+ Happy Hour

Happy Hour: Out on the Town

Earlier this week, I wrote about moving beyond denim for going out attire.  Several of you asked for suggestions about how to be classy and sexy at the same time in a club or late night bar environment.  (I prefer not to use the words skanky, slutty, trampy, etc., because I don’t think how you dress is necessarily indicative of sexual mores.)  And while finding an appealing outfit that isn’t too revealing is possible, it certainly can be a challenge.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that the trick is to find a dress that plays up one physical feature at a time.  A low-cut dress should be knee length or near-knee-length.  A backless dress should have sleeves and a higher neckline.  A mini-dress shouldn’t be too revealing. 

This Parker Tank Dress is short, but it has a high neck and isn’t too snug.  Great for a woman who wants to show off her legs. 

This dress from Asos Glitter Print Dress is  backless, body-conscious and sparkly, but it’s also a midi-length.  Perfect for late night dinner and drinks or a trip to Vegas.

Amanda Uprichard has a deep-v dress with a breezy fit and longer bell sleeves. It’s flirty and sexy, I like that the drapey fit keeps it classy.

And if you want to show off your curves but keep almost everything else covered, this racerback body-con, Hybrid dress from Asos is just the ticket.

Obviously, choosing a dress that is both sexy and appropriate is all about your personal comfort.  I would have no trouble wearing this snug, backless midi-dress or this deep-v with long sleeves mini-dress, but you may not be.   And your comfort is incredibly important, because you won’t look sexy, if you don’t feel sexy. 

Pencey Open Back Dress (Shopbop, $319)

The last time I posted a dress with cutouts, I was roasted in the comments for displaying streetwalker attire.  But frankly, I think cutouts or an open back is a great way to show skin without showing too much.  I also like this Asos pencil dress with the cutout across the midriff

It’s nice to step out of the box sometimes and do something daring.  Sure, I wear ladylike dresses and suits all week.  But if I’m headed out on the town, I’m going to take that opportunity to wear a dress that’s bold and sexy and fun.  Because why the hell not?

Lastly, when dressing to go out, undergarments are incredibly important. Visible bra strap and VPL are tacky and preventable. 

I’m smaller-chested, so I don’t need a strapless bra.  I just wear a NuBra or shields for concealment.  If you are larger-chested, my friend Annie swears by the Faveo Perk Ups she bought in the UK.  She had a backless wedding dress and they held up her FF-cups all night.

If you need help in the VPL department, Commando boy shorts or Hanky Panky thongs are usually the way to go.  Unless the fabric is thin, then the texture on the lace  HPs will show through and you need to go for smooth, seamless microfiber.



  1. Kay says:

    @Kay I didn't say or mean to imply that any woman, regardless of her clothing, deserves to be disrespected in any way. I simply meant women should consider the image their clothing conveys and that sometimes, clothes can make a woman look a way that might garner less than flattering descriptive terms or treatment from others.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  2. Belle says:

    Kay: That's absolutely true. The trouble arises, in my opinion, because many women get out of college (where we throw caution to the fashion winds) and stop thinking critically about their non-work clothes. Hopefully, this post will encourage women to let go of some of the unflattering pieces and pick something hot but not objectifying.

    November 30, -0001/Reply
  3. Parker - Boardroom Belles says:

    Love that graphic print dress from Asos!

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  4. CynthiaW says:

    Thanks for putting the links to the backless bra options – I love the ASOS glitter dress, but I totally can't go without a bra. I'm kind of a weird in between size though – I think that I need more than coverage, but not quite those Faveo Perk-ups. Sigh. That's probably why I don't have any backless dresses unless they have a built in bra.

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  5. Sam says:

    I found this incredibly helpful and timely, actually. I'm going clubbing this weekend for the first time since, oh, I turned 21 almost a decade ago and I had no. Freaking. Clue. what to wear. Sexy + comfortable + not made for teenagers = ????

    But now I do! A-dress-hunting I shall go. I'm going to seek out some of those commando boy shorts, as well. Thanks, Belle!

    P.S. Thanks for this, too: “I prefer not to use the words skanky, slutty, trampy, etc., because I don't think how you dress is necessarily indicative of sexual mores.”

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  6. LS says:

    Dressing sexy but mature has definitely been a challenge in recent years. Thank you for posting!

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  7. E says:

    This blog is a farce, right? A really, really well-executed satire? Bravo, Belle. You fooled us all.

