Deciding what to wear to a nice restaurant can seem daunting. You want an outfit that is stylish yet appropriate, dressy but still comfortable. The key is striking the right balance between formal and casual.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: opt for smart casual attire like a nice blouse or button-down shirt paired with dress pants or a skirt. Avoid t-shirts, shorts, ripped jeans, athletic shoes, and revealing clothing.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to dress properly for a fancy dinner out. We’ll cover how to choose the right level of formality, provide style tips for both men and women, recommend footwear and accessories, and more.

With this advice, you’ll feel confident and look great next time you dine at an upscale restaurant.

Determine the Appropriate Level of Formality

When deciding what to wear to a nice restaurant, it’s important to consider the appropriate level of formality. This will ensure that you feel comfortable and confident in your outfit, while also respecting the restaurant’s dress code and atmosphere.

Consider the restaurant’s dress code and atmosphere

The first step in determining the appropriate level of formality is to take into account the dress code and atmosphere of the restaurant. Some upscale establishments may have a strict dress code, requiring guests to wear formal attire such as suits or dresses.

Others may have a more relaxed dress code, allowing for smart casual or business casual attire.

It’s a good idea to check the restaurant’s website or call ahead to inquire about their dress code. This way, you can avoid any embarrassing fashion faux pas and ensure that you are dressed appropriately for the occasion.

Factor in the occasion or purpose of the dinner

Another important consideration when determining what to wear is the occasion or purpose of the dinner. Are you celebrating a special occasion, such as an anniversary or birthday? Or is it a business dinner where you want to make a professional impression?

If it’s a special occasion, you may want to dress up a bit more and opt for a dress or a suit. On the other hand, if it’s a casual dinner with friends or a low-key business meeting, you can go for a more relaxed and comfortable outfit, such as a nice pair of jeans and a blouse or a blazer.

Ask the host for guidance if you’re unsure what to wear

If you’re still unsure about what to wear, don’t hesitate to ask the host for guidance. They will likely appreciate your effort to dress appropriately and can provide valuable insight into the expected dress code.

Remember, it’s always better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed. By putting in a little extra effort into your outfit choice, you can ensure that you make a great impression and feel confident during your dining experience.

Style Tips for Women

Opt for a cocktail dress, formal jumpsuit, or dressy separates

When choosing an outfit for a nice restaurant, women have several stylish options. One popular choice is a cocktail dress, which is elegant and suitable for most upscale establishments. A formal jumpsuit is another fashionable option that exudes sophistication and modernity.

If you prefer to mix and match, dressy separates such as a blouse paired with a skirt or tailored pants can create a chic and polished look.

Choose flattering necklines and hemlines

When it comes to necklines, opt for styles that flatter your body shape and highlight your best features. V-necklines are universally flattering and can elongate the neck. Boat necklines and off-the-shoulder styles can add a touch of elegance.

As for hemlines, choose a length that suits your comfort level and the occasion. Midi-length dresses and skirts are a popular choice for upscale restaurants as they strike a balance between sophisticated and stylish.

Stick to classic colors and fabrics

For a nice restaurant, it’s best to stick to classic colors and fabrics that exude elegance and timelessness. Black is always a safe and stylish choice, as it is universally flattering and creates a sleek silhouette. Navy, deep red, and jewel tones are also great options.

When it comes to fabrics, opt for luxurious materials such as silk, satin, or high-quality blends. These fabrics drape beautifully and add a touch of luxury to your ensemble.

Bring a wrap or pashmina for chillier restaurants

Some upscale restaurants tend to keep the temperature on the cooler side to create a comfortable ambiance. To ensure you stay warm and cozy throughout your dining experience, it’s a good idea to bring a wrap or pashmina.

These versatile accessories not only add a touch of sophistication to your outfit but also provide an extra layer of warmth when needed. Opt for a wrap that complements your outfit and can be easily draped over your shoulders.

Style Tips for Men

Wear a suit and tie, or at minimum a sport coat, dress shirt and slacks

When dining at a nice restaurant, it’s important for men to dress appropriately. One of the safest options is to wear a suit and tie. This classic ensemble exudes sophistication and elegance. However, if a suit is not your style, you can still look dapper by opting for a sport coat, dress shirt, and slacks.

This combination strikes the right balance between formal and casual, making you look polished and put together.

Opt for dark, neutral colors like black, gray, navy, or brown

Choosing the right colors for your outfit can greatly enhance your overall appearance. When dressing for a nice restaurant, it’s best to stick to dark, neutral colors. Black, gray, navy, and brown are timeless choices that exude sophistication.

These colors also have a slimming effect, making you look more streamlined and stylish. Avoid bright or flashy colors, as they may come across as too casual or attention-seeking in a formal setting.

Make sure clothes are properly tailored and pressed

No matter how expensive or stylish your clothes are, a poor fit can ruin your entire look. It’s crucial to ensure that your clothes are properly tailored to your body shape. Ill-fitting garments can make you appear sloppy and unkempt.

