Have you received a party invitation where the dress code is cocktail attire? Do you have a hard time trying to make sense of it so that you can select that right dress for the occasion? Cocktail attire is quite ambiguous as a dress code. It can be difficult to determine what is appropriate for cocktail attire and what isn’t. Fortunately, we have put together some dos and don’ts and some tips for cocktail attire so that you can shop for cocktail dresses easily. Read on to know more about cocktail attire for women.

What is cocktail attire for women?

Cocktail attire for women includes semi-formal outfits appropriate for parties and evening events. These dresses are not like the ones that are worn to formal black-tie affairs. They are more fun and allow you to be more creative.

What are the dos and don’ts of cocktail attire?

When shopping for cocktail attire, bear a few things in mind.

Firstly, do select a dress with a hemline at or a bit below the knees. The neckline should also be not too revealing and the dress should not be see-through. Basically, you want to look stylish, not sleazy. As a rule of thumb, go for a dress that you can wear to a family affair. Midi size dresses are perfect for such an occasion. You don’t want the dress to be too short or too long. Also, don’t let your undergarments peek through your outfit. Go for a strapless bra or stick-on bras so that the hooks and straps are not visible. 

Secondly, do wear sleek trousers but don’t select jeans. Jeans are never appropriate for cocktail attire even if you accessorize them appropriately. If you don’t want to wear a dress, go for a chic pantsuit or sleek trousers with a blouse. You can also wear a stylish jumpsuit to a party.

Thirdly, do keep the dress fun with unique colors and embellishments. Although the little black dress is perfect when it comes to cocktail attire, you shouldn’t shy away from a bit of color. You can choose from teal, red, orange and many others. You can also go for printed dresses.

Apart from this, do choose wedge shoes or heels and don’t go for sneakers or flip flops. Heels especially enhance your silhouette and make you look sophisticated. However, be sure that the shoes you choose are comfortable as you don’t want to spend the entire time sitting down. If you want an understated look you can wear black or nude heels in a pump or sandal style. However, you can wear bright-colored shoes to make a statement when wearing a simple outfit.

As far as accessories are concerned, you also should opt for a clutch instead of an oversized bag. Although it is quite convenient to have a large bag in which you can carry essential items for an event, it simply does not fit in well with a cocktail attire. A clutch is best for a semi-formal occasion. It is easy to carry, looks stylish, and allows you to keep the absolutely necessary items in it.

For jewelry, do go for sophisticated yet playful accessories that match your personal style. Although, you would want attention-grabbing jewelry, don’t wear several pieces. That’s because doing so can make you look sloppy and ruin your entire look. Keep the accessories minimal to enhance the look of your outfit.

Finally, do iron your dress before wearing it. Don’t show up at a party wearing crumpled clothing. If you are not good at ironing your clothes, get your dress dry cleaned before the event. A perfectly ironed dress will make you look smart and sophisticated.

How do I select appropriate cocktail attire?

Aside from the above, you can follow the below-mentioned tips to select the best dress for a particular semi-formal event.

For starters, you should keep the occasion, its purpose, the time and place in mind when selecting a dress. For instance, a party held at an expensive restaurant or hotel will require something more formal than a dress you would wear to a party at someone’s house. Evening parties also require more formal clothing than daytime events.

You should also keep the host in mind when selecting cocktail attire. If your host is more traditional, dress conservatively. If a person is fashionable, then modern clothes will be appropriate also.

Don’t forget about your own comfort when shopping for cocktail attire. You should be able to move around freely in your dress and shoes during the event. Your attire should not stop you from having fun or socialize. It is best to try the dress out before the event to ensure that you are comfortable and look stylish in it.

You would also want an outfit that looks good on you so you need to consider your body shape also. For example, if you have broad shoulders and narrow waistline with petite hips, go for a dress with an asymmetrical hemline. 

In addition to the above, you should choose a dress that is appropriate for the season. For spring and summer, go for floral prints and open shoes. For a winter party, select pumps along with an evening coat over your dress. You can also add a touch of fur to your outfit for winter events for extra glam.

Lastly, if you have doubts about the dress code, just ask the host or organizer. They will be able to guide you better. Also, bear in mind that it is better to be overdressed than look casual or sloppy at such events.

Can I wear pants for cocktail attire?

Although a dress is the go-to cocktail attire, you can definitely go for pants and blouse instead of a dress for parties and evening events. There is also a wide range of stylish pantsuits available for you to choose from if you feel uncomfortable in a dress.

How long should a cocktail dress be?

Ideally, the cocktail dress should be knee-length or a bit below that. It should not be shorter than that. It should also not be trailing on the floor. Long dresses and gowns are meant to be worn to formal events.

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Suhira heads the editorial department of SheBegan Magazine. She joined SheBegan Magazine as an author in 2017, and her writings also appeared on cosmopolitan, lifefalcon and other mags. Suhira loves to write on wellness-related topics, skin/hair/beauty tips, relationship advice topics, and bridal grooming niche. Later, in 2019, she became the head of our editorial board and also holds the position of Growth analyst. Having had sufficient experience with fitness and nutritional balance. Suhira has worked as a fitness trainer at local Gyms, we utilize her experience in our fitness and nutritional recommendations.

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