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What to Wear to Parties – 5 Cute “Going Out” Outfits


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!

Posted on on December 11, 2008 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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75 Responses to “What to Wear to Parties – 5 Cute “Going Out” Outfits”

  1. 1
    December 11th, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Oh I love those outfits. So cute and the pops of colour are really great. I love that green purse (and just realize I have it but in black – which could pass off as the bow tie purse from you cocktail party outfit).

    Love the faux-satin dress from Charlotte Russe – so cute. I’ve never shopped there before, being Canadian and all, but how would you rate their quality. I’ve heard not-so nice things about it.

    Favourite going out outfit right now is a black top with a bubble hem, skinny dark wash jeans and pumps. I think I’ll have to be more mindful of adding in some colour though.

  2. 2
    December 11th, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I love these outfits! I have a heavy workload in my program, so I don’t get to go out very often. Since I don’t party much, I have no party clothes when I do go out, and usually have to improvise with the few pieces I have. This has given me lots of ideas, I think I will invest in one or two going out outifts now, I’m inspired!

  3. 3
    December 11th, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    These options are so trendy! definently my type of style, i love that you have given us an outfit for any kind of party..thanks so much!

  4. 4
    December 11th, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Emma – I wouldn’t rate Charlotte Russe as high quality. The clothes aren’t terrible or anything, but they don’t always last very long. But for the price, you can’t beat it for clothes you won’t wear every day.

    Kaleigh – Yay! Glad I could help :) And I know what you mean about having too much work to go out a lot of the time – that was my problem too my first year of college, but it got a lot easier.

    Mae – You’re welcome, happy it helped!

  5. 5
    December 11th, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Love the ideas! Thanks Zephyr! It would be great if you could give us more ideas what to wear to clubs. I’m so sick of my club clothes and they’re all so similar.

  6. 6
    December 11th, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    I’ve been looking for some nice classic black pumps and the Jessica Simpson ones are beautiful and perfect but sadly they’re way to high for me… I’m so sad haha. Otherwise, all the outfits are so fun – great post!

  7. 7
    December 11th, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    this is one of the revelations I came to as well when I got to college; as many clothes I had i didnt have many “going out” outfits.

    i’ve been buying a lot of dressier tops that i can dress up to go out in at night or dress down for a more casual day look for class. heels are also a must for me!

    great suggestions!

  8. 8
    December 11th, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Oddly enough, I have plenty of dressy, going out clothes. Dressy clothes for church, going out, going to cocktail parties and fancy dinners but I barely have ANY casual clothes. Weird and annoying, I know.

    But, this definitely helps give me some ideas to switch up my existing clothes/outfits to make completely new ones!

  9. 9
    December 11th, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Cute!That layered necklace is everywhere these I like look #4. I have a heavy work load so I barely get out to anything and even then it’s not necesarrily dressy.

  10. 10
    December 11th, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    This is an awesome post, especially with all those holiday parties and new years parties coming up!

    I find that a minidress+tights or a nice top and jeans, plus heels, basically take you everywhere.

  11. 11
    December 11th, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    Yeah I love Charlotte Russe but it is REALLY low quality… are there any other places that you know of that sell the same kind of stuff but at a better quality?

    Oh and I LOVE YOU! I just started college and I’ve been going through this exact dilemma. SO this has helped alot and I’ll be buying myself alot of these things before I go back for spring. YAY for self bought Christmas gifts.

    What do you think the requirements for wearing skinny jeans are.. because I’m really busty but I have no hips so I swear that wearing them makes me look like a lollipop.

  12. 12
    December 12th, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Can I request a post for new years outfits please? I’m not sure what level of fancy my boyfriend and I are doing, but I have no idea what to wear regardless!

  13. 13
    December 12th, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    this was an amazing post! i hope you will do more outfits! it really helps because alot of the times i have the clothes i just dont know how to put them together. im in love with outfit one!!! too bad the top is all sold out :(

  14. 14
    December 12th, 2008 at 1:48 pm

    You are such a genius! I really like all of the outfits. I wore something similar to outfit #3 last weekend to dinner and drinks with a guy friend. I was so comfortable yet looked nice. I too wold like to request a new years outfit post. I am in college and am on a budget so any suggestions would help. Thanks! I visit this website religiously!

