How to Master Formal Table Styling

Looking to get more from your dining table decor? We've some fantastic advice on setting formal table decoration for that special occasion.

If you’re looking for ways to impress your guests and show your styling finesse, we’ve got your solution. Here’s our guide for how to master the formal table style.

Fabric Foundations

The tablecloth’s the first thing that’ll go on, so it makes sense that it’s the first thing we cover. You’re looking for a high-quality cloth in a neutral tone - a pastel tone in silk, a beige spread of linen. Make sure it’s ready for action - pressed and free of any wrinkles, too.

Shop the Style
Green Neem Dream Tablecloth £115.00 From £92.00
Alfresco Gingham Check Tablecloth £90.00 £72.00

Centrepiece Attention

Next: the centrepiece. At this time, we can consider the theme of the table. A theme shouldn’t be seen as an obligation, but an opportunity to show your creative side. Here’s the kicker: you want it to be alluring, but not overwhelming. Whether it’s a candelabra, a blooming bouquet of your favourite flowers, or a bowl full of fresh fruits: you’ll want it to be a captivating sight. We don’t want to say it’s Instagrammable, but we’re not not saying that.

Shop the Style
Murano Glass Vase - Large £270.00 £189.00


We’re getting to the glassware now. You’ll want wine and water glasses, arranged in the order they’ll be used (wine to the right of the water). Make sure you’ve polished them before and they’re twinkling in the candlelight.

Shop the Style
Vintage Red Wine Glass - Set of 6 £150.00
Blue Ballerina Swirl Tumbler £95.00 £66.50


Then, for silverware, the traditional way is outside-in, top to bottom. Again, think of how they’ll be used as your guide: your soup spoon for your starter is cleared away, and suddenly the furthest spoon is the one for your next course. The point is for your guests to be able to reach comfortably, so an order that makes sense is best. Forks to the left, knives to the right (an easy way to remember: fork has four letters, like left, and knife has five, like right). Whilst this can seem complicated at first, it is just trying to make your guests life easier.

Shop the Style
4-Piece Pearl Cutlery Set £84.00 £58.80
4-Piece Picnic on Lake Anju Bamboo Cutlery Set £84.00 £58.80

Candlelight Club

We’ve mentioned the possibility of using a candle as your centrepiece - if you choose something else it’s still worth implementing candles to help keep the lighting flattering. No one needs the big light on at a dinner. No one.

Shop the Style

The Last Touches

Dinner parties are about the details, so let’s run through those now. Place cards can be calligraphy or engraved. You don’t need to set a place for yourself, you know where you go. Polish your silverware. Fold your napkins. Some people put the cutlery on top of the napkin - we don’t think that’s wise, because it means guests have to fumble under cutlery to get to their cloth. Remember to every so often step back and look at the setting from the perspective of your guests: you might find things you’ve missed.

Shop the Style

Finally and most crucially: you’re the host. Ultimately, if something isn’t working for you, you’re the boss, and if you need to adapt or adjust to suit your ideal, feel free. We wish you a lovely dinner - you’ll have to invite us next time.

Daily inspiration from our Instagram