What to wear on a night out in London

What to wear on a night out in London

What do people wear to pubs in London: A guide to dressing for a night out in the city

  Reading time 12 minutes

When pondering the eternal question, “”What should I wear out London?””, it is essential to consider the vibrant, ever-changing cityscape that comes alive as the sun sets. London offers an electrifying array of nighttime activities, each demanding a particular mode of dress. Whether you’re planning to dance the night away in a high-end club, sip a pint in a historic pub or lose yourself in the beats of an underground music gig, the city’s after-dark dress code is as diverse as the venues themselves. So, what is the dress code for London nightlife? The main key to nailing the perfect outfit for a night out in London lies in striking a balance between personal style, comfort, and the unwritten rules of your chosen destination. In this guide, we’ll help you traverse the vast landscape of London’s evening wear, ensuring you step out in style, poised to enjoy everything the city’s nightlife has to offer.

Decoding Style for Different Venues

Chic and Sophisticated: Attire for High-End Bars and Clubs

When it comes to the high-end bars and clubs of London, discerning what to wear can be one of the most crucial decisions of the night. Indeed, when your night includes a visit to one of London’s more exclusive venues, elegance is paramount. For gentlemen, this often means tailored trousers paired with a sharp blazer – a look that walks the line between sophistication and the casual flair London is known for. For women seeking an answer to “”What do you wear on a date night in London?””, a sleek cocktail dress or a sophisticated jumpsuit accessorised with elegant heels will often meet the brief. The key here is a polished look that resonates with the venue’s upscale vibe.

Casual Yet Trendy: Outfits for Pubs and Casual Eateries

In the realm of the classic London pub or a relaxed dining spot, comfort merges with trend. Here, a smart-casual ensemble works well in these settings:

  1. A tailored shirt or a stylish top.
  2. Well-fitted denim or chinos.

Accessorize with a statement watch or a bold necklace to add a touch of individuality to your laid-back look. Shoes should be comfortable enough to stand in for hours, but chic enough to elevate your attire.

Edgy and Alternative: What to Wear in Underground Music Venues

For those who love the night but prefer the underground music scene, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi to the attire you choose. London’s alternative scene invites you to express your individualism. Think vintage band tees, leather jackets, and distressed denim. Pair these with combat boots or retro-style trainers for both comfort and edge. Here, more so than perhaps anywhere else, your choice of accessories like chunky bracelets or chokers can punctuate your rebellious look.

Jeans on a night out in London: stylish and versatile fashion choice

Seasonal Considerations

Summer Nights: Balancing Style with Comfort

Addressing what to wear for a balmy evening, dressing for summer nights out in London can be a delightful choreography of style and practicality. Lightweight fabrics and breathable cuts are key as you navigate through the warm, busy streets. For women, a floaty sundress paired with strappy sandals is both cool and chic, while men can opt for a crisp linen shirt matched with shorts or lightweight trousers—ideal choices when thinking about what to wear out London during summer. Sunglasses become both a fashion statement and a necessity during these months.

Venue TypeWomen’s WearMen’s Wear
Rooftop BarSilk Cami Top and Palazzo PantsShort-sleeve Button-down and Chinos
Riverside PubMaxi Dress and Wedge HeelsPolo Shirt and Tailored Shorts
Open-Air ConcertGraphic Tee and Denim ShortsBand T-shirt and Lightweight Jeans

Winter Wardrobe: Staying Chic in the Chill

The answer to the conundrum of what to wear for a winter night out takes on another layer—quite literally. Winter in London calls for layers that can be shed as you move from the nippy outdoors to the often overly-heated indoors. Women might consider a statement coat in a bold hue or texture that can be draped over a chair stylishly upon arrival. Underneath, a long sleeve dress paired with tights and boots maintains both warmth and sophistication. For men, a turtleneck sweater under a well-cut coat can offer the same transition with ease—perfect for staying chic as you contemplate the London nightlife dress code amid colder times.

Essential Accessories for a Night Out

In the cosmopolitan whirl of London’s nightlife, your choice of accessories is as critical as the core elements of your attire. These finishing touches not only complement your ensemble but can also offer a conversation starter or an element of convenience to your outing.

