What to Wear to a Banquet: 5 Outfit Ideas to Turn Heads at Your Next Event

Attending a banquet can be an exciting event, but figuring out what to wear can be tricky. This comprehensive guide will provide tips for all dress codes, seasons, events, and body types to help you look and feel your best.

Use this quick reference guide for choosing the perfect banquet outfit.

Event FormalityWomen’s AttireMen’s Attire
Black TieFull-length evening gownTuxedo with bow tie
Semi-FormalCocktail dress or dressy separatesSuit with dress shirt and tie
CasualSundress, skirt, or dressy top and pantsSport coat with button-down shirt and slacks
ThemedCostume matching event themeCostume matching event theme
WeddingsAvoid white, red or bridal colorsContrast the bridal party colors
CorporateKnee-length sheath dressMatched suit with simple tie
AthleticJersey, skirt, blouseSport coat, team jersey, shirt
BudgetSecondhand dress, solid colorsVest, dress pants, simple shirt


Banquets range from ultra-formal black tie affairs to casual backyard barbecues. The most important factors in choosing an outfit are:

  • Formality of the event
  • Time of year
  • Personal style

By keeping these things in mind, you can select an ensemble that is appropriate, flattering, and fashion-forward.

I still remember my first formal banquet experience. It was my senior prom, and I agonized for weeks over finding the perfect dress. I finally settled on a floor-length emerald gown and spent hours styling my hair. Though I felt a bit overdressed compared to my date’s simple tuxedo, I gained confidence from looking polished and put-together. Now, I’m excited to pass on my tips and tricks to make your next banquet outfit planning stress-free!

Formal Banquets

For ultra-formal occasions like black tie galas and luxury award ceremonies, traditional formalwear is a must.

For Women

  • Evening gowns – Floor-length styles in rich fabrics like satin, chiffon or velvet make stunning formal choices. Opt for timeless over trendy.
  • Necklines – Strapless, one-shoulder, and bateau necklines are refined options. Avoid plunging necklines.
  • Shoes – Strappy stilettos or gem-encrusted heels add glamour. Metallics are on trend.
  • Accessories – Elegant jewelry like teardrop earrings and a sparkling bracelet keeps it classy. Carry a beaded clutch.
  • Hairstyles – An updo or chic chignon draws eyes to your face. Sleek low ponytails are modern too.
  • Makeup – Bold lips, defined eyes, and flawless skin are perfect for formal night events. Skip rainbow colors.

I love wearing dramatic ballgowns to formal winter holiday parties. Last year, I wore a navy blue off the shoulder gown with silver earrings and pumps. It made me feel like Cinderella!

For Men

  • Tuxedo – A classic black tuxedo with satin lapels is ideal for formalwear. Shawl collars modernize it.
  • Shirt – Stick with a pristine white dress shirt. Wingtip collars add flair.
  • Tie – Opt for a black satin bow tie or cravat for black tie. Match any colored tie closely to your date’s dress.
  • Shoes – Patent leather or velvet loafers complement the tux. Oxfords work too.
  • Accessories – Silk pocket squares lend refinement. Silver cufflinks and tie clips finish the polished look.
  • Grooming – Neatly style hair with pomade. Closely trim beards.

My husband hates wearing bow ties, so for our last formal banquet, he chose a velvet dinner jacket with slim trousers and a skinny tie. Very dapper!

Formal Banquet AttireWomenMen
DressFloor-length gownBlack tuxedo jacket
NecklineStrapless, one-shoulderWingtip dress shirt
ShoesGem heelsPatent leather loafers
AccessoriesClutch, jewelryPocket square, cufflinks
HairUpdo, chignonPomade and trimmed
MakeupBold red lipClean shaven

Semi-Formal Banquets

For cocktail parties, upscale dinners, and evening weddings, semi-formal attire strikes the right balance.

For Women

  • Dresses – Knee-length cocktail dresses are perfect. A-line skirts and wrap dresses also work.
  • Jumpsuits – Sophisticated wide leg or strappy styles have allure.
  • Fabrics – Look for dresses in luxe materials like satin, lace, or velvet.
  • Shoes – Heels in metallic or bright colors complement cocktail attire.
  • Accessories – Statement earrings, cuffs, and an evening clutch add panache.
  • Hair – Half up or cascading curls create an elegant look for evenings.
  • Makeup – Play up eyes or lips. Go for an overall glam vibe.

