Afro hairstyles, polyester pants and some goldfish shoes--these might be the things you think of when you think "nightclub." Truth is, though, if you're not headed to a costume party, you'll probably need something a lot less cliche and a lot more haute couture for today's nightclub.
Going to a nightclub can be very different in different parts of the United States. Some places allow for a more low-key dress code, while others are decidedly upper-crust. Before you go to a new nightclub, ask your friends what the dress code is. Some clubs do not allow you to wear flip-flops and jeans, while at others, those items are common. Some clubs have theme nights during which bouncers will not let you in if you're not adhering to the theme. The rule of thumb here is to know before you go. To give you some idea of what you are in for, many nightclubs have websites with pictures that allow you to see what other patrons have worn.
What Not to Bring
No matter the style of the club, there are a few things you should try not to wear at any nightclub. First off, nightclubs are a place designed for you to get down and boogie. So don't wear uncomfortable shoes that will force you to sit down and be a wallflower all night. If you are a woman, try not to bring a big purse. Some nightclubs have coat and bag checks, but some don't, so you don't want to get stuck lugging around your big purse while you are cutting a rug on the dance floor. Switch to a small purse that can go over your shoulder, so you'll have what you need, and can still enjoy dancing. The same goes for a big coat during winter--if you can leave it behind, do it.
What's New Is Hot
Going to a nightclub in places like New York and Los Angeles can give you the feeling like you're walking down the red carpet at a high-ticket event; people milling around the entrance, a rope to keep out the riff-raff and some scary-looking bouncers at the door. For this type of club, what you wear is going to matter most. You won't make it past the bouncer's rope if you're not wearing the latest styles, with a touch of panache thrown in. At a high-fashion club, you might find yourself wearing this season's hottest style of dress, a hot new colored button-up shirt or a vintage velvet coat. Whatever the current trends are, you can keep up at sites like Style.com--the online face of Vogue--and Fashion-era.com.
If you're headed to a club in a place like Miami or Las Vegas, your clubwear might take on a very different look. Nightclubs there tend toward the fantastic, with huge light displays and elaborate themes. Club-goers in these cities favor tighter, more revealing clothing over the latest fashion trends. You might find yourself wearing a mini skirt made from a flashy material, tight pants with a shirt buttoned way down or a skimpy, colorful dress. You can find examples at club-wear.biz.