Know Your Scene
It’s always helpful to know what sort of crowd/music will be at the venue you’re attending. Don’t show up to a hip-hop show wearing cowboy boots, flannel, and a rhinestone belt buckle. If you’ve got the time, try to scope out the club and see what the line looks like ahead of time to get an idea of how you should look. Obviously, there’s going to be times when you’re heading out blind, and in these cases the general rule is that it’s better to be overdressed than under-dressed. It’s a lot cooler to be the only one in a suit at a party (Barney Stinson anyone?) than the only one in t-shirt and jeans. Still unsure? Toss on a button-up.
Don’t Go Barefoot
It’s a tricky line to walk. On the one hand you don’t want to be that guy who gets turned away at the door of the club for wearing sneakers ( even if those J’s did cost you a week’s paycheck), and on the other hand, it’s probably not the best idea to wear your best dress shoes out. Have you ever looked at the floor of a dance club? The devil’s brew that forms after hours of sweat, alcohol, mud, vomit, and other questionable substances have made their way to the floor will ruin your shoes. I’ve always found that boots are best; they give you the support you need, are generally waterproof, and even make you taller, which is nice for the vertically challenged. If it’s warm outside, maybe invest in a cheap pair of slip-ons that you can demolish then throw away on a whim like the slippery seal you are.
If you can, try to avoid wearing the color white. On cramped, slippery, dimly-lit dance floors drunken people often spill their drinks on to other people…go figure. When this inevitably happens, it’s easier to hide that cranberry-vodka stain with a black shirt than a white one.
Cold Weather is Relative
If it’s not absolutely necessary, skip the jacket. Not only is it one more thing to potentially lose during the course of the night, but coat checks often cost a couple euro, and the lines can be a real hassle at 4am when the music’s cut, the lights are on and you’re trying to get the hell out of there.
If you haven’t already noticed, European guys are way more manicured than Yanks. In a perfect world we could all wear sweats, a hoodie and vans all day every day, but as the saying goes; when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Try and avoid any unwanted attention. Skip the jerseys and the baseball caps, and dress conservatively.
A final note, the immortal words of Frank Sinatra are as true now as ever; Confidence is king baby, and the most important thing you can wear out is a smile. It never hurts to be among the best dressed in the joint either.