How To Dress for a Dinner Party

Selecting a party dress
When you are invited to a dinner party, it is only appropriate that you dress accordingly. You wouldn’t appreciate it if someone came to your house wearing only their pajamas or sweats, so make sure you take the time to pay attention to your appearance and attire. It may be a little tricky to decide what to wear, but keep in mind that you want to look good and not like you just rolled out of bed.

Here’s how to dress for a dinner party.

  • Ask the host. When you get the invitation, ask how formal the evening will be. The host will tell you right away whether you should keep it casual or if you should dress up at bit. If your host says she wants to introduce you to some people or set you up with someone, then you know right away that you have to put a little effort on your looks. If your host says it’s a casual evening so there’s no need to fuss, you can go casual but be sure not to look like you’re just going out to get the mail. If you receive a printed invitation, it will specify exactly what the dress code is. It will read Business Casual, Cocktail Attire, Strictly Formal or Come As You Please.
  • Determine the venue. The location of the dinner party will give you a clue on how to dress. If the event will be held at the person’s home, you know right away that it not be strictly formal. However, if the dinner party will be held in a country club, ballroom or a function room in a fancy restaurant, this should clue you in that you need to be a little more dressed for the evening.
  • Keep the season in mind. If it’s the holidays, go ahead and dress up a bit. Your choice of fabric and style will be affected by the time of year. During the cooler fall and winter season, you can wear something velvet or cashmere. For the spring and summer season, why not go with a light summer dress with a knitted cardigan?
  • Avoid jeans. You may gasp at the thought that you can’t wear your favorite pair of denims. The problem with jeans is that people tend to underdress it, especially if the jeans are faded, ripped or frayed. Jeans and a t-shirt are a definite no-no when going to a dinner party. However, if you have a very dark wash jean without the frays, streaks, fading or rips, then you may wear it, provided it is paired with a dressier top. For example, you can wear a dark wash trouser cut jean with a tuxedo shirt or a velvet knit top. For men, wear the jeans with a belt and a button down top with sleeves.
  • Go with layers. A layered look is instantly dressier and more formal than simply going with a shirt or blouse on. For the men, use a sports coat in a lighter color during the warm season, and a heavier fabric in a darker shade during the fall and winter. For women, consider layering your look with a cardigan, shrug or Pashmina wrap. You can always take of the jacket if it gets too hot or if you look too dressy.

There’s no need to panic or decline an invitation to a dinner party simply because you don’t know what to wear. For the ladies, have a little black dress on standby for such events. For the men, a sports coat and tie should do the trick. Keep in mind the dinner parties are supposed to be fun, so don’t stress!


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