Yes, your school's science department may be one of the best in the nation and their football games may be legendary. But realistically, none of that matters on your first Friday night on campus. Your secret is safe with us – you're probably dying to explore the most alluring part of higher education, crazy college parties. Once you've scouted out a party and gathered a group of new friends to go with, it's time to head to your closet (or swap clothes with your new roomie) and put together a killer outfit for the night. Not exactly sure what flies as party attire on campus? Here's your style guide to different types of parties – plus fool-proof tips for every situation.
Ah, the frat party. It's the quintessential college experience and the ultimate wardrobe conundrum. Do you opt for your slinkiest dress and sexiest heels, or do you stick to dressed-down basics? As a general rule of thumb, girls at city schools don dresses and heels for nights out more often than their rural and college town counterparts. You can also scope out your school's atmosphere by scrolling through party photos of any upperclassmen you might know. (Your RA's Facebook page might be a good place to start if you're low on older friends.) And, hey, if your outfit isn't 100% on target the first time you go out, you'll get the hang of it faster than you can say “where's the party?”
Quinn Kearney, University of Pittsburgh '13 and friends
Erica Avesian, a senior at the University of Michigan, suggests wearing club-worthy dresses or tank top and skirt combos. Go bodycon, black, or bright, but whatever you do, make sure you're decent. Pulling down a too-short skirt every time you walk is the quickest way to ruin a fun night out.
But skirts and dresses are a no-go for some girls. “Don't wear skirts,” advises Kelsey Mulvey, a junior at Boston University. “All the squatting whilst grinding up on some sweaty guy can lead to a major fashion malfunction. Also, frat boys are known to have wandering hands... can we say disgusting? My go-to outfit is a frat-friendly top (I love wearing sheer blouses) and my trusty black skinny jeans.”
Whether you opt to cover your legs from forward frat guys or not, the key to a fun night out is feeling comfortable and confident. Check out HC's frat-approved attire below for inspiration:
Think of dorm and house parties as the frat party's GDI cousin. These run the gamut from a cozy get-together with your girls to a rager with awesome music and plenty with which to imbibe. Erica from the University of Michigan says, “My friends and I usually wear skinny jeans and cute tops for house parties.” Jessica Salerno, a senior at Ohio University, agrees. “At a house party, I'm more relaxed, so it's cute sandals, jean shorts, and a fun top,” she says.
Erica Avesian, University of Michigan '13 and friends
Opt for pretty, sexy basics that keep you comfortable, like easy tanks, skirts, and jeans. These parties are the perfect time to try trends that are too risqué for class, like crop tops, cut-outs, and totally sheer fabrics.
Quinn Keaney, University of Pittsburgh '13 and a friend
If you plan on party-hopping, save your feet: flats (including fall's hottest shoe, the smoking slipper) and wedges are your best bet for coming home at the end of the night without a dozen blisters. A cross-body bag is just big enough to fit your essentials while keeping your hands free. Check out these two party-ready outfits:
When it's time for New Year's Eve, your birthday, or your sorority formal, go glam! Skip your trusty jeans and going-out top for something with a little more chutzpah.
Erica Avesian, University of Michigan '13 and friends
So, how glam are we talking here? Say yes to anything that makes you feel like Beyoncé – that includes sequins, flirty skirts, and plunging necklines. Add a sexy smoky eye or a bold lip, slip into a pair of killer heels, and you're ready to celebrate. We like the two outfits below:
It isn't college until you've donned a ridiculous outfit for a theme party. (Okay, okay, your professors – and maybe your mom – might have something to say about that.) Katrina Margolis, a sophomore at the University of Virginia, says, “It's always easier to get into theme parties if you have a group of friends who will do it with you.” She and her friends wore togas for a big night out on campus.
Katrina Margolis, University of Virginia '15 and friends at the College of Wooster
Before you start crafting a duct tape bustier for tonight's ABC Party – that's “Anything But Clothes” in collegiette-speak – pause to consider if that's the only party you're going to. Erica from University of Michigan advises, “Freshman year, my friends and I dressed up for themed frat parties (like highlighter, '80s, and stoplight), but now we usually just wear normal clothes so we can easily party-hop. Accessorizing is all part of our dress up fun!”
For your complete guide to theme parties, check out Her Campus's dress-up guide!
Normally, we would never suggest you look anything less than one hundred percent classy. But when you're dancing the night away at a club, we'll give you a pass on a dress that Grandma would never approve of. Flaunt your favorite features in a show-stopping dress that hugs your curves, shows off your lovely legs, and makes your skin glow. Clubs are typically filled with lots of LBDs, but don't be afraid to try out a bold color to stand out from the crowd! You're going to be on your feet dancing for hours, so opt for your most comfortable pair of heels and skip heavy jewelry. A cross-body bag with just the essentials is easy to sling over your body while you dance.
And No Matter Where The Night Takes You...
No matter where you go for a fun night out, keep a few things in mind:
- If your night involves walking, consider swapping heels for more comfortable flats or wedges. Kelsey from Boston University points out, “If you can't walk in them while you're sober, do you think it's a smart idea to wear them out?”
- You don't need a huge bag for a night out. Carry just the basics in a cute cross-body bag: phone, money, ID, license, keys, lip gloss, and mints.
- If you couldn't stand spilling a drink on your most expensive dress, don't wear it out – parties are too unpredictable.
- Charge your phone while you're getting ready to make sure it lasts for the full duration of your night out!
Still stressed about what to wear? Keep it simple and rock something you love. Have fun tonight!