During the summer months, my friends and I rarely stay inside the house. We can usually be found barhopping downtown. Having explored Toronto’s nightlife for over a year it is easy to stop noticing things. For example, how most of the attire for females at bars and clubs isn’t exactly what you would wear to church on Sunday. Being a student in downtown Toronto lead me to become unaware of the nightlife expectations placed by others and myself.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe this summer. Also meaning having the opportunity to explore other cities’ nightlives. The first night out I was with a mid to late 20s crowd and we decided to go to a trendy rooftop club in the heart Rome’s l’Eur. It was packed. So packed that the line extended down the street. We were lucky as we knew someone to get us in (ayeeee connections!). Once in, it was like a club in Toronto except cleaner and less trashy. Also noticeable was how the women there were dressed. These girls were dressed like a girl in Toronto would be dressed to go to dinner or the movies and they looked super comfortable and happy with themselves.
Moreover, how they felt and looked translated in the way the opposite sex reached out to them. In Toronto, most males at bars or clubs act a certain way and let’s just say aren’t usually looking to get to know you the next day. In Rome, I was approached by a few guys (from the ages of low 20s all the way to late 20s) and I found –here comes the real shocker—that they were interested in actually getting to know my likes, dislikes, interests, etc. They weren’t touchy and extremely respectful. True gentlemen.
After recovering from those nights and getting some deeply deserved sleep, I started to think about what would happen if my friends in Toronto and I dressed the way the other girls and I did at clubs in Italy. I knew the reaction of other people, both guys and girls, would be completely different. So why is that? Why is it that in Toronto, if women don’t dress like pop culture tells them to, they are most likely not taken seriously, or completely ignored? Or sometimes not even LET IN to these bars and clubs? I mean Italy has pop culture too, less significant on a world scale but still very prominent in society. Is it because in Italy the culture expresses the idea that less make up and more clothing is more? Is it a result of the influence of the American film, music, and fashion industries on Canada, or more specifically Toronto? Is it because females think that they have to show it all off even if they don’t want to just to get any attention?
I was almost 100% certain that if I went to a bar dressed with the same outfit that I loved and felt great in on one of my nights out in Rome or Milan, I would be completely snubbed by the boys, the girls, the bartender, the bodyguards, etc. So, since I like being proven right I decided to test it out. So Friday night, my best friend Amanda and I both tested it out and dressed how we wanted to dress. That is in a nice pair of jeans, crewneck tank tops, and sandals and go to a hip bar downtown. We get to the front of the line and while the body guard checking out IDs didn’t say anything his eyes said it all. One half right for me. We go inside and as predicted we didn’t make as many friends and we would have if we dressed in our usual attires when we go out. However, the friends we did make are still in contact with us for future outings (very interesting, am I right?).
So at the end of this, what did I learn? People going to bars and clubs are going to dress in different ways and people should dress however they want. But how they individually want. Not because society, the bodyguards, the location, etc., tells us to. I learned this in Rome, Milan, and Toronto. In all these places I adapted to how society wanted me to dress and thus brought forth the social conventions associated to how I was dressed as a consequence.
Moral of the story: dress however the hell you want as long as you do you.