20 Fancy Dinner Outfits for Your Next Big Night Out

Planning an outfit for a fancy dinner is a balancing act. Aside from meeting any pre-established dress code requirements, the ideal fancy dinner party outfit should be polished but comfortable, and should look just as stylish from the waist-up as it does head-to-toe. Dinner parties, especially fancy ones, call for a more refined and sophisticated outfit than other evening occasions (more on that later).

Personally, this writer believes that a dinner party look should also have enough wiggle room so that you can comfortably feast on hors d’oeuvres, dessert, and everything in between. To help sort through this laundry list of requirements, InStyle tapped stylist and fashion expert Naina Singla for her tips on how to style a successful fancy dinner party look.

“First, I always advise that my clients align their outfit to the occasion,” Singla tells InStyle. If your invitation doesn’t mention an explicit dress code such as black tie or cocktail, scope out the restaurant or venue on social media for a little more intel. Not only can doing so help you avoid showing up under- or over-dressed, but you can also glean a bit of fashion inspo. Taking color palette cues from the location can be a great starting point for building your look.

Once you’ve completed a successful vibe check, you can start planning your look in earnest. Ahead, we’ve rounded up 20 fancy dinner party outfits to get you started along with styling do’s and don’t’s, according to our expert stylist.

Look for Longer Hemlines

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Midi- and maxi-length skirts and dresses are generally considered better-suited for fancy evening events. That’s not to say that a ‘fit featuring a knee-length hemline will have you thrown out of the venue, but Singla advises against miniskirts and dresses. A good rule of thumb is to take a seat at home, and if you’ve got more skin than fabric in contact with your chair, it’s a good idea to save that piece for another event.

Add a Satin Layer

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“Satin is perfect for eveningwear,” says Singla, who recommends incorporating satin separates into a fancy dinner party outfit. If a satin dress or satin pants aren’t your style, Singla recommends opting for a blazer instead.

Dress Up Trousers

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For many folks, “fancy” equals a long, flowing gown, but you shouldn’t sleep on pleated pants. Adding statement accessories, like a chain belt and matching necklace, while keeping your look focused on luxurious fabrics can easily elevate a great pair of pants.

Bring in Dark Colors

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While creamy neutrals work during summer dinner parties, Singla recommends sticking to a darker palette during fall and winter. Rich jewel tones like navy blue and emerald green work for most for formal events, while bright, vibrant shades can be hit or miss, she explains.

Toss on a Trench

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To elevate an all-black or otherwise monochromatic outfit, Singla recommends adding a trench for a tonal look. The combination of dark colors and neutrals is classically sophisticated.

Try Tailoring

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Tailoring is key when putting together a look for a fancier evening out, especially when incorporating suiting or wide-leg and billowy silhouettes. If you have a luxurious piece you love that doesn’t quite fit, do yourself a favor and have it taken in or let out. In addition to it fitting like a glove, Singla adds that a well tailored outfit can be a major confidence booster.

Spice Up Simple Separates

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Separates can look incredibly luxurious when worn with thoughtfully coordinated and unexpected accessories. Unsure where to start? Try skipping the statement necklace and matching earrings in favor of a chic lapel pin, retro earrings, and a matching metallic mini-bag.

Slip on Chiffon

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“Chiffon is a delicate and lightweight fabric that drapes beautifully. It’s perfect for evening,” says Singla. This gauzy material is frequently used for long dresses and gowns, but you shouldn’t sleep on the luxurious allure of chiffon separates like pleated trousers and a matching blouse.

Try Trending Colors

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If you’re done to death with all-black ensembles, Singla recommends looking to the season’s chicest color trends when picking out your color palette. “Brown is on trend for fall and winter 2023,” she says. A chocolate brown satin dress is Singla’s pick for this rich shade, as the fabric adds a luster to the dark tone.

Avoid Plunging Necklines

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Because your dinner party outfit will be viewed only from the waist up (for at least part of the night), Singla recommends avoiding plunging necklines that could leave you feeling naked at the dinner table. Instead, consider halter, square, jewel, or boatneck styles.

Mix Luxe Textures

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Satin, chiffon, and silk are among Singla’s fabrics of choice for a fancy evening, but you should feel free to work in accent pieces or accessories made from similarly luxe, but contrasting, textiles like velvet and leather. To keep the look elevated, we recommend sticking to sophisticated silhouettes like, like a pantsuit.

Slip into a Jumpsuit

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“A black or solid jumpsuit is a good go-to minimalist option that makes a statement,” says Singla, who adds that you can always add on accessories, like a chain belt, pointy-toe heels, or gold jewelry.

Go with the Flow

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Remember: “It’s really important to find a look you feel comfortable and confident in,” says Singla. One way to ensure you won’t regret your outfit choice is to avoid dresses, skirts, or pants that are clingy, stiff, or restrictive. Instead, look for looser, flowing pieces that you’ll be comfortable sitting and standing in for long periods of time.

Make a Splash with Sequins

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Sparkle is always in style, and when worn in a dark shade or incorporated into a more conservative garment, sequins can be decadent and sophisticated. In fact, Singla recommends them for dinner parties on the dressier end of the spectrum.

Pick a Striking Silhouette

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While luxe fabrics and a comfortable fit are key, you can also make a statement. To create an eye-catching outfit that’s still appropriate for a special occasion, focus on the silhouette with a draped dress or skirt in a sumptuous material.

Work in Wide-Leg Pants

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You shouldn’t feel like you have to buy an entirely new outfit for a dinner party, no matter how fancy it is, Singla says. Instead, “utilize pieces from your existing wardrobe and style them differently for a more formal event.” For example, those office-friendly wide-leg pants can be dressed up with heels and a jacket for a dinner party.

Choose Cohesive Accessories

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One way to create a sophisticated and streamlined look for an elegant evening out is to pick clothes that feature metallic details or hardware and add matching accessories. For example, a dress or blazer featuring gold or brass buttons looks beautiful when coordinated with strappy gold sandals and a clutch with gold hardware.

Add an Oversized Blazer

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While well fitting garments are essential for a fancy evening event like a dinner party, one oversized layer that won’t be frowned upon is the ever-popular oversized blazer. Singla recommends pairing the piece with a sleeveless dress and kitten heels for a balanced and, yes, comfy look.

Make It Monochromatic

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If you prefer a look that comes more-or-less pre-styled, Singla recommends sticking to a single color. “Try a monochromatic pantsuit and finish the look with a pair of high heels,” she suggests. Done and done.

Add Personal Touches

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With any look, Singla advises bringing your personal style and aesthetic into play. It could be as subtle as adding red accents or accessories to honor your inner Tomato Girl or as bold as adding a pair of saucy statement gloves — either way, it’s sure to make excellent dinner-party conversation.


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