How to Choose Dinner Party Outfits

Behind the Design

dinner party wine glassesdinner party wine glasses

Whether you're attending a low-key evening event at a friend's house or a high-end, formal dinner party, following a few simple styling tips can help you dress for the occasion. Use these foolproof dinner party outfit ideas from St. John Knits to master the dress code for any type of dinner party event.

What to Wear to a Dinner Party for Work

Dinner party outfits for work should strike a balance between stylish and professional. If the dinner party is right after the workday ends, you may not have time to go home to change. Fortunately, dressing up your normal workwear to suit the occasion doesn't have to be a complicated ordeal.

For example, repurpose your work dresses or skirts by adding shimmery heels and statement jewelry. Or, swap out the velvety flats you regularly wear with your oxford shirt, pants, and knit jacket for a pair of party-ready pointed toe pumps.

What to Wear to a Casual Dinner Party

Plan a festive casual dinner outfit that's polished without looking overdone. In cooler weather, put together a classy yet relaxed outfit by pairing nice jeans or trousers with a chic sweater or blouse. Finish your look with low heels or flats. During warmer weather, a beautiful maxi-dress, jumpsuit, or skirt paired with a short-sleeve top and fashion sandals achieves a put-together look.

What to Wear to a Formal Dinner Party

Formal dinner parties typically encompass three different themes – white tie, black tie, and black tie optional. If you're unsure about how formal the dinner party will be, don't hesitate to ask your host for guidance. When shopping for the right dresses, use these suggestions to meet the attire standards of the event:

Zebra Knit Gown

Metallic Plisse Jacquard Knit Gown

White Tie

The most formal type of dinner party, white tie, is usually specified for weddings or evening galas. Look for a long, floor-length evening couture gown, and refrain from wearing a strapless dress or oversized jewelry.

Black Tie

Black tie dinner parties are less formal than white tie but still dressy. While a floor-length dress will still work in this setting, a cocktail-length dress or ball gown skirt with a dressy sweater is also appropriate. If the host specifies "creative black tie," consider accessorizing with a colorful bag or pair of shoes.

Formal or Black Tie Optional

When browsing for dresses to wear to a dinner party that's designated as formal or black tie optional, a little black dress or cocktail-length skirt is an appropriate choice. Finish your look with dressy accessories, like a glittery clutch and a pair of dangly earrings.

Sequin Knit Column Gown

Sculpted Tuck Knit V-Neck Gown

What to Wear to a Holiday Dinner Party

Holiday dinner party attire can be either casual or formal, depending on the setting and venue. Whether you’re attending Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other holiday-themed parties, consider these holiday dinner outfit ideas to stand out in the crowd:

  • A cocktail dress in stunning silver, gold, black, or red embellished with a dazzling metallic finish or sequins.
  • A nice pair of dress slacks or leather pants with a top featuring festive, shining details.
  • A cashmere sweater paired with skinny jeans and boots.
  • A wintery velvet sports coat to wear with slacks or dress jeans and heels.

Wearing the proper dinner party attire not only leaves a lasting good impression but also expresses your respect for the host. Find an extensive variety of figure-flattering dinner party outfits at St. John Knits.