23 Dinner Date Outfit Ideas That Will Make Getting Ready Easier

We asked fashion experts for tips.

dinner date night dress ideas

Dion Lamar Mills for Byrdie

Dinner dates are the best for spending quality time with a significant other, friends, and family. Drinks or coffee-meet-ups are solid for a first meet-up, but by date, two or three, bring on the food. Whether you schedule weekly night-outs or the occasional outing, having a lineup of cute dinner date outfits at the ready is ideal for looking your best. It especially helps to have formulas that work in various climates and vibes, from low-key to dressy and heat-proof to rain-repellant.

The Venue and Vibe

When determining the best dinner date outfit for you, venue, vibe, and time of year should always be the first considerations. In the mood to dress up for a special occasion? Great. A confidence-boosting dress and heels will have you feeling your best. Going on a first date? A pretty top and jeans are foolproof, whether you’re wearing flats or a trendy kitten heel. In the colder months, you can’t fail in a sweater dress and pretty jewelry.

For a casual meet-up with friends or family, you can totally embrace laid-back pieces like a cozy sweater, loose-fitting jumpsuit, or sneakers. The key is mixing in a polished little something, be it a fun pair of earrings or a cool bag. 

The Outfit Formula

Buzzy outfit formulas and of-the-moment pieces are perfect for trendsetters looking to make a splash. Right now, retro-inspired looks from the '80s, '90s, and aughts are where it’s at, from cropped boxy blazers to bold-shoulder silhouettes and slouchy jeans. "We’re currently in the midst of the romantic trend, which by name alone is perfect to infuse into dinner date outfits," says Kate Bellman, managing editor at Nordstrom.

Highlighting romantic tops and dresses as essential pieces this season, Bellman says details like voluminous and billowing statement sleeves, feminine necklines, and blooming floral prints lend themselves to dinner date attire. "What I love about using this trend to inspire a dinner date outfit is you can style it as casual or dressed up as the occasion calls for, such as a beautiful romantic top paired back with jeans, or go all in pairing it with a full skirt and heels," she says.

The Unexpected Mix

According to Bellman, the juxtaposition of styling and the unexpected mix is another way to make a stand-out dinner date outfit. "There are so many dynamic outfit combos to make the romantic trend relevant for all types of dates," she tells Byrdie. "With the romantic dress as the anchor, there are endless combos to carry it from winter to spring, snow to sun, and intimate evenings for two to a summer wedding," she explains.

Among her favorite styling ideas: Mixing a dress with a long, textural cardi and lug Chelsea boots for a cozy winter date night, or taking it to a more dressed-up place with strappy sandals and a bold lip for a wedding date. 

To inspire your next dinner date ensemble, keep scrolling for 20 outfit formulas we love, from cute and casual to dialed all the way up. 

Meet the Expert

01 of 20

A Romantic Top, Jeans, and a Bag

For a look that’s sweet yet casual, you can’t go wrong with a trendy puff-sleeve top, straight-leg jeans, and a pearl-adorned bag. 

Puff Sleeve Corset Top
ASTR The Label Puff Sleeve Corset Top $65
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90’s Mid Rise Loose Jeans
Agolde 90’s Mid Rise Loose Jeans $178
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Kate Faux Pearl Bag
JW Pei Kate Faux Pearl Bag $65
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02 of 20

A Mini Dress, Platform Sneakers, and Chubby Hoops

Offset a feminine mini with platform sneakers for a summer dinner alfresco and finish with chubby hoops for a sleek touch. 

Leah Mini Dress
Rahi Leah Mini Dress $68
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2790 Tank Sneakers
Superga 2790 Tank Sneakers $85
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Chubbie Hoops
Oremme Chubbie Hoops $300
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03 of 20

A Fitted Turtleneck, Printed Pants, and Heeled Ankle Boots

A cold-weather date can be tricky to dress for, but a fitted turtleneck, printed pants, and heeled ankle boots are the secret to stellar style. 

Foundation Turtleneck
Universal Standard Foundation Turtleneck $65
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Good Straight Snake Pants
Good American Good Straight Snake Pants $195
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Lennon Black Mid-Heel Bootie
Loeffler Randall Lennon Black Mid-Heel Bootie $450
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04 of 20

A Romantic Dress, Strappy Sandals, and Statement Earrings

A romantic midi dress is perfect for a dinner day with your S.O. in the spring or summer. Opt for strappy sandals and a pair of statement earrings to beautifully enhance the design without taking away from it.  

