7 Ways to Make a Fancy Dinner Look Out of Your Work ’Fit

super stylish work woman

Adobe Stock / opolja

Taylor Tobin
Taylor Tobin1.84k

As America’s workforce deals with ever-longer workdays and  lengthy commutes, it can be tough to juggle both your professional obligations and a social life — or, at least, one that occurs between Monday through Friday. But, as we’re all well aware, it’s sometimes necessary to head straight from the office to a happy hour with friends, a sports event, a concert or a romantic interlude over dinner.

When the latter’s on the work-week calendar, figuring out the wardrobe-related challenges can seem justifiably difficult. How do you toe the line between “dressed for a date, but still professional” and “inappropriate for the office”? If you want to change outfits before your night on the town, how do you ensure that you have everything you need without toting a full overnight bag to your cubicle? Read on for some helpful tips on nailing your day-to-night looks in an easy and stress-free way.

1. Pack strategically for the day.

If you’re leaving for your dinner date straight from the office, packing a well-stocked tote with wardrobe/accessory options to bring to the office can save you a time-consuming trip back home. For example, if you regularly wear classic pumps with your business suit at your more formal workplace, you can easily carry cute booties or flats in your work bag to transition to a look better suited for a casual restaurant. 

Photo by Leisarà on Unsplash
Photo by Leisarà on Unsplash

As for the tote itself, brands like Madewell and Everlane make beautiful and reasonably-priced versions that seamlessly transfer to social occasions off-the-clock. If you’re not required to bring your work laptop or other materials home that night, it may even make sense to tuck a clutch or a small shoulder bag into the tote for later, so you won’t need to head to your date with a heavy carry-all in tow. 

2. Carry jewelry and small accessories.

Small touches can help transform a business-casual ensemble into a look more appropriate for a trendy eatery. If you’re a jewelry-wearer, consider bringing a pair of bold earrings (like these geometric star hoops from Urban Outfitters) or a fun watch (like a brightly-colored Swatch). Other accessory options include a different pair of “evening wear” eyeglasses (like these cat-eyes from SEE Eyewear), a 90s-throwback headband (like this one from ASOS), or any number of other “pieces of flair."

3. Keep travel toiletries in your desk.

Yes, it’s easy to transport clothing items and accessories to work every once in a while, but if you’re frequently going straight from the office to a social engagement, it’ll save you some time and energy to keep a few travel-sized toiletry staples tucked in your desk drawer. Freshen up with dry shampoo (like the small cans made by Batiste), disposable mini toothbrushes (like Colgate Wisps), and oil-blotting sheets like the cult classics made by Clean & Clear

Photo by The Honest Company on Unsplash
Photo by The Honest Company on Unsplash

4. Don’t underestimate the power of a stain removal stick.

Even in the tidiest of offices, occasional stain-related mishaps occur. Maybe you overpoured your coffee and dribbled a bit on your white shirt sleeve, maybe you left a photocopying binge with some ink residue on your fingers (which then found their way to your skirt), maybe your coworker sloshed some Shiraz on your dress during a pre-date office happy hour — the possibilities are endless. That’s why stain-removing sticks like Tide To Go should have a permanent place of honor in your workspace. A few presses of the pen over the stain, and you’ll look absolutely spotless. 

5. Invest in a good blazer.

For a single clothing item that can immediately dress up a casual dress or denim-and-blouse ensemble and can just as easily be left hanging on your office chair when you depart for your date, look no farther than the blazer. These business-dress jackets are an ideal option if you need to look slightly more dressed-up for work than you’d like to be on a date at a local sports bar or BBQ joint. 

Photo by Kristina Petrick on Unsplash
Photo by Kristina Petrick on Unsplash

In the majority of offices with a “business casualdress code, a blazer can quickly polish more laidback outfit elements like jeans or a sleeveless top, and when it comes time to head out, you can just shed one layer and continue your evening. Or, if you’re looking for a blazer with the perfect balance of casual chill and office-appropriate professionalism, try a sleek jacket like these versions from Wildfang or Zara.  

6. Wear dark colors.

It’s definitely an outdated (and, frankly, sexist) idea to associate bright colors and eye-catching patterns with an “unprofessional” demeanor. That said, there’s a reason why many people consider black their go-to color for all occasions; it’s neutral (and therefore easy to accessorize), flattering and appropriate for both daytime and nighttime occasions. A sleeveless black cocktail dress counts among the easiest pieces to style up with a blazer and then strip of formality with moto boots and a leather jacket, and this versatility can easily translate to any number of black, charcoal-grey, and navy blue garments.  

7. Consider a clothing subscription service.

Some of us love the act of shopping: visiting stores (or surfing online shops), selecting our items, making style and price comparisons, and finally deciding on the right purchases. But some would much prefer a no-muss-no-fuss approach to finding suitable outfits for the many facets of our lives, and that’s where the clothing subscription box comes in.
Photo by Amanda Vick on Unsplash
Photo by Amanda Vick on Unsplash

Services like Stitch Fix and Trunk Club specialize in putting together personalized wardrobe packages for their clients, based on their wants, needs, and pace of life. So if you want a stylish, well-fitting, versatile set of outfits that can move from office meetings to the local Italian trattoria without a hitch, these membership stylists will take care of the selections and send you clothing in your size and with your aesthetic specifications. 

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