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Dress Code

Foolproof Dinner Looks

Whatever the restaurant, whatever the occasion and, crucially, whomsoever the company, here’s how to cut the mustard in the style stakes

Wear a suit on a first date and that simmering volcano of passion across the table might just go dormant. Meet your partner’s parents in your latest Japanese workwear and they’ll assume their darling has run off with a fugitive from a chain gang. These are just some of the myriad pitfalls when it comes to mixing style, sustenance and, well, other people.

But allow us to serve you up a sartorial Xanax alongside your starter. Because whether there’s a traditional dress code to consider or a brisk boss to impress, whatever the restaurant, with these five fail-safe looks all you need to worry about is your table manners. From the style editors and foodies of MR PORTER – here’s how to dress for dinner in style.

Dinner With The Boss

“Shall we just grab some dinner instead?” By taking a meeting “off site”, your boss is saying that he thinks you’re worth some of his precious off-duty time or that he simply fancies a free meal on the company’s dime. But you can never be sure which, so approach it as if you’re about to discuss a promotion, and dress for the job you want. Not the job you have. This Lanvin wool suit speaks of maturity and style – with slim-fit trousers to keep things contemporary. The Goodyear-welted Church’s shoes are robust and dependable (and Derbies mean you won’t seem too formal). Rein things in a little further with an elegant polo shirt from French brand Façonnable.

The First Date

Overthink it and you risk being a try-hard. Too casual? You’re a slouch. Assuming it’s not a blind date, the biggest worry when taking someone out for the first time is how to dress. A first date can be awkward at the best of times, so formal surroundings might be ill-advised. Book a table at your favourite Italian (in London we like La Famiglia) and stay smart but distinctly relaxed in a knitted jacket and Incotex chinos – an outfit which is versatile enough to work in a cocktail bar if things go well, or the pub you escape to if it all goes pear-shaped.

Meet The Parents

Things have progressed quickly, haven’t they? And so should your approach to dressing. Unlike the first date, this is less about trying to appear cooler than you actually are (and drinking too much in the process) and more concerned with seeming as mature as possible in front of your potential future in-laws. You are dependable (sort of). Your job and tastes afford you high-end restaurant bookings. And you know how to wear a jacket, shirt and tie with an effortlessness that makes you husband material.

Sunday Roast

It’s Sunday, everyone’s feeling lazy (and maybe a little worse for wear), but you thought you and your friends would try the latest gastro-pub that gentrification has afforded your neighbourhood. Clearly, you want something simple, but a few compliments wouldn’t go amiss for that sore head of yours. NN.07’s low-key pieces are perfect for the weekend – and this super-versatile midnight-blue workwear jacket appears casual yet smart at the same time. Pair with a refined Maison Margiela knit and some fail-safe Nikes, and slip on some jeans from trousers specialists Incotex.

The Interview

An interview in a restaurant away from the corporate confines of an office should not relax your approach to proceedings. If anything, there are more pitfalls to consider. You might love spinach but it’s a gruesome sight stuck between your teeth. Get the clothes right and you can at least feel good about making a strong first impression. Some traditional John Lobb Oxfords (mottled brown for a subtle, smooth appearance) will balance well with modern British tailoring from Thom Sweeney. Blue will make you seem full of vim and vigour, and the jacket’s double vent will aid movement at the table. If you have the CV to back up the style, you’ll be getting a lot of wear out of this look in your new office.