Mica Dress
Reformation Mica Dress $278
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Fabiola Strappy Sandal
Nine West Fabiola Strappy Sandal $89
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The Leaf Earrings
Americae The Leaf Earrings $124
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05 of 20

A Fitted Knit Top, Jeans, and Flats

Jeans and flats are A-okay on a dinner date any time of year. We love white denim with a fitted knit top tucked in and feminine ballet mules to finish in warmer weather. 

Asymmetrical V-Neck Sweater
Victor Glemaud Asymmetrical V-Neck Sweater $375
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Le Slouch Jeans
Frame Le Slouch Jeans $248
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The Ballet Mule
Margaux The Ballet Mule $218
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06 of 20

A Sweater Dress, Earrings, and Kitten Heels

A sweater dress is the ultimate dinner date look when there’s a chill in the air. Boots and tights are essential in fall and winter but come spring, a kitten heel and sculptural hoops feel fresh. 

Frankie Knit Dress
Rue Stiic Frankie Knit Dress $135
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Vanu Hoops
V.Bellan Vanu Hoops $165
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Luci Kitten Heel Mules
Brother Vellies Luci Kitten Heel Mules $465
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07 of 20

A Cropped Cardigan, Leather Pants, and Gold Earrings

Leather pants are a mainstay when it comes to dinner date attire. For a springtime take with a nostalgic tone, opt for a colorful pair with a shrunken cardigan top and chunky gold earrings.

Ribbed Button Up Cardi
Re Ona Ribbed Button Up Cardi $68
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High-Rise Vegan Leather Pant
Wilfred Melina High-Rise Vegan Leather Pant $118
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"Daniella" 18K Gold Plated Bold Wide Hoop
Koko Capri "Daniella" 18K Gold Plated Bold Wide Hoop $76
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08 of 20

A Voluminous Midi and Lace-Up Heels

Whether with a dress, skirt, or coordinating set, a midi silhouette is perfect with lace-up heels for a feminine dinner date ensemble. Square-toe designs feel the most modern, be it a sky-high stiletto or dainty kitten heel.  

Ruched Polka-Dot Blouse
Mango Ruched Polka-Dot Blouse $80
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Printed Cotton Skirt
Mango Printed Cotton Skirt $80
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Finn Sandals
Chelsea Paris Finn Sandals $595
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09 of 20

A Bodysuit, Trousers, and a Bag

The easiest way to make a pair of trousers feel dinner-date appropriate? A bodysuit! Preferably one with a low scoop back. 

Teva Bodysuit
Mary Young Teva Bodysuit $72
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Dita Pant
Mara Hoffman Dita Pant $325
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Leather Tote
Yuzefi Leather Tote $460
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10 of 20

A White T-Shirt, Slip Skirt, and a Chain Necklace

Yes, indeed you can make a white T-shirt dinner-date ready. Team your favorite with a slinky slip skirt and chain-link necklace.

The Baby Tee
Hanes x Karla The Baby Tee $48
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Brooklyn Satin Midi Skirt
Iris & Ink Brooklyn Satin Midi Skirt $110
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Mini Chunky Link Necklace
Vibe Szn Mini Chunky Link Necklace $50
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11 of 20

A Bold Cardigan, Lug Boots, and Jeans

A rainy day doesn’t call for canceled plans. Instead, reach for a voluminous cardigan to pair with your favorite jeans and a glossy pair of patent leather boots. 

Fiora Space Dye Cardigan
Ulla Johnson Fiora Space Dye Cardigan $595
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Secondhand Wedgie Fit Ankle Jeans
Levi’s Secondhand Wedgie Fit Ankle Jeans $49
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Huey Booties
Dolce Vita Huey Booties $140
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12 of 20

A Leather Dress, Simple Heels, and Earrings

A leather mini dress is perfectly spicy for a dressier night out with your S.O. or dinner with girlfriends. It’s an edgier look, so best to streamline the rest via simple sandals and sleek hoops. 

