What to Wear to a Dinner Party (as Staying in Is the New Going Out)

Knowing what to wear to a dinner party was something I didn't need to consider until a few years ago. Any decent friendship group worth their salt wouldn't have inflicted their grotty first-time flats and poor culinary skills upon a Friday night, and instead, it was all about going out somewhere to find the fun. Night-out dressing in itself is a tricky thing, presenting itself with the same old conundrums time after time: Should I wear high heels, or will it ruin my evening if we end up schlepping from bar to bar? It's raining, but isn't it inherently uncool to carry an umbrella? What if everyone else is super casual and I've chosen that night to crack out a vintage gown?

All of these irritations can be soothed by the nice, comforting, comfortable, grown-up confines of having dinner either at your own place or going over to someone else's. There are no guarantees that the food won't be worthy of an epic MasterChef fail, but you can ensure that the fashion standards are kept high. In fact, it's one of the greatest opportunities to break your wardrobe wide open and wear some of your most exciting things. Just don't rustle up spaghetti, okay? Keep reading to see what to wear to a dinner party, plus the style benefits of doing such a civilised thing.

show as much skin as you like

Hey, you're among friends; feel free to unleash your most risqué ensemble—there's no one who will judge (or be lecherous over) you here.

The one extra button you'd be apprehensive to do in a restaurant is perfectly acceptable in your own house—so make like the chicest French girls after dark, and opt for a silky blouse or slinky wrap dress.

wear the highest (or most uncomfortable but pretty) shoes you own

Stacked platforms + a few drinks in the "old man" pub you frequent = a very wobbly evening indeed. But at home? Well, you'll spend much of the time sitting down at a table or casually reclining on someone's sheepskin rug.

Perhaps it's not the height or comfort of your favourite shoes, but the fact you'd hate to ruin them in a grimy club. Dior covered in daiquiri does not a dream combination make. Save the scuffing and stains for your day-to-day, replaceable styles.

debut your boldest looks

If your besties are coming round to chez toi, make the most of the wardrobe at hand and a) consider a dramatic costume change (why not?), and b) use this as a testing ground for the brave look you're not quite sure the bus stop can handle yet.

Whether that's a vintage emerald-green velvet suit or the latest print-clash craze, you'll also find that a vibrant outfit choice will kick-start a conversation or two.

however, being ultra-casual is just as acceptable

Jeans and a T-shirt. It doesn't get easier than this age-old combination, and the idea can be souped up to feel more dinner party–friendly: Simply layer with a cami and add earrings.

Remember that a fancy blouse can make as much of an entrance as a daring dress—and there are 101 backless styles in the marketplace right now.

jumpsuits aren't a hassle at home

Choosing to wear a jumpsuit doesn't have to feel fussy or OTT—see how simple Freddie Harrel's all-in-one is?

Throw it back to the '70s and channel your inner Abigail's Party—just add champagne and sequins.

remember everyone's focus is above the table

You'll be spending much of your evening behind twinkling candles and a plate of burrata, so think about what's happening with the top half of your outfit. Perhaps it's time to enjoy the statement-sleeve top you've been meaning to wear all week…

Or you could decide to go down the statement jewellery route—and we couldn't blame you, given the number of excellent earrings available at the moment.

Keep going to shop the pieces that we'd love to wear to a dinner party this weekend…

The dreamiest Dior shoes now come in rhinestone crystal-dotted mesh.

Just the kind of simple-but-effective piece you can appreciate.

Every girl needs a revamped pair of straight-leg jeans in 2017.

No other brand currently creates quite as many pairs of showstopping earrings as this one.

The place where all of those skimpy frocks on Instagram come from.

The kind of party skirt you can also style out at work.

Just the ticket for livening up a white T-shirt.

Also an excellent choice for that next beach holiday you're planning…

Let's be honest, these weren't made for trekking.

Next up, you need to know how to wear red ankle boots.

Opening Image: 5 Inch and Up