Single and ready to mingle? Going out barhopping? Not in that outfit!

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Author: Noel Hemphill

While investigating the Hermosillo Bar on York Avenue for it’s strength as a single’s bar, I found something else out. It wasn’t pleasant. It was in fact, quite saddening.

Everybody, especially singletons, need a lesson on appropriate going-out attire.

Let me set the scene. It was 10:30 p.m. on a Saturday night at the Eagle Rock beer and wine bar. There was hardly a seat to be found in the place, and people were milling about with friends new and old in the dimly lit room. The volume was enthusiastic but not overwhelming; just right for a little banter between interested partners. The scene was right for a young couple to blossom, but both bad wardrobe choices and questionable hairstyles were definitely getting in the way.

Two women were seated at the mahogany bar. The golden of their hair matched the light color of their brews. The harmony of this scene was immediately interrupted by both of them wearing long-sleeved patterned shirts: one a blue stripe, the other blue plaid. Their jeans were both light wash and their shoes were grimy foam flip-flops.

Directly next to the duo at the bar sat an average looking guy wearing a below-average outfit. Again, light-wash jeans were the order of the day, with frays and rips at the hems and the belt loops. Most odious was the pitiful sweatshirt the man had chosen to wear out. It was a boring shade of gray, had an enormous cartoon bear on the back and was missing the ties that go around the hood. Originally white and now stained New Balance tennis shoes were on his feet.

For a day of running errands, these outfits would be fine. For gardening in the spring, these outfits would have been fully functional. But this is not running errands or gardening; this is the competitive world of being single in a bar in Los Angeles.

Steps away from the bar, a muddled mix of hipsters sat in a booth. The women were dressed in painfully trendy clothes, with both studs and buckles adorning their blouses, and last-season’s boyfriend jeans cuffed above their equally ornate ankle boots. I would like to give them points for trying, but topping off one of the outfits was a felt hat that seemed utterly pointless in the mild weather. The men seated with them had hair that went beyond grazing their shoulders, with one unfortunate mustached man’s curly locks making him look like a disturbing crossbreed of pedophile and Kenny G. Their outfits didn’t help them much either; obnoxious clashing-pattern sweaters were paired with skinnier jeans than many women wear clutching at their frail bodies.

More steps away stood another two women who had attempted to dress for a night out; except, they seemed to have forgot that this was Eagle Rock, not Sunset Boulevard. They were in a boutique-style bar in an up-and-coming neighborhood but had chosen tight little dresses and platform heels that allowed them little mobility. They teetered around uncomfortably, over-dressed and over-done for the scene.

I don’t want to suggest that women have to dress for men, for they should never feel that way. I simply believe that when you are sitting in a bar where the floor isn’t sticky, the wine and beer list is short and preset by the owner and there are classic table games in each corner rather than arcade machines, a little effort is necessary! This isn’t Chuck E. Cheese, a reality that should have set in the minute you had to proffer ID for entry.

So what should a guy or gal wear out instead? There are so many options.

On your bottom half, ladies should choose a pair of flattering jeans in a dark wash. This is generally appropriate attire for any bar or nightclub. The key here is the dark wash – it is immediately more formal than it’s lighter cousin. Guys can take the same cue here: the dark, semi-fitted jeans that are worn by Gavin Rossdale in this photo work really well. Similarly, both men and women are welcome to wear black pants. Leather and black jeans are all good choices, and women should also feel welcome to wear leggings. However, if leggings are your choice, make sure they aren’t sheer in inappropriate places. That is tacky and embarrassing.

If you are the kind of girl who likes skirts, that works too. Just check the length. No butt cheek, ever. If your skirt just barely covers your bottom, throw it out. As a reminder, mini-skirts stop being appropriate after age 35. The most flattering skirt style is an a-line, though many women also look great in waist-cinching skirts as well. Color choices here are endless, but never wear a denim skirt.

For your top half, women should go for light-weight materials like chiffon and cotton-jersey. It can get really warm in a club, especially if you are dancing, so keep it cool in those materials. If you are the kind of girl who sweats a lot, sleeveless is the best way to go, and in a color like black or white, never grey which shows sweat the most. Otherwise, enjoy some freedom in color choice! Patterns can be fun, but go for more feminine fabrics than plain cotton. And please, never wear a flannel.

The no flannel rule extends to the guys, too. You will sweat excessively in it, and have no need to wear attire made for lumberjacks in a bar. However, Guys should almost always go for a nice cotton button down in any almost color or pattern. A plain t-shirt is okay in some situations, but a button down always looks more polished. The caveat is to never don a silk button down or a top in a weird, shiny fabric; that look was left in the ’90s. Guys also look great in layers, especially if it is a chillier night. A sweater in a hue that matches eye color paired with a button down underneath will attract women like flies. If you want to repel women, wear Ed Hardy or anything bedazzled.

Women have the ultimate secret weapon in dresses: one zip and they are dressed. Pick fabrics like jersey, cotton and silk. Stick to classics like wrap-dresses, sundresses and simple cocktail dresses; too tight, too short and too trendy make you look like you are trying too hard. Use animal prints sparingly, if ever. Absolutely no colored animal prints.

Finally, shoes for women can be simple heels and wedges. Neon colors and crazy high heels should be left at home for costume parties, otherwise most colors and styles are good. If you can’t walk in high heels, don’t try to! Wear flats or embellished sandals, both of which still are totally appropriate.

For men’s shoes, dress shoes look nice but you needn’t be so formal. Driving shoes, Toms, Sperry’s and even nice leather sandals work well. If you love your sneakers, make sure they don’t look like you go to the gym or do yard work in them. Just this once, take a cue from Kanye West and find a statement pair in a cool color. However, sometimes clubs and bars have a dress code and do not allow sneakers, so check their website before leaving the house.

There is a basic principle that one should never be so over-dressed that they stick out nor so under-dressed that they offend their host. Stick by that principle, follow the above suggestions and you will knock ’em dead on your next night out on the town.

Noel Hemphill is a junior ECLS major. She can be reached at hemphill@oxy.edu or on Twitter @WklyNHemphill.

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