Wearing the right thing for business situations is very important. Overdressing can leave the other party feeling uncomfortable. Dressing too casually makes you look unprofessional and nonchalant. Deciding what to wear to a business dinner therefore is a little tricky. Typically business dinners are after the workday so sometimes they are formal, while other times they are less formal. In order to dress appropriately, you must figure out which type of dinner it is.
Let the location guide you. If the meeting will be held at a country club, a formal restaurant or other location where you know it is common for people to dress up, you should be safe in wearing business attire. This means a suit and tie for men and a business suit and blouse for women. If the business dinner is a celebratory affair or a holiday business dinner in one of the above mentioned locations, even more formal attire may be necessary. Men should wear tuxedos and women evening gowns.
If you are meeting for a business dinner in a casual restaurant or as a part of an evening of entertainment, you should dress more casually. Wearing an outfit that you would typically wear to work should suffice, provided your work atmosphere is not overly casual. If in doubt, opt for trousers, a blazer and a tie, which can be easily removed for the guys. For women, a dress and blazer or trousers and a dressy top or a skirt and blouse are appropriate. If you choose to layer using dressier items like fitted blazers, it is easy to remove them to make your outfit look less formal. This is always a good strategy when in doubt.
Checking with others is a great way to figure out what to wear to a business dinner. Obviously you don’t want to check with the people you will be meeting. However checking with your boss or someone who has been with your company longer than you is a great way to learn what is typically worn at such events. Avoid asking the company clown for advice!
Keep in mind the industry you work in. Khakis and a polo shirt might be perfectly suitable for a business dinner for those in the construction industry. However, a business dinner of accountants, lawyers or doctors will be completely different. If you are in a different industry than those you are meeting with, try to dress at least as good as the others who will be at the dinner.
Advice on what not to wear to a business dinner varies depending on how casually your industry dresses. Guidelines of what not to wear include the same things you wouldn’t wear to work. Don’t wear shorts, work out clothes, jeans, T-shirts, baseball hats, flip flops, anything suggestive or clothing with questionable comments on it.
Take your lead of what to wear to a business dinner from good sense and from people you trust and you will be sure to arrive in confidence and blend in seamlessly.