It's 1997-2001 and on a night out, thanks to the Spice Girls, there's only one brief: Natwest worker by day, regional UK Garage club attendee by night.
To the uninitiated that sentence will sound verging on insane. To the Xennials and Geriatric Millennials in the room - who will have danced, wearing a pencil skirt and matching jacket (possibly with a plunge bra underneath) while bobbing along to Artful Dodger and sucking on a VK Blue with a plastic straw - that will make total sense.
Just as The Spice Girls donned matching pinstripe (as pictured above in 1997) or white suits to red carpet events and performances, we followed, um, suit, by queuing outside Chelmsford's Zeus (insert your Time & Envy or Liquid here) in our Red Herring suits.
'I remember wearing a suit and looking about 40 when I was 15 and saying I was just going round to my friend's to watch a video, when really I was going out drinking,' a friend told me when we started laughing about wearing suits to nightclubs in the 90s and 00s.
Maybe there was something about striving to look older when we were drinking underage that powered the look, as well as our love of the Spice Girls... Though looking back at pictures of me and my friends in black bootcut trousers and a smart top (sometimes even a striped office-like shirt that would look perfect in a travel agent's back in the day) thanks to a lack of straighteners and full on make-up tutorials on TikTok, not only did we look a holy show, we look like babies still. While Gen Z cosplay as Dua Lipa and Hailey Bieber, we cosplayed as a mix between Mel B and our mum's office wardrobe.
Desperate for an outfit for a wedding, I jumped off the internet and into Stratford Westfield to look in some actual shops this week. And imagine my surprise to find that the night-out suit (NOS?) was back in a big way. In fact, that was pretty much all that was on offer (aside from a load of jumper dresses).
Blazers are always an autumn fave, sure, but this was different.
A suit for a wedding is one thing, you might think. In fact our fashion team recently picked trouser suits as the best 2023 wedding guest outfit. But looking around at street style, what's in the shops and chatting to friends, the Night Out Suit is definitely back, specifically amongst the Gen Z noughties copycats.
Speaking about the return of the Office Wear As Night Out Wear (OWANOW, this really isn't working!) with colleagues the fashion team confirmed it was happening.
'I'm going out with my friends this weekend and when I asked what they were all wearing, three of them are wearing a suit with like a little bustier underneath,' said one.
I'm kind of not mad about it. And I guess the good thing is that now I actually do work in an office, I can wear these from DAY TO NIGHT (like the 00s always promised I would dress) and use the separates too.
So, over 20 years on from our nights out at Zeus and Dukes (IYKYK) where I have pictorial evidence of us both wearing our striped shirts, I will dance again, no doubt to some Spice Girls and UK Garage at my friend's wedding this weekend. And I will wear a suit again.
I ended up drawn to this Marks and Spencer green velvet suit. Though this time I'm opting for a leopard print shirt underneath - I don't think a fluorescent plunge bra is the vibe for me anymore. See how it goes at the free bar...
Best Women's Suits For A Special Occasion Or Night Out
If you're returning to wearing suits on a night out after a quarter century break, may I recommend
H&M have paired this lovely jacket with a jumper sure - but have missed a trick not sticking a
Did I wear a white suit with a bra underneath to my white and diamonds themed 18th birthday? Yes I
I'm coveting this pop of colour piece that would be sure to make an impact - and it's on sale too.