What to Wear to Parties - 5 Cute "Going Out" Outfits

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Dancing the night away

Love it or hate it, partying is part of the typical college experience. From casual dinner parties with your friends to cramped madness and cheap beer at house parties, there's never any shortage of things to do at college.

And with so many opportunities to go out at night, that leaves the question - what should I wear?

When I started my freshman year of college I was going out with my friends a lot and immediately realized I needed to buy more party clothes. My wardrobe was pretty much nothing but basic clothes, and I realized I need to have some fun stuff too! I immediately updated my wardrobe to include cute tops, dresses, and accessories for special occasions. I know now that everyone needs some fun party clothes - it's a wardrobe must.

If you've worn all your dressy clothes to death and want some party clothing inspiration, want to buy new party clothes, or just want some new ideas on how to wear your existing stuff, you'll want to keep reading this article.

Here are 5 fabulous "going out" outfits for five different occasions. You can customize these looks yourself with items you already own, and even better- they're all under $160 for the whole outfit.

1. Girls' Night Out Outfit

This look would be perfect for a night out with your favorite girlfriends - whether its dinner and drinks, dancing at a club, or just a cocktail party at your place, this look is cute and fun. The sparkly top adds interest to the look, the green clutch adds a pop of color, and the skinny jeans and heels go perfectly together. I finished it off with some dark metal jewelry for a little bit of a rocker edge.

Girls Night Out Outfit

Product Information - Clockwise from top:Sequin Tank - $19.99, Earrings - $5.80, Black High Heels - $93, Skinny Jeans - $12.50, Rhinestone Cuff - $12, Wristlet Clutch - $14. Total Cost: $157.29 (Without the shoes, the outfit is only $64.29!)

2. Dinner Date Outfit

This pretty look is perfect for a dinner date with that special guy. The dress is from Forever 21 and includes a built-in belt. Cinched waists are really in right now, so it's a little taste of that trend. I paired the dress with a simple black high-heeled pump and black opaque tights to keep your legs warm. For accessories, I like sparkly jewelry so I added earrings and a bracelet, but if earrings aren't your thing, a simple bracelet is enough for this look. And who could forget the final accessory - a Chanel-esque quilted bag with a chain strap. No one has to know it only cost $24!

Date Night Outfit

Product Information - Clockwise from top:Earrings - $4.50, Bracelet - $3, Black Opaque Tights - $12.50, Black High Heel Pumps - $62.06, Black Quilted Bag - $24, Dress - $24.80. Total Cost: $130.86

3. Keg Party Outfit

When you're going to a party and there's a good chance you'll get beer spilled on you, you have to dress strategically. No expensive leather shoes for this one! This look includes skinny jeans, a sequined top, and a faux leather jacket. I paired the look with ankle boots from Forever 21 (less than $30!), a cute Target clutch, and a trendy layered-look necklace.

Outfit for a keg party

Product Information - Clockwise from top:Sequin Top - $22.80, Faux Leather Jacket - $32.80, Ankle Boots - $29.80, Skinny Jeans - $39.50, Wristlet - $12.99, Layered Necklace - $16.80. Total cost: $154.69

4. Casual Night Out Outfit

If you're heading out to a bar trivia night with your boyfriend or just going to get dinner or a drink with the girls, here's a cute and casual outfit that still has some sparkle. I paired black skinny jeans with a luxe tank and a bright cardigan for a pop of color. I also added gorgeous jeweled Sigerson Morrison for Target flats (impossible to get online, but in the off chance you find some in a store - buy em!) and some blingy jewelry to finish the look.

Outfit for a casual night out

Product Information - Clockwise from top:Cashmere Tank - $40, Earrings - $15, Bangles - $4, Jeweled Flats - $29.99, Skinny Black Jeans - $29.99, Boyfriend Cardigan - $24.95. Total cost: $143.93

5. Cocktail or Dinner Party Outfit

If you're in the mood to wear something a little more fun, consider throwing a cocktail or dinner party with your best friends. Make a rule that everyone has to dress up in cocktail attire - it's a great excuse to buy a cute new dress! My friends and I used to do this a lot and it's so much fun. Here's an idea for a cute cocktail or dinner party outfit:

I chose a faux satin dress from Charlotte Russe because it's a fun little take on a tuxedo and I thought it'd be cute for a faux-formal occasion. The blue shoes add some color, and the black bow clutch is another adorable formal wear reference. I finished it all off with a big black and silver cocktail ring and some dangly earrings to add sparkle.

Outfit for a cocktail party

Product Information - Clockwise from top:Dress - $28.99, Earrings - $4, Faux Suede Pumps - $21.80, Bow Clutch - $10.97, Cocktail Ring - $25. Total cost: $90.76

What do you think?

Now that you've seen my ideas for going out outfits, I want to know what you'd wear! What are your favorite going out outfits? How do you accessorize them? What do you think of my choices? Discuss in the comments!