Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

How much flesh should girls show on a night out?

Girls on a night out in Belfast

Dressed in high heels, low-cut tops and short skirts for a night out, young women are trying to make an impression, but do skimpy outfits send out the wrong signal, asks Kerry McKittrick

It's a chilly Saturday night in Belfast with the temperature gauge hovering around 3C. As the bars and clubs in the city centre get busy crowds of young giggling young girls pile out of taxis prepared for a good night out.

You won't find a strand of hair or false eyelash out of place, nor a single streak in their fake tan.

Very high heels, very short skirts and very form-fitting dresses are certainly in vogue at the moment — a glance at the street shows a sea of bare flesh.

But what sort of message does this provocative dress send out.

Last year, women across the world were outraged when a Canadian policeman said girls should stop dressing like sluts to prevent themselves being victimised.

A series of Slut Walks — with women dressed provocatively — were organised to protest against such double standards.

There is huge pressure on girls to dress sexily, but simultaneously they are expected to be chaste or run the risk of being slandered.

The girls argue that we need to address how men view women rather than blame women for causing their own problems.

We took to the streets of Belfast to ask 12 girls what they feel about the way they dress for a night on the town.

1. Julie Harper (21) is a trainee accountant and lives in Bangor.

The outfit: My dress £70 from Urban Outfitters and my shoes cost £65 from Topshop.

Preparation time: Two hours.

The plan: Meeting outside The Parlour and taking a private coach to Cookstown's Sense nightclub. I expect to get home at about 4am.

Spend: Between £60-£70

Julie says: “I haven't got a coat out with me but I have brought a plastic bag with a hoodie and tracksuit bottoms so I can change into something comfortable on the way home — I always do that on a night out.

It costs money to put your coat in the cloakroom and you spend most of your time inside anyway.

I think you can show off too much and it's very easy to look cheap. My rule of thumb is either show your chest or you legs but not both as its too much. We should all be able to wear what we want to but the truth of it is if you do show off too much then you run the risk of being talked about.

Most girls do show off a bit but it's the style at the moment so short skirts aren't unusual. As long as I'm comfortable with what I'm wearing and I feel that I look good then it will give me confidence on a night out.”

2. Clare Godfrey (24) from Belfast is a single parent.

The outfit: My dress came from Miss Glam for £30 and my shoes are from Quiz for £24.

Preparation time: Two hours

The plan: Drinks in Madisons and dancing at Yello afterwards. I'll probably get home about 5am.

Spend: £50

Clare says: “I like to dress up because it gives you an extra bit of confidence on a night out and make you feel sexy. I think you can cross the line and show off too much though.

You see girls flashing their bum cheeks because their skirts are too short. I think that shouldn't be allowed. It's trying too hard and you get too much attention if you go out like that. People will talk about you — both girls and boys — and not in a good way. I think everyone should be allowed to wear what they want but they should be decent about it.

I don't bring a coat out with me because I don't want to carry it around. My icons are people like Cheryl Cole because she looks gorgeous all the time. She knows how to look good without being trampy.”

3. Leah Neeson (18), is an A-level student at Belfast Metropolitan College.

The outfit: My T-shirt came from New Look for £8 but I've altered it myself. My shorts were £7 in Internacionale and my shoes were £20 in New Look.

Preparation time: Two hours.

The plan: Out for a normal Saturday night with friends. We prefer to drink in the house and then go out clubbing because it's cheaper that way. I'll probably be home by 2.30am.

Spend: £30

Leah says: “I would call myself a feminist because I believe everyone should be equal. They should be able to wear whatever they like and do the same kinds of jobs.

I think girls now try too hard to get men so they show off too much skin and wear too much make-up. I think that not wearing too many clothes can give people the wrong idea about you.

I don't really care about chasing boys so I just try and make sure I feel comfortable when I go out. My icons are women who don't care what other people say about them, so I'm a big fan of Avril Lavigne.

I was a little worried about wearing this because you can see my bra at the side of the T-shirt but I'm not showing any cleavage and the look works. I don't have any cleavage to show off anyway and I never show off my legs because I have eczema on them so I usually wear tights or knee-high socks. I'm not wearing a coat tonight because I honestly didn't think to lift one on the way out.”