For a recent fall wedding, I wore a burgundy wrap dress with gold heels and matching drop earrings. Simple yet stylish!

For Men

  • Suits – Opt for tailored suits in dark solids or subtle patterns. Navy and charcoal are sharp.
  • Shirts – Pair suits with crisp dress shirts. Light blue or white looks most polished.
  • Ties – Slim ties in a coordinating color add interest. Pocket squares optional.
  • Shoes – Loafers or oxfords in leather or suede tie the look together.
  • Accessories – A statement watch, interesting lapel pin, or tie clip can finish the outfit.
  • Grooming – Styling cream keeps hair neat. Mustaches and beard trimmed.

My partner prefers not to wear ties, so he chooses tailored suits with a modern fit and added details like contrast stitching.

Semi-formal AttireWomenMen
DressCocktail, A-lineTwo-piece suit
ShoesColorful heelsLeather oxfords
AccessoriesChandelier earringsStatement watch
HairHalf upStyling cream
MakeupGlam eyesGroomed facial hair

Casual Banquets

When the dress code is casual, you can relax and have fun while still looking put-together.

For Women

  • Tops – A silky blouse or sweater looks polished. Off-the-shoulder and cropped styles modernize it.
  • Bottoms – Trousers, midi skirts, and dark jeans work well. Palazzo and wide leg pants are on-trend.
  • Dresses – Sundresses, fit and flare, and shift styles have casual flair.
  • Shoes – Block or stiletto heels, strappy sandals, booties, or flats.
  • Accessories – Fun layered necklaces, hoop earrings, or a belt add interest.
  • Hair – Loose waves, braids, ponytails, and sleek styles are all great options.
  • Makeup – Play up your eyes or lips. Stick to a natural glowy complexion.

I love wearing slip dresses with jean jackets and booties to daytime garden parties and bridal showers. So comfy yet cute!

For Men

  • Shirts – Button-downs, polos, and casual collared shirts work well.
  • Pants – Dark wash jeans, khakis, and casual trousers pair nicely.
  • Jackets – Unstructured blazers, jean jackets, and lighter sports coats add polish.
  • Shoes – Leather slip-on sneakers, loafers, chukkas all work.
  • Accessories – Leather strapped watches and sunglasses finish the outfit.
  • Grooming – Messy textured hair and stubbled beard create a relaxed vibe.

My husband loves wearing a polo or henley with dark jeans and suede loafers to backyard BBQs and reunions. Simple but sharp!

Casual Banquet AttireWomenMen
TopsOff-shoulder blouseCollared polo
BottomsPalazzo pantsDark jeans
ShoesAnkle bootiesLeather sneakers
AccessoriesHoop earringsAviator sunglasses
HairBraidedTextured crop
MakeupBold red lipStubble

Themed Banquets

Costume parties, masquerade balls, and cultural events call for thematic attire.

  • Research event details to nail the style. Ask hosts for guidance if needed.
  • Avoid controversial or offensive costumes.
  • Go all out with wigs, theatrical makeup, masks, and accessories.
  • Thrift stores are great for finding costumes and inspiration.
  • Pinterest has tons of easy DIY ideas for creating costumes.
  • YouTube tutorials show how to style wigs and apply costume makeup.
  • Rent costume pieces that are expensive or intricate to make.
  • Feel free to get creative and think outside the box!

For a Roaring 20s murder mystery party, I found a fringe flapper dress and long strand of pearls at a vintage shop. My husband thrifted a pinstripe suit and borrowed a fedora. We looked like gangsters, and it was so fun!

Wedding Banquets

As a wedding guest, you want an outfit that meets the dress code without upstaging the couple.

For Women

  • Formal – Choose evening gowns in colors besides white, ivory or red. Add glamorous hair and makeup.
  • Semi-Formal – Cocktail dress, jumpsuit, or dressy separates work perfectly. Bridal colors are safe bets.
  • Casual – Sundress, skirt, or pantsuit with elegant accessories shows respect.

