The cocktail dress is a semi-formal garment for upscale events and parties. Usually, a cocktail dress is a little shorter than a full-length gown and should only go some of the way to the floor. Look for styles that flatter your body type, like fit-and-flare for hourglass figures or A-line for pear and apple shapes. Avoid overly casual shoes or bags that detract from your look.
Having landed a spot on fashion trends lists over a century ago, cocktail dresses have withstood the test of time. They balance the formal and semi-formal dress codes, and their versatility allows for creative exploration with colors, patterns, textures, and silhouettes. When choosing a cocktail dress, it is vital to consider the fabric. While silk or satin look luxurious, they can also be heavy and uncomfortable for long periods. For this reason, opting for a lighter fabric such as chiffon or lace can be much more comfortable.
Petite women can also have fun with different petite cocktail dress fabrics; make sure it is structured and hugs the body for a flattering fit. The peplum style is a great option for Petites, as it creates the illusion of a waistline, and the flare at the bottom of the dress can help to elongate the legs. While short party dresses can be worn alone, they can also be paired with other attire, such as chic trousers or a classic button-down shirt and blazer, for a smart casual ensemble appropriate for a cocktail party. T-shirts and jeans are typically unacceptable for a cocktail party, so avoid these at all costs. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed at a cocktail party, so it is best to err on the side of formality.
Although you may think of a cocktail dress as short, elegant, the length can vary. Depending on the occasion and location, you should wear something more formal or less formal for your cocktail attire. If the event is black-tie, it’s best to err on the side of caution and opt for a floor-length gown. However, if the dress code is more casual than a full-length gown, cocktail dresses at knee-length or tea-length are appropriate. A midi cocktail dress is also an excellent choice. You can even find a cocktail dress at a calf-length. Choosing the right cocktail dress length is important for your style and comfort. You don’t want a cocktail dress that is too long or a mini dress that may get lost in the crowd. If you want to ensure that your cocktail dress is a good fit, try it on before you buy it. The dress should flatter your figure to feel confident at the party. You can also opt for a cocktail dress with a sleeve or neckline detail that accentuates your figure and makes you stand out. You can even choose a color that compliments your skin tone. For instance, a dark color will contrast your look if you have light skin.
Whether you’re attending a wedding (with its own dress code rules, ICYMI) or simply looking to spice up your swanky party wardrobe, navigating the cocktail attire dress code can be tricky. A little less formal than black tie, cocktail attire is the perfect in-between dress code that allows you to show off your stylish personality without going overboard.
The hemline is one of the most important things to remember when choosing cocktail dresses. You want to avoid anything too short or too long, especially if you’re not tall. Instead, look for a hemline around the knee or lower. A-line, princess cut, or midi cocktail dresses are all great options for petite women. When choosing shoes for your cocktail outfit, heels are almost always necessary. However, it is important to choose a heel that complements the dress and doesn’t take away from its elegance. Heels in a classic shade like black or nude are best, as they’ll let the dress shine. If you’re bold, opt for a statement-making heel that adds drama to your outfit. A stiletto or block heel is a good choice depending on your style. If you’re a more laidback girl, a flat shoe like the now trendy midi heel is also a great option for your cocktail outfit.
The right accessories can elevate your look from good to great. Choose pieces that complement your dress and match your style. For example, a pair of chic drop-style earrings can be the perfect finishing touch to an elegant black cocktail dress. A single-strand necklace in a complementary color can also help tie your outfit together. Finally, a sleek clutch-style bag can add an extra touch of sophistication to your outfit.
Remember that cocktail dresses are typically worn at formal or informal events such as cocktail parties, evening weddings, or upscale dinners. While some casual attire may be acceptable at certain events, such as a beach or summer wedding, sneakers, and denim are typically frowned upon. It is important to remember that a cocktail dress should not expose your undergarments or bra, so it’s important to find a style with a tasteful hemline. If you wear a dress with a plunging or tricky neckline, stick-on or strapless bras are the best options. Shapewear is a must-have, too, as it helps to give your figure an even and balanced appearance.