Rounds, gowns and downs: A formal night out on the town

After four straight hours of binge watching, your Netflix account asks if you wish to continue. You are given 15 seconds to decide weather you will indulge in another session or get up and join the outside world. There’s no way you’re going to let your whole night be claimed by gluttony and sloth. Break out your lucky pair of silk undies because, god dammit, you’re going out tonight!

Electing for a more formal evening, the attire you don needs to send a message. On a special night like this, what is most important is that you feel good about yourself. Nothing boosts your confidence more than getting dressed to the nines. This doesn’t necessarily require a tuxedo or ball gown—you’re not exactly walking the red carpet, and while your attire may attract attention, it’s best to keep it simple.

Gentlemen would be wise to remember that a blazer, jeans that fit and nice shoes or boots will go a long way. For the ladies, the main concern is finding a balance between elegance and comfort. If you opt for high heels, make sure you’re able to actually walk in them.
A formal night is your chance to break out that outfit you’ve been dying to wear. The choice is yours, but no matter what you decide on, it’s all in the way you carry yourself. As the old saying goes, “The clothes don’t make the man, the man makes the clothes.”

Whether you’re seeking a formal night out with a loved one, a friend or even rolling solo, the city presents you with a plethora of options. Portland nightlife is booming with possibilities. Should you find yourself downtown and decide on beginning the night with a quick cocktail, you’re in luck.


An artisanal cocktail bar located right off the Park Blocks, at 737 S.W. Salmon St., Barlow (a slang term for flapper) makes for a perfect first stop on your fancy night out. The bar’s theme pays homage to Portland’s prohibition-era speakeasies.

The bartenders are not only knowledgeable but also very dapper. You will feel like you’re ordering drinks from a Mumford and Son. Orders are placed at the bar instead of a cocktail server, which allows for more interaction with your prim and proper mixologist.
Along with an extensive wine list and beers on draft, Barlow offers an array of classic cocktails with a modern twist. Standing out among these is the French Pearl, which consists of London dry gin, genepy, absinthe and lime.

Cocktails start at $10. Happy Hour prices go from 3–6 p.m., and then again at 10 p.m. until last call.


Located on the 15th floor of the Nines Hotel, on Southeast 5th Avenue and Morrison Street, Departure is an Asian fusion restaurant ideal for rooftop dining. The east and west decks provide stunning views of the respective sides of the city. Don’t miss this opportunity to snap some rooftop photos in your fancy digs. Send a copy to your parents or an ex-lover and let them know how large you’re living.

In addition to sushi and salad dishes, Top Chef finalist Gregory Gourdet has come up with a refreshing take on both surf and turf offerings. Chef Gregory lists his own recommendations on the menu. Among them is the delectable ishiyaki steak, which consists of a grilled Wagyu sirloin seasoned with ginger and garlic ($30).

Funhouse Lounge

You’ve decided to loosen up that tie, let that belt out another notch and head over to the east side for some after dinner festivities. If you’re looking for some live entertainment but don’t want to break the bank, Funhouse Lounge, at 2423 S.E. 11th Ave., is the place for you. A self-described “fringe theater and arts venue,” Funhouse offers everything from improv to burlesque to karaoke. Be sure to check out the Sideshow Bar and Clown Room which surrounds you with every creepy clown painting you’ve ever had nightmares about. Hours: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Sapphire Hotel

The night is winding down, though you’re not quite ready to call it quits and decide on a nightcap. A final stop on your formal outing could place you at Sapphire Hotel.

Located at Southeast 50th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard, this dimly lit lounge boasts an intimate setting for patrons to cozy up. The place originated as a brothel and shady hotel in the early 1900s. It was said that ladies of the night, mystics, sailors and gypsies would pass through these walls. The lounge describes itself as “a lovely place to gather, to eat, drink and kiss.” This isn’t the place to go for beers, though, for they have some of the most delicious and inventive cocktails that you’ll find anywhere in Portland.