Vegan Leather Dress
Kai Beebeeta Vegan Leather Dress $207
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Nyx Sandal
Larroudé Nyx Sandal $275
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Synth Earrings
F+H Jewellery Synth Earrings $92
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13 of 20

A Tank Top, Pretty Shorts, and Mules

There’s nothing better than swishy, light-as-air fabric in the heat. Enter: Rebecca Taylor’s floaty plisse pleat shorts, with a fitted tank and heeled mules for a sizzlin’ summer dinner.

Slim Tank Top
Another Tomorrow Slim Tank Top $70
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Plisse Pleat Short
Rebecca Taylor Plisse Pleat Short $165
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Toe ring mule
GIA/RHW Toe Ring Mule $740
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14 of 20

A Cropped Blazer, Slouchy Jeans, and Heels

Trendsetters take note: The cropped blazer is it this season. Team yours with a loose-fitting pair of straight-leg jeans and minimalist heels for a stylish offset. 

Satin Cropped Seamless Blazer
Danz Satin Cropped Seamless Blazer $595
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Layered Face Sandals
Reike Nen Layered Face Sandals $380
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Ziggy Straight-Leg Jeans
Boyish Ziggy Straight-Leg Jeans $168
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15 of 20

A Midi Dress, Tall Boots, and Earrings

Transition your favorite summer dress to fall by swapping in tall leather boots for sandals. It’s an easy-to-wear formula that effortlessly goes from workday to dinner.  

The Basil Dress
Christy Dawn The Basil Dress $288
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Paloma Boot
Inez Paloma Boot $348
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Serendipitous Project
Serendipitous Project Baroque Hoops $100
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16 of 20

A Matching Set and Baguette Bag

Whether for vacation or balmy summer nights, a matching set is a heat-proof take on dinner-date-attire. Keep things simple with sleek baguette bags and your footwear of choice, be it sneakers, sandals, or high heels. 

Jacinta Cropped Tie-Front Paisley-Print Linen Top
Faithfull The Brand Jacinta Cropped Tie-Front Paisley-Print Linen Top $159
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Ondine Belted Paisley-Print Linen Shorts
Faithfull The Brand Ondine Belted Paisley-Print Linen Shorts $159
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Crocodile-Effect Leather Shoulder Bag
Staud Ollie Crocodile-Effect Leather Shoulder Bag $240
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17 of 20

A Chunky Sweater, Jeans, and Delicate Chain

The way to make a chunky sweater and jeans feel cute for date night? With an off-the-shoulder silhouette! Maintain attention at your neckline by mixing in a delicate chain. 

Bella Cable-Knit Sweater
John + Jenn Bella Cable-Knit Sweater $118
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Twist Necklace
Van Der Hout Twist Necklace $115
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SXF Plus Utility Straight Jean
Warp + Weft SXF Plus Utility Straight Jean $98
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18 of 20

A Playful Top, Long Denim Shorts, and Slides

A summer dinner date with friends is the time to showcase your spirited side, like with a bold, mixed-print peplum top. Long denim cut-offs and simple slides are a so-cool offset, which you can further enhance with ultra-delicate jewelry. 

Fifi Peplum Top
Autumn Adeigbo Fifi Peplum Top $268
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High Rise Denim Shorts
Zara High Rise Denim Shorts $36
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Yanti Slide Sandal
Chinese Laundry Yanti Slide Sandal $70
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19 of 20

A Jumpsuit, Necklace, and Bag

A loose and comfy jumpsuit is instantly dinner-date ready with the help of a modern chain necklace and bag. This one features pretty puffed sleeves for added interest that nods to the romantic trend. 

Ryan Jumpsuit
Et Tigre Ryan Jumpsuit $220
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Cairo Thin Necklace
Jordan Road Cairo Thin Necklace $61
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Neptune Pleated Leather Shoulder Bag
Neous Neptune Pleated Leather Shoulder Bag $730
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20 of 20

Crop Top, Wide-Leg Pant, and Shirt Jacket

A bralette and wide-leg pants are perfect on the beach but trickier to take to dinner in town. The solution? An on-trend shirt jacket worn open, whether you’re dressing up with heels or keeping in low-key in slides. 

Sophie Crop
Ozma Sophie Crop $124
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Crop Wide-Leg Pant
Ozma Crop Wide-Leg Pant $198
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Woven Shirt Jacket
Aqua Woven Shirt Jacket $98
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Lead image wardrobe provided by Rue Stiic and ByFar.

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