What Is Business Attire for Dining?

When you dress for a business dinner, choose clothing to accentuate uniformity and your professionalism. Polish your business attire with attention to presenting a perfectly groomed and attired appearance. Unlike a night out with friends, your evening calls for subtlety and refinement.

Your impression may help determine a successful business outcome. Bring the attentiveness you exhibit in the workplace to the business dinner table, even when it’s business casual dining.

Know Your Dining Partners

Are you going to dinner with subordinates or people senior to you? Are you dining with coworkers or customers? Are you going to an upscale restaurant or fast-casual eatery? The best rule of thumb to follow for business dinners is to wear the same type of clothes as the others you’ll be dining with.

Ask someone, “What is everyone wearing to dinner tonight?,” or “Is there a dress code?” and you’ll learn what you need to know. If you’re not sure, assume that younger professionals will be less likely to wear a suit and tie and more likely to dress business casual or slightly better (e.g., a jacket and no tie for males), while older peers might dress more formally.

Types of Business Dinners

Different business events suggest different dress code types. The type of attire to wear to a business dinner depends upon the type of dinner you are attending. When a business meal is scheduled immediately after work hours, wear what you wore during the work day. Business dinners scheduled later in the evening, in a fine restaurant or as part of a conference, require formal business dress. For a corporate awards dinner, you may wear formal evening attire.

General Business Attire Etiquette

Attention to detail sends a silent, yet clear message about your professionalism. Dress in clean and freshly pressed clothing. Your clothing should fit well. Inspect your clothing before wearing it for loose threads, missing hardware, stains and lint. Remove all tags from new, dry-cleaned or laundered clothing.

Business Attire for Him

Men who attend business dinners dress conservatively. Wear dark solid colors or muted patterns. Wear a wool or wool blend suit with a silk tie in a coordinating color. Choose a light-colored shirt. Polish your shoes and match your socks to your suit color. Your belt and shoes should match. Wear leather oxfords or loafers, recommends the Dress Code Guide website. Keep jewelry to a minimum, wearing only a tasteful watch and a wedding or class ring.

Business Attire for Her

Women’s business dinner attire is conservative in color, length and fabric. Wear a suit with a skirt or with pants. Your skirt can fall below, at or just above the knee. Leather or fabric closed-toe shoes are appropriate business dinner options. Add a long- or short-sleeved blouse or a shell in a light color beneath your suit jacket.

Avoid low necklines and skirts with long slits. Match your shoes and a small purse or clutch. Wear a bracelet and/or a watch and conservative earrings, if you like. Adding the right accessories can take an outfit from business casual to business elegant.