  15. 15
    December 12th, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Clubbing outfits next!

  16. 16
    December 12th, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    and holdiay outfits too please

  17. 17
    December 13th, 2008 at 11:38 am

    You should do posts like these where you put together outfits like these more often! I found this really useful for thinking up new party outfits. I love your taste and style, and most of all your understanding for the college girl’s budget (not all of us can afford high-fashion stuff to look good)!

  18. 18
    December 14th, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    I love the girls nite out outfit. The tank lets you stand out without looking like your trying to hard, very cute. The boots in the keg party are nice, couldn”t get them to come up on forever21 though.

  19. 19
    December 14th, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    LOVE the outfits! You did a great job pairing them together and I love the splashes of color. This is a lot like my style so I really enjoyed this post.

    Tried to buy the really cute bow earrings from outift #4 but they were sold out :( I’ll be trying to find them somewhere else!!

    I’d love to see more posts like this… great job and thank you!!

  20. 20
    December 14th, 2008 at 10:59 pm


    Unfortunately F21 doesn’t carry that ankle boot online anymore but they do have some others that are just as cute…

  21. 21
    December 14th, 2008 at 11:06 pm

    All these outfits are cute but what do you wear out when it’s freezing outside? I hate looking cute under my coat. Because most of the time when you go to house parties or bars you don’t want to take off your coat in fear of someone stealing it or getting something spilled on it and are forced to wear it. Plus I hate holding a coat on my arm especially when your planning on dancing! So what do you wear when it’s cold outside but want to avoid a coat but not have people look at you like ‘wow that girl needs a coat’?

  22. 22
    December 15th, 2008 at 3:32 am

    Jennifer, I totally agree. Since winter is here (sorta in California) I have no outfits for winter! I want to look cute but I don’t want to have to wear a coat (is that even possible). I would really like some ideas on what to wear to a club, but look cute and warm! Thanks!

  23. 23
    December 17th, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Love it! These looks are trendy, veratile, and not to mention affordable! I also love that the looks are consisted of basics that everyone has access to.

  24. 24
    December 18th, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    I LOVE the heels with dinner date outfit. But I the website you have didn’t work. Do you know anywhere else I can get them??

  25. 25
    December 18th, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Wow! These are great! Will you be my personal stylist! I want to go out and buy everyone of these outfits!

  26. 26
    December 20th, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Hey, I love the outfits you’ve come up with, but could you please do some for those of us without stick-thin pins? I’d really appreciate it if you could do some outfits for those of us that are a bit more bottom-heavy and don’t like to go bare-leg and can’t carry off skinny jeans!

  27. 27
    December 24th, 2008 at 10:11 am

    show me all updates at my e.mail

  28. 28
    December 26th, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Caramelfrapp – I hear ya – I don’t have stick thin legs either! That said, I think skinnies can work on those of us who actually have hips – we just need to stick to dark wash and make sure to wear tops that balance us out. Also, dark tights can do wonders for larger legs – I swear by them. But next time I’ll throw in some boot cut jeans too, there’s nothing wrong with those!

  29. 29
    December 31st, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    i have like a billion fashionable clothes now.

  30. 30
    January 5th, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Very very lovely!! I LOVE all the styles. Especially the date. Next time I go out with my boyfriend, I will definitely wear something similar. Oh where can I get those shoes or something similar? I can’t find them. Help!

  31. 31
    January 5th, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Very chic! :)

  32. 32
    January 7th, 2009 at 8:54 am

    wow those outfits are all so gorg~
    but i dont live in the US so i cant buy them and i think its a bit too sophisticated looking for a 13 yr old =P
    I’m going night clubbing with friends this week and i really dont know what to wear…=/
    well this was inspiring
    thank you!!!