Take the time to visit a tailor and have your clothes adjusted to fit you perfectly. Additionally, always make sure your clothes are pressed and wrinkle-free. This small detail can make a significant difference in your overall appearance.

Add polish with leather dress shoes and a belt

Completing your outfit with the right accessories can elevate your style to the next level. When it comes to footwear, opt for leather dress shoes. These shoes exude elegance and complement your formal attire. Make sure they are clean and polished to perfection.

Additionally, don’t forget to wear a belt that matches the color and material of your shoes. This small accessory adds a touch of polish to your overall look, tying everything together seamlessly.

Recommended Footwear

Women: Heels, dressy flats, or dress sandals

When it comes to choosing footwear for a nice restaurant, women have several options that can elevate their overall look. One popular choice is a pair of heels. Whether they are stilettos or block heels, heels add an elegant touch to any outfit.

They can instantly make a simple dress or a pair of pants look more sophisticated. Additionally, heels can help to elongate the legs and create a flattering silhouette.

If heels are not your cup of tea, dressy flats are a great alternative. They offer both comfort and style, making them perfect for a fancy dinner. Dressy flats come in various designs, from pointed-toe loafers to embellished ballet flats.

They can be paired with a dress, a skirt, or even tailored pants for a chic and polished look.

Another option for women is dress sandals. These are particularly suitable for warm weather or outdoor dining. Dress sandals can be elegant and stylish, with delicate straps and intricate details. They can be paired with a flowy dress or a jumpsuit for a summery and feminine look.

Pro Tip: Consider the venue and the occasion when choosing your footwear. Opt for closed-toe heels or flats for a more formal setting, while open-toe sandals can work well for a casual or outdoor restaurant.

Men: Leather dress shoes and dark socks

For men, the go-to footwear option for a nice restaurant is a pair of leather dress shoes. These shoes exude sophistication and can instantly elevate any outfit. Opt for classic styles such as oxfords or brogues in black or brown.

Make sure they are polished and in good condition to complete your polished look.

When it comes to socks, opt for dark colors that match your shoes. Avoid wearing white socks, as they can look out of place in a formal setting. Dark-colored socks, such as black or navy, blend seamlessly with your dress shoes and create a cohesive look.

Pro Tip: Invest in a good pair of leather dress shoes that are comfortable to wear. Look for shoes with cushioned insoles and proper arch support to ensure you can enjoy your meal without any discomfort.

Remember, the right footwear can make a significant difference in your overall appearance when dining at a nice restaurant. By following these recommendations, you’ll feel confident and well-dressed for your dining experience.

Choosing Accessories

Women: Jewelry, clutch purse, pashmina

When it comes to choosing accessories for a nice restaurant, women have a variety of options to enhance their outfit. Jewelry is a great way to add a touch of elegance to any ensemble. A statement necklace or a pair of sparkling earrings can instantly elevate a simple dress or blouse.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match different pieces to create a unique look that reflects your personal style.

Another essential accessory for women is a clutch purse. Not only does it add a sophisticated touch, but it’s also practical for carrying your essentials without the bulk of a larger handbag. Opt for a sleek and stylish design that complements your outfit.

For those chilly evenings, a pashmina or a lightweight scarf can be a stylish addition to your attire. It not only keeps you warm but also adds an extra layer of fashion to your look. Choose a color that complements your outfit and experiment with different ways to drape it for a chic and effortless appearance.

Men: Tie, watch, cufflinks

Men also have a range of accessories to consider when dressing for a nice restaurant. One of the most important accessories for men is a tie. A well-chosen tie can instantly elevate a simple shirt and suit, adding a touch of sophistication and style.

Opt for a classic silk tie in a color that complements your outfit and reflects your personal taste.

A stylish watch is another accessory that can enhance a man’s overall look. Not only is it a functional piece, but it also adds a touch of elegance and refinement. Whether you prefer a classic leather strap or a modern stainless steel bracelet, choose a watch that suits your style and complements your outfit.

Cufflinks are small but impactful accessories that can make a big difference in a man’s attire. They add a touch of personality and sophistication to a shirt, especially when paired with a well-fitted suit.

Opt for cufflinks that reflect your personal style, whether it’s a classic design or something more unique and quirky.

Remember, accessories are meant to complement your outfit and enhance your overall look. Choose pieces that reflect your personal style and make you feel confident and comfortable. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun with your accessories, as they can truly make a statement and set you apart from the crowd.


Dressing for an upscale dinner out may seem tricky, but following this guide will ensure you look polished, stylish, and appropriate. The key is aiming for smart casual attire in classic styles, fabrics, and colors.

Pay attention to the restaurant’s dress code, the occasion, and any guidance from the host. With the right outfit, you’ll feel comfortable, confident, and ready to enjoy your fine dining experience.

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