Sensu vs. BLU: Which bar is more fashionable?

111 days until Indianapolis plays host to the Super Bowl. It is hard to comprehend the impact of the thousands and thousands of people taking over our city. Lucky for the visitors to our city, Indianapolis has a diverse range of nightlife options available. Some local favorites: There is Jazz at the Chatterbox, awesome cocktails and cheeses at The Ball and Biscuit, inventive fare and a cool vibe at The Libertine. Want to talk sports with the locals? Check out The Pub! Want to sing to mix-tapes classics, head on over to Howl At The Moon. If cigars and a subterranean vibe are more your style, you’ll love Nikki Blaine’s! There are many diverse options! Not “many” by NYC standards, but enough for a metropolitan area of about 800,000 people. So with this variety of entertainment, I issue a challenge to the fashion-conscious segment of Indy’s male population – let’s see if we can get beyond polos and stitched denim!

Last Friday, I checked out Sensu and BLU. Both bars are equally popular among the local social set. I decided to start the friendly fashion battle between Sensu and BLU. I went in open minded to both locations, just to observe the scene. If I was picking a winner based on ladies fashion, it would have been Sensu. However, based on what the gents were wearing at both places and how their clothing interacted with the environment of each bar, the first place went to BLU. Wonder how I made my decision? Check out the breakdown below:


I choose BLU as the winner because when I walked in right away I saw a lot of guys wearing an assortment of dress shirts that fit appropriately. Surprisingly, the Friday I visited BLU there was not a single affliction shirt in the crowd! Guys who wore the standard button down shirt also incorporated accessories. I am not gonna lie, I was pleasantly surprised!  Well done! (At least based on the Friday I visited.)

I did see a lot more graphic t shirts at BLU than at Sensu. There is nothing wrong with a great graphic tee, but to stand out in the crowd you have to think beyond this very basic staple. Spice it up just a little! I suggest keeping everything very neutral in charcoal, slate, and grey colors. Check out Express for awesome graphic t shirts and denim. I really like their range of denim. For night clubbing, I’d pick a charcoal wash with grey detail work and finish off the look with a leather jacket. Leather is always in style and if you don’t have a leather jacket, go get one!

Once you have the basics, amp up your style by adding suspenders and a cool pair of boots. Believe it or not Hot Topic has a good selection of casual suspenders. I checked out a couple of Aldo stores for boot options. As always the best selection of shoes/boots is online. The final step is to add some accessories to your outfit to really make it pop. Nordstrom has a great selection of masculine accessories. My favorite piece was the Diesel black ring with neon green accents. If you choose to wear all black, it is always a good idea to add some sort of accent color. If you don’t like jewelry, you can choose a white suspender instead of black to add color. The important thing to remember is don’t over do it. I don’t want you to go into a place looking like an accessory display from a store. 🙂

BLU has some dope DJ talent. The Friday night I was there Action Jackson and Cool Hand Lex were playing. The lighting at BLU is perfect as well if you want to wear darker colors.


Sensu offers a unique environment not available anywhere else downtown and perhaps even the city. And it has great energy. I remember going to Sensu soon after it opened, noticing everyone dressed to impress. The bartenders wore fitted black shirts accented with red ties. Although, the Friday I was there I am pretty sure those fitted shirts had been replaced by black and red polo style shirts. It was pretty dark so I’m not betting my life on it. Scaling back??

There were plenty of lovely looking ladies in great fitting cocktail dresses with an appropriate amount of accessories to be seen that night, but I was just checking out men’s fashion, so the ladies did not factor in. Seemed like everyone was wearing pretty much the same thing. Dress shirts. Black or navy. I did notice one guy with a vest over his dress shirt, but the shirt was not tucked in and it looked proportionately awkward. Apart from the vest faux pas, there just wasn’t enough color. Sensu is quite dark and all the guys were blending with the decor. This scenario might work well in a movie about vampires, but Indy is definitely the land of the living, so some color would have been nice!

I think the perfect option for Sensu is a bold colored dress shirt. Assuming you don’t mind getting noticed. If color is just not your thing, then fabrics with a reflective surface and a slight sheen would work well too. Nordstrom Rail offers a John Varvatos vintage cut pant and vest option. The grey metallic fabric is perfect for a dark environment like Sensu. I layered the vest over a bold Burberry pattern white dress shirt. The contrast of the bright white and grey is a subtle way to get that attention.

Sensu generally caters to a dressier crowd so a tie to go with the above outfit is not out of the question. I picked a jeweled tone tie with dotted accents. The layer of pattern is a great way to add a stylish touch to otherwise simple attire. A thin black leather belt with a shine and metal accents is perfect to round out the look. Pair with a leather shoe from Aldo and you are ready to enjoy your Friday.

Both bars are great spots to show off your dressier clothing options. And the management is certainly interested in maintaining a classier vibe here to separate them from other bars, both downtown and in Broad Ripple. The service staff works hard to make sure the patrons are having a good time. Both places are definitely worth a visit and if ever you’ve considered a dressy outfit and wondered “where would I wear this?”, I’m betting you would feel right at home at both BLU and Sensu and not overdressed at all. I think that many of the visitors to our city leading up to Super Bowl are expecting to see a city of carpenter denim and flannel. Indianapolis men are way better than that and we need to show it off!

Next week I will be heading over to a couple bars on Mass Ave. (Theater Arts District). Is Mass Ave or Meridian Street more fashionable?


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