4. Melissa Wilson (18) is a travel and tourism student from Newtownabbey.

The outfit: My dress cost £20 from Boohoo.com. I got my shoes in a boutique in America and my bag cost £1 in Primark.

Preparation time: About two hours.

The plan: I'm out for a friend's birthday and a group of us are going clubbing to the M-Club. I won't spend much because I don't drink. I'll probably get home at about 2.30am

Spend: Around £30

Melissa says: “Tonight I'm showing off a lot — normally I don't show anything off at all but tonight I decided to get my legs out. I don't think showing off skin does you any favours but I'm not a very girly girl anyway. I do a lot of sport and surfing and my clothes normally reflect that.

I don't think there's anything wrong with people showing off but I'm just not comfortable in revealing clothes. I haven't brought a coat out with me but my arms are covered so I won't feel the cold as much as others.

I wouldn't call myself a feminist but that's because I don't really know what it means. I do think that women should be able to do and wear what they want though.

My role model is Bethany Hamilton. She's a surfer who lost an arm in a shark attack and she's now a patron for the Against The Odds charity. She hasn't let the fact that she only has one arm slow her down. I think she's someone to be looked up to and an inspiration.

5. Rachel Little (19), is a travel and tourism student. She lives in Belfast.

The outfit: My top was £22 in River Island and my skirt cost £30 in Topshop. My shoes were £25 in New Look.

Preparation time: Two hours

The plan: The M-Club for a friend's birthday. I'll probably get home at about 3am.

Spend: £60

Rachel says: “I get comments everywhere I go whether it's at night or during the day. People notice me because I'm tall though, not because of what I wear.

On the whole I think the clothes that girls wear on nights out are quite classy as long as they don't show off too much. You should show off you legs or your boobs but not both. Revealing everything is not a good look and people will talk about you if you do it.

My icon would be someone like Kim Kardashian. She has a beautiful figure but she doesn't need to show off lots of skin to look amazing. That's the way it should be done because she never looks cheap.

I never bring a coat out with me. There's no point, it either gets stolen or I lose it.”

6. Victoria Pauley (25) is a full-time mum of four and lives with her boyfriend in Belfast.

The outfit: My dress was £20 in Quiz and my shoes belong to a friend.

Preparation time: It took me 20 minutes

The plan: It's my first night out since November so I’m going |out with some friends to |Benedicts for a few drinks. I promised my boyfriend I’d be home by 12.30am.

Spend: £60

Victoria says: “I don't like to show off too much cleavage — I just don't think it's right because I'm a mum and because I have a partner. I don't want people to think I'm easy or looking for men or anything like that.

I think it's OK to show a little but not too much. You see a lot of girls in Belfast who are falling out of their tops and it doesn't look good.

I'm not a feminist at all. Too much skin means that men will get the wrong idea. I don't wear a coat because I would probably forget about it and lose it if I did. It's easier not to bring one out.

I have changed in the way I think though. Before I became a mum I was quite interested in the glamour industry and showing off wouldn't have bothered me. I would have seen Anna Nicole Smith as a bit of role model. She had a tragic end but she lifted herself above the crowd.”

7. Tammy Chambers (21) is a full-time mum and lives with her daughter and fiancé in Belfast.

The outfit: My skirt cost £11 in Exhibit and I got my top in Miss Selfridge for £18. My shoes came from Exhibit for £25.

Preparation time: Two hours

The plan: It's my 21st birthday so my mum, sisters, friends and cousins are taking me out to Madisons and then we're going clubbing, getting home around 3am.

Spend: I like cocktails so I'll probably spend about £60.

Tammy says: “I don't mind what I wear as long as men don't give me hassle. You do see some girls wearing very revealing clothes so that they get attention but I don't do that. I don't normally like to show off but it's my birthday tonight so I'm dressing up for the special occasion.

I don't like to show off too much cleavage but I'm not a feminist. In all honesty I don't put much thought into women having equal rights. I think these days most people can do what they want anyway.

I love Beyonce for both her music and her style. I like to follow trends when I'm going out. I think it gives me confidence to look good.

I didn't bring a coat out with me but I keep borrowing my friend's faux fur jacket.”

8. Adrienne White (27) is a full-time mum and lives in Belfast with her daughter and partner.

The outfit: My dress was £50 in ASOS.com and my shoes cost £60 and my bag £30, both from USC.

