Where Life Meets Style: Passing the bar

Aaron Leth

Last week I mentioned how hard it can be to decide what to wear to certain functions, but this past weekend my skills were really tested. Well, not MY skills, but a few people and I at a birthday party were discussing how hard it is to figure out what to wear to go to the place we perhaps frequent most: the bar.

For a precious few, dressing for the bar is simple, say for those pesky few creatures like no other that refuse to wear anything but Uggs, frayed denim miniskirts and down vests with an extra-long, long-sleeved Tee underneath. Lately I’ve been noticing, too, that as summer really wears off – in temperature and in our tans – more individuals are looking like oompa-loompas rather than humans, which would’ve been OK for Halloween, not for every day. So easy on the Darque Tan, please.

Besides, let’s consider the bar environment. Will anyone really notice you’re tan? Um, no, unless you skidaddle home to Bierman at bar close and are forced to confront that one-nighter under the fluorescentsÖ and you thought Uggs were “ugg!” Bars are dark for a reason, so go easy on cosmetic enhancement. Believe it or not, you can look decent without becoming a MAC spokesmodel.

Another thing to consider about the bar environment is the temperature. It’s always steaming, whether on the dance floor or in Spin’s steam-for-doors bathrooms, so keep your layers simple. One trick I learned is after you get dressed, give yourself a Manhattan once-over in the mirror and take one article off, preferably not an undergarment. No one wants to see your Britney, anyway.

At the party, we brought up the fact that choosing fashions for bar frolics is highly dependent on the location. Take The Library, for instance. That is the place where you’ll see those creatures I described previously. There’s a lot of sleaze and very little “yes, please.” On the other hand, places like Spin or Drink are perfect for that glittery top and pumps, and for guys, that casual sport coat and loafers. I say, consult for results before leaving. The last thing you want to be is unprepared.

Accessories are a major factor in barwear, too. One time I lost my entire card case, which held my ID, check card and U-Pass. SO not OK, and I ended up having to get re-issues of everything. That’s when I realized a lanyard might suffice. I know, I know Ö a lanyard at the bar? Well, you’ll be surprised to know that several top design houses make some super hot ones. Then, to conceal it, I hid mine in my shirt and started a tab to avoid bringing it out.

The bottom line is minimalism. Don’t take that giant fake Louis Speedy; who’ll hold it, who’ll recognize it? No one. So don’t do it. Guys, please use card cases or money clips; no chunky back-pocket wallets, please.

Lastly, it’s better to hit the dress code right in the middle, meaning not too formal and not too 8 a.m. Monday class. At the birthday party, one girl was wearing an outstanding green party frock she could rock in many a setting, but not the bars she planned on going to afterward. She brought a change of clothes and ended the night suitably stylish. Like I said, don’t dress like you rolled out of bed, either. Do not, under any happenstance, wear a U of M hoodie. While those are fine fashions for sporting events, spiritwear shouldn’t be seen on anybody at any bar. Tailgating, yes. Barhopping, no.

Those bitter winters are literally knocking on our doorstep, so I understand how my minimalist approach to bar clothing could be misunderstood. After all, it’s Minnesota, not Miami, and the cold can create quite a kerfuffle here. Just be sensible and unique. I’d say try statement jewelry if you’re a girl, and maybe a frisky belt or tie worn in an unassuming style for guys. These small tricks will make you truly a bar “fly!”