As the world of dating evolves, the question of how to dress for a dinner date becomes increasingly nuanced. Cutting just the right figure can be a recipe for fireworks, while the alternative is a potential deal breaker. It’s a formula that Holly Golightly had down to an art form in the 60s film Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Never does she or love interest Paul Varjack seem more at ease, though, than when she is attempting to cook a delicious dinner — he in a relaxed grey suit and she in a turtleneck sweater and tailored black trousers. Both characters appear less formal than at other moments in the film; it’s an example of fashion for a dinner date that allows them to seem utterly themselves.
Is it possible to be completely ourselves on a first date with someone who’s, really, a stranger? Perhaps not, but with a few apt styling considerations, it is at least possible to give the impression that you’ve totally got this. Choosing the best outfit for a dinner date is mostly just a matter of thinking about backdrop, comfort and personal flair, which should result in success that’s more dependable than the casual swipe right.
Contemplate your backdrop
What to wear on a dinner date will largely depend on the setting — and, yes, the silverware just as much as the company. Dress codes will differ between dinner at the pub or a Michelin-star restaurant, for instance, although there’s a fine art to nailing both. If stepping into a five-star situation, consider classic pieces like a Saint Laurent suit or a Valentino dress.
For dinner at the pub, nothing beats impeccably tailored denim with a pair of heels or a sharp blazer and loafers, such as the classic styles offered in the range of Dolce & Gabbana men’s shoes. Of course, the company you keep also has a part to play, when determining how to dress for a dinner date. A first date could be about making an impression with sculptural yet subdued designs.
Contemplate, for example, strategic details like a sweeping neckline in the spirit of Givenchy SS16 ready to wear (which showcased one-shouldered tops in swathes of silk). Second and third dates, though, call for personality and individual flair. Unexpected cuts keep your dining partner guessing, while also allowing room to show off your personal style prowess.
Comfort is key for confidence
Choosing the best outfit for a dinner date should see comfort at the top of the criteria. There’s enough to occupy your mind on a first date without the distraction of an uncomfortable outfit. Comfort will put you in good stead for unexpected situations, but it will also afford you the kind of confidence that will put both parties to the date at ease. Take inspiration from the Marques’Almeida SS16 collection, for instance, where denim reigned supreme.
Designers Marta Maques and Paulo Almeida stripped denim back to its raw form with classic washes and undone hems, meaning that this familiar cloth was given an intriguing new facelift. For more style ideas both stylish yet wearable, consider taking a leaf out of Liam Hemsworth’s book and embracing streetwear like bomber jackets and worn-in band T-shirts.
For SS16, Balenciaga gave us bombers definitely capable of grabbing the eye of potential love interests. These styles can add an urban touch to modern simplicity, when worn with a slip dress from Alexander Wang and low chignon for example.
A subtle statement makes for a memorable entrance
When contemplating how to dress for a dinner date, it can be helpful to think about what impact you’d like to make. If it’s an entrance to remember that you’re after, then consider injecting your look with a subtle statement to really catch their attention. Take inspiration from the major moment that metallics enjoyed on the SS16 runways, for example. Look to brands such as Maison Margiela, Courrèges or Loewe for reflective leathers, lamé and crinkled silks in striking silvers.
Perhaps pumping up the volume is more your bent though? In which case turn to pieces from designers such as Simone Rocha and J.W. Anderson — for dresses with flirty frill hems or zipper trims — that will help you make a memorable impression, and may even be the conversation starter that breaks the ice. While not as flamboyant, a perfectly tailored jacket from Giorgio Armani will make a statement nonetheless.
Of course, choosing the best outfit for a dinner date is a matter of reflecting your own personality and aesthetic. A blue scarf might make her entirely unable to forget your striking blue eyes, for example — it is all a matter of strategic delivery. So play to your strengths with designs that feel authentic, but also complementary.
Got great shoulders like Alexa Chung? Lucky you, because designers continued to be inspired by the cold-shouldered trend for SS16 and we couldn’t think of a more chic way to embrace fashion for a dinner date that shows just a little skin. Present the very best aspects of yourself style wise, just as you would in conversation — and both will be simply too difficult to resist. That is, unless you've already made your excuses and escaped before the main course.