8pm, Friday Night, London – nothing says weekend like going out-out for overpriced cocktails. A quick dash into Sainsbury’s to pick up the mandatory Prosecco for predrinks (are we still calling it predrinks? Is there not a more grown-up word? It feels so university) and I arrive approximately 45 minutes late to the girls’ house. I walk through the door and oh, right… meet my four clones. Standing before me are my friends, all dressed in an identical uniform of a black polo neck top (sleeved and sleeveless variations) a black skirt (fitted or flared – both welcome) or black skinnies, and finally, of course, the perennial wardrobe-pleasing black ankle boots. Oh, and let’s not forget there’s 8 pairs of dark smoky eyes staring right back at me. Despite us all having totally different sartorial taste by day (like the Spice Girls), by night, my best gal pals and I morph into copycat clones – a gothic girl band, inappropriately dressed funeral guests, Posh Spice x 5.
When you’re going out-out, finding the appropriate balance between what looks sexy, what looks effortless, what’s appropriate for the dress code, and what looks cool is no longer a little bit of an issue, but a huge challenge that would have Gok Wan running away quicker than you can say “waist-cinching belt.” Apply all these filters to your wardrobe and what’s left? A semi-sheer blouse. Skinny jeans. A slinky sleeveless top. And a skirt. All in the deepest darkest shade of black, of course. Now where’s the imagination in that?
It all starts with a dress code. And with the death of so many nightclubs, it makes it a hell of a lot harder to figure out what this mystery going out-out dress code is now that the generic rule of ‘little dress and high-heels’ no longer exists. Now that we’ve all grown out of clubs – or they are all closing down – we go to bars (then leave when we realise it’s populated almost entirely with couples on painfully awkward Tinder dates.) Alternatively, we go to pub-clubs (the type that at some point between 10pm and midnight, usually around the time your friend coerces you into reliving uni life with a Jaegerbomb, the furniture magically disappears, a DJ shows up and the whole place begins to resemble a club inside your Granny’s house, complete with old oak tables and weird red walls.) Last time I checked, there wasn’t a dress code for the pub. So what the hell do you even wear? Someone give me some rules to abide by? The sartorial struggle is so real it’s making my brain hurt.
The most frustrating thing is that I look to my wardrobe and see it bursting with interesting things – and there is a fashionable rep to keep up somewhere. There’s a few jazzy dresses, but strangely, they feel a bit too well, dressy… a bit too wanker-banker that would be more at home during a boozy client dinner in the City. Jeans and a T-shirt feel too slobby, like you just don’t care (and not even in a cool, effortless way.) Actual high heels are way too inappropriate, as let’s face it, pub floors are gross and the chances are you’re going to step onto something – or someone – that you won’t want to be peeling off when you’re hungover tomorrow. And jumpsuits? One word: toilets. It’s a clear no-go. There’s a time and a place for everything in your wardrobe, but when you’re heading out-out, it all just feels a little bit wrong. Nothing seems to fit, and with that there’s no other option than to go back to black.
If someone has Gok Wan’s phone number, can you tell him that I need his help?
Here’s my failsafe Friday night outfit and some colourful clothes just in case you too are stuck in this trap tonight.