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Special events bring a lot of excitement. However, they come with a difficult challenge of making decisions about dressing. And if dress codes are involved, the job becomes even more difficult. So, it is understandable that you feel a little daunted when you see the words ‘cocktail dress’ written on an invitation.

So, how to choose and buy a cocktail dress that looks fabulous and is appropriate according to the event.

What is considered a cocktail dress?

The cocktail dress is standard attire for parties and evening events. It can a dress that ends above or right at the knees with high heels. For men,a cocktail dress can be a suit in dark colors, mostly charcoal or navy, a white shirt with a tie, and black leather dress shoes.

Cocktail look is supposed to be sophisticated but it does not mean you cannot wear anything vibrant. You can use bold colors, cuts, embellishments, and unique accessories.

What is a cocktail-length dress?

The length for a cocktail dress is not standard or a prescribed one. It varies from person to person. It can fall anywhere from above to below the knee. The longer dress is for formal events, while the shorter dress is for semi-formal occasions.
The cocktail dresses are sleek, elegant, and perfect for several events. These dresses go well with high heels, but you can also wear them with flats. However, make sure that the flats are more on a dressier side to preserve the formal feel of the demeanor.

How to pull off cocktail dresses?

To pulling off a cocktail dress, consider the kind of occasion to make sure you have selected the right outfit. Consider the level of formality and the overall setting to choose an attire that suits the night or the day.

Resort Cocktail Attire

You can make your resort cocktail dress more fun by wearing a boldly patterned skirt and a similar top. Complete the look with funky earrings and decent shoes. The resultant appearance will be bold and chick, which is just right for posh vacation events.

Festive Cocktail Attire

In a holiday period, like during Christmas, you are likely to be invited to cocktail events. Be it an office Christmas party or a New Year’s Eve, you have to nail the festive cocktail dress code. All you have to pick out a festive party dress and pair with elegant accessories, preferably with a metallic hue.

Formal Cocktail Attire

If an event requires you to put on a formal cocktail attire, you have got the simplest task. All you have to do is find a little black dress that has a perfect fit. The material should be of high quality, and the dress should not be too short. Otherwise, it would not be a formal cocktail dress. Pair your black dress with sleek accessories and suitable shoes.

Business Cocktail Dress

The business cocktail dress code is a little challenging to complete. You have to pull off a decent look without giving an appearance like you are heading straight to the office. To maintain the balance, select a dress that is sophisticated as well as trendy. Pair it patent black accessories and a little bit of gold jewelry.

Casual Cocktail Dress

While formal cocktail appearance requires an uptight look, the causal cocktail attire is a blend of relaxed and aesthetic. To pull off this look, opt for a loose dress like shift style rather than a bodycon or tailored outfit. Pair the dress with simple cum chic accessories like a casual clutch or a chain-strap bag and block heels.

Garden Party Cocktail Dress

The cocktail dress code requirements for a garden party can be tricky. Go for a feminine and sweet floral dress in a lightweight fabric. Pair with a classy drape, chic block heels, and a few chic accessories.

What is the difference between semi-formal and cocktail attire?

Semi-formal attire is more formal than cocktail attire. With a semi-formal look, long dresses are not a must but can be pulled off. For men, it is all about dark suits. The cocktail attire implies that the guests should be well dressed, which means there should be no sandals, t-shirts, or shorts. However, there is room for improvisation, and one can make it more fun with light colors. For men, the suits should be of darker color and include dress pants with dress shirts.

Whereas, the semi-formal involves a little black cocktail dress as well as a long dressy skirt. For men, the vest is optional with the dark-colored business suit and tie. Dress shoes are a given while there is no need to wear an evening gown or a tuxedo.

What to wear over a cocktail dress?

People usually take off the wraps and coats at the event. Still, they should look appropriate for the event’s formality, as you are going to remove them after getting to the event. Wearing a casual parka on the little black cocktail dress is a bad idea even if you intend to take it off as soon as you enter the event. Here are a few things to keep in mind while wearing coats or throwing wraps on a cocktail dress:

Wool Dress Coat

This coat is suitable for almost all types of cocktail dresses except for a floor-length ball gown. You can wear these coats to every occasion where you need something polished and dressed-up but not very formal. The color of the coat should be black, burgundy, grey, or winter white. You can also wear a fun color if you want to, like red.


A blazer gives a more business-like look, but you can pull it off for an event with velvet or satiny material. Sequins will also look amazing on a blazer over a party dress. However, make sure that the color goes with the dress.

What shoes to wear with a cocktail dress?

Heels are a typical pair for cocktail dresses, especially in a neutral hue like nude or black. You can also go for a pump style or sandal to emanate a smart, understated look.

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