Dress Code: What To Wear To Eat Out

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Dress Code: What To Wear To Eat Out

Words by Mr Chris Elvidge | Photography by Mr Pelle Crépin | Styling by Ms Otter Jezamin Hatchett

17 May 2021

It’s been a long time coming, but from today, restaurants in the UK will once again be allowed to serve indoors. We don’t know about you, but the level of anticipation here at MR PORTER HQ is bordering on frenzied. Where will we go? What will we order? And, most importantly, what will we wear?

Clothes might not be your first consideration when going out to dinner. However, they shouldn’t be an afterthought, either. You want to look your best, but you also want to strike the right balance, which means paying attention to the venue and the occasion. To help you get back into the swing of things, we’ve compiled a style guide to dining out in 2021, featuring five outfits for five different dining scenarios, from casual lunches to dressier occasions.


At the pub

We designed this outfit with a casual pub lunch in mind, but you could get away with it in most restaurants, too. Dress codes in the hospitality industry have never been so relaxed. Gone are the days when you might have been turned away at the door for failing to wear a jacket and tie. Earlier this year, Anderson .Paak earnt a spot in our monthly best-dressed list when he arrived at Nobu Malibu wearing skate shoes and a denim jacket. (The jacket was Gucci, but the point remains.) The blueprint he laid down – an otherwise low-key outfit spruced up by a standout jacket – is replicated here with a canary-red quilted jacket from the British designer Craig Green.



It’s not just restaurants reopening. The next few weeks also see the return of picnic and barbecue season, a time of great optimism here in the UK, where even a torrential downpour won’t stop us from blackening a few sausages over charcoal. This optimism has clearly spread to our style choices, too – there’s not an umbrella or rainproof jacket in sight here. Instead, we’ve gone for a mid-century inspired outfit from Massimo Alba, Officine Générale and Mr P. and accessorised with suede Birkenstocks, sunglasses from Cartier Eyewear and a Bell & Ross BR-S 92 on the wrist. You’re guaranteed to be the best-dressed guy at the picnic – even if you’re not the driest.


Al fresco

The trick to dining al fresco can be summed up in a single word: layers. An extra layer is a necessity in all but the warmest climates – that is, unless you want to find yourself huddled around the patio heater by the end of the evening – so incorporate it into your look from the outset and you won’t go far wrong. This striped Missoni sweater, for example, acts as an accessory when it’s not being worn, and along with the brown leather belt bag from TOM FORD adds an extra element to this simple summer outfit.


Business lunch

The fact that you don’t have to wear a suit to a restaurant doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. Instead of treating relaxed dress codes as an opportunity to dress down, why not dress up? Canali’s signature Kei suit, seen here in olive green cotton twill, strikes the perfect note for an informal business lunch. We’ve styled it here over a buttoned-up polo shirt from Lardini and completed this Italian-themed look with a few carefully chosen accessories: a pocket square from Brunello Cucinelli and a leather belt from Anderson’s. A fine watch – the 1980s-styled Pasha de Cartier in stainless steel – adds an elegant finishing touch.


Date night

It’s 2021. Dressing up is no longer synonymous with putting on a blazer. There are other ways of making the right impressionism such as channelling the off-hand elegance seen in this outfit from Jacquemus, Mr P. and Valentino. The boxy cut of the shirt and the breezy, wide-legged trousers combine to give this outfit a bohemian feel, with the open-toed sandals underlining its summer holiday potential. Meanwhile, refinement comes in the form of minimalist jewellery from Tom Wood and Miansai. It’s the sort of outfit we can imagine wearing for sundowners on a terrace overlooking the sea, with a leather blouson jacket from Mr P. to throw on top when the temperature falls.