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  8. kims says:

    “I prefer not to use the words skanky, slutty, trampy, etc., because I don't think how you dress is necessarily indicative of sexual mores.”

    THANK YOU. Belle, you went up 4234230923 points in my book.

    I don't know if it's my age (early 20s) showing, but man. I've been shocked at some of these comments.

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  9. R says:

    I wish I had the legs for that Parker dress. Lovely.

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  10. Anon says:

    Last weekend, I attended a dual bachelor/bachelorette night out, but since it was for my sister-in-law, my in-laws (her parents) also attended part of the evening. For me, this meant I needed a dress appropriate for a club, but also not too revealing in front of the in-laws. Like Belle, I found ASOS as a good resource. Instead of the options listed above, I chose a conservative style ASOS dress in a not-so-conservative leopard print – which worked perfectly. I definitely see myself purchasing similar, more modest late-night or date-night dresses in the future.

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  11. Beth says:

    This is great! You've inspired me to go shopping and break out of my rut. Now to find a place to wear these fabulous dresses to…

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  12. Amy says:

    Another suggestion for reasonably priced solutions for VPL: Victoria's Secret “Lacie” hiphugger or thong…I buy multiple pairs and they're usually $10 or $11 each. Also quite comfortable, which is more than I can say for most other lace undergarments.

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  13. Belle says:

    Anon: Leopard, sequins, maybe a sheer sleeve, all good solutions if showing skin isn't for you.

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  14. MidWestChic says:

    Belle, where is the happy hour drink of choice? I always look forward to your suggestions for what to sip on while wearing the lovely clothes you post!!

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  15. Belle says:

    Sorry, MWC, no cocktail this week. I needed a place for this post and this was the best one. Though I've been drinking a lot of French 75s with vodka instead of gin (allergy). https://www.esquire.com/drinks/french-75-drink-recipe

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  16. Kay says:

    “I prefer not to use the words skanky, slutty, trampy, etc., because I don't think how you dress is necessarily indicative of sexual mores.”

    Like it or not, how you dress sends a message to others, particularly strangers in a club setting whose first assessment of you will rely heavily (if not solely) on your clothing and appearance. Consider the desperate, pitiful sight of a club full of women all wearing the customary “sexy” outfit – one form of mini-dress or another, the stiletto heels, and the Stepford Wife boob job front and center. Such a clichéd look is ultimately more sad than sexy. While nighttime/club attire should certainly be kicked up a notch, sadly, far too many women confuse sexy with looks that might ONLY be described as “skanky, slutty, trampy, etc.” It’s up to each woman individually to decide how she wants to come across, of course, but we need to remember the old adage that our clothing speaks volumes about us before we ever say a word. Like anything else, a woman’s image is a matter of personal taste and often indicative of class or lack thereof. Most times, the same women who become defiant about their “sexy without scrutiny” rights are the very women in the too-revealing or otherwise tasteless outfits embarrassing themselves in the clubs. “Sexy” is definitely subjective territory, but I certainly wouldn’t go to a club dressed like I’m for sale and then be mystified or insulted because I wasn’t treated like a lady. I am, and I dress to reflect that regardless of the setting and still manage to feel sexy.

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  17. Amy says:

    @Kay I feel like it's a slippery slope to say that a woman “dressed like [she's] for sale” shouldn't be treated with respect as a “lady” should. Obviously some women know more than others what clothing is appropriate and tasteful for particular settings, but that doesn't mean those who are dressed badly deserve insults from men OR fellow women.

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  18. Jess says:

    Perhaps they don't deserve the comments, but they probably should not be surprised by them.

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  19. Belle says:

    Of course, women are judged by what they wear. This is not a surprise. But I'm not going to call another woman a slut because she is still dressing the way she was encouraged to dress in college, because that is how most of the women out at the bars are still dressing.

    Would it be in their best interest to dress differently? Yes. Does it somehow justify being debased by other women? No.

    You don't have to wear a burqa, there is a happy medium.

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  20. Sam says:

    “Would it be in their best interest to dress differently? Yes. Does it somehow justify being debased by other women? No.”

    slow clap

    August 3, 2012/Reply
  21. Amy says:

    @kay and @belle Very good points. I think in a lot of cases younger women simply haven't thought through what classy going out attire looks like…sometimes it seems like you either “dress young” or “dress old” and there is nothing in between for the 20s/30s set.

    August 7, 2012/Reply