What Is the Appropriate Dress for a Chamber Dinner?

Dress for a chamber dinner can be appropriate and fashionable.

Photo: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

When it comes to dressing for business, you don’t want to be a "fashion don’t" because your career could depend on it. If you have an invite to an upcoming chamber of commerce dinner, you’re going to be rubbing elbows with your city’s prominent politicians and business leaders. Because you better ensure those elbows are covered in clothing that’s business-appropriate, you can let your personal style show through without too much of your skin showing through, too.

Take Cues

Figuring out what to wear to a chamber dinner can be as difficult as reading someone’s mind. You’ve got to go for the unspoken cues when determining what’s appropriate. First, look at the dinner invitation. If it was mailed, how fancy is it and read it carefully to ensure a style of dress, from business casual to black-tie isn’t specified. Without any cues, you can take some from your own office or the type of office where you wish to work. If your office is very conservative, wear something similar to what you wear during the day. For example, if you typically wear a suit and a button-down shirt, switch to a more feminine or metallic fabric, such as a satin shirt.

Dressed Up

If you opt for a dress for a chamber dinner, go for a dark color. Even if you don’t feel like basic black, try navy, hunter green, maroon or eggplant. Sheath dresses or wrap dresses are office and evening-appropriate and can be easily dressed up with jewelry. Having at least one luxe-looking piece such as a classic trench coat, can make you dressed to impress.

Amp Up the Fancy

Because most business dinners aren’t the time to pull out your sequined miniskirts and deep-V dresses, a chamber dinner is a great time to rely on your accessories. This means wearing a “conversation” piece of jewelry, such as an oversized, chunky necklace or bracelet or dangly/chandelier earrings. Another option is a dressy pair of shoes, made from satin or with a few embellishments. Your shoes also could provide a pop of color, such as a pair of purple pumps paired with a little black dress.

What Not to Wear

Don’t let an evening or black-tie event fool you -- if the event is a chamber dinner, it is a business affair. This means you don’t need to take the risk by wearing a low-cut dress either in the front or back. If you can look down and see your cleavage, so can everyone else. Because the event is about finding business opportunities and not a date, dress the part of a person that could get hired, and one you would want to work with.

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