I love wearing flowy chiffon maxi dresses as a wedding guest. Last fall, I chose an off-shoulder burnt orange gown that met the autumnal dress code.

For Men

  • Formal – Opt for a tuxedo in classic black and white or match the wedding colors.
  • Semi-formal – Wear a suit that contrasts the bridal party. Pocket squares can coordinate.
  • Casual – Blazer, button-down and slacks or dark jeans make a nice combination.

My husband rented a grey tuxedo with black lapels for our friends’ black tie wedding. He looked so dapper and appropriate!

Holiday Banquets

Holiday parties let you get festive with colors, fabrics, and accessories.

For Women

  • Christmas – Look for gowns or dresses in jewel tones, metallics, or even holiday patterns like plaid. Fur shawls and glittering jewelry add seasonal flair.
  • New Years Eve – Choose glitzy metallics and sequins to ring in the New Year. Feathered headpieces and boas enhance the glam vibes.
  • Valentine’s Day – Opt for fiery reds and sultry pinks. Silhouettes can be body-hugging and sensual for romantic evenings out.

I wore a strapless champagne gown with rose gold heels and jewelry to a Christmas Eve gala last year. I felt so glam!

For Men

  • Christmas – Sport jackets in pine green, burgundy, or navy make refined additions to dressy separates. Pocket squares with holiday motifs give a subtle seasonal touch.
  • New Years Eve – Black suits get jazzed up with satin or velvet details on lapels, ties, and cummerbunds. Metallic ties and pocket squares add sheen.
  • Valentine’s Day – Red ties, socks, or pocket squares provide festive pops of color. If you’re bold, opt for a red jacket or sweater layered over your dress shirt.

My husband surprised me by wearing a green and red plaid bow tie to our office holiday party. So cute and festive!

Corporate Banquets

For work-related functions, strike a balance between professionalism and personality.

For Women

  • Stick to knee-length dresses or dressy separates like a blouse and skirt. Avoid overly revealing necklines or hemlines.
  • Neutral colors like black, navy, grey, and blush pink are classic choices.
  • Tailored silhouettes and fabrics read polished rather than party attire.
  • Simple jewelry, organized updo hairstyles, and natural makeup keep the focus professional.
  • Bring a blazer or cardi to layer over dresses in chilly venues.

I opt for sheath dresses with sleeves to our company’s annual banquet. Last year, I chose a navy dress with a matching blazer.

For Men

  • Suit jackets and trousers always make an appropriate uniform. Stick to dark solids or subtle patterns.
  • White or light blue shirts exude professionalism. Spread or point collars work best.
  • Ties in a coordinating or slightly contrasting shade lend visual interest.
  • Clean, simple leather dress shoes in black or brown tie the look together.
  • Neat, short hairstyles and clean-shaven or short beard styles give a polished vibe.

My husband wears grey and navy suits to all our corporate events. For variety, he’ll change up the shirt, tie, and accessories.

Corporate Banquet AttireWomenMen
OutfitNavy sheath dressNavy suit
AccessoriesPearl studsSlim tie
HairChignonShort crop
MakeupNeutral eyesClean shaven

Athletic Banquets

For sports award ceremonies and athletic hall of fame events, dress to impress while highlighting your personal style.

For Women

  • Jerseys, athletic shoes, and sports insignia jewelry nod to your sport.
  • Blazers, knit dresses, and tailored trousers or skirts exude confidence.
  • Hair styled away from the face works for active women.
  • Bold lips, defined eyes and flawless complexion are elegant yet youthful.

I wore a tennis skirt and ruffle blouse with sneakers to my athletic hall of fame ceremony. Feminine yet sporty!

For Men

  • Swap the traditional suit for a sport coat, knit tie, and trousers.
  • Opt for leather boots or sneakers instead of dress shoes.
  • Sport jerseys under blazers acknowledge your sport and team.
  • Well-fitted polos or athletic brand shirts convey casual cool.
  • Groomed hairstyles and facial hair relate athleticism and professionalism.

My husband, a former basketball player, wore sneakers, his college jersey, and a blazer to receive his community coaching award.

