What to Wear for Dinner & Drinks

I’ve got an old school outfit post for you today, how about that? Just one single outfit. I know, crazytown!

Someone wrote in and asked me what to wear for dinner and drinks, and I thought to myself: I’ve got this. That’s basically all I do for fun.

similar trench // Vince blouse (S) (option) // PAIGE denim (29) (option) // taupe booties (8) // similar necklace // earrings // sunnies (option)

Seriously, going out to dinner and/or drinks with my husband or good friends is my idea of a good time. Bonus points if it includes live music, but I digress…

This is what I wore for a birthday lunch with a friend last week, and I think it’s such a nice mix of dressy and casual elements.

This Vince silk blend blouse was an #NSale purchase, and it’s currently at Nordstrom Rack for almost 60% off. That’s an amazing deal for a quality piece.

I don’t usually wear blouses, but this one has such good drape, and the shorter length makes it so much easier to tuck. I’m not dealing with a bunch of excess fabric, and because I prefer a front tuck, it doesn’t hang super long in the back.

It also has really nice details like the covered button placket, relaxed spread collar, and extra long cuffs. This blouse is a 55% silk/45% rayon blend, and it runs true to size.

I paired the ivory blouse with a pair of mid-wash bootcut jeans. I chose jeans with a finished hem to keep the look polished, and I like how the wash is fairly uniform.

There’s some subtle whiskering at the hips and fading on the thighs, but it’s nothing too dramatic. They really walk the line between dressy and casual, and that’s what I’m usually trying to accomplish when I get dressed for a dinner & drinks outfit.

Since this blouse is rather loose and shapeless, I did a front tuck and added a belt. I chose taupe to match my shoes, but I don’t remember which piece I chose first.

The other option would have been black or brown. Any would work since the blouse and jeans are neutrals, but I almost always match my belt and shoes.

And because the weather has been fairly mild here, I opted for open toe booties/sandals in a taupe color. I like how they keep the look light, both in color and in style.

Of course, I won’t be able to wear open toe shoes for long here in Philly, which made me realize as I put this outfit together that I’d like to have a dressy pair of booties in a lighter color like this. I have a couple of black pairs that would qualify, but sometimes I want to wear taupe or cognac.

I was considering this pair in the Dark Amber or these in Stella Suede, but I prefer leather or waterproof suede so I can wear them in the rain. I do have these, but they aren’t quite as dressy as what I have in mind, so I’m still looking.

Okay, back to this outfit…

Accessories are key when it comes to a date night look, and since this outfit is very simple, I added a statement necklace to the neckline of the blouse. I got this mixed stone necklace at White House Black Market a few years ago, and I keep it on hand for outfits like this one that need a little extra “something-something”.

The colors are perfect for fall, but you could wear almost any color with a neutral outfit like this one. I recently saw a very similar style at LOFT, and I love the shades of blush, green and plum.

I also wore oversized gold “puffy” hoops, which are very much on trend right now, and then I added brown tortoiseshell sunglasses.

I absolutely consider my sunglasses an accessory to the outfit; they’re not just for sun protection. I chose the brown instead of my black pair because I wanted a lower contrast with the light neutrals in this outfit.

I also consider a handbag an important accessory to a complete outfit, and I often match my bag to my shoes, but not always.

Taupe would be the obvious choice here, and I have several pretty taupe options that I love, but I used this opportunity to carry the olive green Loewe bag that I purchased in Italy. (I found bags in a similar olive color here and here.)

I like how it adds a new color to the outfit, but the muted shade of olive green blends in nicely with the other light neutral colors I’m wearing. It also just so happens to coordinate perfectly with my necklace. These are such minor details, but they all help to take a basic outfit to the next level.

Alison and I photographed this outfit right before I left for lunch, and I purposefully added the trench coat because the outfit is so plain, not because it was so cold that I really needed a coat to be comfortable… Which this brings me to my next (and final) point about this outfit.

Your coat matters. ESPECIALLY when the outfit does not have a “3rd piece”.

Wearing a coat that complements your outfit and is appropriate for the occasion is one of the things that sets apart a stylish woman from the rest of us, and it’s something I’m trying to remember to do.

That also may require beefing up your coat wardrobe, which is another thing I’ve been working on over the past few years.

I’ve been rewatching Gilmore Girls, and I noticed as I was writing this post while watching the show that Lorelei and Rory regularly wear great coats that match the style and formality of the occasion.

I tend to go without a coat unless I really need it, and I ended up not wearing the trench coat that day, and I wished I had. Not because I was cold, but because when I got to the restaurant, I felt like my outfit looked incomplete.

(After that little lesson learned, I did wear my trench coat a few days later over a more casual dinner and drinks outfit even though I brought a different coat to wear to the marching band cavalcade afterwards.)

Unfortunately, I can’t link my trench coat because it’s old, but I did find a few other options. I also linked up similar-for-less alternatives to the other components of this outfit.

It probably sounds like way more effort went into this look than any single outfit should require, but it actually came together very quickly. I’m just trying to break it down for those who like to hear the thought process. This is more or less a formula I use to put outfits together all the time.

The key really is to have the items in your closet to create outfits that work for your life and style.

