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Celebrate in Style: What To Wear to a Banquet

  Celebrate in Style: What To Wear to a Banquet No matter your plans for the winter season, you can probably count on at least one banquet on your calendar...


Celebrate in Style: What To Wear to a Banquet

No matter your plans for the winter season, you can probably count on at least one banquet on your calendar this year. Banquets can range in dress code from casual to black tie, creating a smorgasbord of possible outfit options.

Narrowing down the possibilities for what to wear to a banquet is the tricky part of styling for these events. You can elevate the basic sheath dress, plan your look around a statement color or even create a brand-new silhouette by mixing and matching pieces. Here are a few of our favorite ways to choose a banquet outfit.

How Do You Decide What To Wear to a Banquet?

Instead of doing a thousand-yard stare into your closet, plan your ideal banquet look with a few foundational fashion considerations.


Close your eyes and imagine the shape you'd most like for your banquet look. Starting with silhouette is a great way to focus your options and give proper weight to (arguably) the most important element of a formal or semi-formal outfit.

If you're attending a black tie banquet, the silhouette will lean towards an evening gown or tailored suit. Semi-formal and casual banquets open up the options to trendy oversized silhouettes, knee-length dresses and comfy jumpsuits. Remember to pick something you won't mind sitting down and eating in for an hour or two!


Formal versus semi-formal isn't all about silhouette or dress length. Texture is the second key element, with silk, satin and sequin pieces naturally reading more black tie than other fabric choices.

Outfits for less formal banquets can incorporate stylish textures, too. Adding unexpected textural touches is an easy way to make a simple dress or pantsuit more interesting. Think about what kinds of textures you want to incorporate into the finished look, such as:

  • Knits
  • Embellishment
  • High-shine silk or satin
  • Mesh
  • Three-dimensional petals or other details

Remember that you can add texture with accessories as well, such as a chunky gold belt or a feathered clutch. Try to mix and match textures, such as knits and embellishment or mesh and silk, for a more fashionable look.


Don't assume that a winter banquet automatically means muted colors. Wearing bright blue, pink or fuschia can make a splash at either a formal or semi-formal banquet.

Even if you're leaning towards black, you can incorporate an interesting accent color. Zendaya paired an amazing purple dress shirt with her exaggerated black pantsuit at the Vanity Fair Oscars Party.


Accessories can dress a banquet outfit up or down. Putting a chain belt on a gown-style dress is both an interesting style twist and a way to make it slightly less black tie. On the other side of the coin, adding luxe accessories to a midi dress or separates outfit can push it over the edge of formal territory.

What Are 5 Banquet Outfit Ideas?

Now that you have your perfect banquet style elements in mind, here are five ideas for special occasion outfits to spark your creative process.

1. Sleek Pantsuit

Even if your mind goes to "dress" for every occasion more formal than brunch, a good non-work pantsuit deserves a place in your closet. Switching up the expected black tie silhouette automatically makes a banquet outfit stand out, and as a bonus, two-piece garments are way easier to sit down in.

An oversized pantsuit brings a subversive flair to a casual or semi-formal banquet, while a color blocked pantsuit turns up the visual volume. A simple black or white pantsuit is the perfect canvas for any out-there accessory, such as some ostrich feathers, a bold necklace or a fully rhinestoned clutch.

2. Matching Separates

Doubling down on a print makes a cohesive fashion statement in a modern way. As a bonus, you can also wear the printed pieces separately for added versatility in your wardrobe. If simply matching the same print on two pieces isn't enough, go bigger by matching print, texture and detail with a floral tassel pleated set.

3. Ornate Dress

The elegant banquet dress is a classic for a reason, but there are plenty of ways to put your personal spin on this staple. Layering with a heavily embellished cardigan or stole on top of a dress can turn up the volume for a black tie banquet. You can also pair your favorite dress with an unexpected shoe, like Yara Shadidi's amazing knee-high patent boot.

4. Dress and Pants

Struggling to decide between a dress and pants? Wear both! A short dress may not be ideal for a banquet setting on its own. If you put it over a pair of formal slacks, it becomes a million times more fashion-forward.

Stay in the same color and fabric family for cohesion. Pay attention to proportions as well, putting some volume on either the top or bottom of the dress-and-pants combo. For example, a fabulously billowy balloon sleeve mini dress would be perfect over super-tailored black tuxedo pants. A sheath dress might benefit from a flowier palazzo trouser, instead.

5. Blazer and Dress

For a subtler way to bring in some menswear influence, put a structured blazer over your evening dress. Blazers in a contemporary contrasting color add energy to a black dress-based banquet look.

You can also go monochromatic with this pairing, like Maisie Williams in an adorably preppy blazer and dress look. If you do choose the same color for a formal outfit, it helps to pull in different textures, especially in tiny details. Note how Williams' knit sock contrasts with her black satin pump.

Where Can You Shop for What To Wear to a Banquet From the Latest Fashion?

Choosing what to wear to winter banquets can be even more difficult than planning for wedding guest season. Black tie events can benefit from layers and accessories to dress up a pantsuit or gown. Less formal banquets are ideal times to go oversized, try a wild color or texture and have fun with the latest trends. At Kate Hewko, we believe in fun and current fashion for any occasion. Browse our dresses to get a dose of banquet outfit inspiration.


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