What to Wear to a Dinner Party

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Is the idea of going out to a dinner party causing you to stress about your outfit? Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as you might think. Here’s our style guide on what to wear. 

Read more Men’s Style Guide features.

Instead of stressing about what you’re going to wear to a dinner party, you should be looking forward to socialising with your friends or colleagues. First things first, it really does all depend on what sort of dinner party you are attending. Is it for a special occasion or merely just a catch-up? To calm your nerves, we have come up with some options. There are many styles you can adopt for this type of occasion and our guide can be mixed and matched based on your style.

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Dinner Party Attire

Depending on how formal the dinner party is that you’re attending, it will be appropriate for you to wear different styles of clothing. For instance, what you wear to a dinner party at your mates house is going to be different to what you’ll wear to a dinner party with people from work. Although this may seem like a dauntingly broad question to ask, there are generally several different styles that will cover most dinner party bases.

So, whether you’re going to a dinner party with the queen, or with your best friend, check out the rest of this style guide for all the best tips and tricks on what to wear.

Black Tie Dress Code

Black tie dress code is one of the more formal outfits a man can wear. Although white tie is the most formal, not many men still wear this type of dress. Instead, black tie dress has become the standard formal attire for men to wear at social functions.

You will typically wear black tie at events that take place in the evening after 6pm. Depending on who’s dinner party it is, you probably won’t be expected to dress up like this. However, if it’s at a particularly fancy restaurant then they may require you to wear black tie. Anyway, it’s still important to know how to wear this dress code, just in case you need it.

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Black Tie Outfit

At the centre of any black tie outfit is the dinner jacket (tuxedo in America). Unlike a normal suit jacket, a dinner jacket is a black suit blazer that has lapels that are a different shade or texture to the rest of the jacket. Including this, you will need a pair of matching black suit trousers.

Underneath the dinner jacket, you should wear a clean white dress shirt. If you want to go all out then try finding one with a wing tipped collar to show off more of the bowtie. However, if you don’t wear black tie outfits regularly then this may seem like a bit of a wasted investment, don’t worry, a normal shirt collar works just fine.

To finish the look off, add a pair of black high shine leather shoes,  and a black bow tie. The high shine leather will add a bit of extra formal style. If you want to add even more accessories then you can add a waistcoat underneath the dinner jacket. However, this can make the outfit a bit crowded and hot.

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Suit

If you’re looking for a safe option then a suit is the best place to start. In some cases a this look can really save the day. How formal your outfit is can depend a lot on the footwear. If you’re looking for a smart casual style, then you can team your suit with a pair of smart causal shoes, such as loafers. You will instantly have a more comfortable and laid back outfit.

A suit jacket is a firm favourite because of its ability to be casual and formal at the same time. As previously stated it can be teamed with converse for a more casual and comfortable feel. Or, if the occasion needs a more formal look then Dr Marten’s will be just as good.

Adding or taking away a tie can really change the whole look and feel of your outfit. So, you could go for a formal look with suit, shirt and tie. Try this simple black tie from yours truly, The Idle Man, for a simple and classic look. Teamed with a crisp white button down, you’ll be sure to impress.

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Jeans and T-Shirt

On the other side of things, say you’re going to a dinner party at your mates house. You’re probably not going to show up in a tuxedo or suit. Well, unless your friends are in the Bullingdon club. Instead, dressing your outfit down for a more casual look can be a better idea. It is a good way to give the party a more relaxed vibe, allowing you to be comfortable and enjoy yourself.

A good pair of jeans and a smart tee can be just the ticket for any such occasion. Especially as the warmer days are approaching. This comfortable option doesn’t have to have a tatty look, you can still look suave and sophisticated, just with a more laid back approach.

For the T-shirt, simply opt for a plain block colour. You don’t want to thrown your outfit off balance with clashing colours and pattern. Classic is always best. Try wearing these tees from The Idle Man for £10. Regular fit crew neck T-shirts are a safe bet that will suit any body shape.

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Jeans and T-shirt Outfit

When it comes to wearing a more chilled out dinner party style, start with a pair of ripped blue jeans. Ripped jeans are really in fashion right now and will make you look extremely stylish. However, do be careful with trends like ripped jeans as they can disappear just as quickly as they appeared.

Next, chuck a light monochrome T-shirt on. The light shade of your shirt will compliment nicely with the stonewashed blue of your jeans. Wear a pair of white trainers on your feet to create uniformity with the T-shirt and keep the outfit looking crisp and clean.

Now, if you want, you can just leave the look here. This is stylish enough as it is. However, if you’re feeling experimental and want a bit of colour in your look, then you can easily combine your T-shirt with a casual checkered button up shirt over the top.

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Dinner Party Outfits

Suit Jacket and Jeans

Mixing both the casual and formal look creates a middle ground, a comfort zone. Although I would suggest teaming this look with a smart pair of shoes, as you don’t want your outfit to look too casual. This choice of look is a life-saver if you are unsure of the dress code. Although in this instance I would say wearing a smart pair of shoes is the safest option, unless it’s your bosses party and everyone else has rented a Tux.

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Chinos And a Smart Shirt or Tee

Chinos have really taken the world by storm and become a firm favourite alongside the longstanding jean. You can also smarten chinos up or down just like jeans and they vary in colour and style. It also can depend on what they are teamed with either a shirt and shoes or a tee and converse, the smallest accessory adjustments can make a totally different statement.

Chinos tend to come into play as the seasons change and as the days get lighter and warmer the clothing also takes a lighter turn, in both layering and shade. Try wearing these Dickies chinos for a different yet casual look. Tackling the wide legged trouser trend bang on they offer a sleek and clean cut shape to your look.

Because of the neutral colours of the chinos, you can pretty much wear any colour tee or shirt you like. Try going for a classic look by wearing this long sleeved white shirt from Lyle & Scott or go for a simple tee, like this striped number from yours truly, The Idle Man for a spot on look for a dinner party.

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Your Quick Guide on What to Wear to a Dinner Party

  1. Think about what type of dinner party it is. Dinner parties can vary quite a lot in how formal they are. This will have a big impact on what you wear. So, think about who’s party it is, and then decide what to wear.
  2. Get the outfit right. If you’re wearing a dress code like black tie, then make sure to get it right. You’ll need a dinner jacket, shirt, trousers, shoes, and a bow tie.
  3. Dress down. If you’re going to a dinner party where you don’t have to dress up, then wear casual clothing. Not only will this make the party feel more relaxing, it will also mean you’ll be more comfortable and able to enjoy yourself.
  4. Go smart casual. If you’re not sure about what the dress code is, then stick with smart casual. Try wearing a pair of smart selvedge jeans with a pair of desert boots and a suit blazer. If it’s too formal, you can just remove the blazer there.

On That Note

I think in life we often overthink the most basic things especially when worrying. So in future step away from the panic and just think of what you want from the situation. In most cases the most simplistic options that first came to mind were by far the best. So choose the look and style that you wish to adopt and then the rest is plain sailing. We have given you the tools and whether you choose jeans and trainers or a good old fashioned suit is your choice, the options are now in your capable hands.

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