want to show all three at once. Most of the time, you’re picking one to flaunt, but it can absolutely be two too tu.

If you’re wearing heels and a short bottom, my recommendation is almost always to make sure most of your chest is covered.

The exception to this rule is when you’re wearing shoes that are closed-toe (see: the halter top with denim shorts and ballet flats way above).

Another example that plays with different proportions — covering thigh and knee would be something like this:

Doen bathing suit top, The Row skirt (I love this one from Deiji), La Double J wedges

Isidro midi skirt
The Row
$1,450 USD
Open Wedge Leopard Chine' in Jacquard
La Double J
$760 USD

Recently, I wore this to a birthday that turned into a dance party:

This tube top is from a brand called Esse (here’s an alt from Ref, and this one’s got to be good), I think you can manage making this look with anything from a bathing suit top to repurposed bodycon mini skirt. The pants are La Double J (here is an alt style on sale, and another option altogether) and the shoes are Doen. Shirt around waist (Everlane) adds the slightest bit of weight and casual-ness to the middle of the outfit, performing the same role a belt would, but with the added function of versatility (put it on if you’re getting cold, or just want to cover your shoulders)

It’s an example of revealing one of the three variables — I chose to articulate my collarbones but cover my legs and toes. It turned out pretty well, and reminds me, actually, that tube tops are fair game as going out garb too. And they make a great case as the inside of a shacket/trousers look. Maybe the same look, in fact, reimagined for the day.

Dr. Scholls 4 ever

I’m out of things to say on this topic, but do you have any questions?

I’m all ears and hope you had a nice 4th. See you in da club,