Athletic Banquet AttireWomenMen
OutfitTennis skirt, blouseSport coat, jersey
ShoesSneakersLeather boots
AccessoriesTennis braceletCollege ring
HairHigh ponytailTextured crop
MakeupBold red lipFive o’clock shadow

Budget-Friendly Banquet Outfits

You don’t need to spend a fortune to look and feel your best for formal functions.

For Women

  • Check out discount or secondhand stores for prom, cocktail, and evening dresses at a fraction of retail prices.
  • Solid color palettes allow more mix-and-match potential.
  • Accessorize with faux jewels and metallic shoes. They look real at a distance!
  • DIY your accessories by styling clip-in hair pieces, making cuffs, or embellishing shoes and bags.
  • Swap clothes, shoes, jewelry, etc with stylish friends and family.

For Men

  • Buy an affordable suit vest to pair with dress pants and shirt. Add a tie for a put together look.
  • Shop end-of-season sales for significant savings on quality suits and tuxedos.
  • Mix and match separates like blazers, trousers and shirts for a custom look.
  • Style casual button-downs and pants with a vest or suspenders for dressed up style.
  • Borrow accessories like shoes, watches, and pocket squares from friends or family members.

Thrift stores, sales, and clever styling provide lots of budget-friendly ways to look banquet fabulous!

Outfit Ideas for Common Banquet Themes

ThemeWomen’s OutfitMen’s Outfit
Black & WhiteLace evening gown, pearl necklaceWhite tux, black bow tie
MasqueradeFeathered mask, beaded dressEmbellished mask, patterned suit
Under the SeaShimmery blue gown, starfish hair pinsNavy suit, colorful tie with fish
WesternFringe jacket, cowboy bootsButton-down, bolo tie, jeans
Roaring 20sSequined flapper dressPinstripe suit, Oxfords
HolidayVelvet gown with fur stoleHolly and berries boutonniere

Shoes for Banquets

Having comfortable, stylish shoes is key to enjoying yourself at fancy functions that often involve standing and dancing.

Elegant Women’s Shoes

  • Strappy stilettos
  • Slingback pumps
  • Bejeweled & metallic heels
  • Ankle strap heels
  • Rhinestone flats
  • Satin ballet flats

Handome Men’s Shoes

  • Oxfords & Derbys
  • Loafers
  • Chelsea boots
  • Monk strap shoes
  • Suede chukkas
  • Leather sneakers

I always carry foldable ballet flats in my clutch to give my feet a break from towering heels when dancing!

Glamorous Banquet Hairstyles

Elegant updos, pretty ponytails, and sleek blowouts help you look pulled together for formal functions.

For Women

Formal Styles

  • Chignon bun
  • Braided crown
  • Low ponytail
  • Textured pixie

Fun Styles

  • Half updo
  • Curly blowout
  • Messy braid
  • Sculpted waves


  • Use styling products like mousse for volume and hold
  • Set your style with hairspray to withstand dancing and mingling
  • Hide greys with temporary root touch up powder
  • Have hair and makeup professionally done for ultra-formal affairs if desired

I love a voluminous blowout for cocktail parties and a sleek low bun for black tie events. Don’t be afraid to get creative and match your hair to your dress style and accessories!

For Men

Clean Looks

  • Short crop
  • High and tight
  • Slicked back
  • Shaved head

Textured Looks

  • Faux hawk
  • Brushed up
  • Tousled top
  • Textured crop


  • Use pomade, wax, or gel to style and sculpt your hair
  • Trim stray hairs around ears and neck for a polished shape
  • Get a fresh cut 1-2 weeks before formal events
  • Cover greys with temporary spray or natural remedies
  • Beard should be neatly trimmed close to face

Well-styled hair portrays professionalism and pulls together formal attire for men. Even closely shaved heads can shine with a sleek finish.

Makeup Tips for Banquets

Cosmetics for formal affairs should enhance natural beauty instead of overtaking it.

