By Laura Lajiness
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.
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.
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.
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.