  33. 33
    January 7th, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    Hey !I love your outfits!they are so chic and sophisticated=D. You are very talented in fashion!I have a question for you,I’m short and don’t have long legs, What type of clothing would you recomend me in order to have a taller appearance?thanks in advance!=D

  34. 34
    January 9th, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    i luv that outfit with the black skinnies and the grey tank with the blue jacket it is soo cute, the earings well not do on me bot the shoes and the bracelets are gorgeous

  35. 35
    January 30th, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Is there any other type of jeans to use they are all skinny jeans, and there are some of us whose best asset is the stomach and chest area, I am larger on the bottom and skinny jeans do not look the best on me, more of a boot cut or straight leg…

  36. 36
    March 31st, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Yea I agree, skinny jeans aren’t the best on me, I’d rather wear a boot cut or something with a flare.
    Everybody is wearing skinny jeans and i’m so sick of it!

  37. 37
    April 2nd, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Wow I loved all those outfits and could totally see myself wearing each of those out. I love your blog…keep it up!!

  38. 38
    May 21st, 2009 at 7:44 am

    Hey love those outfits, i love to wear skinny jeans

  39. 39
    July 4th, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    This article is like… sent from heaven. I’ve had it bookmarked for months! The outfits are super cute! Thanks a million!

  40. 40
    October 17th, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Thank you so much for this post it helps me a lot!! I never know what to wear and I’m really bad at putting outfits together, it always ends up looking either too plain or too crazy (but crazy-cute that is ;) … So thanks for giving me some ideas :) You are very stylish im jealous ;)

    I have a question tho if someone could help : I live in Boston and it’s freaking cold in the fall and winter here and I don’t know what to wear over my clothes when I go out… Any suggestions??


  41. 41
    October 24th, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    I can not stand skinny jeans!!! Im a little on the short side and skinny jeans look terriable on me..Not to mention every guys ive ever met HATES skinny jeans

  42. 42
    December 18th, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    Awesome outfits! You’ve given me great inspiration!

  43. 43
    December 18th, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Apparently skinny leg jeans make a person’s hip look wider..!

  44. 44
    December 23rd, 2009 at 1:56 am

    hey i love the idea of using pops of colour
    i love the first, second, forth and fifth look
    im not a huge fan of earings and necklaces
    but i do love bags, bvangles(thick ones) shoes and sunglasses. they are my favorite ways to jazz up an outfit
    hey will puple still be in style nextr year?

  45. 45
    December 23rd, 2009 at 1:57 am


  46. 46
    December 28th, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    These outfits are so cute and are totally the inspiration I was looking for

  47. 47
    January 24th, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    i love comming back her for inspiration
    love this post
    i have the green clutch and heels from the 1st
    dresses similar to the 2nd and 5th
    frm the 3rd i hav a similar tank and flats that look the same but cost less
    and just got the blue cardingan

  48. 48
    May 12th, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    @ 11. Beth:

    “What do you think the requirements for wearing skinny jeans are.. because I’m really busty but I have no hips so I swear that wearing them makes me look like a lollipop”

    I am busty, skinny jeans wearing, slim-hipped gal. I love my many skinny jeans, I rock them with confidence, and you should too! In order to avoid the lollipop-effect, I wear a dark-colored top (usually black or dark blue) and colored jeans, like in purple or teal. The look, depending on your accessories, can be anywhere from prep to punk, experiment and have fun. I hope it helps!

  49. 49
    May 23rd, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Lovely! Pops of colour is just the right thing. Everything they gave is just what I needed.

  50. 50
    June 25th, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I love this website!! and this is sooooo cool.. i mean the 5 going out outfits i actually never wear flats but like now i kinda injured my toes and cant wear heels so i wanted to go out today but i didnt really know how to wear flats or with what… thank u so much!

  51. 51
    June 29th, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Thanks! This really helped. My daughter is going to a bowling party on wednesday 30th june 2010 and she was going to go in a hummer before and get dropped off there(it was her last day of primary school) and she didnt really know what to wear. I showed her this page and she went with the ‘Keg Party Outfit’ idea but since she never had high heeled ankle boots, she just wore normal ankle boots. She looked fab!