Preparation time: Two hours

The plan: There's a big group of us going out for a friend's 21st birthday. We'll go to Madison's then go clubbing getting home about 5am.

Spend: £60

Adrienne says: “I don't want to worry about losing a coat when I'm out so I don't bring one. I dress the way I want and I think most people do. Most people will dress up for a night out because it gives them confidence. People should be able to wear the clothes that they want to and show off what they like. I don't show off cleavage but that's really because I don't have any. Every now and then I get a comment from a guy but I don't worry about them.

I wouldn't call myself a feminist because I'm a mum. I think education is a good thing but I want to be there for my child instead of go out to work and leave her with a stranger. My role model would be Jennifer Lopez because she can wear whatever she wants and she always looks gorgeous.”

9. Clare McGoram (24) is a teacher and lives in Carryduff.

The outfit: My shoes came from New Look for £30 and my dress was £20 from Boohoo.com

Preparation time: Two hours

The plan: Meeting outside The Parlour and taking a private coach to Cookstown's Sense nightclub for a friend's birthday. I think I'll get home at about 3.30am

Spend: Around £50

Clare says: “I don't feel what I'm wearing is too revealing — I'm not showing off too much cleavage as the dress has quite a modest neckline. It's important to me to wear clothes that I feel comfortable in and nothing too skimpy.

Given what I do it wouldn't be appropriate to wear outfits that show too much on a night out. Someone might see me and it wouldn't give a very good impression.”

10. Lydia Davidson (19) is childcare student from Belfast. She works part-time in Topshop.

The outfit: My dress was £38, my shoes were £75 and my bag was £30. They’re from Topshop.

Preparation time: Around one and a half hours.

The plan: I'm just out with a couple of friends and we're starting off with drink at The Eg. Afterwards we'll probably go dancing. I'll probably get home about 3am.

Spend: About £60

Lydia says: “I think the way girls dress these days can be a little bit trampy. I don't mind showing off a bit of flesh but only if it's done right. You tend to know yourself what's too tacky or too revealing. I tend to follow trends so I know the clothes I wear are stylish. I didn't wear a coat because I don't have one that goes with this outfit tonight.

I love Rihanna's style because she always owns her look — she's so confident in herself. . I think I am a bit of a feminist — I think people should be allowed to wear whatever they like.”

11. Jamie Tate (22), is a cleaner and lives in Belfast.

My outfit: My dress cost £21 in Exhibit and my shoes were £20 in New Look

Preparation time: It took an hour and a half.

The plan: It's my sister's birthday so we're going to have a few drinks and then onto a working man's club near where we live. I won't be home until 4am.

Spend: About £50.

Jamie says: “You definitely get comments on a night out from sleaze bags but I just ignore them — there's no point in doing anything else. I don't like to get my chest out much but you see people who have a lot on show — I just wouldn't feel comfortable like that. I do think people should be able to wear what you want but I don't think it does girls any favours to look slutty.

My feminist icons are my mum and my sister. They're strong women who I can relate and I have learnt a lot from both of them. You don't need to be famous and beautiful to be an icon. You just need to be someone that other people look up to.

I don't bring a coat out with me because there's nowhere to put it in a bar. I stopped bothering to bring one.”

12. Vanita Malhatina (24) is an anthropology PhD student and lives in Omagh.

The outfit: My dress was £50 in Warehouse, my shoes cost £20 New Look and my bag was £20 in River Island.

Preparation time: 45 minutes.

The plan: I've come to Belfast from Omagh for a night out and we're spending the night in a hotel. We're starting with drinks at The Eg and then we're going to try the new club El Divino. We'll probably head home at about 2am.

Spend: About £50.

Vanita says: “I'm not really a feminist — to be honest I don't really think about it that much. I can do what I like and jobs and education are available to me the same way they're available to me.

When you go out it's best to show off your chest or your legs but not both. You shouldn't show off too much skin either. If you show off too much then boys will make assumptions that you're easy. Belfast and Omagh people are too dressed up. They're too put together and covered in fake tan and make up that makes them look cheap. I think sometimes people could go for less is more. I go for people who look nice and relaxed like Nicole Ritchie.

I do get comments from boys – usually about my legs — but I don't pay much attention to them.”

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