Footwear: From Stilettos to Sneakers

Selecting the right pair of shoes can elevate your look and dictate your comfort level throughout the night. Women might fluctuate between the classic stiletto for a posh supper club and a chic flat for a lounge bar with a more laid-back atmosphere. Men often have the choice between polished leather shoes appropriate for upscale establishments or designer sneakers for a more casual setting. The crucial point is to choose footwear that will not only match the style of your destination but also support your plans—whether that involves dancing till dawn or walking between pubs in historic neighborhoods.

Bags and Purses: Merging Practicality with Style

Your bag’s functionality should meet the needs of your evening, without sacrificing style. Women may opt for a small crossbody bag, which secures essential items close to the body and offers freedom of movement—ideal for bustling dance floors or crowded streets. For men, a sleek leather wallet or a minimalist cardholder can slip into a pocket, keeping essentials at hand without disrupting the outfit’s silhouette.

Statement Pieces: Jewellery and Watches

The right jewellery or watch is not just an accessory; it’s a declaration of style. For those wearing a simple outfit, a standout piece of jewellery—a chandelier earring or a chunky ring—can be the highlight that draws the eye. Similarly, a high-quality watch for men provides both functionality and formality, enhancing the look’s sophistication.

What to wear in London to blend in with locals - Tips for dressing like a native and avoiding tourist fashion faux pas

Grooming and Beauty Tips for The Perfect Look

Complementing your fashion choices, grooming and beauty regimens are integral to making your night unforgettable. After all, a perfect appearance extends beyond the clothes to how well you present yourself overall.

Makeup and Hair: Completing Your Evening Ensemble

For many women, makeup allows the opportunity to transform their daytime look into something more dramatic for evening events. Mastering the smoky eye or the classic red lip can add a touch of glamour suitable for the London scene. Hair, too, whether styled in soft curls or in a sleek updo, should harmonize with the overall look and hold up throughout the activities of the night. Men can benefit from a dab of hair product to keep their style in place, considering the long hours that nights out in the city demand.

Fragrance: Leaving a Lasting Impression

A fragrance is an unseen yet memorable aspect of your night out. Choosing the right scent can set the tone for the evening and leave a lasting impression on those you meet. Whether you prefer a light floral, a spicy oriental, or a rich woodsy note, make sure your fragrance reflects your individuality and enhances the atmosphere of your chosen venue.

Conclusion: Putting it All Together for a Fabulous Night Out

As you step out into London’s glittering night, your carefully curated outfit, paired with thoughtful accessories and grooming, comes together to create a memorable look that is all your own. Whether you brave the chill of a winter evening or bask in the warmth of a summer night, London’s night out fashion is about expressing your individuality while respecting the unspoken codes of the city’s diverse venues. With these tips, whether it’s a high-energy club or a quiet, cozy pub, you’re sure to be dressed to impress and ready to make the most of London’s vibrant nightlife.

London restaurant dress code: What to wear when dining out in the city


FAQ 1: Are there any specific fashion faux pas to avoid in London’s nightclubs?
Yes, it’s advisable to avoid wearing sportswear such as gym shoes, tracksuits, and sports jerseys unless you’re headed to a themed event where these items might be encouraged. Additionally, overly casual attire like flip-flops, shorts, or tank tops might not be permissible in some of the more upscale clubs.

FAQ 2: How do I choose the best shoes for a night of dancing without sacrificing style?
When selecting shoes for a night of dancing, look for stylish yet comfortable options with good support and cushioning. For women, block heels or platforms can offer the elegance of a heel with greater stability. Men might consider loafers or stylish sneakers that provide comfort without foregoing fashion.

FAQ 3: What are the best options for outerwear that won’t ruin my evening outfit?
A tailored coat or a fashionable leather jacket can enhance your evening look while keeping you warm. Opt for outerwear that complements your outfit in both color and style. If you need to shed layers, choose venues that offer a cloakroom service so that your coat stays safe and doesn’t cramp your style.

FAQ 4: Is it better to overdress or underdress for a night out in London?
When in doubt, slightly overdressing is generally safer than underdressing. Upscale venues especially may have strict dress codes. It’s better to look a touch too polished than to be denied entry for not meeting a venue’s attire requirements.

FAQ 5: How can I ensure my belongings are secure while I enjoy the nightlife?
Choosing the right bag is key to keeping your belongings secure. For women, a bag that zips and has a slim profile is less likely to be snatched or pickpocketed. Men should keep wallets in front pockets or consider a money clip. Additionally, use cloakroom facilities when available to stow away items that are not needed during the evening.