Bring Back The Tacky Club Dress

Image via: Addison Rae.
We’re in the most boring era of going-out fashion, ever. When did we swap out sparkly, skin-tight dresses and six-inch heels for crisp white shirts and tailored trousers at the club?
Don’t get me wrong, my style leans heavily into the corporate officewear aesthetic. I love a good oversized blazer and collared shirt. I am here for the Matilda Djerf Scandi revolution. But sitting around with my coworkers and reminiscing on club days, I realise I am void of the tacky club photos that haunt most Millennials. 
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You know the ones — the digital flash is mildly offensive (perhaps your spray tan is too), the camera is tilted to one side, you’re probably popping out a knee and throwing up a peace sign. 
You’re sporting a bodycon dress — no, not an understated Skims maxi — but one that’s almost a road safety hazard; it’s bright, it’s shiny, it’s loud. You picked up the Hervé Léger-inspired piece from your local Westfield, from one of the dependable haunts like Bardot or Supré. There’s a questionable Aztec print splashed across the fabric (that is dangerously close to showing your ass). 
For the more daring among us, you’re donning a leather bandage dress or a tinsy-tiny boob tube number. I can almost smell the Victoria’s Secret body spray. (Of course, this was before we had to worry about burning piles of polyester in landfill à la climate crisis.) And this sentiment is being echoed widely on TikTok at the moment.
“If there's anything in this life that I love, it's a tight, tacky club dress. Retire the slick buns, put your hair down. Retire the blazer for the night and put on a tight tacky dress,” says TikTok user Ruthyy Freeman in a video viewed by over one million people. “Take some pictures, because these are the photos you want to show your kids.”
“We just realised we’re 22 years old and like to dress ‘chic’. We’ve put that first instead of realising we’re not taking advantage of being young and hot. I’m buying a patent leather dress rn why do we think we’re 30,” reads a TikTok video by Kella Hawks.
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Among comments pointing out that, obviously, 30 isn’t old, were more Gen Z TikTokers lamenting their sartorial sacrifices. “My work pieces have started to spill into my everyday wardrobe i’m so scared,” writes one user. “I had this thought the other day and now I’m desperately searching for a black mini skirt,” writes another.
The micro mini skirt had its moment in the sun, but its hold was no match for the enduring ‘clean girl’ aesthetic. Dopamine dressing might be on the rise (and the hike in hot pink and platform heels is promising), but is it enough to convince us to leave our ballet flats at the office? Where was the predicted indie sleaze and party girl renaissance? All I see are pristine capsule wardrobes and well-thought-out choices. 
Nicki Minaj, 2012
Sophie Monk, 2010
“So happy to be 24 and cheap hot. We have our whole lives to be bougie and expensive but only now do we look hot cheap,” one TikTok user muses. ‘Cheap hot’ is not only a fashion aesthetic, it’s a lifestyle. Cheap hot girls buy wine from the bottom shelf. They embrace tacky fashion and rely solely on the faux warmth of alcohol blankets. They generously hand out compliments in bathroom stalls and pass around their lippy to anyone who asks. But where is she?
Perhaps the most alluring part of the tacky clubbing dress era is the inhibition and debauchery of it all. After being barred from partying for the last couple of years, it feels like a far-fetched fantasy. For a lot of my Gen Z peers, we entered the pandemic as students or graduates and popped out as office workers. Our school uniform was swapped out for loungewear and then again for work attire. No itty-bitty tight dresses to be seen.
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Spontaneous travel and unhindered hook-ups might be off the table, but you know what isn’t? Squeezing into a moderately garish and extremely trashy dress. 
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