Unless you’ve been invited to a formal Thanksgiving affair, there is a lot of gray area surrounding suitable dinner party attire. You want to look good, but because it’s an intimate group, you don’t want to overdo it. Luckily, there are a few fashion decisions that should always be on the menu for a meet-greet-and-eat kind of event.
Food-Proof: Even if you’re a neat eater, you don’t want to invite disaster. Avoid neckties and white button-down shirts. A good alternative is a neutral or dark-colored shirt perhaps with a sweater over the top. (This not only dresses up the look, but gives you the opportunity to remove a layer if there does happen to be a spill). Your napkin should cover anything that may fall on your lap… just don’t go tucking it into your collar unless you want to broadcast that you don’t eat any more carefully than a toddler.
Respect Your Host: If it’s an evening gathering, opt for khakis or dress slacks. If you know it’s a casual group, this can lean towards khaki-style cotton pants in any color. Reserve jeans for events in the afternoon and early evening. If, like many Thanksgiving gatherings, it happens to stretch all day, you can wear jeans, but not your lay-around-the-house pair. Go for a dark, indigo wash that still looks crisp and new. Footwear should reflect a similarly dressed up look; no sneakers please.
Warm-Weather Alternatives: If the temperatures in your neck of the woods hasn’t dropped low enough for sweaters and pants, you can wear a button-down short-sleeve shirt. Afternoon or outdoor events can tolerate a crisp, pressed pair of walking shorts; evening events still demand at least excellent-condition jeans or khaki-style pants.
Last but not least, pair any outfit with your best dinner-table manners: elbows off the table, pass instead of reaching, keep salt and pepper together when passing to others, chewing with mouth closed, taking small bites, using proper flatware (work from the outside in for multiple place settings), not eating off your knife, putting your knife down between bites, and waiting to be seated or begin eating until the host or hostess has been seated or started eating.