    Thanks again

  52. 52
    October 8th, 2010 at 9:33 am

    hey; these outfits are great , i love them (:

    im not exactly in college yet and probably couldnt pull off heels without looking way over-dressed. i really like the first outfit and the fourth outfit, though i’d probably have to replace the heels in the first with some cute flats or something.

    but other than than they’re great. I really need to update my wardrobe and your blog is proving very useful !

  53. 53
    October 8th, 2010 at 9:36 am

    great outfits, very cute.

    im not exactlly in college yet and probably couldnt pull off heels without looking too dressed-up.

    i love numer 1 & 4 .

    i’d have to replace the heels in number 1 with flats though; but other that that they’re great.

    i am in desperate need of a new wardrobe and your blog is coming in very useful (: x

  54. 54
    December 2nd, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I love numbers 2, 4, and 5….classy and gorgeous!

  55. 55
    January 7th, 2011 at 5:18 am

    I have to say 4 is my favorite it’s so cute, laid back, and can be sassy and party going :))!

  56. 56
    February 22nd, 2011 at 3:43 am

    i love all of the dinner night outfit and the colour of the dress is super cool

  57. 57
    March 15th, 2011 at 6:00 am

    WOW these outfits are beautiful! and the colour of that dress is gorgeous!

  58. 58
    April 26th, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    i love these styles nd colors they are beautifulll <3em

  59. 59
    June 18th, 2011 at 1:04 am

    um, i’m 12 and me and my friends wear stuff like that, well only dresses for like family things but its kinda rude to say that its to sophistacted for 13 year olds which im not even that yet…

  60. 60
    July 21st, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    Wow!!! This was a lot of help! You have fabulous style!!!! :)

  61. 61
    October 3rd, 2011 at 1:41 am

    awesome outfits , though they don’t work in india except the jewelery & the skinny jeans. i,m kindaa love in with these dresses Zephyr!!!

  62. 62
    October 23rd, 2011 at 5:16 am

    Hi can you please tell me where i can get the black top from you show in the frist picture i have tried the website

    kind regards


  63. 63
    November 26th, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    thx much i dinint know what to wear before and now i do because i have all of the clothes in the pictures.

  64. 64
    February 3rd, 2012 at 12:07 am

    I read this when it was first posted, but I still keep coming back to it. I just think each outfit is so appropriate for the coordinating event. Thank you for this post! Every time I start freaking out about what to wear to a party, this post helps me out. :)

  65. 65
    February 13th, 2012 at 5:37 am

    i loooooooovvvveeeeeeee these dresses…
    really very cute specially pink one

  66. 66
    March 9th, 2012 at 1:37 am

    Ouuu! I love the girls night out, and casual night ones. I’m going to a charity pub night tomorrow, so this is getting me inspired :)

  67. 67
    April 3rd, 2012 at 8:36 am

    This is brilliant since I am going to a party tomorrow and I had no idea what i was going to wear. I am going with my friends from collage and my boyfriend so i mixed some of the styles together to create the perfect outfit.

  68. 68
    July 5th, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Really cute ideas :) haha these looks are really classy, trendy, and I would wear all of them!

  69. 69
    August 14th, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    This is too perfect!!! I am so thankful for this! I needed this, thank you

  70. 70
    August 16th, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    hi, can you do clubbing outfits next? i’m searching for sites online but can’t seem to find good ones

  71. 71
    August 21st, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Hey I was just wondering if you would do a “cute outfit ideas for a freshman in high school. By the way I loved the green clutch on your first outfit!!!

  72. 72
    December 15th, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I wanted suggestion. I need to attend a party in evening in Seattle,wa. It’s a holiday party with family throwing from office. They mentioned holiday attire or cocktail attire as dress code. Can I wear shiny top with jeans (woman) and formal pant and shirt with blazer(man)?


  73. 73
    February 2nd, 2013 at 11:26 am

    not what i thought but totally cute and fashionabe

  74. 74
    January 19th, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    these are great

  75. 75
    May 17th, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    I love Therese outfits my favorite ones are #’s 2, 5, & # 3 :) :$ XD

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