Formal Makeup

  • Airbrushed complexion
  • Defined eyes
  • Bold red lip
  • Well-groomed brows
  • False lashes
  • Smokey eyeshadow

Fun Makeup

  • Bright colored eyeliner
  • Metallic eyeshadow
  • Bold matte lip
  • Glittery highlighter
  • Winged cat eye
  • Colorful mascara


  • Prime skin with moisturizer and primer for smooth application
  • Use a setting powder to reduce shine
  • Apply waterproof mascara to prevent smudging
  • Use setting spray to keep makeup in place
  • Bring makeup for touch ups after eating and drinking
  • Schedule a professional makeup trial for weddings

I like to play up either my eyes or lips for banquets. A bold red pout with simple eyes is classic. A glittery gold eye with neutral lip creates drama. Find what flatters you best!

Formal Accessories

It’s all about the details when dressing to elevate your style for formal functions. Accessories provide those glam finishing touches.


  • Diamonds & gemstones
  • Pearls & gold
  • Dramatic chandelier earrings
  • tennis bracelets
  • cocktail rings
  • jeweled hair pins


  • beaded clutch
  • rhinestone minaudiere
  • satin evening bag
  • embossed leather clutch
  • sparkling wristlet


  • faux fur stole
  • lace or chiffon shawl
  • embroidered pashmina
  • cashmere or silk wrap
  • feather boa


  • wide brimmed dress hat
  • floral fascinator
  • sequin headband
  • jeweled hair combs
  • satin bow barrette

Other Accessories

  • silk scarf
  • leather or satin gloves
  • glitzy belt
  • sparkling brooch
  • lace or bejeweled fan

I love statement earrings, delicate bracelets, beaded clutches, and fur wraps to accessorize my formal banquet attire. Don’t be afraid to pile on the glitz and glam!


Your banquet outfit should align with the formality, season, and theme of the event while remaining true to your personal style. This comprehensive guide provided tips for all dress codes, venues, events and body types to help you look and feel confident, stylish, and appropriate at your next special occasion.

Focus on fit, color, accessories, and personal flair to create a look that is memorable for all the right reasons. Now that you have all the information on how to dress for banquets, go forth and shine at your next formal function!

FAQs about dressing for banquets

What should I wear to a banquet if there is no dress code?

If the invitation doesn’t specify a dress code, semi-formal attire is a safe choice. For women, wear a cocktail dress, dressy separates, or a skirt and blouse. For men, wear a sport coat with dress pants and a collared shirt.

Can I wear jeans to a banquet?

Jeans are only appropriate for casual daytime banquets or barbecues. Stick to dress pants or khakis for cocktail or formal affairs. Dark wash jeans can work for informal banquets if you dress them up with heels and blazers.

Can I wear sneakers to a banquet?

Sneakers are too casual for formal and semi-formal banquets. Save them for daytime casual and athletic events. Stick to dress shoes, loafers, oxfords, or leather slip-ons for cocktails and black tie.

Can I wear a short dress to a banquet?

Hemlines for banquet dresses should generally hit around or below the knee. Anything too short risks looking inappropriate. Thigh-high slits or very short cocktail lengths are best suited for nights out at bars, not banquets.

Can I wear a suit to a casual banquet?

A full suit and tie would be overdressed for a daytime or backyard casual banquet. Opt for a sport coat, dress pants, and collared shirt instead. No need for full formal business attire.

Can I wear a cocktail dress to a formal banquet?

For black tie and very formal evening affairs, a floor-length gown is better than a shorter cocktail dress. Save the short styles for semi-formal events.

Can I wear a tuxedo to a semi-formal banquet?

A tuxedo would be too formal for cocktail, corporate, and other semi-formal banquets. Stick to dark suits and avoid white tie attire unless black tie is specified.

Can I wear a hat to a banquet?

Hats like fedoras are appropriate with informal suits or when the dress code is casual. Avoid large brimmed hats that can block views. Formal fascinators and headpieces are lovely for women.

Can I wear a watch to a banquet?

A nice watch that complements your style is perfectly appropriate for banquets, both casual and formal. Just stick to simpler, sleeker styles rather than bulky sports watches.

Can I wear a tie to a casual banquet?

Ties are not necessary for casual daytime banquets. They start to become more appropriate for semi-formal cocktail attire and beyond. Play it safe with open collars for garden parties and barbecues.

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