How to dress to go out again, in case you need a refresher

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Sophie Ross is an In The Know shopping contributor. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for more.

Remember that phase in 2020 when it seemed like we’d be wearing tie-dye sweatsuits forever? And while cozy, nap-worthy clothes once dominated the fashion landscape during the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of the population appears to want to dress up and step out more than ever before. (Thanks to vaccine mandates and booster shots, we can feel more comfortable these days doing so, too.) 

The fashion industry has been ready to embrace going-out clothes again for a while, too. Vogue, for example, wrote about the “joyous return to nightlife” and “going-out tops” in July 2021. (It may have been a bit premature.) Contrary to what the article suggests, the easing back into parties and clubs has actually taken quite some time. My social calendar certainly isn’t exactly what it once was pre-pandemic — but that just makes getting dolled up for my infrequent plans more exciting. Since I’m dressing up less these days, I want every outfit to be a serve.

So, while we might still be taking our time and making plans with more trepidation, it’s certainly a fact that going-out clothes are making their way back. So, if you need a refresher, I’m breaking down the basics you need in your wardrobe for whatever you’re up to on those nights when you decide to venture out of your apartment.

Read more for the essentials you should have in your wardrobe for a cautious return to nightlife.

Hot Black Pants

Lovers + Friends River Low-Rise Ultra-Flare Pants, $111 (Orig. $158)

Credit: Revolve

I say “black” specifically because, well, it’s the best color for wardrobe staples. A good pair of black flares will get tons of wear year-round and can be paired with just about anything, like these sleek low-rises.  

Norma Kamali Spat Stretch-Jersey Flared Leggings, $150

Credit: Net-a-Porter

Norma Kamali is known for ultra-flattering and feminine designs that don’t sacrifice comfort one bit — and these curve-hugging, stretch-knit flared leggings are no different. 

ASOS Tall Leather-Look Leggings with Side Split, $26

Credit: ASOS

Leather-look leggings are the perfect going-out pants for winter, but with a side-slit bottom you can pair with sandals or sneaks, they can work for summer months, too. Just add a tank and sandals. 

River Island Plus Black Matte Coated Flare Trousers, $56

Credit: River Island

Combine the drama of flares with the sexiness of leather leggings, and you’ll get these must-have River Island trousers (that don’t break the bank). 

A Wear-with-Anything Bodysuit

SNYDS Dany Bodysuit, $49

Credit: Revolve

You’ll typically get more wear out of a solid, classic hue like black or white — and this asymmetrical silhouette is ultra versatile but exciting, too. 

Yummie Anette Square Neck Thong Bodysuit, $38

Credit: Yummie

A short-sleeve black bodysuit will become an instant staple in your wardrobe. (This one by Yummie has compression technology, too, for an extra-snug, seamless fit.) 

Summersalt – The Long-Sleeve Day-to-Night Bodysuit, $55

Credit: Summersalt

Swimwear brand Summersalt carries ready-to-wear basics now, too — and this high-neck bodysuit is perfect for rocking with layered necklaces and chic layers in the winter. 

Abercrombie & Fitch ‘90s Seamless Fabric Tank Bodysuit, $24.96 (Orig. $39)

Credit: Abercrombie & Fitch

A sleeveless bodysuit is absolutely ideal for dressing up or down. (If you don’t already have one in your wardrobe, prepare to be amazed.) This one by the new Abercrombie comes in seven different hues, and you’ll probably want one of each. 

Shoes You Can Actually Tolerate

Charlotte Stone Paz Clog Boot, $298

Credit: Charlotte Stone

Lucky for us, platforms are back, and stilettos are … cool if you don’t have to actually walk anywhere. But if you need shoes that are as chic as they are functional, these Charlotte Stone babies are just the ticket. 

Schutz Analeah Chain Boot, $190.40 (Orig. $238)

Credit: Schutz Shoes

Whether it’s a sandal for summer or a bootie for winter, walkable, comfortable shoes are a must — and features like block heels are what you should be looking for. 

New Look Mesh Embellished Mules With Block Heel, $40

Credit: ASOS

A low kitten heel works, too — and in case you’re the kind of person who tends to dirty up their going-out shoes (no judgment), an affordable pair will be right up your alley. 

Vince Hanna Leather Block-Heel Mules, $325

Credit: Neiman Marcus

I splurged on these Vince mules for a wedding years ago, and I’m so glad I did. I can walk miles (measured in distances between bars, of course) in them without worrying about splinters or discomfort.

Statement-Making Earrings

Frasier Sterling Flower Burst Earrings, $48

Credit: Frasier Sterling

Like with many other brands before them, I discovered jewelry brand Frasier Sterling on Instagram — and I instantly fell in love with its quirky, cutesy designs and affordable price points. You probably will, too. 

Lele Sadoughi Donut Freshwater Pearl Linear Earrings, $225

Credit: Shopbop

As you probably know by now, a good pair of baubles can make an outfit. Keep things otherwise simple, and just add these guys for an instantly iconic going-out look. 

Missoma Dome Large Ridge Hoop Earrings, $162

Credit: Missoma

I’ve always been a sucker for hoop earrings — just scroll through my Instagram feed if you need proof — and I love Missoma’s chunky, chic twist on the classic. 

Casa Clara Folly Hoop Earrings, $48

Credit: Revolve

Bored of gold, silver, and even resin? Casa Clara’s wooden statement earrings are eclectic and unexpected — and handmade by a mother-daughter duo in Mexico.

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