What is YOUR go-to dinner & drinks outfit???

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photos: Alison Cornell

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30 Responses

  1. My favorite part of this post is your musings about the coat. You are right. I basically always have some kind of jacket or coat on if it’s above 70 degrees out, and would kind of feel naked or incomplete going out without one. This is very similar to my basic outfit formula for dinner and drinks, but I would be more likely to go for a black top and black accessories than white/taupe (but I live in NYC, and we do love our black. lol.) Have a great day!

  2. jeans and something leopard or black on top BUT I LOVE this outfit – I don’t have a solid “blouse” but I do have one with fun bold colors and I can see switching it up for fall/winter as a different “go to”

  3. I love the outfit as is – without the trench. The reason is, I feel if my toes are exposed, I don’t need a coat. That may sound silly but that’s how I roll lol. I really like the Loewe bag – it comes in so many colors it would be hard to choose.

  4. This time of year I’d wear a blazer or coatigan ! As it gets colder a coat . I have a nice plain winter black dress coat and a trench coat if it’s raining and puffer coats for when it’s bitter cold! but this year I thought a statement coat( Maybe a simple plaid) might be nice as once it gets colder all you see is your outer layers!
    If the outfits a bit plain then a nice statement shoe or bootie takes it up a notch too! If I’m wearing faux leather pants then I keep the rest simple as that’s my statement piece!

  5. I agree that your outfit needs a third piece to complete it. I would add a thin, long cardigan (in a pretty fall color like rust or camel) and probably a scarf. I know you’re not a fan of cardigans or scarves! Oh, I also have a lovely fall plaid blazer that would look wonderful with just a white collared shirt under it. So many options! Can you believe it could reach almost 80 degrees this weekend in Philly???

    1. Wanted to add that i love the belt. I bought a similar one from Madewell during the Nordstrom Ann. Sale and I just loved the creamy color. I thought I would put it away when I brought out the cold-weather clothes, but I’m still wearing it and so far!

    2. I definitely think a plaid blazer would look great with this. I would find a cardigan uncomfortable over these sleeves, but I can appreciate how a long, slim cardigan could be really pretty with it.

  6. I’m meeting friends for HH and dinner today so this is timely! 😄 It’s supposed to reach 73° today so I think I’m wearing cropped flares or wide-legs and clogs. I don’t know what else yet!

  7. My go-to for fall- spring for dinner/drinks is bootcut or wide-leg jeans, a nicer top, boots, and a jacket. I love jeans with a dressier top or thin V-neck sweater. I’ll also wear coated jeans– I have a pair of black and maroon Kut jeans that are ankle-length with the porkchop pockets that I adore and a pair of WHBM bootcut in black. If I wear the coated, I’ll go with a simpler top like a long-sleeve cotton V-neck and jewelry.Great post!!!

    1. Love all of those looks! I dug out my coated jeans from last year, I kept the black bootcut pair from Saks OFF 5TH (I think they were Joe’s) and the burgundy/brown KUT from the Kloth straight ankle ones. I can’t wait to wear them again.

  8. A dark wash or black slim straight leg jean and a nice top. I up my jewellery play. Maybe a beautiful pair of hoops or a paper clip necklace. Always a statement watch! Footwear plays a starring role too,

    I have an extensive outwear collection to choose from. Short ones, longer ones, rain resistant ones, dressy ones, colorful ones, even one plaid. The right jacket or coat can make or break an outfit.

  9. I like the light shoes with the outfit. Do you have trouble with denim color rubbing off on light shoes/boots? How do you deal with the problem?

    1. Dona….. I always have this trouble no matter how much my darker denim is washed. I’ve had so many light suede booties ruined. I don’t know why some don’t have this problem. I know jo lynne and Cyndi Spivey wear light suede all the time. Now that bootcut is in I’d think even more a problem. At least with crop or back with skinnies you could have above the booties.

      1. Thanks Kathy – I’ve been wearing only dark shoes/boots with dark wash jeans because of this. Now that I’m wearing mostly wider legs and boot cuts it’s definitely more of a concern. I have a newer pair of light suede booties that I’ve sprayed with a waterproofing spray, so I’ll see if this helps with the dye transfer problem! Also, I’ve had the problem more with my premium denim brands rather than less expensive brands, Must be something to do with the dye process.

      2. I have the same problem of light boots and even purses with wearing medium and dark denim. My taupe summer crossover has a blue cast.

  10. Love the outfit and all the sharing about decision making. That is helpful to me. I agree about a coat and I some times put together an outfit starting with the coat.
    My go to outfit for dinner out always seems to be jeans and a nice top. When it gets colder I will move to sweaters.I don’t do button up shirt, I forgot what your reason is but mine is I am a rectangle shape and I do not find them to be flattering.

  11. You look sharp in the outfit. Thanks for the styling ideas. I wore my wide leg jeans and white shirt with a camel sweater blazer a couple of Sundays ago. I like that simple style.

  12. Love this look!! I appreciate, so much, your attention to detail. And for being willing to share those thought processes with us. I am thankful for your thoroughness. ❤️

  13. Describing why you chose each piece and your thought process for putting together this outfit is SO helpful. Would love to see more posts like this!! Thank you!

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