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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.