Whether you live in a city or the dark depths of the countryside, dressing for dinner seems to be one of those style dilemmas that everyone faces on a semi-regular basis. Obviously your considerations vary according to the people you're with, the setting and occasion at hand, but overall, there seem to be the a few universal requirements: You want something that will feel polished, but not too try-hard, on-trend but also comfortable. Easier said that done, right?
On Joy Montgomery: Rixo blouse; L'agence velvet flares; Wandler bag
I'm one of those weird people who secretly loves any excuse to get dressed up (see above for evidence), and luckily my job presents plenty of opportunities to don my glad rags, whether it's for a collection launch or press dinner. This has meant that over the last few years, I've refined the art of dinner dressing and have distilled it down to five formulas I return to time and time again.
I've tried to include a selection of looks that can be adapted to all occasions, but fundamentally, they all reflect my love for '70s styling and reluctance to go too glam. I generally like to balance out any classically feminine pieces with boxy tailoring or casual separates, such as a white tee. Scroll down to see my full list of dinner-ready outfit formulas.
Style Notes: Alexa Chung is probably one of my main muses when it comes to laid-back party dressing. I always enjoy the way she combines androgynous tailoring with retro silhouettes, as seen in this dreamy suit, which she dresses down with a white slogan tee.
Organza Blouse and Jeans
Style Notes: An organza blouse seems to be the influencers going-out top of choice this season, and thankfully there are plenty of affordable iterations out there. I'm a little obsessed with this green Zara blouse. I'd tuck it into pair of high-waisted flares à la Ada.
Miniskirt and High-Neck Top
Style Notes: This is probably not a formula I would go for on a regular basis, but I might bring it out every once in a while if I fancy something more traditionally feminine. I'd style the miniskirt with sheer black tights and pointed low heels to elongate the legs, then balance it out with a high-neck knit.
Statement Skirt and White Tee
Style Notes: If you want to up the ante with minimal effort, reach for the sequins. These statement-making skirts were huge over Christmas, and I've kept hold of mine to bring out for those more formal events. Pair yours with a white tee to avoid looking too OTT.
Slip Dress and Blazer
Style Notes: The recent trend for satin pieces (think slip skirts and dresses) lends itself perfectly to a dinner context. A calf-grazing slip dress feels infinitely chicer when layered under a boxy blazer and black headband. It's all about mixing up your textures.